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If we skip sex scenes, do romances need sex?
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1474
Location: America

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:52 pm    Post subject: If we skip sex scenes, do romances need sex? Reply with quote

While blog-hopping, I came across yet another comment from a reader complaining about the heightened and heightened sexual content in romance novels. The commenter wondered why the threshold continued to be pushed when all she wanted was a great, emotionally-true relationship? I have also heard readers time and time again, say they usually skip over sex scenes in romances--I admit that I do as well, unless the author really makes me care about the characters.

However, if we're skipping sex scenes in most of the romances we need, does every single romance published need sex scenes to satisfy a reader? If sex doesn't equal romance, why does the genre push sex at as for a selling point, and we buy it? Why do clinch covers sell better than generic covers? Why do titles have the same words in them, all pointing to the sexual nature of the book? Why, if a reviewer label a book "Kisses", would we dismiss it, unless it received some buzz (or was written by a familiar author)?
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HeatherB



Joined: 19 Jul 2007
Posts: 73

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting post...I had rather read a romance with sex in it than not. However, I'm not one that really appreciates sex just for the sake of pushing the envelope or raising the ante. I would much rather read a story with incredible sexual tension and relationship building instead of graphic sex (I'm not a prude! I promise.). That tension and just the act of falling in love are the reasons I read romance and when the scenes get gratuitous, I start skipping.
I hate the cliche covers - hate them. I know that I've passed up many a good book because of the cover. I'd much rather have pretty, tasteful, or even bland cover. Are the cliche covers the big sellers? I honestly don't know, but I do think that authors that are big sellers, with exceptions of course, seem to have more tasteful covers.
HeatherB
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ladynaava



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:44 am    Post subject: Re: If we skip sex scenes, do romances need sex? Reply with quote

I don't tend to read sex scenes, not because I'm a prude, but because they bore me.

I like to care about a character before they hop into bed, and frankly, I'd like characters to show a tad more restaint. Too often the characters leap into bed the moment they meet and that's as hot as ice tea.

No, romances don't need sex, but I don't want the author to vanilla the book in other ways so I'm leary of avoiding the topic altogether.

I think perhaps I'd like a few paragrahps like you might read in a typical sci-f book. Descriptive, interesting, then lets move on. I don't really need the play by play description.
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Skrabs



Joined: 16 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on the author for me whether I read or skim the sex scenes. For example Stephanie Laurens makes my eyes glaze over with page after page after page... etc. Whilst other authors just seem to suck me in. It also depends upon how into the leading couple I am or what kind of mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm up for erotica, sometimes not. Sometimes an author can do in a simple kiss what others do in pages of descriptive thrusting and pounding.

I have to admit though that I steer clear of books with simple 'kisses' ratings. I need at least one love scene to justify the payout and I hate it when authors leave me at the door! Evil or Very Mad All of that for nothing!

I wonder if authors are being pushed to include more love scenes - after all sex apparently sells and with the erotica market seeming hot at the moment, maybe its encouraged? I'm noticing more and more lengthy sex scenes with little plot in between.
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Elaine S



Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 667
Location: Rural England

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HeatherB wrote:
Interesting post...I had rather read a romance with sex in it than not. However, I'm not one that really appreciates sex just for the sake of pushing the envelope or raising the ante. I would much rather read a story with incredible sexual tension and relationship building instead of graphic sex (I'm not a prude! I promise.). That tension and just the act of falling in love are the reasons I read romance and when the scenes get gratuitous, I start skipping.
I hate the cliche covers - hate them. I know that I've passed up many a good book because of the cover. I'd much rather have pretty, tasteful, or even bland cover. Are the cliche covers the big sellers? I honestly don't know, but I do think that authors that are big sellers, with exceptions of course, seem to have more tasteful covers.
HeatherB


Well said - you have summarised my own take on all of this. I tend to avoid certain categories of romantic fiction, e.g. imprints like Desire, Blaze, etc because I prefer good sex to resolve sexual tension built through a blossoming emotional relationship. However, I do admit that I have enjoyed Pamela Clare (a new find) and Lisa Marie Rice who write pretty graphic sexual scenes but who tell such a great story with interesting characters that I can put my brain on hold and go with the flow. I HATE sexual-clinch covers. I think the new covers on Georgette Heyer reprints and some of the Regency romances duets being released in the UK are much better. They are very tasteful and pretty but nevertheless hint at something rather exciting inside. I try not to judge a book by its cover but I think that those who don't read in the genre probably judge ME by the cover of the book I hold in my hand.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could happily do without the overly detailed sex scenes in romance novels, I almost always skip over them. I don't need to know exactly how they bring each other to orgasm..over and over again to believe in the love story. In fact, more often I think they detract from the story rather than add to it.

Linda
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+IHS+

ladynaava wrote:
I like to care about a character before they hop into bed, and frankly, I'd like characters to show a tad more restaint. Too often the characters leap into bed the moment they meet and that's as hot as ice tea.


Ditto! I have to have some emotional investment in the characters before I find a sex scene with them moving in any way. Without that investment, I end up skipping the scene and probably not even finishing the book.

