In the reading world, I don’t know if there are many things worse than being disappointed by a book you are or have just finished reading. Sometimes, it can’t really be helped. If the rest of the book, or even series, is great but the ending falls short, there is no way of knowing before the end. What frustrates me more is finding unexpected content and twists (or lack thereof) in the middle of a book when I’m just starting to really enjoy it.
Genre fiction comes with a promise that certain elements will be present in certain genres. Romance is no different. As the saying goes, some like it hot, some like it cold. Part of enjoying a great romance book is being able to read the level of spice you enjoy. Sometimes a cover is enough to tell you what kind of spice you’ll find inside, but sometimes it isn’t.
So what do you do when the cover doesn't really show whether the book's content is a good fit for you?
Novelist (a library database) and Goodreads are great places to get reviews and recommendations for books to read as well as great resources for doing a quick content check. In Novelist you can search for different spice levels. Here’s how: in the advanced search, you can type in chaste, mildly sensuous, steamy, or explicit and then select AP Appeal Factors in the drop menu. The picture below outlines it a little more.
Although I love Novelist, there have been a couple times where new romance books I’ve been interested in have not had a spicy list term. In that case, there is another great option. One of our other librarians found a site years ago, allaboutromance.com. This site is purely for romance books and, similarly to Novelist, has a rating system for the sensuality level in each book. Often, authors will have an overall sensuality rating as well based on the average spice level of their books. All About Romance’s rating system is shown below.
This one is a little simpler to use. Simply type in the title of the book (or name of the author) and the results will come up with a synopsis of the book as well as its spice level and rating. May you now more easily find the level of spice you’re looking for!