Romance on a Beach HolidayThe future of the romance novel is in grave jeopardy as long as pornography infiltrates the genre.

I say this because my 91-year-old mother just finished reading the novel I gave her for Christmas—the one I thought I had thoroughly scanned prior to buying to make sure it was clean.

Today she confessed that at the end of the book—when the heroine and hero finally come together—was a graphic sex scene. She is not naive or a prude, but the unexpected sexual content was so shocking that she was quite put off. I felt terrible.

Regardless of the relaxed morals of the world of entertainment, I believe it is incumbent upon the publishing industry to inform consumers when the content of its novels includes pornographic scenes.

I am not opposed to erotica. I am incensed that unsuspecting readers are frequently exposed to smut wrapped in the guise of romance. The two are not synonymous. There was a time when romance meant love not sex.

Romance is described as “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” Pornography is described as “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”

This is exactly what was in this romance novel that I purchased for my mother. Sexual organs were described, a sexual act was described, sex was substituted for romance and the concept of love was merely a means to a sensational, sexual ending. This is unacceptable.

I call on the publishing industry to devise a rating system to inform the public when the book contains pornographic scenes. At the very least, they could print a warning on the cover. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find good, clean romance novels in the marketplace. You remember the kind: girl longs for boy, boy finds girl, sparks fly and love blooms.

As long as the publishing industry panders to the lowest common denominator of human sensibilities to boost sales, the more the romance genre will suffer. Eventually, It will cease to exist. Romance—the mystery and yearning for “the other”—will be replaced by longer and more frequent graphic sex scenes tied loosely together by an insubstantial plot.

Readers who have enjoyed romance novels for generations need to either boycott these novels or vociferously complain to the publishers. The only thing that publishers listen to besides sales figures is public opinion.

I despair that it is probably already too late. The sex genie is out of the bottle and will not return to where it belongs—within the erotica genre. As long as profits rule decisions rather than morality, romance will become a cliché and romance novels a thing of the past.