For those of us in our third decade and beyond, we may remember getting much of our sexual education from books like Forever, Puberty Blues and Flowers in the Attic or sneaking-a-peek at one of mum's Jackie Collins or Mills and Boon collection.
However the teens of today (largely thanks the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon), now have publishers catering to their curiosity and producing 'steamies', which is essentially erotic literature for younger readers.
The 'young adult' genre was coined in 2009 by Manhattan's St Martin's Press to reflect a slightly older group of readers who were indulging in teen, or young adult, fiction. Teen fiction is aimed at readers aged 13-19 years old while young adult books are aimed at those aged 18-25 years old.
US social networking site, Goodreads.com, is a website built around users' reading habits, with over 14 million members world wide. Since they created a new adult genre page in September 2012, more than 14 000 titles have been listed.
Publishers and authors are seeing a spike in the sales of books that fit the young adult genre in length and emotional intensity, but with slightly older characters and more explicitly detailed sex.
Their goal is simple... retain the young readers who have loyally worked their way through series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson or the Vampire Academy, while bridging the gap and covering issues that occur in that space between adolescence and adulthood.
Currently the fantasy, sexual tension and tawdry references to sex in teen novels, take form in the broody love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob in the Twilight saga or the unrequited love between Jace and Clary in the Mortal Instruments series, there are sexual undertones in the sacrifices made by Katniss and her conflicting love for Peeta and Gale in the Hunger Games. In reality, these books are the literary equivalent of having sex with your clothes on.
They simply allude, insinuate, tease and titillate the imagination of hormone fueled, curious teens.
Yet publishers reason that by providing more mature material, it's a good way to maintain devotion to books among the teenagers who are scooping up young adult fiction, with a crossover readership that is also attracting millions of adults. All the while creating a new source of revenue.
In the US, publishers are 'on trend', with companies such as Hot Key Books signing up 'steamies' author Abbi Glines to cater for the strong demand for teen romance fiction, she began by publishing young adult fiction and has slowly been adding steamier material as she has seen it drive up sales of her books. "We are seeing a transitional generation, they want a good narrative with the emotional intensity of teenagers, but they want sex, too," Glines says.
Leading the 'steamy' charge in the UK is author Liz Bankes, with her debut novel Irresistible.
"For me, a steamy is a story focusing on the feelings you have when you meet someone you like and it's written at the point where those feelings are confusing, exciting and there to be explored. I wanted to write a story that puts powerful feelings in an everyday setting. I wanted to write about passion, but passion that feels real, immediate and recognisable," explains Bankes.
As for the sexual content in the book Bankes says, "I think as long as what's written is true to the characters and the feelings building up to it, make sense to the reader, then sex is an important part of the story, just as it is a significant part of teenage life."
Brenda Gardner, Managing Director of Piccadilly Press, publisher of Irresistible is working with booksellers to find ways of producing books that satisfy teens' desires for steamy stories, without the graphic content that imbues the Fifty Shades books and other adult fiction. "It's not about graphic sex, it's about passion. These books have been designed to offer stories about contemporary teenage life so that young people have something to identify with." Gardner says.
Closer to home Aussie author Fiona Wood, explains why she believes addressing sexual themes is important, as she has done in her new book Wildlife, the follow up to her successful debut novel Six Impossible Things.
"Fiction provides a great forum to discuss sex in a positive way, particularly as teenagers are often squirmy about this topic. A book is private place to learn," says Wood.
"Wildlife, includes a first love and first-time sex storyline. For many teenagers in this era, first exposure to sex is via pornographic imagery. I also snuck information about Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender inclusiveness, safe sex, and 'drunk means no', into the story by making the protagonist's mother a doctor working in public health policy and sex education."
"A new attitude is pervading schools and libraries, there's a preparedness to provide stories that are reflective of real life, including sex, when they're told an age-appropriate way. We've never needed positive representations of sex more than we do now!" says Wood emphatically.