Bring Sexy Back

Royalharlotfront_coverBy Susan/Miranda

As any romance reader worth her frequent-buyer card can tell you, there are a LOT of racy books out there these days.  Not only have the love scenes in historical romances grown in number and explicitness, but the sub-genre of erotic romances has taken off in a big way, in fancy trade paperbacks with come-hither-soft-focus photographs on the covers and prices to match. 

The line between a really hot romance and erotica is a wavering one at best, and lately it’s so wavering that it’s nearly invisible.  One woman’s steamy romance is another’s filthy trash.  For every reader who enjoys following the hero and heroine into the bedroom, there’s another who skips That Part, or dismisses the same book altogether as little better than pornography. Hot sex, like beauty, truly does seem to be in the eye of the beholder. 

And while we often are hearing readers vocally declare it’s not their cup of tea, a good many others must silently be voting with their MasterCards.  This seems to be one romance-trend that’s thriving, as all of us Wenches who’ve been asked by editors to turn up the heat can attest.

I’ve read a bunch of scorchin’ books in the last year or so.  Some have come to me for contest-judging, some from my editor, and some –– I’ll be honest –– I’ve picked up myself.  For research purposes, mind you. The Countess of Castlemaine, heroine of my next historical novel, Royal Harlot, is, well, a harlot.  Barbara Villiers was a lady by birth as well as the mistress of King Charles II.  Her contemporaries and later historians branded her a great many less flattering names that ranged from “the great whore of Babylon” to a “wicked, avaricious nymphomaniac”. (I know, I know, not standard heroine material, but I like a challenge.)  For obvious reasons, sex plays an enormous part of who Barbara was as a woman and in her relationship with the King, as well as the basis for the power she held in his Court.  Therefore sex had to be a big part of my book, too.  With that in mind, I was curious to see how other writers beyond my usual favorites were handling sex and love.

Like all books, these vary widely in writing, imagination, characters, and emotion.  Some are well written, and others are about the same level as the letters to Playboy Advisor.  Some rely on a vocabulary that is, let us say, blunt, while others go in for flowery euphemisms that still manage to leave little to the imagination.

But there’s one thing that far too many of them have in common: for books filled with sex, to me they’re surprisingly unsexy.  A list of body parts and contortions, grunts and squeals of ecstasy just aren’t enough to indicate passion or even real desire, especially when the action begins on page one and continued with dutiful, predictable regularity for another 300 pages or so.

It’s not that I’m turned off by the sex itself.  It’s the lack of much else to support the sex that sadly makes so many of these books mediocre.  As a reader, I want to know how and why these characters are doing what they’re doing. I want to know if they’re acting on impulse, or wracked by guilt. I want something to be at stake, some risk being taken or commitment made.  I want all my senses engaged, including that all-important sense of humor.  I want to know what makes this particular encounter special to these particular characters, because if I don’t care about them as people, then I might as well be reading a textbook on animal husbandry.

I’m reminded of that old joke about how to seduce a woman, versus how to seduce a man.  For the woman, the advice is many paragraphs long, a prolonged and careful wooing through witty conversation, flowers, dinner, chocolate, champagne, soft lighting, and sweet  nothings.  But for a man, it’s only two words: get naked.

Maybe that’s the difference for me.  Just getting naked isn’t sexy.  I want all the rest that leads up to the grand finale.  I still think that the simmering tension in Gone With the Wind between Rhett and Scarlet before he carries her up that long flight of stairs is infinitely more satisfying –– and more sexy ––  than any number of naked bodies grappling behind the credits of contemporary movies. 

As Bruce Springsteen sang, “Can’t start a fire without a spark.” If you really want me to feel the heat, then show me the sparks, and the tinder, and maybe even a puff or two from the bellows before we get to the red-hot flames. 

Or, to quote Justin Timberlake: “Bring sexy back.”  Please!

So what did I do with the Countess of Castlemaine and King Charles?  You’ll have to wait until Royal Harlot is published in July, and tell me if I succeeded or not.  But how do you feel about the books you’re reading now?  Do you think there’s too much sex in books today, and not enough passion?  What do you believe is essential to a good love scene –– and what would you rather never have to read again?

84 thoughts on “Bring Sexy Back”

  1. I won a “naughty” book recently, and after finishing it, I was not half as scandalized as I hoped to be! I guess there’s only so much an author can do and be anatomically correct.
    I actually get bored if I have to slog through pages and pages of “the deed”…sometimes a little goes a long way. I have to believe the love is there, even if the h/h don’t realize it yet.

    Reply
  2. I won a “naughty” book recently, and after finishing it, I was not half as scandalized as I hoped to be! I guess there’s only so much an author can do and be anatomically correct.
    I actually get bored if I have to slog through pages and pages of “the deed”…sometimes a little goes a long way. I have to believe the love is there, even if the h/h don’t realize it yet.

    Reply
  3. I won a “naughty” book recently, and after finishing it, I was not half as scandalized as I hoped to be! I guess there’s only so much an author can do and be anatomically correct.
    I actually get bored if I have to slog through pages and pages of “the deed”…sometimes a little goes a long way. I have to believe the love is there, even if the h/h don’t realize it yet.

    Reply
  4. I won a “naughty” book recently, and after finishing it, I was not half as scandalized as I hoped to be! I guess there’s only so much an author can do and be anatomically correct.
    I actually get bored if I have to slog through pages and pages of “the deed”…sometimes a little goes a long way. I have to believe the love is there, even if the h/h don’t realize it yet.

