The BookMatcher is Billie Bloebaum, book buyer for Powell’s in the Portland Airport, and she brings the art of handselling books based on interest to folks writing in online for her help. Today’s request is from ninjapenguin:
If so, I have kind of an unusual
request. See, thanks to your site, I have recently been introduced to the
world of well-written romance novels. (Previously I had only been cognizant
of the rather horrifyingly rape-tastic old school ones my grandmother would
leave out.) Specifically, I have started reading, and consequently, falling
hard for Georgette Heyer. But where do I go from here? See, I prefer my
romance novels *without* sex scenes. Or at the very least, without explicit
sex scenes. I prefer a discreet fade-to-black with the details left to my
imagination or just to end on a kiss or embrace as our happy couple realizes
that all the obstacles standing between them have been overcome. I am much
more concerned with the witty banter between our protagonists and the
working out of the plot than I am with knowing all the details of their
fantasies for each other. I have to hope I’m not the only one out there
with such unusual tastes. Please, Bitches, can you help?
You are SO not alone in that. Given the hotter-than-hotter direction of romance sex scenes in the past few years, often the witty banter comes to a stop while one or both admire the rigid poles holding up the hero’s tent, and I don’t mean the one at the campsite.
I turned to Billie, who had the following recommendations:
Hmmmm…Stephanie Laurens is out, then.
My first instinct is to steer her toward YA. There’s a lot of great romance
being written for that audience and most of it is, if not sex-free, then
certainly has the sex take place off-screen. The witty repartee may not be up
to Heyer’s standards, but there is also less reliance on shouting—or, well,
exclamation points, anyway. The drawback with recommending YA, though, is that
the hero and heroine are so very *young*. But, if YA is acceptable, then I can
strongly recommend both ‘Faithful’ by Janet Fox and ‘Everlasting’ by Angie
Frazier (which is flat-out one of the best debuts of 2010).
Eva Ibbotson’s novels are absolutely lovely and originally marketed to the
adult market, but again, not so much with the witty repartee. They are,
however, dreamy and romantic and completely sigh-worthy.
Patrcia C. Wrede’s ‘Marelion the Magician’ and ‘The Magician’s Ward’ were just
re-released in an omnibus edition entitled ‘A Matter of Magic’ and she did
three books with Caroline Stevermer: ‘Sorcery and Cecelia: Or, the Enchanted
Chocolate Pot’, ‘The Grand Tour’, and ‘The Mislaid Magician: Or Ten Years
After’ which are all charming Regency-set novels—with MAGIC.
Marketed strictly for the adult audience, I can recommend Mary Robinette
Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey’ which is *also* a Regency with magic.
Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody mystery novels are full of wit and romance
with a high level of sexy interplay between Amelia and Emerson, but always
with the actual deed happening behind closed doors. (Book 1 is Crocodile on the Sandbank.)
Also, Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily Ashton mystery novels, especially the first one ‘And Only to Deceive’,
which is like a cross between Jane Austen and the aforementioned Ms. Peters.
And, for something completely different…’Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton which
is a comedy of manners with dragons for protagonists. Very Jane Austen, but
She may also look into tracking down some of the classic Regency novels that
publishers like Signet and Harlequin once published on a regular basis. Most
of them are available used and are relatively inexpensive, allowing for some
experimenting to find authors she clicks with.
There’s also the Inspirational sub-genre, which tends to be fairly chaste, but
is really beyond my ken.
Or, she can just do what I occasionally do, and skip (or skim) the sexy bits
to get back to the important stuff. This opens up vast horizons of romance
Thank you, Billie! What do you recommend that’s high on the witty repartee but low on the sexual party?