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/Sweet Romance and Erotica.
I read/listen to Romance anywhere along this continuum.
I won’t use the tags “Clean Romance” or “Sweet 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/Sweet 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 also believe a romance can be sweet and sexy.
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”. If the situations/descriptions would be closed door for an M/F couple, then I will tag it identically 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