    Reply
  5. Nobody ever went broke selling porn, even bad porn and especially good porn. That said.
    I’ve maintained for years that these are two seperate markets. In the 80’s, while the rape and plantation books were selling like mad and the word ‘quim’ was in overuse, my pals were in hog heaven and I was searching for the Regencies and the Laurie McBain’s. Along come the 90’s, when I’ve got so many books to read I’ve a backlog of them and my pals are whining there’s nothing good out there except for Anne Rice and OMG have you read her sleeping beauty books? Comes the 00’s and I’m scrounging for books while they can’t keep up with what’s published.
    Same genre, different readers. I’m hoping the 10’s are good to me.

    Reply
  6. Nobody ever went broke selling porn, even bad porn and especially good porn. That said.
    I’ve maintained for years that these are two seperate markets. In the 80’s, while the rape and plantation books were selling like mad and the word ‘quim’ was in overuse, my pals were in hog heaven and I was searching for the Regencies and the Laurie McBain’s. Along come the 90’s, when I’ve got so many books to read I’ve a backlog of them and my pals are whining there’s nothing good out there except for Anne Rice and OMG have you read her sleeping beauty books? Comes the 00’s and I’m scrounging for books while they can’t keep up with what’s published.
    Same genre, different readers. I’m hoping the 10’s are good to me.

    Reply
  7. Nobody ever went broke selling porn, even bad porn and especially good porn. That said.
    I’ve maintained for years that these are two seperate markets. In the 80’s, while the rape and plantation books were selling like mad and the word ‘quim’ was in overuse, my pals were in hog heaven and I was searching for the Regencies and the Laurie McBain’s. Along come the 90’s, when I’ve got so many books to read I’ve a backlog of them and my pals are whining there’s nothing good out there except for Anne Rice and OMG have you read her sleeping beauty books? Comes the 00’s and I’m scrounging for books while they can’t keep up with what’s published.
    Same genre, different readers. I’m hoping the 10’s are good to me.

    Reply
  8. Nobody ever went broke selling porn, even bad porn and especially good porn. That said.
    I’ve maintained for years that these are two seperate markets. In the 80’s, while the rape and plantation books were selling like mad and the word ‘quim’ was in overuse, my pals were in hog heaven and I was searching for the Regencies and the Laurie McBain’s. Along come the 90’s, when I’ve got so many books to read I’ve a backlog of them and my pals are whining there’s nothing good out there except for Anne Rice and OMG have you read her sleeping beauty books? Comes the 00’s and I’m scrounging for books while they can’t keep up with what’s published.
    Same genre, different readers. I’m hoping the 10’s are good to me.

    Reply
  9. BTW – excellent blog, esp animal husbandry. I really had little to add after you summed it up nicely for me – but that’s why they pay you the medium bucks, right?

    Reply
  10. BTW – excellent blog, esp animal husbandry. I really had little to add after you summed it up nicely for me – but that’s why they pay you the medium bucks, right?

    Reply
  11. BTW – excellent blog, esp animal husbandry. I really had little to add after you summed it up nicely for me – but that’s why they pay you the medium bucks, right?

    Reply
  12. BTW – excellent blog, esp animal husbandry. I really had little to add after you summed it up nicely for me – but that’s why they pay you the medium bucks, right?

    Reply
  13. Is that third comment even for this blog?
    I don’t mind super sexy books, but I want more characterization and story than I find in many of the “erotic romances” I’ve read. I have a few (very few!) ER writers that I love love love (Pam Rosenthal, Bella Andre, Jami Alden, Jasmine Haynes) but for the most part, it’s just not my cuppa.

    Reply
  14. Is that third comment even for this blog?
    I don’t mind super sexy books, but I want more characterization and story than I find in many of the “erotic romances” I’ve read. I have a few (very few!) ER writers that I love love love (Pam Rosenthal, Bella Andre, Jami Alden, Jasmine Haynes) but for the most part, it’s just not my cuppa.

    Reply
  15. Is that third comment even for this blog?
    I don’t mind super sexy books, but I want more characterization and story than I find in many of the “erotic romances” I’ve read. I have a few (very few!) ER writers that I love love love (Pam Rosenthal, Bella Andre, Jami Alden, Jasmine Haynes) but for the most part, it’s just not my cuppa.

    Reply
  16. Is that third comment even for this blog?
    I don’t mind super sexy books, but I want more characterization and story than I find in many of the “erotic romances” I’ve read. I have a few (very few!) ER writers that I love love love (Pam Rosenthal, Bella Andre, Jami Alden, Jasmine Haynes) but for the most part, it’s just not my cuppa.

    Reply
  17. I don’t really mind one way or the other – as long as it is well written and relevant to the plot. But the sort of romance I like to read would seem unrealistic without at least the presence of sex, after all it happens all the time in real life! No need for the author to talk us through the entire thing every time though. Nothing is sexier than a mystery…

    Reply
  18. I don’t really mind one way or the other – as long as it is well written and relevant to the plot. But the sort of romance I like to read would seem unrealistic without at least the presence of sex, after all it happens all the time in real life! No need for the author to talk us through the entire thing every time though. Nothing is sexier than a mystery…

    Reply
  19. I don’t really mind one way or the other – as long as it is well written and relevant to the plot. But the sort of romance I like to read would seem unrealistic without at least the presence of sex, after all it happens all the time in real life! No need for the author to talk us through the entire thing every time though. Nothing is sexier than a mystery…

