That’s obscene — don’t look now but you may have to cover your book of choice in brown paper.

I write full-throttle suspense and sweet romance. Exciting tales that leave sex off the page. Sexual tension and violent encounters make regular appearances but Christian values are ever present. And that is obscene . . . to some.

Obscenity, like beauty, depends on the beholder. Modern romance novels would likely shock Victorian sensibilities, even the sweet ones. Young ladies of good breeding weren’t allowed to roam free without a chaperone. A late night carriage ride could equal a mandate of marriage in polite society. Earning one’s fortune? Unthinkable.

“An obscenity,” as Wiki explains, “Is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time. It is derived from the Latin obscaena (offstage) a cognate of the Ancient Greek root skene, because some potentially offensive content, such as murder or sex, was depicted offstage in classical drama.”

Get that? An obscenity covers the potentially offensive. That’s a broad definition as the potential to offend lurks everywhere.

My late cat Monte, a chubby Russian Blue rescue animal, used to struggle to wash the underside of his huge hairless belly. (Berber carpeted stairs work better than a bikini wax.) Poor kitty. But my transfixed neighbor dubbed the cat obscene. Why? He was offended. Then I was offended.

I felt sorry for my baby who deserved kudos. Having dropped eight pounds already, Monte didn’t care what was said. (I swear he could understand English.) Monte kept on keeping on to the shock of he-who-wouldn’t-look away. Despite offense and me telling my neighbor to go back home.

That’s exactly how some readers respond. They can’t look away from scenes that jar their sensibilities. They cannot ignore it and move on. Not because whatever is occurring is unnatural or evil. There’s nothing wrong with a cat taking a bath. But some folks cannot take such scenes in stride, nor should they have to. Not when they have bought a book.

Romance readers and writers are taking a step back. Some are drawing the line at the bedroom door. Others invite the reader in. Vive la difference. A steamy romance is no defamation of sweeter options. Writing a sweet romance is no condemnation of steamier ones. Not at all. So, please, don’t take offense.

The world of romance is growing. Paying attention to what readers want to read. Like religious elements? Harlequin Love Inspired and Bethany House have you covered. Want sweet romance without religion? Harlequin Heartwarming. And Love Inspired Suspense offers the thrill of courting death and love at the same time.

And while some publishers use clean to describe options, there is no offense intended. Clean is subjective. One man’s obscene is another cat’s triumph.

I hope you’ll stick around and take the ride with me as I venture deeper into the woods of romance.

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