Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hot and Bothered

By Deb Baker /Hannah Reed

Saturday, I attended a romance panel moderated by Barbara Vey. Barbara hosts a popular blog for Publishers Weekly called Beyond Her Book , and she did a great job with the Hot and Bothered panel. In fact, I bought Helen Brenna's The Moon That Night, and am enjoying it very much. She's a wonderful writer.

That panel got me pondering romance in mysteries, and led me to the question, “Are We Getting Enough?”

Romance, I meant. What were you thinking?

Cozy readers don’t want explicit sex scenes on the page. As a writer of cozies, I close the bedroom door at that point. But what about the romantic aspects? How important are they? Julie Hyzy, Denise Swanson, and moi were talking at the event about readers' mail. We agreed that most of them are about the romantic relationships in our books. Readers are extremely interested in what might happen next, and they have strong opinions about what our protagonists should do next. So romance plays a big part in our mysteries.

I'm actually considering cranking up the love in my mysteries.

So tell me, are you getting enough? Or do you want more?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

For me, if I want romance, I'll buy a romance novel. I'm old school. I know what happens in the bedroom. That doesn't mean I want to see it or read it in a book. I can't even watch "those scenes" on my soap operas.

Min said...

I think that alluding to what happens in the bedroom is just fine. If I want something more explicit, I know where to find it. I read cosies because I want to read a good mystery, although I want my protagonist to have a life, too!

That being said, I think that literal romance can happen without explicit, gratuitous, steamy scenes happening, too.

So it IS possible to have the best of both worlds. I just read an excellent Harlequin "Intrigue" that had nary a sex scene, but plenty of chemistry between the central characters, as well as the requisite mystery. But, of course, it didn't have the fun of a cosy!

Shel said...

I have to admit that the relationship between Kelly and Steve is one of the reasons I put Maggie's Unraveled at the top of my reading list as soon as it came out. That being said though, I can take it or leave it. I do think we're getting "enough" romance in our cozies, as a general rule. I agree with the above poster in that "romance" doesn't equal "sex". And unless your character is just asexual (and how realistic is that, really?) there's going to at least be a hint of romance somewhere in any realistic portrayal of an adult human being, whether it's realized or not.

Sarita said...

When I read a cozy mystery I would rather see the mystery, more than a romance. But having said that, I always love some romance!

Sue said...

I like the subtle romance aspect. I'm an adult and know what goes on between the sheets. I don't need details about that, but a gentle affection between our amature sleuths and their "friend" would be very nice.

booksNyarn said...

I actually think that there has been a lot of romance creeping into cozy mysteries, sometimes to the point the relationship is taking over the driving point of the story. I don't mind characters having a relationship, and definitely am fine with shutting the bedroom door. Romance isn't the reason I am reading the mystery, so I think there is plenty. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing some happily single female leads!

Bella said...

I love romance in my mysteries. Heather Webber's Lucy Valentine series is one of my favorites because of the romance aspect.

Kristin A. said...

I agree with all of the above! I love the relationships that seem to come hand in hand with most cozy series; I enjoy the dating and flirting, subtle romance, etc, but like you said, Deb, don't want explicit sex scenes. I feel the same as booksNyarn said above in that I recently read a cozy where the relationship seemed to take center stage. As a reader I want a balance - strong sleuthing, but also like Min said, I want my sleuth to have a life, too! I'd said that by and large, I am fine with the romance level cozies are at and don't really want more.

Linda McDonald said...

I love to have romance included in mysteries. I enjoy the whole puzzle of the mystery, but I find that it really adds to the storyline to have a romance going on in there as well. It does not need to be explicit (I can find that in the romantic suspense novels I read), but I really enjoy reading about the character's entire life, not just her life solving the mystery.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the others. I read cozies for the suspense and the interesting kinds of lives I don't lead. I do love the romance parts, but I like subtle. I don't read any kinds of novels with explicit sex scenes; I'm just not interested in reading that. But romantic tension and sweetness? Yes, please!!

Deb said...

Now I need to learn how to write romantic tension!

Janet H said...

I agree with booksNyarn, a happily single sleuth would be welcome. I don't think I've seen a cozy with one yet. For me, the less romance in a cozy the better I like it. Even though the secondary characters are important as well, in helping to drive the story forward.

signlady217 said...

I think most of the cozies get just the right amount of "loveness" in them. If I wanted more explicit stuff, I'd be buying/reading a different kind of book!

Aurian said...

I agree with most other posters. I think each genre has its own amount of romance. I like the slow buildup in most cozy series (though I wish Hannah Swensen would make a decision). I read enough paranormal romance and romantic suspense which have way too much sex scenes in them already.

Lynn in Texas said...

Guess I'm the odd one out, as I *always* enjoy romance with my mysteries and think some cozies could spice things up more with a bit of steamy sex, which can often add more interest and depth to the characters' personalities. Besides, love and sex play a big part in life, so why shouldn't they be included in mysteries? That's my opinion for the record!

Danielle said...

I like romance in my cozies. I think it is more about the building of the relationship that the physical aspect. I get invested in the characters in my favorite books and I like to read a little about their personal lives.

Michelle said...

No to romance. I love cozies just for the mysteries, characters, and settings. I don't care about someone's love life.

Brittney said...

I think Kate Collins does a great job in her cozies with the relationship aspect. She hints and flirts with the ideas of what happens but never comes right out with it. Her's are always at the top of my must reads! You can't completely leave it out because it's there every day in real life I would hate for my cozy mysteries to lose their relationships that I have grown to love!

Griperang/Angela said...

I think the heavy romance belongs in the romance books, but I do like when a character is in a nice relationship in my cozies. So I guess I could say they way it is is good for me.

Chris said...

I need a good relationship in my cozy mystery. I don't want explicit descriptions of what goes on in the bedroom, but I want the tension and excitement that comes from a relationship. A relationship helps add depth to the story.

Whenever I read a book that does not hint at romance between the main character and a male lead, I am disappointed and often don't seek out sequels to the book. But a good romantic story line keeps me coming back again and again.

Vickie said...

I don't need gratuitous romance in my cozies or any of the mysteries I read. I don't mind if the main character has a romantic interest, but I don't necessarily need to see the hoochie-koo scenes. I read what I read for the mystery, suspense, thriller aspect.

I used to love reading Harlequin Romance and Bertrice Small was my favorite romance writer back in the day. Somehow I got over the need to read about romance, maybe when I found my own in real life.