    Reply
  20. I don’t really mind one way or the other – as long as it is well written and relevant to the plot. But the sort of romance I like to read would seem unrealistic without at least the presence of sex, after all it happens all the time in real life! No need for the author to talk us through the entire thing every time though. Nothing is sexier than a mystery…

    Reply
  21. The problem I have with a lot of the more erotic/super-sexy romances comes back to what it takes to make me believe in a HEA. With so much focus on the sexual attraction and physical chemistry between the h/h, especially given today’s tight word count limitations, I’m often left wondering if the couple is compatible in any way OTHER than the physical, because there’s little room left to show them bonding emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and so on. So I think, “You enjoy each other’s BODIES, but are you kindred SPIRITS? And if not, how are you going to be happy together for the next 50 years, and what’s going to bind you together if something like an illness, injury, or difficult pregnancy puts the sex on hold for awhile?”
    Also, it seems like the super-sexy romances are almost always that way from Chapter 1, Page 1. Sometimes that works, but in general I prefer the slow build, where the reader is more aware of the attraction, the “zing” of chemistry between the hero and heroine, than the characters are themselves for the first few chapters. And that’s kind of hard to accomplish when the first time the hero sees the heroine he’s picturing her legs wrapped around his waist!
    Like almost anything else, with the right author and the right story it can work beautifully. But it doesn’t suit all voices, all characters, or all plots, and I do hate feeling like a new trend is *narrowing* the range of stories authors can tell rather than widening it.

    Reply
  22. The problem I have with a lot of the more erotic/super-sexy romances comes back to what it takes to make me believe in a HEA. With so much focus on the sexual attraction and physical chemistry between the h/h, especially given today’s tight word count limitations, I’m often left wondering if the couple is compatible in any way OTHER than the physical, because there’s little room left to show them bonding emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and so on. So I think, “You enjoy each other’s BODIES, but are you kindred SPIRITS? And if not, how are you going to be happy together for the next 50 years, and what’s going to bind you together if something like an illness, injury, or difficult pregnancy puts the sex on hold for awhile?”
    Also, it seems like the super-sexy romances are almost always that way from Chapter 1, Page 1. Sometimes that works, but in general I prefer the slow build, where the reader is more aware of the attraction, the “zing” of chemistry between the hero and heroine, than the characters are themselves for the first few chapters. And that’s kind of hard to accomplish when the first time the hero sees the heroine he’s picturing her legs wrapped around his waist!
    Like almost anything else, with the right author and the right story it can work beautifully. But it doesn’t suit all voices, all characters, or all plots, and I do hate feeling like a new trend is *narrowing* the range of stories authors can tell rather than widening it.

    Reply
  23. The problem I have with a lot of the more erotic/super-sexy romances comes back to what it takes to make me believe in a HEA. With so much focus on the sexual attraction and physical chemistry between the h/h, especially given today’s tight word count limitations, I’m often left wondering if the couple is compatible in any way OTHER than the physical, because there’s little room left to show them bonding emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and so on. So I think, “You enjoy each other’s BODIES, but are you kindred SPIRITS? And if not, how are you going to be happy together for the next 50 years, and what’s going to bind you together if something like an illness, injury, or difficult pregnancy puts the sex on hold for awhile?”
    Also, it seems like the super-sexy romances are almost always that way from Chapter 1, Page 1. Sometimes that works, but in general I prefer the slow build, where the reader is more aware of the attraction, the “zing” of chemistry between the hero and heroine, than the characters are themselves for the first few chapters. And that’s kind of hard to accomplish when the first time the hero sees the heroine he’s picturing her legs wrapped around his waist!
    Like almost anything else, with the right author and the right story it can work beautifully. But it doesn’t suit all voices, all characters, or all plots, and I do hate feeling like a new trend is *narrowing* the range of stories authors can tell rather than widening it.

    Reply
  24. The problem I have with a lot of the more erotic/super-sexy romances comes back to what it takes to make me believe in a HEA. With so much focus on the sexual attraction and physical chemistry between the h/h, especially given today’s tight word count limitations, I’m often left wondering if the couple is compatible in any way OTHER than the physical, because there’s little room left to show them bonding emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and so on. So I think, “You enjoy each other’s BODIES, but are you kindred SPIRITS? And if not, how are you going to be happy together for the next 50 years, and what’s going to bind you together if something like an illness, injury, or difficult pregnancy puts the sex on hold for awhile?”
    Also, it seems like the super-sexy romances are almost always that way from Chapter 1, Page 1. Sometimes that works, but in general I prefer the slow build, where the reader is more aware of the attraction, the “zing” of chemistry between the hero and heroine, than the characters are themselves for the first few chapters. And that’s kind of hard to accomplish when the first time the hero sees the heroine he’s picturing her legs wrapped around his waist!
    Like almost anything else, with the right author and the right story it can work beautifully. But it doesn’t suit all voices, all characters, or all plots, and I do hate feeling like a new trend is *narrowing* the range of stories authors can tell rather than widening it.

