I was filling out a form the other day to include one of my books in an upcoming promotion. I made my way through the boxes, carefully considering my answers. Title – that’s easy. Author – that one too.

But then I came across the question of style.

Steamy or sweet?

Clean … or what? Dirty?

I write romance for women over 40. Every character I write about has spent years – decades as an adult. They’re divorced. They’re widowed.

And if you believe they haven’t had sex, I’ve got some ocean front property in the Midwest to sell you.

If you believe they don’t want sex while they’re single, I have even more property available.

I was reading a romance novel a while back about a forty-something woman who lost her husband to cancer. She returned home to her roots to “find herself” again. And in true romance style, there was a guy from her past that caught her eye.

They flirted. They started dating. And then? They decided to … wait? What?

I read on for a bit. The character had shit to deal with, so waiting wasn’t a bad thing. For a while. But after a few more chapters, when she declared she didn’t want to go any further until after marriage, I’d had enough.

Is that reality? I can’t read or write about something I don’t consider to be reality.

In today’s world, who needs marriage? I’m not against it; I’ve been married for more than thirty years. But if I were to find myself looking for a new relationship in the future, I wouldn’t need marriage to live my best life. Or to have a healthy, caring relationship with another human being. And that includes sex.

Romance to me includes everything. It includes discovering how relationships work. It includes discovering how feelings are intertwined. It includes the head games we play in and out of every situation, including bed. And it includes BED.

My books aren’t erotica. I have several writers I read that write erotica very well. And I love it.

But my writing interests lie more with the reinvention part of the process. All of my characters are 40 or 50 something and looking for ways to change their lives. So I dive into their careers, their interests, their lives, as well as their love life. The sex is only part of the story. The rest is about them rebuilding their lives in midlife, and moving on in a positive way.

Do they have sex in them? You bet. But it’s not the focus. Just reality.

Clean romance? It might be possible for someone in high school. But for a 40 or 50 something?