Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Would you want to read a 'Clean Read'?

I have joined a loop on Goodreads called Clean Read. Another writer recommended it as both she and I write, amongst other things, sweet/clean romances. A Mistress for Stansted Hall fits this category - no sex and no swearing. One of the moderators has made it clear that books don't have to be 'Inspirational' (Christian) in order to be considered an acceptable read to their members.
 Perhaps the title might be misleading as 'mistress' can mean something else - in this case it means the young lady who becomes the wife of the owner of the Hall.
However, after following some of the posts I have discovered that for a book to be considered a Clean Read by many of the members it should not include any sort of sexual activity outside marriage. This is unrealistic nowadays as many couples prefer not to marry but live together and, indeed, raise a family as well. Would some readers avoid a book labelled a Clean Read because it might be considered to be disapproving of modern relationships? My books are all historical - my 'Clean Read' books are all Regency -  where sex outside marriage was not the norm for the upper classes. Therefore I am not being unrealistic having  most of my heroines chaste until marriage.
A Clean Read book must not have any dubious moral content (not sure what they mean by that), I'm assuming no incest  or paedophilia - but it's possible  they would consider same sex relationships as 'of dubious moral content'. I don't write about same sex relationships but do read books by Patrick Gale - so would not want to be considered homophobic by being part of this group. Rather like the UKIP party - their leader is not racist in any way, but unfortunately his party does attract extreme right-wing members. However much I agreed with UKIP ( and I don't support their wish to leave the EU), I could not join a party where I might be sitting next to a Nazi or Fascist.
I'm wondering if by being a writer associated with Clean Reads I will be considered to have the same extreme views as some of the members. I prefer the name 'Sweet' read to describe my Regency romances - this tells the reader they have no four letter words and no explicit sex - but they are romantic and sometimes a few passionate embraces do take place.
What do you think? Am I right to be worried readers will think I agree with all the views of this group?
I want to let readers - who pefer their books to be without anything graphic - know several of my books fit their criteria but have no wish to be thought of as narrow-minded.
I would love to know your opinion - and if my interpretation of a Clean Read is, in fact, correct.


  1. This helps explain why many of my reviews on Amazon have started mentioning that my two Victorian San Francisco mysteries are "clean reads."

    As with your regencies, my Victorian setting, and the fact that I am being historically accurate about how my mainly middle class protagonists would behave, has meant that there is limited swearing and no explicit sex. I haven't really done this on purpose, but I am a fan of the old-fashioned regencies (Heyer) and mysteries where the sex and violence are off screen.

    I don't plan on labeling my books as such (and luckily I can call them 'cozies' which has a similar but not quite as restrictive meaning.) But I am perfectly happy when someone mentions that they found the book to be a "clean read," since I know this is helping me tap into the right market.

    At the beginning, when the books first came out, I found more complaints about the romance being slow, and I think in some ways this was code for the fact that my two protagonists weren't jumping into bed together. I get fewer of these complaints now, which I suspect is because people who are looking at the reviews and see the mention of the book being a "clean read" now know what to expect (or simply don't buy the book if that isn't what they are looking for.)

    Thanks for the interesting topic, and i will need to go and take a look at the GoodReads discussion.

    Mary Louisa

  2. Thank for the comment, Mary Louisa. I was happy wiht teh label 'clean read' until I joined the loop -now not so sure.