    Reply
  25. Excellent post, Susan-Miranda.
    I like the sexy romances, but only those slanted more towards romance than porn. Does that make sense? If there’s love between the characters, than it’s a sexy romance, but if they’re only going at it, then its porn. *GGG*
    My special peeve is those books that begin with the hero in bed with his mistress or other woman other than the heroine. I guess this is supposed to show what an experienced rake he is, but my first reaction is “what a sleaze — this is the HERO?”
    I can’t wait to read Royal Harlot!
    Queen Bee

    Reply
  26. Excellent post, Susan-Miranda.
    I like the sexy romances, but only those slanted more towards romance than porn. Does that make sense? If there’s love between the characters, than it’s a sexy romance, but if they’re only going at it, then its porn. *GGG*
    My special peeve is those books that begin with the hero in bed with his mistress or other woman other than the heroine. I guess this is supposed to show what an experienced rake he is, but my first reaction is “what a sleaze — this is the HERO?”
    I can’t wait to read Royal Harlot!
    Queen Bee

    Reply
  27. Excellent post, Susan-Miranda.
    I like the sexy romances, but only those slanted more towards romance than porn. Does that make sense? If there’s love between the characters, than it’s a sexy romance, but if they’re only going at it, then its porn. *GGG*
    My special peeve is those books that begin with the hero in bed with his mistress or other woman other than the heroine. I guess this is supposed to show what an experienced rake he is, but my first reaction is “what a sleaze — this is the HERO?”
    I can’t wait to read Royal Harlot!
    Queen Bee

    Reply
  28. Excellent post, Susan-Miranda.
    I like the sexy romances, but only those slanted more towards romance than porn. Does that make sense? If there’s love between the characters, than it’s a sexy romance, but if they’re only going at it, then its porn. *GGG*
    My special peeve is those books that begin with the hero in bed with his mistress or other woman other than the heroine. I guess this is supposed to show what an experienced rake he is, but my first reaction is “what a sleaze — this is the HERO?”
    I can’t wait to read Royal Harlot!
    Queen Bee

    Reply
  29. Kalen mentioned Pam Rosenthal, and I’d say she’s one of the writers who “gets it.” I thought THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION managed the balancing act between a good romance and a good sexy book quite well — not only because she’d made her hero and heroine a reunited couple, so there was already A History between them, but also because she’s an excellent writer. Her description of disrobing the heroine through layers of slightly shabby clothes was at once sexy for its detail, well-researched for the clothes, and poignant for the feelings that were being evoked by both parties. I guess others liked it too since it’s a RITA finalist.
    Another book I enjoyed (though considerably farther across the erotic line) was UNMASQUED by Colette Gale. This was a retelling of the “Phantom of the Opera” story, and while on the whole I don’t like sexier retellings or sequals to classic books (all those Jane Austen rip-offs, ugh!), but the Phantom story always felt as if it WANTED to be sexier than the 19th century conventions allowed at the time. This one was also quite sensually written, and she got around the challenge of “erotic diversity” *g* by having only the secondary characters participating in the really kinky stuff.
    Laura, LOL over the “weather reports”!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  30. Kalen mentioned Pam Rosenthal, and I’d say she’s one of the writers who “gets it.” I thought THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION managed the balancing act between a good romance and a good sexy book quite well — not only because she’d made her hero and heroine a reunited couple, so there was already A History between them, but also because she’s an excellent writer. Her description of disrobing the heroine through layers of slightly shabby clothes was at once sexy for its detail, well-researched for the clothes, and poignant for the feelings that were being evoked by both parties. I guess others liked it too since it’s a RITA finalist.
    Another book I enjoyed (though considerably farther across the erotic line) was UNMASQUED by Colette Gale. This was a retelling of the “Phantom of the Opera” story, and while on the whole I don’t like sexier retellings or sequals to classic books (all those Jane Austen rip-offs, ugh!), but the Phantom story always felt as if it WANTED to be sexier than the 19th century conventions allowed at the time. This one was also quite sensually written, and she got around the challenge of “erotic diversity” *g* by having only the secondary characters participating in the really kinky stuff.
    Laura, LOL over the “weather reports”!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  31. Kalen mentioned Pam Rosenthal, and I’d say she’s one of the writers who “gets it.” I thought THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION managed the balancing act between a good romance and a good sexy book quite well — not only because she’d made her hero and heroine a reunited couple, so there was already A History between them, but also because she’s an excellent writer. Her description of disrobing the heroine through layers of slightly shabby clothes was at once sexy for its detail, well-researched for the clothes, and poignant for the feelings that were being evoked by both parties. I guess others liked it too since it’s a RITA finalist.
    Another book I enjoyed (though considerably farther across the erotic line) was UNMASQUED by Colette Gale. This was a retelling of the “Phantom of the Opera” story, and while on the whole I don’t like sexier retellings or sequals to classic books (all those Jane Austen rip-offs, ugh!), but the Phantom story always felt as if it WANTED to be sexier than the 19th century conventions allowed at the time. This one was also quite sensually written, and she got around the challenge of “erotic diversity” *g* by having only the secondary characters participating in the really kinky stuff.
    Laura, LOL over the “weather reports”!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  32. Kalen mentioned Pam Rosenthal, and I’d say she’s one of the writers who “gets it.” I thought THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION managed the balancing act between a good romance and a good sexy book quite well — not only because she’d made her hero and heroine a reunited couple, so there was already A History between them, but also because she’s an excellent writer. Her description of disrobing the heroine through layers of slightly shabby clothes was at once sexy for its detail, well-researched for the clothes, and poignant for the feelings that were being evoked by both parties. I guess others liked it too since it’s a RITA finalist.
    Another book I enjoyed (though considerably farther across the erotic line) was UNMASQUED by Colette Gale. This was a retelling of the “Phantom of the Opera” story, and while on the whole I don’t like sexier retellings or sequals to classic books (all those Jane Austen rip-offs, ugh!), but the Phantom story always felt as if it WANTED to be sexier than the 19th century conventions allowed at the time. This one was also quite sensually written, and she got around the challenge of “erotic diversity” *g* by having only the secondary characters participating in the really kinky stuff.
    Laura, LOL over the “weather reports”!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  33. I think you’ve pretty much covered my wish list and pet peeves. I want to see the emotion more than the body parts (and really, weather reports! totally agree). Finding the balance between action/sex/characterization is always tricky though, and everyone has their own preference, so I try to cut writers some slack when I have to skip pages of body parts. But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.

