Selena was intrigued when I mentioned I tried skimming a Susan Johnson novel recently, only to trade it in after reading a scene involving the hero, the heroine, and a string of jewels. That was too much for me. Although Jeri believes Johnson's books are a series of sex scenes strung together by plot, she does thinks Johnson's sex scenes are just the ticket to ride, "I prefer a mixture of love, lust and laughter. I want the characters to get sweaty. I prefer references to penis, cock, erection, or even shaft to pillar of manhood."
Jeanne wrote me about Linda Lael Miller's Knights and the description of the heroine's, ahem, private parts: "He tongued her with one long, lapping stroke, and she uttered a lusty shout, setting her heels into his shoulders and raising herself to him, a chalice of flesh." As Jeanne added, "His cup runneth over, I guess. (I keep thinking how wide the mouth of a chalice is, though, and it kinda spoils the mental image I have of the recently deflowered Gloriana.)"
Diane once read a romance where the hero's eyes "were glued to her nipples", creating a lovely picture in her mind's eye. In another romance she read, "He put his hands in his pockets to get a hold of himself."
"I started out my day with the best laugh I've had in a week, reading your "love scene". You managed to include so many of the words I can't stand in these scenarios; petals, manroot, etc. The funny thing is, it reads just like some of the published love scenes I've read in the past!
"It doesn't make sense that your love scene was removed! Compared to the similar scenes I've read in romance novels, it was relatively tame.
"I regret that you had to take the scene out, and I can only hope that many readers will find it in your archives and get the same enjoyment out of it that I did.
"You know, this isn't the first time I've been perplexed by someone's attitudes toward love scenes. I believe that for some reason the rules are different for some authors, and they're able to get away with silly, cliched work -- praised for it, in fact -- when it's obvious they put very little effort into it. Your love scene was a dead-on lampooning of the silly sex I've read all too often."
"Not to knock your effort, but I was so relieved when I found out it was a parody and not by someone real! The dreadful part is, that I recognized some of those lines and had an author in mind!!!!!!!
"I didn't think it was anywhere near as explicit as some of the exerpts I have read in Romantic Times. An example would be Bertrice Small's little passage on putting grapes up her ying yang and having the hero suck them out."
Here's a particularly hilarious morsel I came across while reading the purple prose-laden Dream Lover: "You've the sauciest round bottom I've seen in many a year, and the outline of your up-thrust breasts shows through the cambric shirt with impudence." Virginia (Henley), do you really think Irish men speak like that or were you being funny apurpose?"
Reader Marion recently sent me some silly sex phrases she'd come across. While her boyfriend thinks she should have better things to do with her time than make out lists like this one, frankly, I'm glad she did.
No comments are necessary, just enjoy as I did, what she sent:
The male organ:
Lingam (Virginia Henley's Seduced)
Man meat (can't remember for obvious reasons)
Dagger/spear/knife (some old medievals)
For "accessories", as Marion oh-so-delicately phrased it:
Storehouse of the nectars of love (some Zebra Lovegram)
Reader Gillian Webster recently sent me a couple of snippets from Joan Hohl's A Window On Tomorrow that should be entered into the silly sex hall of fame. Readers who enjoyed the Purple Prose Parody should get a kick out of these:
Gillian indicated that in the first snippet, Andrea is admiring Paul's body. She is ashamed to be ogling him, but he tells her not to feel shame and mentions that he's been admiring her body as well:
"Your body is beautiful. Your skin is soft and silky," he whispered. "I feel no shame in admiring the gentle contour of your slender hips, the delicate curve of your breasts and the appealing cast of your lovely features." He lay on the blanket beside her. His voice was the only part of him that touched her. "And what shame should I feel in admiring that most feminine part of you, that exquisite mound of utter beauty and ultimate, infinite pleasure?"
Gillian wrote that, in the second snippet, they have recently had sex and are getting ready for a second round. We pick up the action mid-sentence:
. . . at that instant she felt Paul's life force leap inside her. Her half-closed eyes flew open and she gave a little cry of surprise.
"Yes, my Andrea," he said in that soft tone that sent shivers tumbling through her. "The pathway to paradise beckons once more." Lowering his head, he whispered against her parted lips, "Will you ride the pathway with me?"
Aren't They All? The Flat Male Nipple (From LN&V, May 15, 1998):
Interestingly enough, this whole nipple thing took off in a way I never imagined. Kate Smith's entry into the Purple Prose Parody Contest paid homage to it. Many readers wrote in about it. But funniest of all is that readers responded to it very differently than I expected.
Perhaps I should explain. Nearly every romance I've ever read refers to the "flat male nipple." When talking about a man, why do authors refer to nipples as "male"? Isn't that a given? Don't all men have male nipples? Furthermore, it goes without saying, does it not, that nipples on men are flat? My peeve abut the "flat male nipple" is that all three words are always used together to describe a man's nip. Surely Enamorata could "flick her finger against his nipple" just as easily as Dahlia could "rub his flat male nipple."
Instead of commenting on this, however, readers focused on the flat male nipple as an erogenous zone. I'll never divulge whether or not this is a hot spot for my own dear husband, but apparently there was a great deal of surveying going on in the households of romance readers after this question "perked up."
