Hello everyone! Happy Monday!
(Image courtesy of Google Images)
I would like to start a discussion about an issue today. I'm really interested in your thoughts on this matter.
I received a wonderful three star review of Chasing Fireflies a while back. I know, only three stars? How could it possibly be wonderful? The review was a very positive and complimentary review. The reader had two complaints however. The second of which I would like to discuss today.
Please read the below thoughts of the reviewer:
The second problem is one a lot of chaste romances are guilty of and that's the missing faith problem. We have two contemporary American adults who have an intense and intimate relationship and yet neither even thinks about having sex (and this one has the further problem with missing alcohol, probably as a result of Dean's Mormon background). I'm sorry, but contemporary American culture assumes that couples have had sex by the time they are engaged. That's the very longest you can leave it without it coming off as strange and even unnatural to the core audience of your romance. If your characters are talking marriage, they're thinking sex. And not having it has to have a reason or it feels strange. And the thing is, I know a lot of readers who don't care how authors meet the cultural expectation so long as it makes sense. Many read romances for the emotional catharsis rather than the explicit sex, so chaste romances that have religious characters putting off the sexy times for marriage isn't an issue. But it breaks the sense of reality when contemporary characters don't have a reason and still don't have the sex. Many of these authors are religious and may not be aware of how unnatural their stories come across. I hate that otherwise talented authors like Taylor Dean are limiting their audience so unnecessarily by cutting out the religion of their characters when the scars of its removal are so obvious. Please, include the religion, or figure a way around the issue of sex. Leaving it completely unaddressed is strange and off-putting and it doesn't need to be.
So, I would love to know your opinion on this matter. When you read a clean romance, do you like this subject to be addressed? Does it need to be a religious reason? Do you prefer it to not be mentioned at all? Do readers assume the characters are moral when they know they are reading a clean romance, and therefore it doesn't need to be addressed?
I have addressed this issue in a few of my books. I didn't include religious reasons necessarily. Most of my characters decide to wait for marriage because they feel intimacy is sacred and I leave it at that. While my books have inspirational elements, they are not strictly inspirational and I don't want preachy elements. I've handled it differently in each one of my books. In some, I like the way it was handled and in others, I worried it came across as awkward.
In Chasing Fireflies, I really didn't address the issue, but I also felt their relationship escalated quickly and it didn't need to be addressed in that particular book.
At any rate, I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter. As I'm writing my new series, I have been thinking about this matter quite a bit.
Thanks in advance!