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Is it the SEX or ROMANCE?
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Jacqueline Seewald



Joined: 09 Apr 2008
Posts: 2
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 6:58 pm    Post subject: Sex or romance Reply with quote

I enjoy a strong romance in novels. Sex scenes are fine as long as there's a reason for them, not just gratuitous titillation. In my most recent novel, THE INFERNO COLLECTION, published this past June in hardcover, I spent several years writing a romantic suspense/mystery thriller. I wanted to balance strong elements of romance with a well-written mystery that was fast-paced. For me, it was important to create quality fiction. The sex as well as the romance in this novel were very important to the plot as well as character development and delineation.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star/Gale
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MMcA wrote:
And I think I disagree with Natalie - not exactly that I look for sex scenes in other genres, more that some of the more memorable writing about sex that I've read comes from outside the genre. Memorable is perhaps the wrong word. Writing that rings true.


I didn't say that sex in non romance books is always bad or disgusting... I don't mind if it's tasteful, short and contributes to the story. However, other genres have been as guilty of writing gratituous sex scenes as romance authors. The main difference is that romance authors at least try to make sex romantic, even at the expence of realism. And I've seen plenty of unrealistic sex in other books...

I do skip sex scenes in other genres if they're too long or deal with unpleasant subjects like rape or pedophily. Thank you, but no thank you Rolling Eyes
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kelly B wrote:
Quote:
[S]ome of the more memorable writing about sex that I've read comes from outside the genre. Memorable is perhaps the wrong word. Writing that rings true.


I agree. I think that romance sex is pretty much fantasy sex, which, of course, feeds into the fantasy at the core of the genre. All the trappings of seduction, always a simultaneous orgasm, no weird bodily functions, realizations that this position just isn't working, etc. It's always PERFECT and AMAZING and LIFE-ALTERING. Sex is great, but part of what I love about it is the fun and imperfections that come along with it.


I used to be annoyed with this until I learned to overlook it. I mean, romance is not exactly a very realistic genre. If the h/h always end up together (usually married with a bunch of kids), why can't they have great sex, too? As long as relationship works, and that is what's important to most readers anyway.

That said, I like it when sex is not perfect (at first, anyway) and h/h have to deal with some issues ("To Have and to Hold, for example).
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 681

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think Jennifer Crusie does realistic sex very well--the kind of hang-ups that you can have going in, the fun of a good romp, the fact that it doesn't always work with the technical precision of a well-produced porn. Her characters always seem very real to me, including how they act and relate to each other in the bedroom.


Kelly, I so nearly said in my post that Crusie would be a romance author whose sex scenes work for me.

Quote:
However, other genres have been as guilty of writing gratituous sex scenes as romance authors. The main difference is that romance authors at least try to make sex romantic, even at the expence of realism. And I've seen plenty of unrealistic sex in other books...


I agree, Natalie. I especially dislike the - want to use the word 'trope' here, but I'm still not confident of the usage - the way that in men's adventure stories all the women are beautiful and want to have sex with the hero, no strings attached. (See: Cussler, Clive)
But while I'd agree that there are really dodgy sex scenes in other genres, I know I've read sex scenes that I liked, because they seem truthful.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1088
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I agree, Natalie. I especially dislike the - want to use the word 'trope' here, but I'm still not confident of the usage - the way that in men's adventure stories all the women are beautiful and want to have sex with the hero, no strings attached. (See: Cussler, Clive)


I will admit that Mr Cussler's sex scenes turned me off a very long time ago, but even then (I think I was about 15?) I worked out that this must be a male fantasy and as such not written with me in mind. I hoped! Shocked Not saying it's ALL men's fantasy, but I had the impression my brother was getting kick out of Clive . . .

Elizabeth
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graceC



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 474

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just discovered Erotica myself, and I've learned that I don't care much for the story if there's no romance in it, no matter how unconventional the romance is. I've also discovered that too many sex scenes can be really boring if there's no plot, no character development, or anything else that would make the story readable. I might as well rent a straight porn if sex is all there is to it.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Re: Is it the SEX or ROMANCE? Reply with quote

SO the question: Is it the SEX or ROMANCE that ultimately captures your interest in a romance novel?[/quote]



Funny you should mention this, lately, I've been becoming more and more bored with the mega-sex scenes in books. I either don't finish the book or skim through the many, too many love scenes. REally, if you took away half the love scenes in some books you'd end up with about a 10 page book. Now, that's not to say I've always been this way, but in the past 6 months or so, the many, many love scenes don't interest me. In the beginning, I started reading romance novels for the romance and not the many sex scenes, so perhaps I'm back to square one, which is a good thing anyway. And you are correct in another point in your post...so much of the e-book offerings are erotica, but I think it sells wel and is popular. Nothing wrong with it, but personally, I'm looking for something more at this point in my reading life.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you know, IMO, a romance without sex would be like coffee without caffeine. "Love's mysteries in souls do grow,/But yet the body is his book"
John Donne.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Well, you know, IMO, a romance without sex would be like coffee without caffeine. "Love's mysteries in souls do grow,/But yet the body is his book"
John Donne.


