Hawaii Five-O had a lot of banter last night with Steve and Danny that was nice. I'd been missing that. And Apollo Anton Ohno as a guest star, so yeah, that was awesome. He does do "bad guy" quite well. (I voted for him on Dancing With the Stars. I miss Julianne Hough. But I digress.) And even though the case itself wasn't that stellar, the scenery was gorgeous. Yes, Hawaii, I want to come and visit you personally, but at least I can live somewhat vicariously every Monday night.
To tell you the truth, I watched Castle before H50 last night for the first time in ages. The storyline was so good from last week I had high hopes for the conclusion this week, both plot-wise and relationship-wise. Unfortunately, it was the same old bait and switch on the relationship front. (The plot wasn't half-bad, though, since you know how much I love the spy stuff). Last week left us hanging, with Castle and Beckett about to drown in the Hudson. This week, we see Beckett who looks like she's drowning, Castle is desperately trying to come to her aid and he does so at the last minute. But instead of even a hug after this near death experience, once again we get a brother/sisterly sort of "thanks" and then a shoulder bump at the end of the eppy after they almost die a couple more times.
At this point I don't think the writers know how to write romance because they've certainly lost me with what they're trying to do---besides frustrate viewers. Castle and Beckett absolutely had the tension, the looks, the flirting in the first three seasons and that was a large part of what drew me into the characters. Castle was must-see TV for me. But then they had Castle declare his love at the end of last season and then they've pretty much acted like best friends/brother & sister types ever since. It's too bad, really. I hope it gets better.
But that got me thinking about romance last night. Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, but lately I've been reading a lot of historical romance. I belong to a "Clean Romance" group on Goodreads for those of us who like romance without explicit intimacy. There was a book recommended on the site as a clean romance, With His Lady's Assistance by Cheryl Bolen, and since it was regency I decided to buy it. It started out with a British spy, Captain Jack Dryden, being called back from the Peninsula to help find the assassin who was targeting the Prince Regent. Of course, the spy couldn't function among the ton without someone to smooth the way, so the Prince Regent suggests a woman who has all the connections, but is sort of unattractive and thus unmarried. (Sounds like something right up my alley, right? Spy stuff, I love you.)
Daphne Chalmers is smart and educated, but she also has to wear spectacles and doesn't care about fashion. She makes others feel at ease, and is discreet about indiscretions among those of her class. She finds Captain Dryden extremely attractive and is happy to play his faux-fiancee until they find out who is plotting to kill the Prince Regent. Of course, she's actually got really pretty eyes behind the spectacles (but no one really sees them except Captain Jack) and is almost beautiful when she tries to dress up and actually does something with her hair. But that's a given in these romances is it not?
There are some funny moments as they try to keep up their facade to be engaged and uncover the nefarious assassin. The author writes the main characters well. I did guess who was behind the plot quite early on, but there was a little twist at the end that surprised me. But all's well that ends well, if you know what I mean.
The thing that I wanted to discuss today was what you think of "clean romance" or as this book is billed on Goodreads as a "sweet romance." For me, clean or sweet implies that there isn't any sexual relations or anything that implies it. So, With His Lady's Assistance could technically be categorized as clean, since the main characters remain chaste throughout, however, there is quite a bit of discussion about adultery and certain acts that are committed in an opera box no less, which is apparently okay because it's just what rich people do. There is some discussion of what happens during sexual intimacy, and a conversation between our hero and heroine about certain parts of the anatomy and what happens when you are physically intimate. (And those things could have totally been left out and weren't integral to the story. As is usually the case.) But because of the inclusion of these things, for me, I can't say this book is "clean" romance and wouldn't recommend it as such. But where do you draw the line? And do you tell the others in your clean romance group your thoughts on whether you consider this book "clean" or not?
I know this is a matter of taste, but I'm interested to know, what do you consider clean romance? And do you read or like clean romances?
Also, here is the back copy of With His Lady's Assistance:
To help him mingle in the highest echelons of English society to investigate threats on the Prince Regent's life, super spy Captain Jack Dryden must feign an engagement to the exceedingly plain spinster, Lady Daphne Chalmers. Together they embark on an investigation which brings them into grave peril – and makes the captain reevaluate the skinny maiden who has a most amorous effect upon him