    Reply
  34. I think you’ve pretty much covered my wish list and pet peeves. I want to see the emotion more than the body parts (and really, weather reports! totally agree). Finding the balance between action/sex/characterization is always tricky though, and everyone has their own preference, so I try to cut writers some slack when I have to skip pages of body parts. But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.

    Reply
  35. I think you’ve pretty much covered my wish list and pet peeves. I want to see the emotion more than the body parts (and really, weather reports! totally agree). Finding the balance between action/sex/characterization is always tricky though, and everyone has their own preference, so I try to cut writers some slack when I have to skip pages of body parts. But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.

    Reply
  36. I think you’ve pretty much covered my wish list and pet peeves. I want to see the emotion more than the body parts (and really, weather reports! totally agree). Finding the balance between action/sex/characterization is always tricky though, and everyone has their own preference, so I try to cut writers some slack when I have to skip pages of body parts. But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.

    Reply
  37. Kalen – Yes, it was for this blog for ‘animal husbandry’ see this sentence
    “I want to know what makes this particular encounter special to these particular characters, because if I don’t care about them as people, then I might as well be reading a textbook on animal husbandry.”
    As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.

    Reply
  38. Kalen – Yes, it was for this blog for ‘animal husbandry’ see this sentence
    “I want to know what makes this particular encounter special to these particular characters, because if I don’t care about them as people, then I might as well be reading a textbook on animal husbandry.”
    As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.

    Reply
  39. Kalen – Yes, it was for this blog for ‘animal husbandry’ see this sentence
    “I want to know what makes this particular encounter special to these particular characters, because if I don’t care about them as people, then I might as well be reading a textbook on animal husbandry.”
    As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.

    Reply
  40. Kalen – Yes, it was for this blog for ‘animal husbandry’ see this sentence
    “I want to know what makes this particular encounter special to these particular characters, because if I don’t care about them as people, then I might as well be reading a textbook on animal husbandry.”
    As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.

    Reply
  41. Liz wrote: “As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.”
    Well, Liz, I READ it as “medium bucks”, which is probably why I’m in the “middling sort” of writer-pay.*g*
    Pat wrote: “But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.”
    Absolutely true!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  42. Liz wrote: “As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.”
    Well, Liz, I READ it as “medium bucks”, which is probably why I’m in the “middling sort” of writer-pay.*g*
    Pat wrote: “But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.”
    Absolutely true!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  43. Liz wrote: “As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.”
    Well, Liz, I READ it as “medium bucks”, which is probably why I’m in the “middling sort” of writer-pay.*g*
    Pat wrote: “But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.”
    Absolutely true!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  44. Liz wrote: “As for medium books, we all know most authors don’t get paid the big bucks.”
    Well, Liz, I READ it as “medium bucks”, which is probably why I’m in the “middling sort” of writer-pay.*g*
    Pat wrote: “But when a writer gets it right, I don’t even see the body parts for the passion.”
    Absolutely true!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  45. Laura V? I love you a little.
    “I don’t like weather reports i.e. constant updates on the humidity levels in the heroine’s underwear.”

    Reply
  46. Laura V? I love you a little.
    “I don’t like weather reports i.e. constant updates on the humidity levels in the heroine’s underwear.”

    Reply
  47. Laura V? I love you a little.
    “I don’t like weather reports i.e. constant updates on the humidity levels in the heroine’s underwear.”

    Reply
  48. Laura V? I love you a little.
    “I don’t like weather reports i.e. constant updates on the humidity levels in the heroine’s underwear.”

    Reply
  49. I found the sex in The Slightest Provocation essential to the plot. Pam did an excellent job of showing the reader how sex and sexual games had been part of Kit and Mary’s marriage, their break-up, and part of the puzzle that brought them back together.
    It was a complex dance with multi-faceted motivations, and it worked.
    On the other side of the spectrum, Kresley Cole also does a good job with the hot sex. Her books are slick (no pun intended, weathergals!) and commercial, and they totally surprised me with how witty, readable and satisfying they are. *And I don’t like vampires!*
    I am also looking forward to Umasqued By Colette Gale.

    Reply
  50. I found the sex in The Slightest Provocation essential to the plot. Pam did an excellent job of showing the reader how sex and sexual games had been part of Kit and Mary’s marriage, their break-up, and part of the puzzle that brought them back together.
    It was a complex dance with multi-faceted motivations, and it worked.
    On the other side of the spectrum, Kresley Cole also does a good job with the hot sex. Her books are slick (no pun intended, weathergals!) and commercial, and they totally surprised me with how witty, readable and satisfying they are. *And I don’t like vampires!*
    I am also looking forward to Umasqued By Colette Gale.

    Reply
  51. I found the sex in The Slightest Provocation essential to the plot. Pam did an excellent job of showing the reader how sex and sexual games had been part of Kit and Mary’s marriage, their break-up, and part of the puzzle that brought them back together.
    It was a complex dance with multi-faceted motivations, and it worked.
    On the other side of the spectrum, Kresley Cole also does a good job with the hot sex. Her books are slick (no pun intended, weathergals!) and commercial, and they totally surprised me with how witty, readable and satisfying they are. *And I don’t like vampires!*
    I am also looking forward to Umasqued By Colette Gale.

