Question: Do You Have Trouble Transitioning From YA Romance to Adult Romance?

Posted August 7, 2014 by Jessica in Question / 82 Comments


So here’s the deal . . .

I think everyone knows that I read YA. I’m pretty sure most people know that I like romance in my books as well. Generally speaking, there are distinct differences between what is allowed in YA and in adult books . . . b/c come on . . . I know I can’t be the only one who sees “romance” in this connotation as a polite euphemism for SEX.

BUT . . . despite those distinct differences, I don’t really have trouble transitioning from YA romance to adult romance.

There are several reasons for this:

1. I’m very picky about the YA I read, and as a result, the YA I read is much more mature than typical YA. I don’t read the kind of YA that’s filled with insta-love or lost puppy antics and typical high school-ness.

And a lot of the YA I do read straight up has sex in it. It might not happen explicitly, or even on page, but it does happen. It’s part of the more adult culture that takes place in the fantasy or futuristic/post apocalyptic worlds I prefer in my YA—if a 17 year old is responsible not only for his or her self, but frequently for other people as well, ALL of his or her relationships are going to be more adult.

2. When reading adult, yes,  I still like my books to have an element of romance in them, but it’s more important that they have likable characters and a good plot. The romance is secondary, and I don’t necessarily need it to include lots of descriptive and imaginative sex.

For example, in one of my favorite UF series, two characters had been dancing around the romance issue for years (<——book release-wise, in their world it was probably only six months). There was an obvious attraction, but it didn’t progress beyond that until a couple of installments ago, and that progression was simply a kiss . . . and it was one of the hottest kisses I’ve ever experienced in print (and YES, it was an experience). Then for two more installments, lots of sexual tension and longing looks, but too many obstacles, blah blah, and FINALLY in the latest book they had the sex.

And I can joke about it, and refer to it as “having the sex,” b/c it was really awkward, not even remotely HOT sex. The kiss from three books ago was infinitely more satisfying.

3. On the rare occasion that I do read an adult book full of sexy times, it’s a deliberate veering away from my standard set of preferences—an exception, not the rule.

So no . . . I don’t have a hard time transitioning, b/c it’s not much of one. Not for me, anyway. But what about you?

Do You Have Trouble Transitioning From YA Romance to Adult Romance?

Jessica Signature

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.



82 responses to “Question: Do You Have Trouble Transitioning From YA Romance to Adult Romance?

  1. I can go from regular romance in YA to the adult stuff without much of a problem I think. It’s a different mindset to begin with when I start the book, so by the time anything happens I’m fine with it. I read way more YA at the moment but I read them for the story mostly.
    Kelsey recently posted…Cat Thursday-All About Emile

  2. I find YA very similar to adult fiction these days. Middle Grade and chapter books is very different…so when I try to write YA, then go back to MG, it is a bit of a transition, but I try reading in the genre in which I’m writing. I am much more able to read an adult fiction novel while writing YA than while writing MG, though.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted…Three Things I Write, Three Things I Don’t

  3. I don’t have a problem at all. I truly enjoy both genres. Like you I adore sexual tension!! More than the sex scenes. I listen to some erotica but believe or not it’s mostly for the stories, that’s why I like dark erotica, those are like horror books for me…LOL
    My expectations are the same with all the genres, I want likable and believable characters with a story the grabs me from the start.
    lupdilup recently posted…Ugly Love Audiobook by Colleen Hoover review

  4. I don’t have trouble transitioning either Jessica, though I would say the romance novels I pick up do tend to have a number of descriptive sex scenes in them 😉 Like you however, characters are the most important thing for me in YA or adult, though in an adult romance even more so because with a romance (not UF), I know they’re going to end up together, so the overall plot arc isn’t really surprising. It’s all about who the characters are and how they relate to one another and those around them that makes a romance a hit or miss for me. I always gravitate toward character-driven stories in YA too, so my preferences are pretty much the same no matter the genre:)

  5. Stephanie H.

    I don’t struggle with transitions either and I read a few MG books as well. I think I read enough variety that I don’t let myself expect certs thi vs as far as romance.

