Hei hei, y'all! I'm ST Bende, and I write paranormal romance. More specifically, Norse-mythology inspired paranormal romance. Even more specifically, SWEET Norse-mythology inspired paranormal romance.

Yep, sweet. My Elsker Saga is about Ull, the Norse God of Winter. He's a 6'5" cashmere-wearing, smolder-giving, Asgardian assassin, who gives his girl Kristia lots of lingering looks and spine tingling kisses. But he slams the door right in my face when things get too steamy. Which means none of us get to see any explicit nookie from Ull.

He's bossy like that.

Does that mean his stories don't qualify as New Adult?


Here at the Alley, we really hope to stretch the boundaries of what's considered NA. What started out being stereotyped as "YA with sex" now branches into fantasy, paranormal, steampunk, horror, erotica, and, hopefully, sweet romance. As with any category, our readers have different tastes, and the same reader might have different tastes at different times. Our #NALitChat friends know I'm a massive fan of Chick Lit. (Have you read indie author Tracie Banister's books? No? Then go! Go now! Read them all! Send waffles to thank me.) But I also love Stacey Nash's YA conspiracy books, Kristie Cook's paranormal romances, and Ednah Walters' Norse-based stories. I write sweet paranormal romances because they're what I enjoy writing, and I'm grateful to everyone who's embraced my imaginary friends -- whether as New Adult characters, Upper YA characters, Mythology characters, or just the crazy Norse gods they are. At the end of the day, I hope Ull & the crew make people smile. And if this uber-bossy Norse god with a penchant for privacy doesn't make you grin, please don't tell him. We don't want to make Ull mad.


What do y'all think? Is there room in NA for sweet romance? Or do nookie-free books fall firmly into another category?


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  1. I love sex scenes (Yes I do) but they have to be developed and true for the couple, so I'd rather skip the erotica and have sweet any day :) Especially if it's Ull.

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  2. Ull <3 s you, SJ. And I agree, well developed character arcs are key to believability for me in any romance, sweet or steamy.

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  3. Thank you for shining a spotlight on sweet NA! I've written four sweet NA contemporary romances and have had a number of readers say they'd love to see more in this genre. I hope the genre continues to widen, and readers don't automatically assume all NA titles have explicit sex scenes. There's room for all types of stories!

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  4. I consider what I'm writing to be NA chick-lit. People give me the strangest looks when I tell them I write NA that focuses on the young woman and not on the romance (although it's true there's a romantic thread in the plot). And I'm looking up the rest of you right now!

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    1. Ooh, chick lit + NA? Yes please! I'm checking out your books, lady. ;)

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  5. I love all types of genres and I definitely think there is room for sweet na. SometimesI want something light that doesn't focus on the bedroom (or wherever the deed is being done).

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  6. There's room for all kinds of stories (and heat levels) in NA! If the author and story doesn't need or want to go there to feel complete, then why force it? There are plenty of readers who aren't looking aren't looking for steamy reads.

    I think the issue is that the most popular NA books early on were all HOT, so the entire category started getting branded as 'sexy'. Which I definitely think it can be. But it can also be sweet, heroic, epic, fun, humorous, and so much more.

    Great post, lady. :)

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  7. I say yay! My Mark of Nexus series doesn't include sex until the last book for a multitude of series-specific reasons, and I'm a-okay with that. If people want to see Rena rip Wallace's clothes off in the first ten chapters, they can write fanfiction. ;)

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  8. I'm a yay. I like all heat levels, but my own writing is somewhere in the middle. I've had a few readers remark on the door-slamming before the actual deed in my books. I've also had some comment they were glad that sex wasn't the focus.

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  9. I agree with EJ & Brinda. My books have I'd say borderline sexy sex scenes. Artful I'd call it. But there's room for all sorts of NA experiences.

    I do think it's unfortunate that early NA was sooo hot at the start. But I think the readership is open to less heat but more deep.

    That still sounds dirty.
    I leave it there. ;)

    Great post pixie!

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  10. I think it’s important to have both sweet and hotter NA available to readers. It opens NA up to a wider range of readers. Also, not all stories or characters suit open door and blow your socks off sex scenes.

    My NA paranormal series has a romance thread braided in with the rest of the plot. There isn’t sex in the first book, but there is some hot kissing, touching and my main character has a rather steamy imagination when it comes to daydreams. The second book starts off with sizzle, but not super graphic and that thread doesn’t overshadow the main story. Mostly, my characters are too busy to spend a lot of time between the sheets.

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  11. Definitely YAY for sweet NA! I agree that it's important for writers and readers to explore all types of New Adult fiction. NA shouldn't be defined by sex!

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  12. Great post, ST. I agree that there's room for all in NA. My historical NAs are also sweet. Now going to check out these authors....

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  13. Excellent! I'm writing my first NA after some YAs, and I'm so glad to hear this.

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  14. I love it all too! I want love scenes that are organic to the story and not just there because it's expected. And I'm okay with not knowing every movement or lick or throb, etc. lol. Fading to black is sometimes hotter than spelling it all out IMO. :)

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  15. Another Yay here. I can certainly enjoy reading love scenes that are steamy if the story calls for it and it's a natural progression for the characters, but I don't want it in Every. Single. Book. And I chose to close the door in my 20 Something series, which is contemporary NA under my Amy Patrick pen name. Honestly, I was a little worried about making that choice, and felt some pressure to heat them up. In the end, I consider my books "swexy". Sweet + Sexy. There's sexual tension, chemistry, some sensual scenes, but no explicit descriptions, and I've only gotten a few complaints and quite a few reviews that specifically call it "refreshing" and a pleasant change NOT to have a play-by-play description of every intimate moment. I do know, though, that readers who are in it JUST for the super-hot-freaky-circus-sex are not going to buy my books. You have to be fine with that when you make the decision to write sweeter- those readers are just not your audience. I read another great blog post on this topic by Chelsea Fine called The Giant Sexball. http://chelseafinebooks.com/the-giant-sexball/ -- and I wrote one as well for a guest blog a while back and got some very interesting comments, if anyone cares to read it: http://www.newadultrockstars.com/amy-patrick-on-the-sweeter-side-of-new-adult/ My hope is that the term New Adult will come to encompass books about all kinds of experiences and characters in that 18-26 age group. I'm excited to hear about some new possibilities from these commenters!

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