Are you tired of sex?
Ummm, wait— that didn’t come out quite right! Allow me to start over . . .
Cara/Andrea here, and what I meant to ask is, are you growing a little tired of all the sex scenes in romance novels these days? I’ve recently been seeing a number of reader comments on various online forums saying that all the gymnastics are becoming . . . boring. The complaint seems to stem from the perception that too many books appear to be simply stringing together a number of hot bed scenes with little attention paid to characterization or story plot.
The question is of particular interest to me lately because I have two books out this month—Passionately Yours, the third book in my Regency historical trilogy, has explicit sex scenes and Devil May Care, a new traditional Regency, does not. Now, I think most of us would agree that sex is a natural and beautiful and meaningful element of love and loving relationship. Yes, you can have love without sex and sex without love, but when they join forces, so to speak, it adds a special chemistry.
But here’s where we get to the heart of the matter—what creates that emotional sizzle between a hero and a heroine on the page?
For romance writers these days, the choice of how to do that is essentially a very simple one—graphic descriptions of physical intimacy, or creating a physical tension but them leaving the details to the imagination of the readers. Yes, yes, I am grossing simplifying here, as there are infinite shades of gray—and all other colors of the rainbow—within the two choices. But for the sake of discussion, let’s play with these two basic directions.
We’ve all read passages where the attraction between the hero and heroine has flames shooting up from the page. What I find intriguing as both a reader and writer is that it’s just as likely to happen from the description of a look exchanged between the couple as it is from knowing exactly what rumpley-pumpley is going on beneath the sheets. In other words, sexual chemistry has no simple formula—add this amount of “X” to this amount of “Y” and boom, you have the perfect mix.
It’s an art, not a science . . .
We all have unique ideas about what’s sexy. For some of us it’s the shape of a smile or the spark of mischief lighting up the eyes. And for some of us it’s, um, other things. As readers, I think we all enjoy seeing how authors play with crafting the indefinable mix that ignites the perfect sparks for us.
But rather than prose on about what I think, I’d rather hear your thoughts on the what you find hot—and cold—in romance books today. Is there too much graphic sex? What works for you—and what doesn’t? I’ll be giving away a copy of one of my new releases (your choice—Devil May Care is e-only) to a lucky winner who leaves a comment here between now and Tuesday night.