    Reply
  52. I found the sex in The Slightest Provocation essential to the plot. Pam did an excellent job of showing the reader how sex and sexual games had been part of Kit and Mary’s marriage, their break-up, and part of the puzzle that brought them back together.
    It was a complex dance with multi-faceted motivations, and it worked.
    On the other side of the spectrum, Kresley Cole also does a good job with the hot sex. Her books are slick (no pun intended, weathergals!) and commercial, and they totally surprised me with how witty, readable and satisfying they are. *And I don’t like vampires!*
    I am also looking forward to Umasqued By Colette Gale.

    Reply
  53. I haven’t read the Kresley Cole books, Jane, but they sound intriguing (even though I’m not much for the vamps, either.)
    Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  54. I haven’t read the Kresley Cole books, Jane, but they sound intriguing (even though I’m not much for the vamps, either.)
    Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  55. I haven’t read the Kresley Cole books, Jane, but they sound intriguing (even though I’m not much for the vamps, either.)
    Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  56. I haven’t read the Kresley Cole books, Jane, but they sound intriguing (even though I’m not much for the vamps, either.)
    Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  57. I hear you!
    For me there’s nothing worse than slogging through countless pages of love scenes when there is absolutely no spark between the hero and heroine.
    It’s all about what comes *before* they hit the sheets. The Gone With the Wind example is an excellent one. The simmering UST between Reth and Scarlett is much more sexy than the hottest love scenes in the latest Erotica Ellora’s Cave put out.
    And I must admit I very often skip the 5 obligatory pages or so of foreplay that authors feel they have to include before any penetration takes place.
    I know that women are supposed to be all about foreplay, but, frankly, when I read it in a book, it very often puts me to sleep. Those 5 useless pages could be put to much better use in my opinion.
    Because, with the higher number of sex scenes, the relationship (and even basic character development) gets shortchanged.
    When it comes to straight Erotica, I’ve found only one author who writes a good combination of sex and character development and that’s Lisa Marie Rice. Midnight Angel is a good example, it plays on many women’s fantasies (and on a lot of men’s fantasies as well!). I’d put Kresley Cole in the same category, although she writes ‘tamer’ books. A Hunger Like No Other plays on all the tried and true stereotypes of the genre and it works extremely well: big hunk of a hero completely obsessed by the heroine, he wants her and only her, he’s out of control when he’s near her, they have almost savage, powerful sex, while he growls ‘mine’; you’ll also find the contrast between the hero’s huge size and the heroine’s delicate frame. All this is guaranteed to play on a lot of women’s secret sexual fantasies. This works. You get both the sex and the romance.
    Robin Schone’s The Lady’s Tutor also has a good balance between the actual romance and the more erotic scenes. It worked. But that’s the only book she has written that worked for me. The others were much too ‘clinical’ when it came to describing sex scenes. They’re just an endless description of a penis going into slot A, B or C.
    Going back to Cole and Rice. I like the book they write. But I would put them in the Guilty Pleasures category. I enjoy them but they don’t satisfy me fully (pun intended). Two of the best love stories I have read would be Gone With The Wind and The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. None of them have explicit love scenes. They don’t need it.

    Reply
  58. I hear you!
    For me there’s nothing worse than slogging through countless pages of love scenes when there is absolutely no spark between the hero and heroine.
    It’s all about what comes *before* they hit the sheets. The Gone With the Wind example is an excellent one. The simmering UST between Reth and Scarlett is much more sexy than the hottest love scenes in the latest Erotica Ellora’s Cave put out.
    And I must admit I very often skip the 5 obligatory pages or so of foreplay that authors feel they have to include before any penetration takes place.
    I know that women are supposed to be all about foreplay, but, frankly, when I read it in a book, it very often puts me to sleep. Those 5 useless pages could be put to much better use in my opinion.
    Because, with the higher number of sex scenes, the relationship (and even basic character development) gets shortchanged.
    When it comes to straight Erotica, I’ve found only one author who writes a good combination of sex and character development and that’s Lisa Marie Rice. Midnight Angel is a good example, it plays on many women’s fantasies (and on a lot of men’s fantasies as well!). I’d put Kresley Cole in the same category, although she writes ‘tamer’ books. A Hunger Like No Other plays on all the tried and true stereotypes of the genre and it works extremely well: big hunk of a hero completely obsessed by the heroine, he wants her and only her, he’s out of control when he’s near her, they have almost savage, powerful sex, while he growls ‘mine’; you’ll also find the contrast between the hero’s huge size and the heroine’s delicate frame. All this is guaranteed to play on a lot of women’s secret sexual fantasies. This works. You get both the sex and the romance.
    Robin Schone’s The Lady’s Tutor also has a good balance between the actual romance and the more erotic scenes. It worked. But that’s the only book she has written that worked for me. The others were much too ‘clinical’ when it came to describing sex scenes. They’re just an endless description of a penis going into slot A, B or C.
    Going back to Cole and Rice. I like the book they write. But I would put them in the Guilty Pleasures category. I enjoy them but they don’t satisfy me fully (pun intended). Two of the best love stories I have read would be Gone With The Wind and The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. None of them have explicit love scenes. They don’t need it.

