Monday, March 10, 2008

What's your comfort level?

First of all, congratulations Paty!!!!! That is wonderful news!!!!!

When I'm referring to comfort level, I mean romantic comfort level. When you read a romance, how much "action" do you like? How much talk of sex is fine, how much is too much? I've been thinking about this for a couple reasons. First, I'm struggling to determine how much nookie my hero and heroine will get in my manuscript.

But mostly I've been thinking about this because the last two books I've read have either been highly sexual or had a highly sexed character. The former was the third installment of an increasingly popular paranormal series. All three of these books are, um, very sexual. They aren't erotic romance necessarily. She just has a knack to write VERY sexual situations, but they always seem to advance the plot or reveal some characterization. Without all of the sex, or near-sex, it would still be a great book. But personally, the steaminess makes it even better.

The second book I mentioned, with the oversexed person, isn't as endearing. It's not the hero or heroine who is over sexed, rather it's a sex therapist for couples. She's extremely agressive and has zero shame. It's very easy to dislike her in this book, which seems to be the author's intention. I'm enjoying the book because I really like the hero and heroine, but that oversexed character is getting under my skin. I just keep yelling at the book, begging the heroine to tell this chick off (she's going after the hero, but doesn't realize the heroine is with him for real). Anyway, this much sex and sex talk, when it's not the hero or heroine, isn't as appealing to me.

What are your boundaries on sexuality in a book? Do you prefer books with behind closed door sex, or do you like scenes that further the story? Have you read books with oversexed secondary characters?

12 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Wow- interesting subject!

I'll start off with- I don't think I've ever read a story with a secondary character like you explain. I'm sure if I had I would remember it.

As for level of sexuality. For me it all comes down to the characters and tone of the story. If the scene heats up and then they fade out and come back after the love making- if it's handled well and isnt' vital to the emotional struggle one or both characters have, I don't mind. But if the sexual tension has been high and their consumating the sexual drive is going to affect the characters because of hang ups or emotional walls they've had, I want to see those emotions as the scene develops. BUT- I don't want a play by play of what they are doing. I want to know mentally what is going on in their heads and hearts with the motions they are going through secondary.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

All sex, all the time.

LOL. (Kidding)

(BTW...Love the nookie comment.)

Great topic, Lisa. And timely for me as I had a moment of panic the other day when it finally hit me that relatives will be able to read my book once it's published. EEK! I quickly remembered every snarky, sexy quip and jab in my book and wondered how much it would cost to have a "clean" version printed just for the family - like my very religious uncle on the east coast who told me, after I announced my sale, that he was super proud of me and that I was going to be 'the most famous person he knew'.

OUCH.

Okay, so you've read my book, Lisa. Though it's an RS, it's got a pretty high level of sensuality. But, like you mentioned, I think that works or doesn't work because of the characters. I've definitely read books where it's obvious the author was trying to make the book sexy becasue sexy books are what's selling now. You can tell when it's forced and when it doesn't work. On the flip side, there are some books where the opposite is true, where the high sensuality fits the characters and you don't even realize how sexy it is until you're deep into it (pun intended). My book (the one that sold) is definitely the most sensual book I've written - but I didn't set out to write it that way, it just happened - the sensuality really grew out of the characters. On the other hand, book two (connected) is a pretty intense love story, but because of the characters, I'd say it's less sensual than the first. So...two similar books, two very different "heat" levels all because of the characters.

Since we're on this topic though, I gotta ask...

I was flipping through the RWR the other night and was reading the Market Update. Under Loose Id, it says, "Changes to Currently Seeking: Specifically - multicultural and I/R, extremely hot suspense and paranormal, LGBT and menage."

Okay, I know what most of this is, but what the heck is I/R and LGBT???? I'm guessing Interracial and????

Karen Duvall said...

Interesting blog, Lisa. As a reader, I won't read erotica because to me it's boring, but I'm all for a good steamy sex scene in a normal romance novel. As a writer, I introduce sexual scenes based on what the story calls for.

In my latest book, there's sexual tension, but no sex between the heroine and the hero. It's not a romance, though.

I've never read a secondary character like the kind you describe. Or I take that back. Maybe the LKH Anita Blake books, could fit that definition, as the main character has sex with anything that moves. I stopped reading the series after book nine. It got out of hand to the point the plot was sacrificed in favor of lots and lots and LOTS of hot sex. Sheesh. What a waste of words.

Karen Duvall said...

Eli, LGBT is lesbian/gay/bisexual/transexual

I think you're right about I/R, that it means interracial.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I also want to point out that sexy books don't necessarily mean lots of sex. I've read sexy books that didn't even include a full sex scene. In both of my books there's only two real sex scenes.

And I've never read a secondary character like you described either, Lisa. I think that would bug me as well.

And ROFL, Karen. I never would have guessed that's what LGBT was. My life is pretty sheltered...

Paty Jager said...

LOL- Eli! I just found out what LGBT or GLBT, as it was called at the EPPIES, were at the awards ceremony. They had a category and until the emcee(who was a definite crack up) started spouting all the real words and making comments, I hadn't had a clue what they meant!

Karen Duvall said...

I only know because of all those crazy loops I used to belong to when I was promoting Desert Guardian. Some of the excerpts were, uh... not what I was used to reading. That's how I learned about all these acronyms, including BDSM. Test time: do you know what these initials stand for? *cough*

Alice Sharpe said...

I've read and written sexy books and read and written pretty unsexy books. Eli's right, it's all in the characters. I wouldn't mind a sexually aggressive secondary character -- but perhaps not in a romance. As I mostly read mainstream and mystery, that wouldn't bother me at all.

And Karen? Cough? Give it up....

Btw, Lisa, the nooky comment made me giggle...

Karen Duvall said...

Ah, you guys! Alice, won't you take a stab at it? No? Sigh. BDSM means: Bondage, domination, sadism, masocism.

Danita Cahill said...

LGBT? That's an easy one: Long Green Bootie Tong. Doesn't make much sense, but that's got to be it, Eli.

Ha!

Danita Cahill said...

Good questions, Lisa. Let's see -- sex in romances? I like it. Or I don't like it.

I'm with most everyone else on this, the book and the characters are boss. My latest book has two sex/love scenes, plus some kissing and cuddling. It seems right for that book.

I read one romantic suspense lately that was highly charged with sex here, there, everywhere. I know it's in style right now, but it's not for me. Unless the H/h are gymnists, there are only so many positions to write/read about. Yawn.

wavybrains said...

This is a great topic!

And also, I think a lot of it depends on your place in life. Pre-Baby I liked VERY spicy books, and I loved very sensual stories.

But, post-baby, I've been reading more mainstream books with less sensuality. Perhaps it's because I'm often nursing while reading, or because my hormones took off for parts unknown . . .

I do seem to have a little bit less tolerance for "sexy premise" stories (ala Blaze)--i.e. Heroine designs sexual aids, Heroine and hero engage in a purely sexual relationship--I'm sure my interest in those stories may return, but right now I find them a little too superficial--I'm craving more meaty stories (no pun intended).
I still read a wide range of books--literary fiction, mainstream, sensual romances, etc. I think it all depends on the writing. I really don't like scenes that end at the bedroom door when there is a ton of tension leading up to it--I'm with Paty on that one.