Is it Hot or Not?

OK, I admit it. I google myself and my book THE RULES OF GENTILITY rather a lot and some of what I find makes me cringe and some makes me laugh.

Some is just peculiar, like THE RULES being hailed by some people as being a refreshing change from all that nasty sex stuff that's polluting our bookstores. For anyone who knows me, the idea of me being some sort of bastion of decency is hilarious.

So how did these readers (or would be readers) come to this conclusion?

Quite simply, because there is no overt sex in the book.

It made me wonder why we're so simplistic about what defines a "hot" book because I consider THE RULES one of the more erotic things I've written (and I do write erotic historicals under another name). The rule of THE RULES--the erotic structure--is that my heroine and hero Philomena and Inigo do not have sex in an environment where just about everyone else does.

I read something a long while ago in an introduction to SENSE & SENSIBILITY that has stayed with me: in the Regency/late Georgian period, the elements of public/private were reversed, a fact only fairly recently reflected in architecture with the introduction of specific areas for family and servants. Weddings were quiet and private ceremonies, whereas courtships and proposals had to somehow be carried out in crowded rooms with the players on display. It was with this erotic structure and the historical truth in mind that I gave Philomena and Inigo a very strong awareness of the other's physical presence, an undercurrent of desire.

I suppose, since I was spoofing the genre, I sidestepped the blatant opportunities for a seduction/consummation (although Philomena certainly does her best at one point). Is it a squeaky clean book? I don't think so. I hope not. I do have a reputation to maintain.

What do you think makes a book hot?

Janet Mullany