What Do You Think of Smoking in Books?


Brianna: I saw this book as a Kindle freebie a while back and from the cover alone, it had me thinking it’s a cowboy romance. Then I read the blurb and I was like ‘bowling?’. Here’s the cover and blurb:

The Perfect Score by Beth Williamson

The Perfect Score Tournament is coming to the small town of Espejo, Texas. The biggest bowling tournament in the state is going to change the lives of three friends.

The Perfect Score: Three novellas of women on a bowling team who all sign up for the tournament… what they find is more than a 300 game.

One Night Stand

Babs Loomis is a bitter woman. Her husband left her after five years because they couldn’t have children and he didn’t want a woman that was barren. She is a chain smoker, and a drinker, intent on getting as much pleasure as she can out of life. She bowls for company – Veronica and Marlene are her closest friends. When she runs into Jimmy Tanaka at the tournament, a former friend of her ex-husband’s, her bitterness turns into something completely different and totally unexpected.

Can Babs overcome her own ghosts and find more than a one night stand?

Widow’s Weeds

Veronica Avery needs to get laid. It’s been five years since her husband died in a car accident and she’s lonely and tired of trying to meet men that end up with a big “L” on their forehead. When she joins The Perfect Score bowling tournament, her modest hopes are pinned on meeting a man she might feel comfortable going to bed with.

She’s not expecting to meet Patrice Goldman, a woman that inspires feelings of passion and longing in her cobwebby heart. Afraid and confused, Veronica tries to deny her growing feelings for the auburn haired woman, but fate has other things in mind for the woman in black. It’s time to shed her widow’s weeds and live again.

Marlene’s Man

Marlene is a big girl and has always been a big girl, but she’s a kick-ass bowler, determined to finally hit that 300 game. The Perfect Score tournament at the Starlite Bowling Alley is her chance to show the world that she’s worth something more than just a quick lay.

When she meets Buck Miller at the tournament, she falls instantly in lust. When their fabulous sex turns into a relationship, Marlene runs like a scared rabbit. Will Buck give up his goal of a perfect game to convince the woman of his dreams that he loves her? Or will Marlene’s stubbornness ruin her chances at a 300 game and a man of her own?

J9: I saw that and thought, wow, are we at the bottom of the athlete barrel!?

Brianna: First of all, bowling?!! That cover, although it’s a nice cover, doesn’t portray what the blurb talks about. They’re so mismatched, it’s like there was a switch-a-roo in the cover department. But that’s beside the point. What caught my attention is that the heroine in the One Night Stand story is a chain smoker. The smoking turned me off. If its mentioned in the blurb, you know it's going to be mentioned throughout the book.

You don't smoke, do you?

J9: I don’t smoke and I have a very low tolerance for smoking.  Growing up I hated cigarettes and was glad when the East Coast implemented the public smoking ban.  When I move to Indiana with my husband they still didn’t have a public smoking ban and I became a homebody so I didn’t have the side effects of secondhand smoke.  I feel so strongly about it that I detest smoking in books.

Brianna: I don't think I've ever read a book where one of the leads smokes. Maybe one of the BDB books? If I have, it wasn't like I was bombarded with it.

J9: Yes, Vishous in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series smokes but it’s described as smelling like a mix of chocolate and Starbucks--I could probably get behind that kind of smoking!

It’s very common in historical novels set in England to have the heroes smoke cheroots, a cheap tobacco cigar.  In one of my favorite historicals of all time, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, the heroine, Callie, has a list of things women don’t do that she’s going to try and one of them is smoking a cheroot. I’m not sure why I have no problem with this kind of smoking. 

When I started reading romance in the 90’s (books likely published in 80’s), smoking was an alpha-male trait and lots of heroes smoked.  I remember smoking heroes in Diana Palmer’s books, especially her cowboy romances.  I stopped reading contemporaries the moment I discovered historicals so I can’t speak to current contemporary romance.

Brianna: I read quite a bit of contemporary romance and I can’t recall a single time where the hero or heroine smoked. I can’t stand the smell of smoke either. It’s disgusting. Both my parents were smokers so I grew up in it. I was glad when my mom quit.