    I know exactly which UF series you are talking about and THAT KISS!!!!!

  6. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    I think I have more trouble transitioning from adult romance to YA romance, actually, rather than the other way around. Especially when you have adult authors who are AMAZING at writing passionate romance and love scenes, and then I go to YA and then I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. That’s not to say YA authors can’t write incredibly passionate romances too, because some are very talented at it…but I find that it’s more rare. And maybe this just means I need to be pickier with my YA too!
    Mogsy recently posted…Panels: Amazon

    • Maybe, LOL. I don’t know. I think I pretty much take whatever book I’m reading, YA or adult, at face value, without much in the way of expectations (unless it’s from a series or author that I read regularly, but that’s different, I think). And again, mostly it’s my mood that dictates what I read, and not the book that forces me to conform, so it really hasn’t been an issue for me.

  7. I so agree. I am not a fan of NA for the reasons you outlined in this post. They are all about sex to the point where they are erotic. I prefer mature YA as well and try and avoid the love triangles. UF is one of my fav genres like you because it doesn’t spend a great deal of time focusing on romance. I know exactly what series you were talking about in your post it could only be referring to Trent and Rachel 🙂

  8. You better not be talking about the UF series I think you’re talking about, or I’m going to be very annoyed with a certain Haith Funter (hahaha I’m so cunning I could be a spy). I do have a hard time with transitioning sometimes, because sometimes I like the gush-y aspects of YA romance but want it to come after the beautiful build up of an adult romance. Unfortunately it often happens at the couple’s first meeting. Apparently I should be asking you for YA recs as well as UF! 😉
    Danya recently posted…Tough Travelling: Quest Objects

    • NO, I’m actually not talking about that one, LOL. And you can ask me for any recs you want to, b/c I love recs 😉 And since you opened that can of worms, I can’t remember–have you read Throne of Glass yet? B/c it’s amazeballs. Fyi.

    • Yes, it’s definitely understandable 😉 I’m just too stubborn, I guess. I read what I want, when I want, so I typically get exactly what I’m looking for, unless it’s a crap book, and then I have issues for all kinds of reasons.

  9. I don’t have any trouble transitioning either, Jessica. And for most of the same reasons as you. I can actually enjoy a book with little to no romance *gasp* if the story is good. But I am rather fond of the romantic element being present. 😉

  10. I don’t have any problem transitioning between YA romances and adult romances at all. I have different expectations from them, and for me, the most important part in both categories is that the relationships have chemistry. I’ve read YA books where the sexual tension was extremely hot and bothersome, even when nothing explicit was happening, and I’ve read adult books where they are fucking all the time and I’m completely bored. So it just depends on the the author’s writing, I’m willing to be seduced, they just need to do the work to get me there!

    Incidentally, I have read a couple of YA books recently that I felt could have benefited from being NA–in that it felt like there should have been sex, but there wasn’t. In CRUEL BEAUTY, the whole thing revolves around her marriage and seduction, so it seemed really weird that there wasn’t more there. And in EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, the chemistry is so good that I was kinda dying for things to get hotter and…heavier. 😉
    Wendy Darling recently posted…If I Stay film + book giveaway

    • Exactly. It’s all about expectations for me too, and I don’t go into reading a YA with expectations for lots of physical interactions, and yes, it’s definitely about chemistry for me too. Lots of sex doesn’t equate good book for me, b/c it the characters are poorly developed . . . yep, I get bored as well.

      And I’m glad to know that about EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, b/c I’ve been looking forward to it myself.