A reader who may not have known how free-wheeling and open we are here anonymously asked, "I had to laugh out loud about the 'flat male nipple' comment. I have never been able to read this phrase without wincing. Which brings me to a delicate question ....Do men really have sensation there? I have read countless seduction scenes designating this area as a male pleasure spot, but I am left highly puzzled since my experience has been to the contrary - I have been married 11 years. Is this a legitimate occurrence or just a tool for beefing up a love scene?"
Cathy wondered as well whether the flat male nipple is "actually a hot spot on a male." She added, "My husband says no, it just aggravates the hell out of him. Is he the only one that feels that way, or did some author come up with it and it sounded good, so they others used it, too? Glad you brought that point up."
To which Katsy replied, "I asked hubby about the flat male nipple question and he looked at me as though I hadn't quite recovered from my recent bout with flu and fever. This, I assume, would be a definite 'no' from hubby. Personally, when that part of the male anatomy is mentioned in a romance as though it were a 'hot spot', I always felt I was missing something."
Stacey shared that "my husband does not want me anywhere near this place - in no uncertain terms."
Sandra Lee's debut romance, Love at First Sight, showed off her earthy sense of humor wonderfully well. Her coarse references to bodily functions, body parts, and bodily fluids worked better here than in nearly any other romance I've read before. She even introduced a couple of terms I'd never seen used before, which brings us to our latest topic, one which I'm calling the p-word.
Since I began writing this column, we've had discussions about sexuality in romance, including purple prose or what I deem silly sex (feel free to peruse the index for my columns for silly sex discussions). But there's a flip side to silly sex, and I'd like to talk about them together. The "p-word," of course, is penis. I've seen many words or phrases used in romance novels to describe the penis, including, very rarely, penis. Other words/phrases have included: his sex, manhood, erection, arousal, member (engorged or otherwise), manroot, c_ck, hard length of him, velvet steel, as stiff and hard as a pike, rod, tallywhacker, evidence of his masculinity, turgid shaft. There are more, of course, but these are some that spring immediately to mind.
For some reason, the word "penis" always makes me laugh. I laughed when I was a child learning the correct words for body parts, and sometimes it still makes me laugh. Author Susan Kay Law says that she doesn't like the word "penis" in love scenes because "It's such a whiney little word. Pee - Ness - Ick."
Mary Lynn disagrees. She says, "Penis is a perfectly lovely English word. I don't mind seeing it at all, and it's far less intrusive than the dread 'manroot'."
"Manroot" is a term I think Bertrice Small uses in every one of her books, and it's a word always guaranteed to make me laugh. Author Marsha Canham says, "Every time I read the word 'manroot' to describe a penis, I instantly visualize a crooked, carrot-like object with a long hairy root at the narrow end. And if I see the words 'throbbing manhood', I tend to throft the book then and there, or if a man 'mounts' a woman, or if that woman has a 'downy vulva'. As for the word 'poked,' the best I saw was 'poked her in her portal'."
The word "c_ock" is one I've read in medievals, other historicals, and contemporaries, and it is always a jarring term. It works best as a shocker, and when authors use it in love scenes, it takes me right out of the fantasy.
Author Jean Ross Ewing has seen "privy member" used; it was a legal term at one time. But the most "out there" phrase she's come across is "dangly bits". And, author Barbara Samuel aka Ruth Wind says, "For my own work, I still pretty much to 'member' or 'sex'. Penis doesn't bother me, but speaking purely from aesthetic terms, it's not a particularly nice word. 'Nipples' is another word that isn't particularly appealing. I end up using it more often than not simply because I can't think of any alternatives that don't sound silly."
Then, of course, there are the terms and phrases used for a woman's "nether regions." I don't think I've seen vagina used, but I have seen clitoris, which is just too clinical for me. Some other terms/phrases I've seen include: her portal of pleasure, her womanly curls (which I often see in my mind's eye as ringlets like those Shirley Temple wore - not a very arousing picture!), moist petals, dewy femininity, plump folds, woman's mound, and honeypot.
Victoria believes the worst phrase she's seen as a description of a woman's "private parts" is "mossy grotto" - she didn't care for it. Karen thinks the old standby "honeypot" is the "worst euphemism" she's ever read.
There is generally less description of "womanly regions burning with want" and the "savage burning in her exposed womanly area" than there are of men's aching, bursting loins, although great attention is paid to women's breasts in romance novels. Breasts have been known to throb, have pouting nipples or hard tips, and come in variety of sizes and shapes. Something that has always amazed me is the variety in color of nipples - some are rosy, others are peachy, still others are the colors of plums, raspberries, or strawberries. Sounds like a fruit salad, doesn't it?
What about "the deed" itself? What comes to mind immediately are these phrases: "the dance as old as time," "filling her tight sheath," and "impaling himself into her femininity." (I won't even begin to get into the phrases used when the hero takes the heroine's virginity, but feel free to do so yourself.)
About the culmination of "the deed," author Teresa Hill (aka Sally Tyler Hayes) says, "I was very happy, as I was doing the galleys for my next book, to see that my heroine gets to 'come.' Actually, that my hero gets to talk about wanting to make her 'come.' No 'climax.' No other silly euphemisms for it. Honestly, does anyone ever say the word 'climax' in that context? I just can't see him giving her a wicked grin and saying, 'I want to make you climax.'" It's silly, but I think this is the first of my heroines who got to come. Ten books, and I finally have a heroine who's satisfied. "