Shannon Hale has a post up about her book, Austenland:
"And on the other hand, I've come under criticism from some for writing a "vulgar" and "trashy" book. This absolutely astounds me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for every reader having that individual reading experience, for their experience to be much different than mine. I'm just so surprised by it! If it were a movie, I feel pretty confident it'd be rated PG. When I was writing austenland, I thought, "People like me who enjoy romance but don't like to read the smutty stuff will dig this book! It's so fun and clean and yet still sexy!" And then come the accusations of vulgarity. sigh You really, really can't anticipate how people will respond."
It's also well worth it to review the comments for the post, as people respond to this (and other things mentioned in the post.)
I'm intrigued because Hale set out to write a "clean" book. (A term I use reluctantly because I don't agree that sex in a book makes it "dirty", yet it is a term that is used so frequently that I don't have much of a choice.) I didn't get into this aspect in my review, and I have since lent my copy out, but my recollection of the book is that Hale did a great job of being vague about the s.e.x, to the point that it was entirely possible for the reader to think that the main character was still a virgin. Oh, there were boyfriends and kissage and making out; but no s.e.x. Yet, apparently, just the multiple boyfriends (um, not all at the same time!) and the kissing/ making out (all very PG, as Hale says) was enough for people to say "no go." (Actually, vulgar and trashy.)
The point? For some people, even dating and kissing and trying to figure out "do I like guy y or guy x" is going to render a book "not clean." It can be very difficult to match the book to a reader, either as an author or as someone doing reader's advisory (whether the person doing RA is a librarian, parent, teacher, or blogger.) It's yet another reason I try to stay away from the term "clean" and instead ask, what it is the reader wants and is comfortable with reading. Matching up books and readers is an art, not a science; and not everyone shares the same standards, the same criteria, or even the same definition of what a term means.