Let's Talk About Sex


...in romance novels.

As a writer, I've never really thought about how much sex I include in my novels. I just write what feels right. I don't worry about whether or not some family member will read it and get offended. If they don't like it, they don't have to read it.

But, I was reading a Debbie Macomber book a few days ago, and it suddenly occurred to me that a romance novel doesn't actually have to have a full blown sex scene in it. You can be a bestselling author without it, and not write inspirationals! Needless to say, I was shocked, although I don't really know why.

I think the idea surprised me because I've seen a marked increase in sex scenes in a lot of the books I've read recently. For example, I love Christine Feehan's books. I picked up the first Carpathian novel when it first came out, and I've been a fan ever since. Yet, after finishing her latest Drake sister novel, Turbulent Sea, I was a little stunned. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book. I'd been waiting for that hero to get his own book for years, but it seemed like one sex scene ended only to start another one ten pages later.

So, what's the story? Are readers expecting more sex in romance novels? Are editors and publishers requesting more? Are authors just writing more sex in their books? Am I imagining the whole thing?


Keri Stevens said...

I don't think you're imagining it at all. I think the market is trending towards more sex across the board-both in volume and in, ahem, "feistiness." I assume readers want it--erotic romance is exploding as a genre relative to "mainstream contemporary," and even when reading those I find the books from mid-decade on to be decidedly hotter. I'm not even sure who the modern Debbie Macombers are. As a writer, I certainly feel I will have more chance of selling something if I write it hot rather than fading to black at crucial moments. And I think if you read some early Feehan now, you will see less sex than you saw in TS.

One exception I did note was Lora Leigh--her first books were much more raw than the later ones and I wonder if she got some reader backlash.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I have heard some editors recommend longer sex scenes to their authors depending on the book. It all depends what genre you are writing for and what you feel works. I have read romances where the sex scene was tacked on IMO and really not needed.

Evelyn Trent said...

Keri, I totally agree. I can't think of anyone new now who could get away with the fade to black thing--which is kind of sad because I loved the Debbie Macomber book I just read. I'm not even sure if you could write like that and sell a debut today--unless it was an inspirational.

Katiebabs, I think that's part of what bugged me in parts of TS. It seemed like some of the sex scenes were tacked on later, and I seem to be seeing that a lot lately. Don't get me wrong, I like a good sex scene as much as the next romance reader, but not needless ones. A sex scene in a romance novel should move the story along just like any other scene does.

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