If You Like….

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard of Fifty Shades and the rise of the erotic romance. But what of those love stories that don’t spell it all out in anatomical detail?

If you like “closed door” romance, you’ll probably like….

— Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, still the champion after all these years. There’s nothing quite like that bit when Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs and kicks closed that door.

— M.M. Kaye’s three epics, The Far Pavilions, Shadow of the Moon, and Trade Wind. The scene in Trade Wind where Rory tells Hero he doesn’t play fair (and then carries her into the room and kicks the door closed behind them) still gives me goosebumps.

— Anything by Georgette Heyer. The sexual tension between Judith and Lord Worth in Regency Buck is so thick you could cut it with a quizzing glass, but we’ll never know for sure.

— Dorothy Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon. So what if these are technically mysteries rather than romances? The Dorothy Vane/Lord Peter relationship is one of the best romances out there. For several books, it’s been building, and, in Busman’s Honeymoon, they’re together at last. The book, rather daringly, opens on their wedding night. We never know exactly what goes on in that bedroom, but we do know that it inspires Harriet, where nothing else has, to refer to Peter as “my lord”.

— Pretty much anything by Eva Ibbotsen, but particularly A Company of Swans, which manages to create an incredibly erotic effect without being the least bit vulgar (and extra points for managing to make jokes involving odalisques).

— I can’t leave out Victoria Holt’s Secret for a Nightingale, which manages to imply a great deal without actually spelling it out (hello, Hellfire Club!).

— And, of course, there’s Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting.

Which are your favorite closed door romances?


  1. Sheila on July 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Two of my favorites are Marion Chesney (M.C. Beaton) and Patricia Veryan. Perhaps I am old and jaded, but I find there are just so many variations on “now he does this to her, she reacts like this , and does this to him” that authors can come up with. What makes it interesting is how they end up in that bedroom, coach, streambed, whatever, and how they cope with their changed relationship.

  2. Lauren on July 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Sheila, that stream bed comment cracked me up!

  3. Joanne M. on July 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

    So many come to mind! L. M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, Anya Seton’s Katherine, Jan Cox Speas My Lord Monleigh, and anything by Susanna Kearsley.

    I also love Tasha Alexander’s couple in her historical mystery series, and Deanna Raybourn’s Brisbane and Lady Julia are delightful.

    My two top favorite romances, though, remain Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester, and of course, Darcy and Elizabeth in P&P.

  4. Katie on July 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

    My favorite “closed door” romances are Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody mysteries. Granted, they aren’t really romances but mysteries. Despite this, the relationship between Professor and Mrs. Emerson is endearing and inspiring without ever being blatantly sexual or descriptive. After reading these books, you have a fairly good idea of the kind of steamy and satisfying relationship that they have without ever having to deal with any real details. I choose this relationship and these books for my favorite “closed door” romance because I think they show the kind of healthy, loving, lasting relationship that we should all want to have. And that, in my opinion, is far superior to Fifty Shades of Grey!

  5. Shelli on July 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I will save this list. I love “clean” romances.

  6. Sara Ganung on July 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Joanne: I agree!! Brisbane & Julia’s romance is very well done!! 🙂
    I haven’t read fifty shades of gray, I honestly don’t find the appeal!
    Nora Roberts comes to mind, but other than that I’m drawing a blank!!

  7. Chanpreet on July 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

    The Seduction of the Crimson Rose is one of my favorite “clean” romances. I also love the names mentioned above.

  8. MelissaW on July 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Definitely seconding Judith and Lord Worth in REGENCY BUCK – for certain, a case of I’m-attracted-to-you-and-would-rather-die-than-let-anyone-especially-you-know.

  9. jeffrey on July 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Edmund Persuader by Stuart Shotwell. I praise this book wherever and whenever I can. Comprising some 1,500 pages and a half million words, to say it is an epic is an understatement. Not since Jane Eyre have I ever been captivated by an unconsummated romance like that between the hero Edmund and heroine Mariah. Although Edmund has an earlier sexual relationship, the love and consequent sexual desire between hero Edmund and heroine Mariah is almost beyond endurance With exquisite skill the author manipulates a lustful undercurrent of desire beneath the formal relationship of a gentleman and gentlewoman. (sorry, no spoilers) This book is in my top 5 greatest reads ever.

  10. Liz on July 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Regency Buck was my very first Heyer…now I want to go back and read it again! Tracy Grant’s Suzanne and Malcolm books (Vienna Waltz, Imperial Scandal) are great closed-door romsnces too!

  11. jamie on July 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    elizabeth peters of course! and her alter pen name, barbara michaels are some of my favorites as well. mary stewart’s this rough magic and madam will you talk? are 2 of my must reads from her. jane aiken hodge too i adore- watch the wall my darling (dashing spies!), and greek wedding (more spies!) come to mind first for historical closed door romances with suspense. madeline brent(aka peter o’donnell) too was great at this, tregaron’s daughter and the long masquerade are fantastic as well
    ps> sheila cracked me up too!

  12. Am7 on July 17, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I totally missed the sexual tension of Regency Buck. Its not one of my favorites and I didn’t a lot of the attraction or passion. I miss seeing the subtle sexualities sometimes. I do love Georgette Heyer.
    I mentioned earlier than I have deep affection for the Mitford series featuring Cynthia and Father Tim. In the first two books they are dating and not intimate. The third books opens after they get married. While it is clear they enjoy physical intimacy and there is some mention of their love of cuddling and spooning with each other, that is about as graphic as it gets. I highly recommend this series which begins with At Home in Mitford.

  13. HJ on July 17, 2012 at 6:15 am

    I second the recommendations for Tracy Grant, Tasha Alexander and Deanna Raybourn. And (of course) Mary Stewart (Madam, Will You Talk?) and Lord Peter Wimsey.

    I’ve always been very fond of Venetia by Georgette Heyer, and her relationship with Damerel culminating in the wonderful scene where she confronts him while he’s a trifle castaway!

  14. Nancy Kvorka on July 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I like everything listed but it was really nice to see Madeline Brent, I enjoyed all of her(his – never knew that) books. And Joan Aiken Hodge. So many all time favorites here this week!

  15. Jenny on December 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Many great favorites already listed! The Blue Castle is a MUST read. The first chapters are dry, but trust me – necessary to understand the rest of her decisions. My 60-year-old father loved it. 🙂

    Ok, clean romance. Well, that hasn’t been mentioned yet. The Hollowed Kingdom. It’s YA, but fantastic. FANTASTIC.
    And Poison Study – although, really? After she’s thrown up all night? In the hay? Really?
    Anything by Marie-Louise Jensen. She’s not published extensively in the US, but you can usually get her stuff through book depository.

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