Okay, don’t laugh. I know I’m an erotic romance author. I know my characters have a whole LOT of sex, but when you pick up an erotic romance book the first word sort of cues you in as to how often the characters will be “doing it”. But what if you’re not reading an erotic romance? What if you’ve picked up the latest contemporary romantic suspense? Then how do you feel about it?
I’ve noticed in the last few books I’ve read that the hero and heroine, once they allowed themselves to do the horizontal mamba once … they just kept going at it. In between fighting the villain and discovering the mystery of who was trying to kill the heroine, they kept falling into bed. I actually found myself flipping pages to get back to the story. I just didn’t think the sex scenes added to the story. And these weren’t just a little kissing and grabbing and then fading to black, it was the whole shabang.
But ya know … hollywood is doing the same thing. There seems to be so much more titillation on television and in the movies. The actors must just have their body doubles on-call for every movie. Nakedness and sex seem to be expected in every blockbuster. So I’m just wondering if authors are writing the story as they feel it needs to be written or are publishers asking for more sensuality? Have readers come to expect more sex in their romances? Short of reading YA or Inspirational, should readers be ready for the sexier scenes in their romance stories?
How do you feel about it? As a writer are you happy about this apparent trend? As a reader how are you reacting to stories with more loving? Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like this.
I’d like to welcome guest romance blogger, Phyllis Campbell.
Heart thumping, palms moist, she settles her shaky fingers on the keyboard. Millions of thoughts run through her mind, those that aren’t very good…at least that’s what her momma had told her as a young girl. Squeezing her eyes closed, pictures of half-naked men float through her mind and her mouth turns dry. SEX! No, it couldn’t be time to write the sex scene, could it? Her religious leader would certainly kick her out of church for fear of a bolt of lighting spearing down from heaven. What about her parents? Would her own husband disown her? Her poor children would have to walk down the streets with their head ducked from now on.
But she’s a romance writer. It needs to be written!
She swallows the lump of fear lodged in her throat and takes a deep breath. Once her eyes are open, she focuses on her story. Reminding herself it’s a natural thing, she proceeds, her fingers fly across the keyboard as if they had a mind of their own. His masculine scent of leather and spice fills the air, consuming every breath she takes. In her head, the scene unfolds, the hero sweeps the heroine off into another world where seduction and passion rule. Seeking fingers, curious kisses…
The more she writes, the wider her grin spreads. Her heart now beats a different rhythm. Her palms are moist for entirely different reasons this time. And in her chest…love grows. This excitement is the thrill she needs –the energy that gives her the courage to continue and not be afraid.
I don’t know about most writers, but I’ve certainly experienced this a time or two (or three or four) since I first started writing. Those who don’t read romance stories label us as ‘smut’ writers. All we think about is sex – twenty-four hours a day. My husband tells me this numerous times…and it isn’t for flattery. (grin) But there’s a bigger picture. The overall picture that nobody sees but romance writers. We aren’t writing about sex – we’re writing about love.
I write Sensual…don’t you just love that word? It rolls across your tongue like a lover’s passionate kiss. Makes you want to deepen your voice in a sexy tone, lower your lids half-mast and part your mouth. Maybe even swipe your tongue across your dry lips…
Okay, I’m getting carried away again. I need to get back to the point of this article. As a writer, when will you know it’s time to write the sex scene? I can’t believe how many times I’ve been asked this question. Do you know what I say? My answer is this… Listen to your characters. Between them and the theme of the story, that will tell you when. For my stories, my characters must have some kind of attraction between them, and as the story progresses, this attraction becomes the theme of my story. I LOVE to tease the reader—and yes, my poor characters get affected as well. They want it. Badly. They almost get it, but then something happens to make it not happen. Pretty soon they’re playing that sensual, teasing dance again and even take it a little farther…but just before they get what they want, it’s snatched right from under them. Finally I’ve created the build-up. I’ve made my reader WANT it to happen as much as my characters do. So now it’s time… Or is it? Like I said earlier, the characters are really the ones who’ll let you know when they’re ready. And when they are… WATCH OUT! It’s a fun ride for all!
Now let me tell you about an awesome Christmas anthology titled – “A Summons from His Grace.” This has three short stories, but it gets better. It’s part of a four-part collection. There is also “A Summons from Yorkshire”, and “A Summons from The Castle”, and “A Summons from The Duke.” The cool thing about this is our characters are all related. The Duke of Danby has summoned his children and grandchildren to Danby Castle for Christmas. Each story tells about those who made the trek—and why—and how they fell in love.
