I was listening to the radio this afternoon and there was a story on about the movie rating system and how almost everything BEFORE there were ratings would have been G rated and that everything, even movies designed for children (with very few exceptions) is now rated at least PG. The reason, clearly, to both the radio host and to my children, is that G rated stuff MUST be BORING.
My brain segued that into thoughts of books, of course. There the trend is similar. The mysteries of Christie, Chandler, and Queen are very mild compared to Robert Parker, Janet Evanovich, and James Patterson. Romance novels show an even wider difference between Betty Neels and Anne Mather on the early end (or Jane Austen, even) with Thea Devine and Sylvia Day.
But are they BETTER?
They are certainly different, but I can't say they are better. That is not to paint either extreme with a wide brush. I don't mind a graphic sex scene or an expressly violent scene if it adds to the plot or characterization in the story. Lisa Scottoline weaves sex and violence into her stories very well, as does Linda Barnes and many others. It is purposeful and well done.
On the other hand just because a story does not have graphic sex or violence definitely does NOT mean it is boring. Mitch Albom's works are some of the best I've read. Larry Doyle is excellent.
And I'd like to add one more. May Nicole Abbey writes historical/time travel romance. It is pretty G rated. It is exceptional. Her first book is The Dreamer. Her second, The Scholar, is recently released.