Celebrating the Ridiculous

Category Archives: Romance Novels

In early December, a friend and I were joking via Twitter that New Adult, the hot new subgenre starring protagonists ages 18 to 25, should be renamed more evocatively. My buddy, a new adult herself, noted, “I prefer Adult 2.0 or Au Courant Adult.” But after discussing the steamier nature of some of the books, we settled on “Sleazy YA.”

It seems U.K. newspaper The Independent feels similarly about New Adult, because they’re attempting to rechristen the subgenre “Steamies.” In a recent article they published, the paper cited the blushworthy works of Abbi Glines and Liz Bankes, up-and-comers in the genre, as evidence that YA had gone 50 Shades.

Now Twitter joking and trend pieces aside, do New Adult books have that much sex in them? I’ve read quite a few, and I’d say that like most books out there, there’s a range. Are they as hot as 50 Shades, or any other erotica out on the market? Oh my no, though I know that Glines’ work has made some of my fellow publishing friends blush quite deeply. In some ways, 50 Shades has become such a cultural touchstone that sometimes, in more general publications, the title seems to stand in for “any romance novel ever.”

For parents wondering if their kids should read New Adult, I’d liken the sex scenes in most to what a contemporary romance features. Because, after all, that’s what many of these New Adult titles are, contemporary romances starring characters who still attend frat parties (though I had a friend who hit the frat scene late into her 20s … ) and worry about grades and finding their place in the world. Were you reading Danielle Steel and la Nora in high school? I was, too.

When talking with YA authors recently, I asked, are these books really any steamier than many young adult books out there? For the most part, the resounding answer was “Um … no.”

The thing that makes New Adult so addictive, assisting in its meteoric rise in popularity, is the passion that these characters feel for each other. And I don’t necessarily mean in a graphic way. They’re obsessed with each other, just the way you were with that frat boy freshman year, remember? It’s the depth of feeling that works, that makes any romance in any genre work, for that matter.

And for me, a journalist and aspiring author, that’s the real story here, that self-publishing has allowed authors to prove that there is a huge market longing for books about dramatic, early twentysomethings, who, yes, sometimes have sex, sometimes on the page, sometimes off.

So call them what you will, Steamies, Sleazy YA, Adult 2.0 or New Adult, these books are fun and sexy. Only you can decide if your kid is old enough to read them, and if you’re really curious, why not pick up a title yourself? Who couldn’t use a trip back in time, to remember how much fun college could be? (It’s especially fun if you can close the book and remember you’re not actually in college anymore.)

I’m going to keep watching this new genre with interest, as I do with all publishing happenings. In the meantime, I just remembered that we need to send an email to request those new Glines titles …





Who doesn’t love pirates, amirite? I, for one, celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day like it’s a national holiday, matey — which hopefully it will be one day. Historical romance novels have a whole pirate subgenre, and one of my favorite parts is that the pirate hero is never, like, actually a pirate, oh no. He’s secretly an earl! Or some other titled noblemen! Or a spy. There’s always the possibility he’s a spy. He’s also superhot and misunderstood, but he’ll get through his issues to be true to you, girl. Obvs.

One of my favorite historical romances authors, Julie Anne Long, has a delightful pirate romance called (wait for it) I Kissed an Earl. Oh, yes. The awesomeness grows. Here’s the setup:

Violet Redmond is always stirring up trouble. She’s too smart for her own good, especially in a time when women weren’t given much to do (Regency England, where many historical romances are set). She hails from the superwealthy and powerful Redmond clan and she’s lived a charmed life, but since her older brother Lyon disappeared, family accord has not been what it once was. Dancing with a newly minted American earl (I know, you’ll just have to trust Long here) she learns that he’s to set sail in the morning after a dastardly pirate — a pirate Violet suddenly realizes may well be Lyon. So she stows away on his ship to save her brother, and finally have an adventure.

Long writes a hell of a story, and she takes the pirate trope and wrings from it a heart-wrenching love story. She’s totally going to be one of my keynote speakers at the first official National Talk Like a Pirate Day luncheon. I’ll send you all an invite.