Please enjoy this EXCERPT:
As much as Calvin knew she really shouldn’t be in his room, he was reluctant to tell her to leave. Being close to her like this reminded him of how he enjoyed touching her—how he had cherished their first kiss and couldn’t wait for another one.
And here she stood in her nightrail. It was as if the stars aligned perfectly in the heavens and fate was on his side, because even the companion wouldn’t be disturbing their privacy tonight.
“Calvin, you shouldn’t say such a thing.” The tone of her voice wasn’t as sharp as it had been moments ago.
“I can’t help it. With you so near, it makes me want to touch you.” He bent his head closer to hers while his hands continued to hold her face.
She clutched his hands, and for a second he thought she meant to remove them. But she didn’t. Desire coated her blue eyes as they rested on his mouth. His heart jerked. She wanted this as badly as he did, despite her words earlier. Perhaps she was as confused as he was. But unlike Dorothy, when Calvin became confused, he didn’t cover it with anger.
He brushed his lips across hers. Hesitating…prolonging the excitement building inside his body.
“Calvin,” she whispered. “Why are you doing this to me?”
Smiling, he slid his hands down her neck as he rubbed his cheek against hers. “Pray, tell me what exactly I’m doing?”
She closed her eyes. “You’re making me want things that aren’t possible. You’re bringing my body alive, something that’s never happened to me.”
He kissed her eyelids. “Dorothy, my lovely, this is a new experience for me as well.” He slid his lips across her cheek again. “Because my body has never burned so much for a woman.”
A small moan came from her as she searched for his mouth with hers. When their lips met, he crushed her in his arms, kissing her soundly. Her arms hooked over his shoulders as she held him tight.
He caressed his tongue with hers, and she responded so passionately it nearly had him dropping to his knees. Moving a hand between their bodies, he cupped her breast, which elicited another moan from her. Under his palm, her nipple beaded, and he became aware of just how naked she was under this gown. Eager for more, he broke the kiss to move his lips over her chin and down her throat.
“This should be wrong, but it feels too good,” she muttered.
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Phyllis Campbell is an award-winning, multi-published and best-selling author of romance; from the dark and mysterious hero who sends shivers up your spine to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to keep them in line. She’s been published with several small presses since 2006. Most of her reviewers have given her the title of “Queen Of Sexual Tension”. Married with kids (and three grandchildren), Phyllis has lived in Utah all of her life and enjoys family activities when she’s not writing her next sensual story.
I’ve always enjoyed the culmination of the romance with the sweet and tender (or very hot) sex scene. But I’ve noticed, as no doubt you have as well, that these scenes in main stream books have become *ah hem* very detailed.
It’s not that it surprises me. What’s been allowed on the big screen without an “X” rating being slapped onto a movie has changed exponentially since I was a kid. I really don’t remember specific titles, but I recently watched a movie and remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t watching with my children or *gulp* my mother-in-law. It was less the yards of flesh and more the actions, explicit actions, that when watched with Mr. Nina were hot, but I was definitely surprised by how much they got away with. And now that’s translated to the small screen. Less with naked bodies and more with language.
So it’s not really surprising that romance books are following suit. It used to be the hero and heroine would have that one sex scene described in euphemisms. Now it seems like authors are being asked to put the sex in often and graphically. Like … really detailed.
Now here’s the interesting thing. In movies, woman can be shown naked. Everything. Breasts, butt, genitalia. For a long time. Men on the other hand can be shown in all their naked frontal glory for less than a second. And absolutely NO hint of arousal, otherwise the movie loses its “R” rating.
But books seem to go in the opposite direction. All the graphic euphemisms for men’s genitalia are found within the sex scenes. But the women? Nothing. They’re “entered” or “filled”. They have “most sensitive spots” and “tender flesh”. Because this isn’t erotic romance, it’s main stream. I’m currently editing a short novella that I “thought” was an erotic romance. But I think if I just change some of the intimate wording that my story will fall into the realm of just romance. Sexy romance, but not erotica.
But I wonder. how far can an author push the love scenes before a reader decides they’re reading erotica? At what point does it push the line from just sexy to over the top? Has the line become so blurred that even readers aren’t sure what they’re reading? Are there words/acts that you just don’t want to see? Because this whole thing is certainly confusing me and I’d love to hear what you think.