DEBATE has been sparked over the Loch Ness Monster's gender ahead of the release of a fictional romance book.

American author Lana Ferguson's soon-to-be released paranormal romance has caused controversy on social media after the character of Nessie appears as a male on the book's cover.

Under Loch and Key by Ferguson follows a woman, Keyanna Mackay, who travels to Scotland to discover her family history and crosses paths with a man named Lachlan Greer.

The book description says the two “quickly discover that magic might not only be in fairy tales, and that love can be a real loch-mess”.

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On the front cover, the woman is standing on rocks in a loch with a man wearing a kilt and wellies kissing her hand. His shadow is suggested to be the monster.

TikTok account Shanbooks shared the cover in a video and said: “Lana Ferguson is releasing a romance book about the Loch Ness monster and I have never once in my life thought about the Loch Ness monster and thought it was a man.

“Like, Nessie is a woman.”

@shanbooks why is there a man there??? #booktok #underlochandkey ♬ original sound - shan | book recs🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

TikTok users commented on the video in agreement.

One person wrote: "Did a little poll and texted everyone and asked what they thought. Vast majority said female."

Another said: "I thought it was established knowledge Nessie is a woman? Even here in Denmark that's the common understanding "

One user who said they were from Scotland added: "As a Scot I’ve always been of the opinion that Nessie was a woman. Also Nessie is a nickname for Agnes.

"I don’t get how we got a guy as Nessie".

The first "sighting" of the monster was made by Saint Columba in 565 AD.

The Irish monk supposedly caught sight of the beast when he was informed by locals that a man had been eaten by Nessie.

Columba then sent one of his followers across the loch.

When the monster confronted the follower, Columba raised the sign of the cross and apparently said: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once," stopping Nessie in its tracks.