    Reply
  59. I hear you!
    For me there’s nothing worse than slogging through countless pages of love scenes when there is absolutely no spark between the hero and heroine.
    It’s all about what comes *before* they hit the sheets. The Gone With the Wind example is an excellent one. The simmering UST between Reth and Scarlett is much more sexy than the hottest love scenes in the latest Erotica Ellora’s Cave put out.
    And I must admit I very often skip the 5 obligatory pages or so of foreplay that authors feel they have to include before any penetration takes place.
    I know that women are supposed to be all about foreplay, but, frankly, when I read it in a book, it very often puts me to sleep. Those 5 useless pages could be put to much better use in my opinion.
    Because, with the higher number of sex scenes, the relationship (and even basic character development) gets shortchanged.
    When it comes to straight Erotica, I’ve found only one author who writes a good combination of sex and character development and that’s Lisa Marie Rice. Midnight Angel is a good example, it plays on many women’s fantasies (and on a lot of men’s fantasies as well!). I’d put Kresley Cole in the same category, although she writes ‘tamer’ books. A Hunger Like No Other plays on all the tried and true stereotypes of the genre and it works extremely well: big hunk of a hero completely obsessed by the heroine, he wants her and only her, he’s out of control when he’s near her, they have almost savage, powerful sex, while he growls ‘mine’; you’ll also find the contrast between the hero’s huge size and the heroine’s delicate frame. All this is guaranteed to play on a lot of women’s secret sexual fantasies. This works. You get both the sex and the romance.
    Robin Schone’s The Lady’s Tutor also has a good balance between the actual romance and the more erotic scenes. It worked. But that’s the only book she has written that worked for me. The others were much too ‘clinical’ when it came to describing sex scenes. They’re just an endless description of a penis going into slot A, B or C.
    Going back to Cole and Rice. I like the book they write. But I would put them in the Guilty Pleasures category. I enjoy them but they don’t satisfy me fully (pun intended). Two of the best love stories I have read would be Gone With The Wind and The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. None of them have explicit love scenes. They don’t need it.

    Reply
  60. I hear you!
    For me there’s nothing worse than slogging through countless pages of love scenes when there is absolutely no spark between the hero and heroine.
    It’s all about what comes *before* they hit the sheets. The Gone With the Wind example is an excellent one. The simmering UST between Reth and Scarlett is much more sexy than the hottest love scenes in the latest Erotica Ellora’s Cave put out.
    And I must admit I very often skip the 5 obligatory pages or so of foreplay that authors feel they have to include before any penetration takes place.
    I know that women are supposed to be all about foreplay, but, frankly, when I read it in a book, it very often puts me to sleep. Those 5 useless pages could be put to much better use in my opinion.
    Because, with the higher number of sex scenes, the relationship (and even basic character development) gets shortchanged.
    When it comes to straight Erotica, I’ve found only one author who writes a good combination of sex and character development and that’s Lisa Marie Rice. Midnight Angel is a good example, it plays on many women’s fantasies (and on a lot of men’s fantasies as well!). I’d put Kresley Cole in the same category, although she writes ‘tamer’ books. A Hunger Like No Other plays on all the tried and true stereotypes of the genre and it works extremely well: big hunk of a hero completely obsessed by the heroine, he wants her and only her, he’s out of control when he’s near her, they have almost savage, powerful sex, while he growls ‘mine’; you’ll also find the contrast between the hero’s huge size and the heroine’s delicate frame. All this is guaranteed to play on a lot of women’s secret sexual fantasies. This works. You get both the sex and the romance.
    Robin Schone’s The Lady’s Tutor also has a good balance between the actual romance and the more erotic scenes. It worked. But that’s the only book she has written that worked for me. The others were much too ‘clinical’ when it came to describing sex scenes. They’re just an endless description of a penis going into slot A, B or C.
    Going back to Cole and Rice. I like the book they write. But I would put them in the Guilty Pleasures category. I enjoy them but they don’t satisfy me fully (pun intended). Two of the best love stories I have read would be Gone With The Wind and The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. None of them have explicit love scenes. They don’t need it.

    Reply
  61. YES… Too much sex and not enough passion… But maybe they are right ’cause it seems that’s what “customers” wants !!!! I see this everyday at work (I work in a bookshop). And many on my friends who also read romance books (Historicals or Contemporaries) always want more sex scene. I’m fed up with this !!!! Just look at romantic times mag and half of the mag is for Vampires and Erotic 🙁
    Too bad for me…

    Reply
  62. YES… Too much sex and not enough passion… But maybe they are right ’cause it seems that’s what “customers” wants !!!! I see this everyday at work (I work in a bookshop). And many on my friends who also read romance books (Historicals or Contemporaries) always want more sex scene. I’m fed up with this !!!! Just look at romantic times mag and half of the mag is for Vampires and Erotic 🙁
    Too bad for me…

    Reply
  63. YES… Too much sex and not enough passion… But maybe they are right ’cause it seems that’s what “customers” wants !!!! I see this everyday at work (I work in a bookshop). And many on my friends who also read romance books (Historicals or Contemporaries) always want more sex scene. I’m fed up with this !!!! Just look at romantic times mag and half of the mag is for Vampires and Erotic 🙁
    Too bad for me…

    Reply
  64. YES… Too much sex and not enough passion… But maybe they are right ’cause it seems that’s what “customers” wants !!!! I see this everyday at work (I work in a bookshop). And many on my friends who also read romance books (Historicals or Contemporaries) always want more sex scene. I’m fed up with this !!!! Just look at romantic times mag and half of the mag is for Vampires and Erotic 🙁
    Too bad for me…

    Reply
  65. “Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?”
    I second the Lisa Marie Rice recommendation. Estelle, I’m interested to see you compare her to Kresley Cole. I’ve been thinking of trying Cole and now I definitely will.

