Would you rather see Edward and Bella getting dirty, or when the deed is done and the lights turn back on you only see the feathers strewn about after Edward rips open his pillow because he can’t contain his hornieness? Of course, I’m not sure I really want to see Edward naked, so let’s move onto actual romance books.
I recently read and loved Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner. Set in 1870, the heroine finds her only option in life is to become a mail order bride for a man out west. Kaki Warner does an amazing job building up the sexual tension between these two strangers, as they come to know each other and eventually fall in love. But similar to her other work, right about the time when the much anticipated sex scene is to come, you turn the page and the scene has been skipped. The sex scene as people refer to it, has faded to black. No peeking into the bedroom for the reader.
I have mixed thoughts on no sex in romance books. Let’s face it – I read romance for a reason. Oh, I love a good plot and some humor. But part of a romance book is the exploration of the physical relationship of the protagonists. Heartbreak Creek is so well written, honestly – I didn’t miss the sex…that much. (okay, maybe I missed it a lot) But there have been times where I’ve been disappointed and I think a lack of a sex scene has negatively reflected upon the book. In River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Mercy and Adam remove themselves from the pack to go on their honeymoon. Imagine my excitement when I realized we get to read an entire book with basically just Adam and Mercy celebrating their wedding. And before you start frowning, I realize this is an urban fantasy series, not romance but Patricia Briggs has included romance scenes in previous books. But not River Marked. Not the book where a sex scene would actually make sense! Who doesn’t want to read about Adam without clothes on? Hello!
Bottom line for me is that if I am reading a romance book, or an urban fantasy book that has a strong sexual tension and an obvious hero/heroine, I want the sex payoff. Give me the danglies and the naughty bits.
I’ve talked about this topic before with my Smexy review partner May, and I know her opinion differs a little from mine so I asked her for her thoughts on this topic.
I enjoy books that fade to black or otherwise limit the on-page sex in a book. I find them refreshing. I appreciate that doing this forces the author to show us romance outside the bedroom. So often I find authors rely too heavily on the sex scenes, that if they are removed there would be very little proof of true love and happily ever after, of affection and falling in love in the story. It grates on my nerves when I read a story where it’s clear more thought and detail was put into the sex scene than the rest of the book. Often I also find myself wanting to skim and feeling that the page space could have better been used by something interesting or original. When I can’t get a good picture of a heroine in my mind’s eye but I could pick out her boobs from a line-up I know the author has done a really poor job of balancing where the details are.
My other common complaint is frequent sex scenes that eat up the page count and leave less room for story development and a more complex plot. Of course most of my favorite novels do have sex and are not fade to black, and there are certainly times when a sex scene is able to convey so much more than the act itself. Feelings are running high, emotions shared with me the reader. I will add that there are times where a sex scene would add to a story – I’m certainly not against them!
At the end of the day I want a satisfying love story from my romance novels, and a skilled author leading me through the story – with our without on-page sex.
Must you have sex scenes or does it depend on the book? Are you more in favor of fade to black? Is there a book you liked that would have been better with sex or with less sex?