Check out the conference notes from Fiona Lowe who took a hugely popular workshop called:
"Thank you so much for posting your talk on your website. I have never read anything so useful to people targeting M & B. I personally couldn’t get a handle on Modern Heat and what you’ve written makes it much clearer. Thanks again – it is so generous of you to “share” like this."
was confused about whether I was Desire or Sexy.
After reading Ally's notes on Sexy vs Sweet - I've
Modern Heat!! Excited now I feel like I know where I'm going
want to add my thanks too!
so much for sharing these notes. You've cleared up a lot for me -
reading sweets and then sexys I couldn't
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Sexy vs Sweet - The Ultimate Showdown!
What is the real difference between
Harlequin Romance, Modern Heat and Harlequin Presents?
(First seen at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, Gold Coast, 2006)
PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS RELEVANT AT THE TIME OF PRINTING.
FOR ANY RECENT CHANGES TO THESE AND ALL OTHER LINES,
PLEASE REFER TO GUIDELINES ON THE PUBLISHER'S WEBSITES.
What’s the difference between the supposedly sexy books and the sweet ones? Is the line in between all that defined? What does "closing the bedroom door" really mean? Is the difference merely alpha heroes vs gamma, or is it more about emotion vs docking procedures in sex scenes? Or in the end does it all come down to voice? Finally - the answer is here!
sexy vs sweet
What is the real difference?
(NB: I will be focussing on the lines edited out of Richmond as these are the ones I am most familiar with. And I have also had help from the wonderful Trish Morey who writers for Harlequin Presents and Trish Wylie who writes for both Harlequin Romance and Mills and Boon Modern Heat.)
SEXY – this is what I will hereby call the Presents titles in North America, Modern in the UK and Sexy in Australia. These books are the top selling for Harlequin across the world. And no other line is anything like them.
I believe the one fallacy out there that creates a stumbling block for new authors is that in the Sexy books, its all about the sex. And though they can be very, for want of a better word, sexy ;) for this unique line, it is all about the fantasy.
To my mind they are in fact the most traditional form of romance with dominating Alpha heroes – often Greek or Italian, certainly hugely wealthy. Heroines can range from sweet and innocent virgins to women very much on par with the men they fall in love with. And extremely importantly the tone of these books are passionate and dramatic, with a deeper than a well love, and a heightened fantasy setting.
SWEET – these are from the Tender line in the UK which as of September 2006 is now simply called Romance in the UK and North America. Here they are a mix of the Harlequin Romance and Silhouette Romance lines in North America and are called Sweet in Australia/NZ.
These books are considered ‘Traditional’ as they are more about the emotional journey of two people falling in love than the sexual journey. But again that is a huge generalization that really only comes into play when you are looking at placing your book in a contest category.
The storylines in the Sweet books are as diverse as you have ideas in your head. Heroes can be Alpha or Beta, heroines can have pink hair and tattoos, can be confined to a wheelchair, can be abused, can be CEOs richer than the hero, they can be pregnant with another man’s child, they can have three kids, they can be mid-divorce. Setting can range from Outback Australia to the canyons of Wall Street and everywhere in between.
A friend of mine calls these books the poor man’s Chekhov, so rich and detailed are the conflicts and motivations to be found in many Sweet books.
MODERN HEAT - and then somewhere in between we have the all new Modern Heat. They are Sexy Sensation in Australia and Promotional Presents in North America.
Some of these books I have read can be seen as sexy Sweets – with beta heroes, thoroughly modern heroines, modern day situations, but with heightened sensuality, more sexual awareness, don’t even think about closing the bedroom door! his isn't a stretch when you consider authors like Nicola Marsh and Trish Wylie, and me! - all Sweet writers, are now writing for Modern Heat as well.
So if you do not write Alpha heroes, or fantasy settings, but still have a naturally sassy, sexy voice, this may be the home for you.
They are longer books than both the Sweet and Sexy lines at 60,000 words with more room for secondary characters and secondary plotlines, so long as they all refer back to the main plot which is the central love affair between your hero and heroine.
MEDICALS - Another line that leaves room for interpretation is the medicals line.
They can range from the delightful stories of family and warmth and laughter set in small coastal towns a la Marion Lennox to the rip-roaring hot and sexy as they come war zone adventures of Olivia Gates.
sexual vs sensual tension
Where is the line between? Is is a big line or a small line?
I believe the main difference between the Sweet, the Sexy and the Modern Heat lines are the feel, the tone, and the voice.
It’s about walking a mile in the heroine’s shoes in a Sweet as opposed to the glamour and fireworks and fantasy of a Presents. It’s about the heroine being the focus of Sweet books and the hero the focus of the Sexy books.
What does "closing the bedroom door" really mean?
Editors for the Sweet line say:
In the Sweet line they don’t want docking procedures. “He put his hand there while his leg tucked around her yadda yadda yadda.” In a Sweet book it is more about what the hero and heroine are feeling and thinking. Are they ecstatic, are they terrified, are they relieved, are they still holding something back?
I once got in trouble for cutting a scene off too early! My couple weren’t married, but my editor said she found herself screaming at the page because she wanted to know how it went. She wanted to know the feelings and emotions and doubts and wonder that these two people experienced together.
Barbara Hannay had a sex scene between a heavily pregnant woman and the father of her baby’s brother. Hot hot hot! A BRIDE AT BIRRALEE
In any of the books, you cannot force the sex to fit a certain line. You cannot write a sex scene in limbo. It must have relevance and resonance. It must create waves. Is there no turning back? Does she realise during that she loves him? Does he feel guilty? Is it sudden and unexpected? Can you sense it coming from a chapter away? And most importantly what do they both feel in the afterglow? How does this change everything???
Liz Fielding wanted a sex scene in THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE so that readers could see that her wheelchair bound heroine could have a satisfying sex life with the gorgeous hero