We all have preferences for the stories we enjoy, some of which are categorized by genre and others which can be a little tougher to box. With stories featuring romance or centering around romantic relationships, the type of romance and its intensity and what all is shown can often be a deciding factor for whether a story is a good fit.
So we have put together a handy little list that breaks down four key types of flavor that you might encounter in stories on the Romantic Fantasy Shelf.
Sweet – some romantic interactions and kissing, no onscreen or offscreen sex
Tangy – romantic interactions, kissing, and making out, fade to black sex scenes
Zesty – romantic interactions, kissing, and making out, one or more onscreen sex scenes
Piquant – romantic interactions, kissing, making out, detailed and/or longer sex scenes that include four-letter anatomical terms
These levels are somewhat fluid, so in general, classify stories at their highest level to help people find the level of content they want. Bear in mind that books within a series may not all be the same. Some books may, for instance, be tangy, whereas others within the same series may be zesty or piquant. So classify a series by its highest level and note, if you can recall, whether certain books have a less spiciness.
In all of these stories, romance will be an important element of the story, meaning that if you were to remove the romance, you would lose something significant from the story.
Here are some more explanations with examples so that you can see which category stories fit within.
In a sweet story, you may see handholding, kissing, snuggling, cuddling. Sexual feelings will not be described in detail. And sex between the characters will not occur offscreen or onscreen. It may be implied to have happened at some point between couples, but it will not be discussed or referenced beyond vague suggestions. Flirting will be minor and more innocent as will attraction in general. Strong lust will generally not be present though attraction will be. The attraction may be emotional or intellectual, and physical attraction will be more innocent or at the very least vague in its desires beyond being with the other individual.
In a tangy story, you will definitely see various forms of romantic interaction, and, if there are sex scenes, they will fade to black. They will also include more explicit discussions of sex and sexual interactions. There may not be actual sex scenes, but there will be longing and contemplation of sex as well as foreplay. This will often fall into the category of what most would consider PG-13.
In a zesty story, you will have similar levels of romantic interaction, flirtation, and discussion that may be similar Tangy, but sex scenes will be present and they will not always fade to black. In these stories, there will be at least one sex scene though others may also fade to black within the same story. The language will generally be more emotional in nature with more euphemisms used to describe the more intimate acts rather than explicit language and details regarding how the acts are performed.
Piquant stories are usually the most intense and will have more explicit language, including words like “fuck,” “dick,” “cock,” and so on. Anatomically correct as well as slang for body parts will be utilized throughout. Rather than being more emotive and descriptive, these stories will use more physically precise language with descriptions that may be detailed enough to use as a guide.