Or like a martial arts movie without fights... just like with romance with sex, many martial movies overindulge in the gore at the expense of plot and character development. But if you go watch one, you do expect to see some kung-fu along with everything else.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can read a romance with just kisses or even great chemistry, but I do enjoy the love scenes too along with a well written romantic story. It just seems that some books feature...well, overkill, but that's just my opinion. I know there are readers that enjoy that a lot. I've read a few very well done "burning" romances. Personally, I can't read one after the other though, or only read erotica/romantica. To me, it becomes boring and tedious.
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athena_d



Joined: 04 Jul 2007
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
It just seems that some books feature...well, overkill, but that's just my opinion.


I feel the same way. Some books have too many sex scenes to the point where it becomes roll-your-eyes-boring. I tend to skim them. Ill read the first three or four sexual encounter, but if they're going to go at it like rabbits throughout the book, its just overkill.

I realized that I'm so much pickier with my books now than when I first started reading romance novels. When I was younger, I would only read romance books with sex scenes in them. Nowadays, I look more for character development and even though sex is important, its not a priority.


Last edited by athena_d on Tue May 13, 2008 1:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
Location: SE Wisconsin

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, I'd have to say it is mainly the romance although in the best stories the characters connect on all levels - physically, sexually, and emotionally. I love a character driven story where a relationship grows and develops between 2 people. Flirtation, playful banter, sexual tension, and two characters who really like each other as people help make a good story, too, IMHO.

I enjoy a well-written sex scene that advances the story, adds something to the development of the relationship or helps the characters make an emotional connection. Like others, I am weary of long, drawn out mechanical sex scenes that often are jarring and seem to be disconnected to the story.

In my mind, a well-written romance novel doesn't need sex to work and sex doesn't make a romance "good" if the character development and story are so-so. I guess, bottom line, I want a good story and well-developed characters and a feeling that the relationship is believable and will last.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1088
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In my mind, a well-written romance novel doesn't need sex to work and sex doesn't make a romance "good" if the character development and story are so-so. I guess, bottom line, I want a good story and well-developed characters and a feeling that the relationship is believable and will last.


Agreed. But what used to drive me insane years ago with Regencies involving marriages of convenience, was the lengths some authors went to in keeping the characters OUT of bed. Rather than building sexual tension, to me it became incredibly irritating and contrived beyond the point of frustration. To be honest there was a coyness about it that grated on me. I also felt cheated when I got to the end of the book and they were supposedly going to finally Do It. I'd find myself wondering if the hero's best friend or valet were going to pop out of the woodwork just one more time and if the hero was going to die of a loss of blood to the brain.

Can a romance work without including sex? Of course. But for the characters to keep stepping up the mark and then being interrupted or deflected right through the book doesn't work at all for me. I can only think of a couple of books where this works convincingly because the barriers to having sex are believable and it is of relatively short duration.

Elizabeth
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1481
Location: America

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Rolls wrote:
Agreed. But what used to drive me insane years ago with Regencies involving marriages of convenience, was the lengths some authors went to in keeping the characters OUT of bed. Rather than building sexual tension, to me it became incredibly irritating and contrived beyond the point of frustration...But for the characters to keep stepping up the mark and then being interrupted or deflected right through the book doesn't work at all for me. I can only think of a couple of books where this works convincingly because the barriers to having sex are believable and it is of relatively short duration.


I find this in many of todays romances, tbh. The scenes leading up to the often mechanical sex scenes are filled with superficial "conflict" (usually sparring, lust-thoughts and making out) that has the h/h on the point of getting it on, but not doing it because of some inane reason.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1088
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I find this in many of todays romances, tbh. The scenes leading up to the often mechanical sex scenes are filled with superficial "conflict" (usually sparring, lust-thoughts and making out) that has the h/h on the point of getting it on, but not doing it because of some inane reason.


True, but I think it was the "no sex, please, it's a Regency" trope, combined with this coy teasing that really annoyed me. But that's just me. Plenty of people loved it. As always, so much of this is a matter of the individual reader's taste. You can't please all of the people, all of the time.
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