Skrabs wrote:
I have to admit though that I steer clear of books with simple 'kisses' ratings. I need at least one love scene to justify the payout and I hate it when authors leave me at the door! All of that for nothing!


Laughing I know what you mean. Borrowing from the library isn't an option for me, so I have to be careful what I buy.

Sexual attraction is such a huge part of real romantic relationships. A story about a fictional romantic relationship just won't seem resolved without an assurance--whether in an actual scene or in any other way the author wishes to let me know--that the hero and heroine will are also very sexually compatible.
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cheri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find myself skipping love scenes all the time. Especially if they are pages long Rolling Eyes . I don't need a book to have these scenes in order for it to be a good book. I love a lot of Balogh books that are warm and still considered a great read. There are times however, depending on how emotional of a read or how much I'm invested into characters that I like to read about them and wish there was a little more action, two authors that come to mind are Pamela Morsi and Cheryl St. John. cheri
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4223
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cheri wrote:
I find myself skipping love scenes all the time.

Me, too, cheri. There may be one or two that are done especially well and not overly detailed. In that case, they roll right together nicely with the rest of the story. But when they get clinical, I skim thru to where the rest of the story picks up. It's a fine line sometimes differentiating between describing an emotional intimate scene and sounding too much like a medical how-to book.
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
However, if we're skipping sex scenes in most of the romances we need, does every single romance published need sex scenes to satisfy a reader?


It shouldn't. Should be an organic thing - if the story needs a sex scene, there should be one. If the conflict in the story is sexual - I'm thinking of a Megan Hart book I read - might mainly be told through sex scenes.

I liked ladynaava's comment:

Quote:
I think perhaps I'd like a few paragraphs like you might read in a typical sci-f book. Descriptive, interesting, then lets move on. I don't really need the play by play description.


I'd agree with that - the sex scenes in other genres aren't allowed to pull the book out of shape.

Personally, I'd be most annoyed by the prevalence of sex scenes in historicals, because they so often seem unlikely. The characters don't seem to consider things that from my 21st C perspective I'd expect them to consider: they rarely seem to worry about pregnancy, for example.

Quote:
Why do clinch covers sell better than generic covers?


I hate clinch covers. Could it be familiarity? If you see a clinch cover, you know it's romance. With a generic cover, unless you recognise the author's name, you can't be sure if it's romance, or chick lit, or women's fic.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that sex sells and more sex sells...more. Personally, I think that is reason there is more and more heat in romance novels lately. When I first started reading romance...not that long ago, I was fascinated by the love scenes. As the years have gone by I've become more discerning and still like a love scene, but it has to meld the characters in some way other than just a scene thrown in for the sake of sex. I usually don't skip them, but if the scene is really ho-hum, I will skim it. I don't think a book has to have loads of love scenes to be romantic, or even any at all. It all comes down to the story and how the author writes the relationship. I've read quite a few very lovely love stories that don't have a lot of sex scenes and some have the bedroom door firmly closed with just kisses. (If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend, The Grace Valley series by Robyn Carr...very few love scenes, still very romantic, just to name a few.)
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book." John Donne, "The Ecstasy"
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Retrograde



Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 458

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often skip sex scenes, but not out of disinterest. I just find that a lot of authors write in cliches when trying to describe passion, and it's difficult to give something your attention when you've heard it before. If there's a good amount of dialogue throughout, however, I will read the whole thing. I need to be learning something about the characters at that moment in time, not just going through the motions in order to magically take the relationship to the next level.
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Maggie AAR
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Retrograde wrote:
I need to be learning something about the characters at that moment in time, not just going through the motions in order to magically take the relationship to the next level.


I would totally agree with this.

I would also add that what I have found in books without sex scenes is that the sexual tension is missing. While I might not read the actual sex scene I always want the sexual tension/sizzle to exist between the characters. The sex scenes themselves don't create that but I've found that without them the sizzle is often missed.

maggie b.
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really need sex scenes, I vastly prefer doing it to reading about it. Nor do I really need a blow by blow account of who did what to whom, my imagination works just fine and is less likely to yank me out of the moment with a description of something I personally find a turn-off (e.g. the description of a circumcised penis in a recent Linda Howard book). And sexual tension is more fun than sex anyway.

However, a well written sex scene that furthers the plot or gives us new insight into the characters certainly enhances a romance novel. If a sex scene fulfils those requirements, I most certainly won't skim it. However, all too many sex scenes seem just generic cut and pastes from "Sex scene writing 101". And I can do without those, because frankly I've read them before and they don't get any more interesting if you change the names.

A novel should contain as much or as little sex as it requires. Plus, sex scene should arise organically from the characters and the plot, they shouldn't just be there, because the author felt the need to insert a sex scene. Finally, sex scenes should be as individual as the people having sex.

I don't mind "kisses only" romances at all, just as I don't mind "hot" or "borderline erotic" books as long as the heat level matches the requirements of the book. In fact, I have read some very fine "kisses only" romances of late, such as Shanna Swendson's "Enchanted Inc." series, "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen or "When Lightning Strikes" by Meg Cabot (the last two are YA). All of these books had some sizzling sexual tension, lovely relationships and great heroes and managed to be very romantic, even if there was no sex.
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