I’m reading a Stacy Finz romance right now, FINDING HOPE, and I’m really enjoying it. She’s created great characters who feel REAL, and they’re all searching for answers in their lives. Last night, I hit the scene that if I was young and horny, I’d have earmarked and reread until the page fell out of the book. Man, was it hot! Before reading Finz, I read WHISKEY BEACH by Nora Roberts. I’ve read MIDNIGHT BAYOU and ENCHANTED by her, (my favorites), and the sex sizzled, but not in this one. The emphasis was on two people who needed to learn to trust again, so the bedroom scenes emphasized that.
My writer friend, alias Julia Donner, can write great sex for her Regency series. I blush in my living room where no one can see me:) https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Donner/e/B00J65E8TY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1478461347&sr=1-2-ent So can my writer friend, Kyra Jacobs, who writes sweet romances for Enchanted, but wrote hot and steamy for her dragon shifter series. And she does both well. Me? The first time I tried a sex scene, it was a real challenge, and it didn’t win any awards. I still had the problem of picturing friends and family reading it. One of my friends flat out told me, “If an author has to grab my attention with sex, I put the book down.” Not every reader appreciates sex in romances. They think you’re appealing for shock value, cheap thrills. I remember reading one of Kyra’s blogs when it bothered her that a friend commented, “So, now you’re writing smut?” (You can find her blog here: https://indianawonderer.wordpress.com/) The thing is, both Julia Donner and Kyra Jacobs can write great books without sex. They don’t HAVE to have it to hold your attention. They write it because it’s appropriate to the stories they’re telling.
When I first started writing romances, I worried how readers would react to the sex scenes in my books. First, did they work, or were they clumsy? Second, were they appropriate to the story? Was sex a natural progression for the two characters in my book? Was it to advance the story line and their relationship or just to punch up a sagging plot? That feels just as gimmicky to me as writers who throw in a gruesome death scene to create tension when suspense has gone flat. Even if I got the sex right, I still can’t do sizzle. I think I’d have to blindfold my dead mother so that I can’t picture her looking over my shoulder and flinching. But my biggest angst went away when I gave one of my manuscripts to my dear, wonderful friend and first draft editor Ann Wintrode. Ann belonged to my writing group, was a retired librarian, and was in her eighties. When I fussed because I wasn’t sure if I should show her my manuscript because I had sex scenes in the book, Ann skewered me with a look and said, “I think sex is a natural part of life. If your characters are realistic, and are attracted to each other, wouldn’t they have sex?”
Well, that pretty much put it in perspective for me. I guess I’ve decided that if the sex feels like the right thing for the characters, and not just gratuitous for readers, then it works. I don’t have to turn out the lights and show fireworks exploding outside the window, though that would have been better than the first sex scene I ever wrote. I like books with and without sex scenes, as long as they’re well-written. I like sweet and sizzling romances. Whatever. Just make me care.
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