I watch a lot of Food Network, courtesy of my wonderful husband, and I’ve learned that there were heat ratings for peppers. It’s called the Scoville scale, named after Wilbur Scoville, who worked for the Park-Davis Company. It is what is called “subjective dilution-taste procedure”. I’m not going into the whole science of it, but since this is not a foodie post, I’ll dispense with that.
Basically, the heat factor of chile peppers is measuresd in multiples of 100 units. A sweet, green bell pepper is at zero Scoville units. The hot as Hades and beyond Naga Jolokia Ghost Pepper is measures at 1,000,000 Scoville units. Talk about extremes.
To put this in a bit of perspective, Frank’s RedHot Original is 450 Scoville Units. Tabasco Sauce (regular) is 700 Scoville Units. Frank’s RedHot XTRA Hot is 2,000 Scoville units. I don’t mess with anything more than that. However, there are sauces available for purchase that are measured at 16,000,000 units on the Scoville scale. Blair’s 16 Million Reserve.
Sooooo, let’s take a look at romance books. Many sites have heat ratings according to the type of sex happening, the frequency of the sex and , I assume, the type of words used.
You have your sweet romances, your sensual romances and your erotic romances.
Here is an example of a Sensuality Rating Guide from All About Romance:
Many of the authors that I know would hover between the “Hot” and the “Burning” category.
Here is the rating system from All Romance EBooks. (taken from the FAQ)
1 flame– Stories will either not have consummated love scenes, or if the loves scenes are consummated detail is not given.
2 flames– Stories will have some love scenes. These will be more sensual then graphic and will mostly rely on euphemism.
3 flames– Stories will have sensual, yet more explicit love scenes, and the language used to describe them may be more graphic and direct.
4 flames– Stories have frequent love scenes that are explicit and described using graphic and direct language.
5 flames– Stories have a high frequency of love scenes that are explicit, described using graphic and direct language, and/or contain subject matter that some readers may consider objectionable.
This makes me wonder…. What are some matters that some readers might find objectionable?
Do you like your romances to be rated? Or would you rather depend on the blurb, the cover and the reputation of the author to determine your purchase of the books?
Have you ever been surprised by a sexual act in a story? Do you wish that there had been a warning?
Ratings can be so subjective – much like the Scoville heat scale – that it may be difficult to really put ratings on erotic romance books.
What do you think? Seriously, leave your thoughts in the comments!