Why is this here?
I chose to put this content guidance on my website because it is the most dynamic forum I have, allowing me to update it as readers give additional feedback on the guidance they prefer. Why not in the book? Amazon Kindle books tend to auto-start the reader at the full text, often skipping dedications and epigraphs, so I was not sure a warning in the book would reach everyone. (The vast majority of my readers read the ebook version.) Moreover, the Amazon purchase page itself is problematic because the text there turns into keywords that may influence a product’s search results. If you have reached this page and found it useful, I hope that you will share its existence with others who seek it. The full book-by-book breakdown is found at the bottom of the page.
Steamy. There are between one and five graphic scenes of sexual intercourse, oral sex, and/or masturbation per title in the Sugar Sun series, depending on the book length and story. The chapter locations of every scene is listed per book after each respective title below.
One of the reasons that romance makes a person feel so intensely is that the reader is heavily invested in the two main characters and their relationship. How does the reader become so intimately involved? For me, one of the ways is by being present at the most intimate of scenes, when the armor of clothing is shed and the characters become figuratively and literally naked. I strive to make the sex scenes advance the plot and help the reader navigate the relationship in its most raw state. Romance does not require explicit sex scenes, but my books have them.
Some history I depict is idealized, like the utopian sugar hacienda where a hardworking hacendero pays his employees fairly and sponsors a school for their children. This is essentially magical realism, with a heavy dose of wishful thinking. (North and South was a big influence.) Other material in the series is quite close to the factual record, like the occupation policies employed by the Americans in the Philippines, which included forced labor, torture, and razing of entire villages. One of my characters attempts to be a whistleblower, pointing out injustices to his superiors in the military. (He fails because they are complicit.) Like him, I wrote this series because I wanted Americans to face their history and get over their imperial amnesia. I teach a high school course on U.S. empire in the Philippines—an understudied chapter in American history—and my scholarly investigations have shaped my novels and this blog.
I choose when to be constrained by real history and when to adhere to a more modern sensibility. This is my own historical chronotope. I am walking a well-trod path in creating a chronotope. The entire sub-genre I call Regency World is one. Moreover, writers have been fabricating chronotopes in historical fiction for centuries. Antony and Cleopatra—while not a romance—is proof that Shakespeare made this same choice. The play is based partly off the history he had at his disposal, Plutarch’s Lives, but he also added scenes and changed historical facts to suit the story. Some scholars even say that Shakespeare was writing a political commentary of his times, using Elizabeth I as his model for Cleopatra. While Shakespeare is the platinum standard of literature now, he wrote popular fiction for his contemporary audience. He was a storyteller.
Guidance by Title:
When the content is limited to discrete chapters, those chapters have been identified:
Under the Sugar Sun: explicit sexual content (42-45, 59, 66); child and domestic abuse (mentioned), pregnancy; vomit and bodily fluids (57); animal death (16, 38); swearing; reference to past sexual violence; reference to past child mortality; and racist/imperialist attitudes expressed by some characters.
Hotel Oriente: explicit sexual content (17); childhood illness (mentioned); narcissistic personality disorder of a secondary character; sexism, classism, ableism, and racist/imperialist attitudes expressed by some characters.
Tempting Hymn: explicit sexual content (11, 16) and sexual content (12, 13); child mortality (explicit in prologue, but also a general theme throughout); mortality of first spouse/widower; epidemic disease (cholera); bodily fluids (prologue, 2); childbirth and complications in childbirth (15); nurse/patient relationship; sexism, classism, ageism, and racist/imperialist attitudes expressed by some characters.
Sugar Moon: explicit sexual content (27, 28, 31, 35, 54) and sexual content (30, 40); warfare and violence, including death, forced captivity, kidnapping, and use of guns; combat trauma; maternal mortality (52); childbirth and complications in childbirth (52, 56); suicidal ideation (17, 36, 45); animal death (29, 50); drug addiction; alcohol abuse (40); child and domestic abuse (mentioned); vomit and bodily fluids; swearing; reference to past sexual violence; reference to past child mortality; reference to infertility (53); and racist/imperialist attitudes expressed by some characters.