    Reply
  66. “Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?”
    I second the Lisa Marie Rice recommendation. Estelle, I’m interested to see you compare her to Kresley Cole. I’ve been thinking of trying Cole and now I definitely will.

    Reply
  67. “Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?”
    I second the Lisa Marie Rice recommendation. Estelle, I’m interested to see you compare her to Kresley Cole. I’ve been thinking of trying Cole and now I definitely will.

    Reply
  68. “Can anyone else reccommend more books where the sexual heat really works for the story & characters?”
    I second the Lisa Marie Rice recommendation. Estelle, I’m interested to see you compare her to Kresley Cole. I’ve been thinking of trying Cole and now I definitely will.

    Reply
  69. No one’s mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton yet. Her books do feature vampires, which don’t seem too popular on this blog, but to me they’re incredibly erotic and dark, and very sensual. (Think Anne Rice erotic, a little kinky.) I particularly recommend the earlier Anita Blake books. The series has gotten a little thin now that she’s written so many, but the early Vampire Hunter series books are fantastic.

    Reply
  70. No one’s mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton yet. Her books do feature vampires, which don’t seem too popular on this blog, but to me they’re incredibly erotic and dark, and very sensual. (Think Anne Rice erotic, a little kinky.) I particularly recommend the earlier Anita Blake books. The series has gotten a little thin now that she’s written so many, but the early Vampire Hunter series books are fantastic.

    Reply
  71. No one’s mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton yet. Her books do feature vampires, which don’t seem too popular on this blog, but to me they’re incredibly erotic and dark, and very sensual. (Think Anne Rice erotic, a little kinky.) I particularly recommend the earlier Anita Blake books. The series has gotten a little thin now that she’s written so many, but the early Vampire Hunter series books are fantastic.

    Reply
  72. No one’s mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton yet. Her books do feature vampires, which don’t seem too popular on this blog, but to me they’re incredibly erotic and dark, and very sensual. (Think Anne Rice erotic, a little kinky.) I particularly recommend the earlier Anita Blake books. The series has gotten a little thin now that she’s written so many, but the early Vampire Hunter series books are fantastic.

    Reply
  73. Great topic, Susan/Miranda!
    Maybe it’s because of all those Victorian novels I wallowed in, but I usually find that a little sexy stuff goes a long way. What I love most is the simmering sexual tension–and I do agree with Queen Bee that the early Vampire Hunters were erotic and dark and not boring. But several books in, LKH lost me: the sexy/kinky was there, but somehow the heat dissipated. Anita seemed to be collecting lovers of various species, and something was lost along the way. I, too, need to believe that there’s more to the relationship than hot sex. I, too, want to believe hero and heroine are kindred spirits, soulmates. Otherwise, I simply see the passion cooling, as it tends to do, and nothing there to take its place.
    P.S. As one privileged to have an advanced read of ROYAL HARLOT, I must say you got it exactly right!

    Reply
  74. Great topic, Susan/Miranda!
    Maybe it’s because of all those Victorian novels I wallowed in, but I usually find that a little sexy stuff goes a long way. What I love most is the simmering sexual tension–and I do agree with Queen Bee that the early Vampire Hunters were erotic and dark and not boring. But several books in, LKH lost me: the sexy/kinky was there, but somehow the heat dissipated. Anita seemed to be collecting lovers of various species, and something was lost along the way. I, too, need to believe that there’s more to the relationship than hot sex. I, too, want to believe hero and heroine are kindred spirits, soulmates. Otherwise, I simply see the passion cooling, as it tends to do, and nothing there to take its place.
    P.S. As one privileged to have an advanced read of ROYAL HARLOT, I must say you got it exactly right!

    Reply
  75. Great topic, Susan/Miranda!
    Maybe it’s because of all those Victorian novels I wallowed in, but I usually find that a little sexy stuff goes a long way. What I love most is the simmering sexual tension–and I do agree with Queen Bee that the early Vampire Hunters were erotic and dark and not boring. But several books in, LKH lost me: the sexy/kinky was there, but somehow the heat dissipated. Anita seemed to be collecting lovers of various species, and something was lost along the way. I, too, need to believe that there’s more to the relationship than hot sex. I, too, want to believe hero and heroine are kindred spirits, soulmates. Otherwise, I simply see the passion cooling, as it tends to do, and nothing there to take its place.
    P.S. As one privileged to have an advanced read of ROYAL HARLOT, I must say you got it exactly right!

    Reply
  76. Great topic, Susan/Miranda!
    Maybe it’s because of all those Victorian novels I wallowed in, but I usually find that a little sexy stuff goes a long way. What I love most is the simmering sexual tension–and I do agree with Queen Bee that the early Vampire Hunters were erotic and dark and not boring. But several books in, LKH lost me: the sexy/kinky was there, but somehow the heat dissipated. Anita seemed to be collecting lovers of various species, and something was lost along the way. I, too, need to believe that there’s more to the relationship than hot sex. I, too, want to believe hero and heroine are kindred spirits, soulmates. Otherwise, I simply see the passion cooling, as it tends to do, and nothing there to take its place.
    P.S. As one privileged to have an advanced read of ROYAL HARLOT, I must say you got it exactly right!

    Reply

Leave a Comment