What do I mean by Closed Door?
Many have tried to give romance stories a variety of words or ratings to indicate how graphic (or not) the story is. The problem arises in that there is no generally accepted “line” that differentiates everything between Clean Romance and Erotica.
I read/listen to Romance anywhere along this continuum.
I won’t use the description “Clean Romance” because readers/listeners have different expectations of how “clean” a book should be to qualify. At a minimum, it means no sex scenes. However, I’ve seen reviewers complain because a “Clean Romance” used alternative-curse words like “darn” or didn’t have Christian elements or mentioned a previous relationship/marriage or alluded to sex outside of marriage or contained LGBT characters even if they didn’t have sex. I even read one where the reader complained the MCs kissed on page.
I have tagged some books/series as “Closed Door”. Generally, these books include kissing, maybe making out, and perhaps a tease of beginning to remove clothes… but then things “fade to black” or they, you guessed it – close the door. It’s acknowledged in the story that the MC’s are having a sexual relationship, but full on sex scenes aren’t included.
This does not preclude any other potentially sensitive subjects or language. I’ve read/listened to Police/Military/Investigative/etc. romances that are closed door but cover topics like kidnapping, rape, murder, etc. I’ll note that in my review.
Note: I don’t tag LGBTQIA relationships any different than heterosexual ones. There was a trend for quite a while (and still exists to some extent) to tag all non-heteronormative romance as “Erotica”. For example, if the text would be closed door for an M/F couple, then I will tag it for an M/M couple as well.
Some of my favorite books/series I’ve tagged as Closed Door:
(alphabetical by title)
All in Good Time by M.K. Chester – M/F, small-town historical romance
Blessing and Light by Kasia Bacon – M/M, short story, fantasy
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – M/M, romcom
Dr. Whyte Thriller series (trilogy) by C.B. Samet – M/F, romantic suspense
Love and Murder series by Brenda Whiteside – M/F, romantic suspense
The Rider Files series by C.B. Samet – M/F, romantic suspense
Honorable mention? Books 1-4.5 of the Spotless series by Camilla Monk are closed door. However, there is one scene in book 5. You could skip it and absolutely enjoy the entire series – M/F, absolutely hilarious romantic suspense