Writing about that which takes places between the sheets is a complicated endeavor for even the most practiced romance novelist. Red-hot love scenes that steam up the pages of a story are what many readers crave, yet when I uncover negativity in a review it’s sometimes because the reader found that a story contains “graphic sex” which they deem “unsuitable for young readers.” With the exception of sweet romance (romance which contains no sexual content whatsoever) I imagine that many of us romance novelists are gearing our stories for the 18+ audience and that this disclaimer is stated clearly or understood wherever our books are sold. That said, “making love” is a topic which seems to spur a very heightened emotion, sometimes loudly stated, though more often in my experience it spurs a most compelling drive, incomparable to almost anything else, which creates an urgency to continue reading without pause as a story comes nearer and nearer to that oh-so-thrilling moment when the hero and heroine give into their all-consuming desires. I, personally, find such an enormous amount of excitement and passion in this moment that I'm often driven right through the first half of a novel and by then, I’m so hooked on the characters that I simply must see how they work through their differences, come together and confess their love. But that is me. Though I’m sure many, many of you share my passion where love scenes are concerned, there are others who occasionally take offense to the very idea of them. As human beings who are sexual by nature and discuss sex openly and often loudly in our society, what exactly spurs this reaction?
One theory that I have developed in this regard is that it may be a lack of knowledge concerning the classification of sub-genres which causes readers to be offended by the idea of sexual content, perhaps without so much as actually reading the story they’re referring to when the criticism is stated. Heat levels vary in romance novels, and labels such as “erotic romance” and “erotica,” in which the heat levels are much higher, are labelled as separate genres accordingly. As a mainstream romance writer and reader, I tend to gravitate towards sweeter romances than these both in my profession and in my leisure, however I have enjoyed the occasional erotic romance which I find to be a most interesting shake-up to what I typically read and write. There are sub-genres to suit all tastes and my only suggestion to fellow authors in this regard would be that they continue, always, to be true to their characters. When the characters step outside of themselves, in a love scene, in order to be more, or less, erotic than what instinct would have them do, (perhaps in the effort to make the overall heat level of the story something it’s not) it shows. It is my personal believe one should be true to her characters and seek a publishing house who will be true to them in turn. That said, as readers and writers, we should all become well-versed in the many categories of sub-genres, in order to find reading material that brings us the most joy, publishing houses that will celebrate our works in the very bright lights they deserve.
When I first toyed with the idea of writing about sex I was in college, taking a play-writing class. Though I had not done any greater deal of reading in the romance genre (none, in fact) I was determined to write about romance because romance was what I loved more than anything. In this class we were to write short plays and bring them to class, then assign roles to our classmates and have them read the various parts aloud. Ironically I was chosen many times over to portray roles very much unlike myself, promiscuous women who, shall we say, worked in rather unethical professions. I wasn’t exactly keen on doing this but I was in front of my classmates and professor and obviously was not inclined to say no. And so I recited the dialogue for the parts my dirty-minded male classmates had written and…a whole new world was opened up for me. Rather like an actress who gets a thrill out of playing a villainess I realized that I could say anything, and later realized I could WRITE anything I wanted, all in the name of that which is fantasy. I’d had my breakthrough moment!
The breakthrough moment won’t happen for everyone. Or perhaps it will, and it’s only a matter of time for all of us when the lightbulb will be turned on in our heads and we’ll start seeing romantic fantasy for the extraordinary phenomenon that it is – a means of escape, imagination and inspiration which holds the power to reignite passion in a passionless marriage, encourage singles to keep searching for their sole mate and to touch the hearts of devoted readers, reminding them again and again of the miracle that is falling in love. Sex is a beautiful part of that love. And to those who can stop blushing long enough to read their way into the good stuff, I wish you a most exciting reading experience!
I am thrilled to announce the release date of book 1 in my new series!!!