2022 Romance Titles Ranked By Heat Level

Once again, because it is a popular follow-up to my annual Books I Read lists, I’m including a list of the category romance titles I read this past year and ranking them by heat level. For those who might be unfamiliar with that term, it essentially refers to the sensuality level or raciness of the story. There are several different technical, helpful guides and explanations for how to rate such things if you go looking for them online, but I’ll summarize the widely accepted definitions below.

Something to remember here: I’m not including any titles that could easily or more appropriately fit into a different genre, such as fantasy, even if those stories contain strong romantic subplots. This ranking list is strictly for titles that don’t really fit anywhere else.

Also, once again, I’m including an explanation of the usually accepted five heat levels within the romance genre. Again, these categories of romance have been well established for a while now, and these are the ranking guidelines I use. You can no doubt find other ways of ranking them or other descriptions of them, but these are the descriptions I go by, so please bear that in mind.

Here are the five levels of heat, in order, with very brief descriptions:

*  MILD — Sweet like a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these titles to my adolescent children or even mature middle schoolers who were genuinely interested in the genre. In many examples of this heat level, the most titillating thing that happens might be kissing and the occasional cute innuendo.

*  MEDIUM — Generally equivalent to a PG-13 movie in that intimate situations or scenes are there, but they aren’t graphically described and won’t likely make people (who like the concept of kissing books) uncomfortable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend books like these to high school students who genuinely liked YA romance. (Please note that not all titles in this heat level will be YA.)

*  HOT — Sometimes called steamy, sexy, or spicy, this level includes most category romance books and offers a wide range of description of intimate activity and the language used to describe it; the titles I’ve included here also represent a wide range within this heat level.

*  NUCLEAR — Expect graphic descriptions and possible forays beyond vanilla.

*  EROTIC (ROMANCE) — This heat level pushes boundaries, most definitely; the characters’ emotional journeys are lived through explicit sexual activity, but (unlike in erotica) the emotional journey and the external story still retain primacy — as does the all-important happy story ending.

And here are the titles I read this past year, ranked by me:

None this past year, although if I were including other books from my reading list that didn’t fit exclusively into category romance, some of them would probably be here.

Cinder-Nanny by Sariah Wilson
Roommaid by Sariah Wilson
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Sleeper by Kayley Loring
Charmer by Kayley Loring
Trouble Maker by Kayley Loring
Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
All the Feels by Olivia Dade
The Love Interest by Kayley Loring
Munro by Kresley Cole *
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Good Vibrations by Kayley Loring
A Very Bossy Christmas by Kayley Loring
A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn
A Very Friendly Valentines Day by Kayley Loring
So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn
Hello Darling by Kayley Loring
It Takes a Villa by Kilby Blades
The Reunion by Meghan Quinn
The One Night by Meghan Quinn
Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

Get Off Easy by Sara Brookes **
Switch It Up by Sara Brookes **
In the Rough by Sara Brookes **

Get Off Easy by Sara Brookes **
Switch It Up by Sara Brookes **
In the Rough by Sara Brookes **

* Munro by Kresley Cole is the latest installment in her Immortals After Dark series, which overall is most definitely in the nuclear category. However, Munro was published after quite a long hiatus from the rest of the series, and I don’t recall it having the same timbre as the previous books. Proceed with caution in case my memory is faulty.

** I suspect that with this trilogy by Sara Brookes, how a reader perceives the heat level is going to be largely determined by the individual reader’s experience and taste. All three books could fit into either or both heat levels.

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