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Rating System

A Books & Benches review is an honest, unbiased opinion of the book. Our reviewers do their best to provide an accurate impression of the book without revealing spoilers. Not everyone will agree with a reviewer's opinion, but that's okay because each reader is as unique as the stories they read.

When we relaunched our site, we did so without a rating system. Ratings remain for books reviewed up through 2017. Content ratings are still active for all books posted on this site. 

As of August 2020 . . .

We only review books we like and no longer assign a rating. If a reviewer did not enjoy the book, it will not be reviewed on this site because life is too short to talk about books we don't like. We do have a Seal of Excellence badge for our reviewers' top picks. Badges will appear on the review post.

The following ratings apply to all post types.

Content Codes Deciphered!

0 Hearts: This book is as squeaky clean as it gets.

1 Heart: Aww! This is a clean read appropriate for all audiences. May have sweet, clean kisses.


2 Hearts: Our hearts are aflutter. This author knows how to turn up the heat with some passionate kisses. Nothing graphic here!


3 Hearts: Chemistry is a little sweet and little spicy. A touch of detail, but the stuff that makes us blush is behind closed doors.

4 Hearts: We're getting hot in here! These characters know how to have a good time. Lucky for us, they don't go into too much detail.


5 Hearts: Pull out your fans and grab a glass of ice-cold water because this book is steaming hot! One or more graphic sex scenes.

**We do not feature or review erotica or erotic romance.**

Content Ratings (Non-Romance Books)

N/A: No Sex; No Violence

PG: Non-Descriptive Sex; No Violence

PG-13 (1): Non-Descriptive Sex; Some Violence

PG-13 (2): No Sex; Some Violence

R (1): Descriptive Sex and Violence

R (2): No Sex; Graphic Violence

Previous ratings you may see on this site prior to the end of 2017. We no longer include ratings for book reviews.

Star Ratings Deciphered!

5 Stars: Stupendous! In the reader's opinion, you can't go wrong with this book. It's a Top Pick!

4 1/2 Stars: Excellent Book! In this reader's opinion, we're impressed and hope readers pick this one up. It's a Top Pick!

4 Stars: Good Book! In the reader's opinion, this was an enjoyable book and think you should read it, too.


Previous ratings you may see on this site prior to June, 15, 2017.

3 1/2 Stars: Enjoyable Read! In this reader's opinion, we'd recommend this book for a light escape and easy read.

3 Stars: Decent Book! In this reader's opinion, we think there's an audience out there waiting to enjoy this story.


Content Ratings not active after 5/17/2017.

3 Hearts: Now that's chemistry! We love when two people know how to express their passion, but we like it even more when they do it behind closed doors.

4 1/2 Hearts: Still hot, and boy do we feel the passion, but not as graphic as expected.

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