  11. I don’t really have any trouble at all. I’m more open-minded now when it comes to sex and stuff, and I know there’s a lot of that in Adult books. Maybe when I was more innocent it would have bothered me, as there was a time it felt too intimidating, Adult books that is, that I only read mysteries and thrillers by James Patterson (lol so lame). My first Adult read was actually KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux. That was the first time I read something that had sex in it, and I was, I dunno, 15? And it was so awesome because the story was good, the characterization was good, and the sex only felt natural. Although I did worry about the terms such as “his shaft” and “her cherry” and stuff like that…. it was kinda funny at the time! HAHAHA.
    Faye recently posted…ARC Review: The Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell – “Holy smokes, this is AWESOME!”

  12. I don’t have trouble with the transition either, from YA to Adult. I have expectations in each genre and age group. I know for the most part I’m going to have plenty of romance (sex) in the paranormal reads I pick up, vs. say a YA read with Paranomral. The funny thing is, one of the things I first enjoyed so much in YA was the sexual tension. I mean, my gosh, these books IMO were well written, have great imaginative stories, yet there was just so much tension in replace of actual physical act. I mean serious, hot tension. I loved thechemistry in YA. Sometimes, the adult books, are well written, characters great ect- but somewhere the tension has been lost, the build-up. The swoon. I want my romance, but I love the build-up 😉
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Young Adult Book Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  13. I agree that so much depends on the types of YA and adult you read. I don’t like to read erotica, because to me the plot is lacking and the characters are weird. I prefer a good well-rounded story, with great plot, likeable or interesting characters, and some romance. Whether the romance is detailed or glossed over doesn’t really matter if it fits the story line 🙂
    Julie recently posted…Sharing the Bookish Love – August 8, 2014

  14. I have gotten to that point where I can’t read just any YA book anymore and it’s hard for my to transition into YA most of the time. Probably b/c I had read so many of the other genres and the previous YA books I have read just weren’t as good and I have become less interested. Though I still think I will give new YA books a try that get 4.5-5 reviews. But I have really toned down on the YA scene and have been staying strictly in the UF and PNR genre zone.
    Mariya recently posted…Review: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

  15. I was actually the opposite, other than certain classics, I read adult books first before YA so I was pretty much used to sex in my books even though it wasn’t explicit. It was getting used to books without sex that I had to adjust. O.o I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing lol.

    But I do agree, my taste leans more to mature YA too, that’s why I don’t often read YA contemporary books and I tend to not enjoy high schoolish books anymore although I tend to try really popular ones once in awhile. But I think it’s realistic that if there is romance in the book, sex do doesn’t have to be explicit. I mean, Ive probably read thousands (ok I might be exxagerating) of sex scenes by now so nowadays, I tend to skim them. I think I babbled way too much in this comment. Sorry! >.<
    Amir recently posted…Review: Facing the Music by Andrea Laurence

    • *shakes head at Amir* You weren’t babbling. Not even a little bit. And I don’t enjoy high schoolish books either, but not for the lack of sex, LOL. KIDDING. I know that’s not what you meant. We’re just too old for most of that nonsense 😉

  16. Really interesting topic Jess! Because I read so much YA, sometimes when I stumble upon the hotter romance or sex in adult romances, I’m like WOAH and I have to remember that I’m reading an adult book. I like how you mentioned that you read YA that is aimed at an older audience, and it seems a lot more relatable or maybe even realistic to us as an older audience.
    Jeann recently posted…Introducing Our New Co-Blogger Michelle!

    • LOL. Yeah, even though I read mostly adult (b/c UF) what I read typically isn’t sex-focused, so when I stumble across an unexpected sex scene, it can catch me off guard as well. And yeah, that’s why I don’t get it when someone is completely opposed to YA. So much YA is written for literal young adults, rather than the traditional 12-18 y.o. that there’s really not a huge age gap anymore.

