Graphic Sex Scenes in Romance Novels

25 Jun

Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I just don’t like gratuitous sex scenes in novels. I don’t see why they’re romantic or even sexy. If anything, they make me giggle. There’s something really over-the-top about these scenes. They just don’t seem realistic and especially in historical novels, feel really out-of-place.

Would a shy débutante really let a rake ravish her in the corner of a ball room? The thought makes me cringe. I remember skimming through my mum’s dirty novels as an adolescent. I’d enjoy the banter between the hero and the heroine but all the heaving bosoms? These scenes did nothing for me. I usually skipped them completely because romance can be expressed in other, more effective ways. I much prefer witty banter or a stolen kiss.

Historical novels are also filled with cliché characters, such as:

* The roguish, dashing Highlander
* The innocent, virginal English rose
* The witty, spunky heiress
* The conniving relative

I am sure there are many others. There are few original characters left anymore but unless written really well, these archetypes are tedious to read about. If you are going to flout historical accuracy by writing racy sex scenes, at least make the characters fun. What about a clergyman who falls for a courtesan? What about a woman accused of witchcraft finding love in her cell?

And then there’s the covers. What’s sexy about an unrealistic fellow rippling with Photoshop masculinity? And then they lean over the heroine, whose dress is half undone and spilling with cleavage. The word tacky comes to mind. I can’t help but think that this sort of soft-porn only appeals to middle-aged housewives with expanded waistlines. But looking at the steady sales of such novels, I must be mistaken. Give me the classy covers of Heyer any day. Modern authors like Amanda Grange or Abigail Reynolds, too, use historical covers. And I think they’re gorgeous.

The possibilities are endless. I always have a dozen potential stories in mind at any given time. Some are abandoned, others never reach the page. The point is: I write romance without sex scenes because I am more interested in the journey of falling in love. I grew up watching Jane Austen and being a re-enactor of the Regency period. Whether I like it or not, it has affected my writing.

So yes, I am old-fashioned. But is being a hopeless romantic really that bad? I would rather wait for the right one than end up with ten wrong ones.

6 Responses to “Graphic Sex Scenes in Romance Novels”

  1. Roodkapje at 2:30 pm #

    Well said, I couldn't agree more!

  2. ~Renate at 4:46 pm #

    🙂 Let's bring back real romance!

  3. night owl in IL at 11:02 pm #

    Hello Renate,I'm pretty much the opposite of you – I've never liked Jane Austen books/movies or any that are like that. I don't like the covers that you described of A. Reynolds & such. However, I am also not fond of the heroine's bossom falling out of her dress on covers. I like to see guys on covers, but also couples. I don't like just 'erotica' books, but I do like spicy &/or erotic romance stories (though I've read many good books without that). I also really enjoy the banter betweeen the H & h. (Historical romances, I admit, are not my favorite.)Saying that, no, I don't think that being a hopeless romantic is bad at all. I also agree that waiting for the right one is preferable to ending up with ten wrong ones. [I, myself, have never yet been married.]Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}P.S. I really do like 'real' romance in books, too (just on the hotter side). 😀

  4. ~Renate at 11:17 pm #

    I would like the covers more if they were a bit more classy. I think the bare-chested-hero-clinging-to-the-heroine covers are just silly. I like hot make-out scenes but to me, that's enough. Just personal preference, I guess.

  5. Jenna at 12:43 am #

    For me, it depends on how the sex is written. I've spent some time thinking about this, and have come to the conclusion that word choice is very important. There are roughly a bajillion synonyms for "penis", so if an author feels the need to mention it, s/he'd better use the right synonym. For example, when describing very romantic sex, cock is the wrong word. It's too harsh-sounding. Cock is for rough sex, or that ravishing-in-the-corner you mentioned. I've been reading/listening to an audiobook of Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series, and there is a lot of sex after the first two books, and while I have no problem with the word choice, it's really repetitive. It's the same old sex scene over and over again; not exactly the same, but it generally starts the same way, and it always ends the same way, and there are always the same middle elements in there in some order or another. They're also, for the most part, from the male character's point of view. The story I'm trying to write will probably have at least one sex scene, if only to demonstrate how it should be done. The plot requires a rape scene as well, which will use an entirely different set of words. Pretty sure my protagonist is a lesbian, so that'll be different, too.I love sex. I like sex in books. In both cases, though, it has to be done right, or else it's just boring.

  6. Ginger at 6:18 am #

    I dunno… i hate the tacky bodice buster covers (because i like to take my books with me, and i do NOT like looking like a bored housewife while at a doctor's appointment. cheesy titles are bad enough, now i have a very descriptive picture on the cover too?? no THANKS!!)But as you stated…. romances, especially Regency, are often redundant.. its difficult to find something unique, or at the very least intriguing. I'm actually pretty fond of Beauty and the Beast themes, with the wounded war hero (but only if the heroine is interesting too) i never have been able to enjoy the "Jolly Rake" ..who isnt really a rake.. he just has an unwarranted bad reputation.. ??? they over use the term "Rake"… as i understand the definition, there havent been many "Rakes" reformed or otherwise lolAlso i never cared for the ballroom scenes either. but thats me in real life. i dont dance… i never liked parties… i'm a wall flower by choice. if i had lived during that time period i would probably be raising dogs on a country estate still under the care of my parents! So when i find a story that is outside the ballroom/drawing room i'm automatically interested! the sex(if it isnt boring, too frequent, and cheesy) is an added bonus, and it has to be timed perfectly! but i like the chase more than anything. and i LOVE witty dialogue. i've been jaded for a while now and oddly enough i found and read Lord of Ice(cheesy title but at least the cover showed only a pretty painting of a house!) I read it in three days and enjoyed it but when i checked the reviews on amazon i saw a lot of people stating how it was not that authors best. Quite frankly i disagree… i liked the book so much i searched for her others and none of them struck me as interesting. they were far fetched to say the least…. spies… no thanks. another similar story to lord of ice(but more lighthearted) was by Johanna Lindsey, Gentle Rogue. a friend sent that to me and it kept me from going mad during a BAD vacation. I loved it and looked for more by her and…. well if they werent boring, then you'd need a therapist session after reading them. Apparently she was most popular during a time when romance novelists thought "Stockholm Syndrome and Date Rape" was the intriguing… i havent been able to read anymore books by her since!Reality be damned, i read fiction for fun and to feel good! Those stories only made me despise the heroine and plot the deaths of the heroes! i know enough about history that i could have gotten away with it and no one would have suspected a thing.Anyway, i digress. I was more of Jane Eyre fan than P&P… i guess i like dark brooding reclusive heroes with a tender side… which was why i enjoyed Lord of Ice. the sex scenes werent every other chapter.. in fact i was more than halfway through the book before they .. ermm "got serious"…. But the chase was splendid! But.. yeah it was predictable. but the chase was worth it(this time the hero is chased by the heroine)ok i think i've said enough on the topic lol I like the sex but i dont want …porn…. i may be a married woman who works at home, but it's happily so.. and i dont require that much fantasy in my life 😉 When its done well, i enjoy it. its just so hard to find those that ARE done well!

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