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Got your attention, didn't I?  No, I'm not advocating the destruction of library property-- quite the opposite.  Banned Books Week begins this Saturday, a time when libraries nationwide will be focusing on the importance of our First Amendment rights.  I know, it seems a little strange to think about romances and the First Amendment in the same sentence.  The more Puritan-minded of our Founding Fathers probably didn't even dream of authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Bertrice Small, or Lora Leigh when they protected our freedom to read.  Even so, fans of steamy romances should spare a moment this week to thank those sober gentlemen.  They found it necessary to a free society to protect all speech-- even the speech they disagreed with, even the speech they personally found frivolous, or immoral, or offensive.  To celebrate, I'm going to talk about books that some would consider to be all three: really HOT romances! 

"Hot" romance isn't really a subgenre; it's more like one end of a spectrum.  The lower end contains what are referred to as "sweets"-- romances with little to no reference to the physical aspect of relationships (kisses only, if that, with anything else occuring behind closed doors).  The upper limit of the spectrum is erotica-- purely physical relationships, what some writers have defined as "sex without emotion"* (although it might be more fair to say that sex is simply erotica's primary focus, instead of emotion or relationships).  Since emotion and commitment are defining elements of romantic fiction, erotica is not always considered romance; romance fans will sometimes refer to books near the limit as "romantica" instead.  Anything and everything falls in between, and publishers will often signal the degree of "heat" between their covers with words like mild, warm, hot, steamy, sizzling, spicy, sexy, scorching, racy, or sensual on the jacket.  A number of review sources like RT Book Reviews have started to include "sensuality ratings" to assist readers in finding titles in their comfort zone (I'm using their ratings here, for the most part).  Where you choose to read on the spectrum is completely up to you.

This month I'm choosing to focus on the hotter end of the spectrum.  The lists below contain titles that embrace both the emotional *and* the physical sides of a relationship, and all the ways in which one side can drive-- and complicate-- the other.  To be explicit: yes, these titles get explicit, the "scorching" titles more so.  If this offends you, or sweets are more your style, you may want to use this as a list of authors to avoid (hey, it's a free country!).  I'll be covering sweets in a couple of months.  If not... why not celebrate your freedom to read this month by checking out a "burning" book?


(Series romances from the Harlequin Temptation or Silhouette Desire lines fall into this category.)

White Heat by Cherry Adair (Fiction)
Rescue Me by Cherry Adair, Lora Leigh and Cindy Gerard (PbkRomance Rescue)
Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian (PbkRomance)
Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen (PbkRomance)
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (PbkRomance)
A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh (Fiction)
Wicked Nights by Nina Bangs (Fiction)
Lady Beware by Jo Beverley (PbkRomance)
Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann (PbkRomance)
The Man for Me by Gemma Bruce (PbkRomance)
Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan (PbkRomance)
In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callen (PbkRomance)
Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase (PbkRomance)
If You Dare by Kresley Cole (PbkRomance)
The Courtesan's Daughter by Claudia Dain (PbkRomance)
Sleepless at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro (PbkRomance)
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran (PbkRomance)
Immortal Danger by Cynthia Eden (PbkRomance)
Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch (PbkRomance)
A Husband's Wicked Ways by Jane Feather (PbkRomance)
Real Men Last All Night by by Lori Foster, Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Heidi Betts (PbkRomance Real)
Lady of Scandal by Tina Gabrielle (PbkRomance)
Feel the Heat by Cindy Gerard (PbkRomance)
In the Thrill of the Night by Candice Hern (PbkRomance)
Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard (Fiction)
Taste of Passion by Brenda Jackson (PbkRomance)
One Night with You by Sophie Jordan (PbkRomance)
Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon (PbkRomance)
Mine till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas (PbkRomance)
Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens (Fiction)
The Book of Scandal by Julia London (PbkRomance)
Wickedly Ever After by Michelle Marcos (PbkRomance)
To Tempt a Saint by Kate Moore (PbkRomance)
Love with the Perfect Scoundrel by Sophia Nash (PbkRomance)
Her Notorious Viscount by Jenna Petersen (PbkRomance)
Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (PbkRomance)
Fragile by Shiloh Walker (PbkRomance)
Covet by J. R. Ward (PbkRomance)
The Dangerous Duke by Christine Wells (PbkRomance)
The Northern Devil by Diane Whiteside (PbkRomance)


(Series romances from the Harlequin Blaze or Kensington Brava lines fall into this category.)

Sweet Persuasion by Maya Banks (PbkRomance)
A Seduction in Scarlet by Sara Bennett (PbkRomance)
A Rogue's Game by Renee Bernard (PbkRomance)
Never Lie to a Lady by Liz Carlyle (PbkRomance)
Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl (PbkRomance)
Under Fire by Jo Davis (PbkRomance)
Don't Tempt Me by Sylvia Day (PbkRomance)
Satisfaction by Thea Devine (Fiction)
Sinful by by Suzanne Forster, Maggie Shayne, Lori Foster, and Kimberly Randell (PbkRomance Sinful)
Scandalous by Lori Foster (PbkRomance)
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton (Fantasy Hamilton)
The Demon's Daughter by Emma Holly (Horror Holly)
Forbidden Fantasy by Cheryl Holt (PbkRomance)
The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (PbkRomance)
Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter (PbkRomance)
Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione (PbkRomance)
Hot Spot by Susan Johnson (Fiction)
Perfect Kisses by Susan Johnson, Sylvia Day, and Noelle Mack (PbkRomance Perfect)
Taken by Surprise by Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Katherine O'Neal (Fiction Taken)
The Courtesan by Julia Justiss (PbkRomance)
Deep Breath by Alison Kent (Fiction)
Burning Up by Virginia Kantra, Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, and Meljean Brook (PbkRomance Burning)
Wild Card by Lora Leigh (PbkRomance)
Demon Can't Help It by Kathy Love (PbkRomance)
Wicked by Noelle Mack (PbkRomance)
Flat-out Sexy by Erin McCarthy (PbkRomance)
Moving Target by Cheyenne McCray (PbkRomance)
Succubus Dreams by Richelle Mead (PbkRomance)
Deal with This by Lucy Monroe (PbkRomance)
Just for Her by Katherine O'Neal (PbkRomance)
Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice (Fiction)
Cry for Passion by Robin Schone (PbkRomance)
Private Places by Robin Schone, Claudia Dain, Allyson James, and Shiloh Walker (PbkRomance Private)
Strong and Sexy by Jill Shalvis (PbkRomance)
No Holding Back by Isabel Sharpe (PbkRomance)
Dangerous Pleasures by Bertrice Small (PbkRomance)
Fascinated by by Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Robin Schone (Fiction Fascinated)
Passion by Lisa Valdez (PbkRomance)
Under the Influence by Nancy Warren (PbkRomance)
An Indecent Proposition by Emma Wildes (PbkRomance)

* If you'd like to know more about the distinction between "erotica" and "sensual romance," take a look at Kathrynne Anne Dubois' article, Defining the Market.

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