Word Count Classification:
Novel is over 40,000 words
Novella is between 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette is between 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story is under 7,500 words
Romance Heat Level Classification:
Here are the heat levels, which are very good general descriptions (mind you, these levels are posted for authors submitting and not necessarily for the readers to see but are important to understand):
Sweet. A sweet romance focuses on the romantic relationship between the couple. No intimate scenes or sexual situations are described in the book. The book closes the door on any love scene. We may know the main characters have sex but we don’t read about it. Sexual tension is important and can be at a high level.
Sensual. A sensual romance elevates the sensuality level of the story with at least one consummated love scene. The love/sex scene is an integral part of the story, and could contribute to the conflict, but is not explicitly described. Emotion, conflict, and sexual tension run high; they drive the story, rather than the race to have sex.
Sizzle. A sizzle romance can be sensual, playful, sexy, edgy and/or graphic. Sex scenes are more frequent and detailed in description. The number of sexual encounters/love scenes (two or more) that occur within the story, as well as the length and depth of description, define this level of heat. The emphasis, however, is on telling the romantic story, not how often or plentiful the sex.
Erotic Romance. An erotic romance story pushes past the boundaries of traditional romance. Sexual situations not found in traditional sweet-sensual-sizzle romance can be found in erotic romance. The sex is hot and plentiful, the language is graphic and real, and the multiple love/sex scenes throughout are explicitly described. The plot must stay within the confines of a romantic story of two people, with the sex often the driver of the story. Happily-ever-after (HEA) ending is a must.
Erotica. An erotica story goes beyond erotic romance to explore sexuality at a higher and diverse level. There may, or may not, be a romance or romantic elements – this is consensual sex, or sexual activity, for the sake of sex and sexual pleasure/gratification. Stories can still be sensual, sexy, intimate and satisfying, while moving beyond traditional intimacy and sexual boundaries. The stories are no holds barred on most sexual situations and may contain elements that are offensive to some. Ménage, multiple partners, BDSM, taboo fantasies are acceptable. The sex is plentiful, sporadic, intentional, chaotic, random, implied, controlled, denied, or maybe not even there at all. Illegal acts are never included in our erotica stories. HEA is not required, nor expected.
So which category would Cindy's books fall under? Why sweet heat level, of course.
Clean Romance can contain sex scenes between married couples only. It can also contain, what can be considered mild offensive language.
Inspirational Romance contains a triad relationship between the hero, heroine and God. It does not contain offensive language.
Sweet Romance or Clean and Wholesome Romance consists of the progressive, anticipation-building, emotional relationship between the hero and heroine as the story progresses and stops at the bedroom door. It may contain kissing or not. It does not contain offensive language.
Christian Romance is much the same as sweet romance but must contain an element of faith in Jesus Christ woven throughout the plot. Another name for this is Proper Romance.
Dark Romance can involve non-consent heroines and involve rape, torture, incest, sexual slavery, underage sex, kidnapping, etc. It goes beyond your run of the mill adultery and cheating.
Bully Romance are stories where the hero bullies the heroine in the story, and it can be taken to extremes until the heroine gets her revenge.
Contemporary Romance is set in the time when they are written and usually reflect the mores of that time.
Historical Romance is a broad category of fiction which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. There are many sub-genres of this genre.
Paranormal romance blends the real with the fantastic or science fictional. The fantastic elements may be woven into an alternate version of our own world in an urban fantasy involving vampires, werewolves, and/or demons, or they may be more "normal" manifestations of the paranormal—humans with psychic abilities, witches, or ghosts.
Science Fiction Romance includes time travel, fantasy, science fiction and futuristic stories and blend romance with fantasy or science fiction. They often overlap the paranormal subgenre.
Fantasy Romance is a fantasy story using many of the elements and conventions of the romance genre.
Time-travel Romance is a version of the classic "fish out of water" story. In most stories, the heroine is from the present day and travels into the past to meet the hero.
Chick Lit Romance is named after the readership it attracts (women in their twenties and thirties). Some of the dominant themes of chick lit are a single woman's journey through career, high-powered work environment, personal life, relationships, motherhood, and parenting.
There are many subgenres or tropes within the romance categories. Within the last few years, the term "romantic suspense" has changed. The current definition is:
Romantic suspense involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve. Typically, however, the heroine is the victim of a crime or attempted crime, and works with a hero, who tends to be in a field where he would serve as a protector, such as a police officer, FBI agent, bodyguard, or Navy SEAL. By the end of the novel, the mystery is resolved and the interaction between the hero and heroine has evolved into a solid relationship.
Action-Adventure Romance has a quest, a search for some important object/person/thing, that gives the story its adventure feel. These stories are like Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone.
Disclaimer: In recent years, steamy authors have taken over the word "sweet" to mean their story has a lot of heart or their hero is not an alpha-male like in the bully romance genre. Readers can become confused by the current trends of definitions and so can authors.