I don’t mind drinking in my romance novels (unless the character is constantly drunk) but I don’t want smoking. And I find myself tsk-tsking when I see smoking in movies.

J9: Yeah, it’s funny that I have the same sentiments. I don’t mind moderate drinking but smoking says something about a character in a way.  I recently read a two-book contemporary MM series, Impulse by Amelia Gormley, where one lead is a smoker but he has real issues with being a smoker.  He only smokes outside, washes his hands when he comes inside and uses mouthwash nonstop. Smoking is a nervous habit he used to cope with his abusive ex-boyfriend.  It’s the only example I can think of in a contemporary romance where I didn’t mind the smoking since it was part of the character development. I hope in the final book three he quits smoking entirely!


Our question to you readers – what do you think of smoking in books? Does it bother you at all?

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. Well I know that chess from downside smokes stuff but it doesn't bother me in this case. I guess it depends on the storyline. Brianna --I notice it once in a while but Chess it what comes to Mind first :)

    But with real life and smoking I don't like the smell. My grandpa smoked so much that he died of lung cancer. I saw what it did to him :(. I know that the laws have changed in Ca to have smoking outside and away from schools. My thoughts

  2. I always think of this when a smoker character whether lead or not is in a book, it would be like kissing an ashtray which is not something most of us would find appealing.

    My Dad smoked a pipe for years and I hated it enough get in trouble for yelling at him when he "lit up" in a vehicle. Happiest day of my life was when he stopped smoking!

    When we go out somewhere now it is so nice to not have anyone smoking in a public restaurant because who likes to smell like cigarettes when they get home and they did not smoke them?

    1. Licking an ashtray is totally what I think of when kissing a smoker--even in a book! I am with you, so glad for the public smoking ban! I watch Mad Men and can't imagine a time when people smoked like that everywhere, just disgusting to me!

  3. That cover has absolutely nothing to do with bowling!

    My mom died of cancer from smoking so that's not something I enjoy reading. In this case, from the summary I sort of hope once Babs falls in love she'll stop. If she didn't I would be upset.

    I wouldn't say it would stop me from reading a book (Julie mentioned Chess from the Downside Ghost series & I love that character) but it would totally turn me off if the hero smoked. I also hate in historicals when they call it a cheroot. I just hate that word lol

    1. Really? I think cheroot is much more exotic sounding that cigarette. :)

    2. And so sorry about your mom, that's a rough memory to have.

  4. I will admit that I'm a smoker but smoking in a book bugs me. Its a nasty habit and I am trying to quit. I smoke outside of my home and away from other people. I respect non smokers in their right to NOT have to smell it or be around it at all.

    I guess that makes me a weird smoker in some ways. I don't like smoking in books. The cigarette after works but to have someone chain smoke? No. Back in the day, it was acceptable but in today's society its not. So leave it out.


    1. In some ways, Harlie Reader, I feel bad for smokers because we're so harsh about it. I hope we don't make you feel bad talking about this.

  5. I'm not a smoker and I hate the smell.

    But one of my favorite series, Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane, the heroine and hero both smoke. But that's not her only problem, she a pill popper too so I guess the smoking is not the worst thing the heroine can do. LOL

    1. Do you think then that authors use smoking to tell readers something about a character? I think in the Downside Ghosts series the smoking is part of the on-the-edge heroine so I think authors do.

  6. I don't smoke, not a fan of smoking, and my dad smoked for years before quitting. Thought I cannot say I care that it's in a book, it won't stop me from reading it. The way I look at it, I am not the one doing it, and I am not smelling it - therefor, have at it ;) There are a lot of worse things that can happen in books that would turn me off over smoking.

  7. I hate to say it but smokin in books turns me off too. I think the only book I've read where it happened was in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the main character (guy) was a smoker.

    Tanya Patrice

  8. Seth Masterskn the hero of Elle Kennedy's Getting Hotter is a smoker. It is talked about in the story somewhat and the Heroine even comments a few times about it. I detest smoking. In fact I almost didn't read this story because of the fact he is a smoker. I must have bought it really cheap.


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