  17. Before I got into YA, I did read adult books. I mean, hello Black Dagger Brotherhood. It has tons of sexy times but I was most invested in the characters and the overall plot. With the transition, I don’t think I get any sort of problems because I do know what to expect and what not to expect. Also, I’m more of a reader who doesn’t really look for romance in a novel. It’s good if it’s there, if there wasn’t any, I’m fine with that as well. But I have a really low tolerance for stupid romantic tendencies, which I agree is more abundant in YA novels. Take instalove for example. Like you Jessica, I don’t like them. But I think no one likes instalove, period. Haha. That one is a huge deal-breaker for me. Plus, I believe the more slow-burning the romance is, the better.
    Sarah recently posted…Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

  18. I don’t read much adult romance but I there is romance and sex in UF quite often so… no. I don’t really have trouble transitioning. I generally don’t care to read explicit sex so if it’s detailed I skim it anyway. Like you said, YA often has sex too, it’s just more off page so I guess I just don’t have to skim. lol.
    I LOVE when the sexual tension builds up like you said. The simplest interaction between them is just so fantastic!
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  19. I read just about everything-from the YA’s with the insta-love, to adult erotica. I don’t usually have a problem changing mental gears when I change books, though some do throw me off. For instance-I just finished reading Grasshopper Jungle (which I LOVED). It’s labeled as YA but it was FULL of sexual references and situations (both straight and GLBT-oh and lots and lots of mutated bug sex, lol). I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this being a YA book, and personally I don’t think it should be labeled YA because of its very mature content. But, these kind of books are the exception and not the norm 🙂
    Finley Jayne recently posted…New Feature {Baking with Finley Jayne} Beautiful Blueberries!

  20. Sometimes it is a bit more difficult to transition in my case, because I usually just read YA all the time. When I read adult and there’s a romance, I suddenly get assaulted with an explicit sex scene, whereas in most YA it’s just mentioned in passing and that’s it, lol. I don’t mind explicit sex scenes, though, so it doesn’t affect how I like the story.
    Marianne recently posted…{Audiobook} Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

  21. I suppose I don’t have a hard time switching over because I don’t read a lot of YA romance. I do read a lot of YA but I skip the romance/contemporary books. They just are so well not my style and I am sorry to say but I think it’s because I am just past that point in my life. I prefer older romances now… geeze I feel old saying that. LOL!
    Angie recently posted…San Diego Comic Con 2014

    • No, LOL—well, if you’re old, then I’m old too. I have almost no use for YA romance/contemporary, and unless one is getting SERIOUS acclamation, it doesn’t even ping my radar anymore. And again, the romance in YA fantasy, which is mostly what I read in YA, is much more mature than other YA.

      ALSO–OMG you went to SDCC?? Didn’t you go to the RT Con this year as well? LUCKY!!

  22. Lorelle Page ( from LorellePage)  

    I had a hard time classifying my urban fantasy. It isn’t angsty like most YA ( which tends to be more paranormal romance like anyway), but it doesn’t have the explicit sex or sex at all this stage. And Ya isn’t completely devoid of it anyway. I also like it when the tension is built over a number of books, and I’m happy when it’s not explicit. So really I like both as long as it isn’t insta-love, it isn’t explicit, it isn’t the focus of the book and there is loads of build up – and that could be either YA or Adult. I don’t really know that I answered the question lol but I think you know what I mean.
    Lorelle Page ( recently posted…I missed middle child day? Here is my contribution…

  23. I read a lot of YA, because of me being youngster and all 😛 But I don’t have any trouble at all! This day you’ll see me reading a very fluffy and sweet YA then tomorrow my nose will be buried in some book with a naked body for the cover (not that naked though) I just try to be really open minded about everything. And honestly, I’m more comfortable reading the sex and stuff if it’s an Adult book. It’s just so weird in Ya sometimes. They’re like 14 or 15 and they’re talking like some sex expert and IDK, it’s just so weird for me. 😛 I’m so.. odd.
    Paula M. recently posted…MINI REVIEWS: Written In Red & Murder Of Crows by Anne Bishop a.k.a why is everything so amazing

    • Hmmm . . . I’ve never a read a book with a 14 year old sexpert, and honestly . . . I hope I never do, LOL. My youngest sister is 14, and I don’t even want to think about that!! (NO, NO, MAKE IT STOP!!!!!). *snorts*