I’m gonna start this post with a caveat – I do not want this post to be used to attack any romance writers, or their romance novels. This isn’t about them. This is about my personal preference only and why I feel uncomfortable reading stories that are advertised as romances. If you do this thing, I will fight you.
Let’s talk romance, readers. Specifically, romance novels – a genre that you’ll notice I don’t read or review a lot of.
I love reading love stories. I love reading when someone finds another person that fits them so well that they feel like they belong together. I love to get misty-eyed over the poetry they serenade each other with. I love to see people build their lives together. It’s one of my favorite things.
But I don’t actively seek out books that are romance heavy, or that actively advertises the romance except in young adult fiction, and there’s a reason for it. Really, if I’d had the word and definition of the asexual spectrum that I do now, I probably wouldn’t have this reaction to romance novels.
In all of the romances that I’ve read, and I will note that I have not read romance novels extensively, all of the main characters are all very About Sex. Which is great! Sex is cool! If you like it, that’s absolutely fine and I wish you well! But… I don’t like reading it.
When I read a sex scene, I get a knee-jerk reaction in the back of my mind that says, “That’s not for you. Don’t read that, Ceillie.” Knowing that I’m ace honestly explains a lot of this, but I can’t help that immediate flinch when I realize they’re headed for a sex scene.
I wish there were more non-sex-focused romance stories in the world that were just as good as my friends swear the erotica and sex-focused ones are, and that they were easier to find.
In YA, there’s occasional sex, but it’s not as common as it is in adult books or romances. I can brace myself for a scene or two, or skim past them easily enough if they’re light. In a romance novel, a lot of the time, the characters are constantly talking about sex, or wanting to have it, or actually having it, and about how it’s the best thing they’ve ever experienced.
When you add erotica and BDSM to that, I find myself shrinking down, feeling broken and small inside. I feel unwanted and sad, and lord knows there’s enough of that feeling in the universe without getting it from a book. When it’s in a book that I’m not expecting it from? It’s 10 times worse.
I wish there were more non-sex-focused romance stories in the world that were just as good as my friends swear the erotica and sex-focused ones are, and that they were easier to find. I’m told that amish romances and christian romances may be up my alley, but then we also have faith aspects that can be pretty uncomfortable.
I don’t really know what I want the genre to do, or what I need to do. I just really felt a need to talk about this, because I’ve never seen anyone say anything like this. Maybe a content system is what’s needed, to be very clear about what is erotica, or BDSM, or inspirational romance, so that the right readers can find the right stuff for them.
Maybe I’ll never be a romance novel reader, and that’s okay. Not all books are for all readers, and I completely understand that. However, I wish I felt just a little bit safer around the genre.
So, friends, having read this, I hope that you’ll find yourself a little more knowledgeable about what goes on in my head. It’s a weird place, I know. Have you ever felt like this? Have you got any particular recommendations for me? I’d love to talk to you guys about this in the comments!