Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Sex Or Not To Sex, That Is The Question

I just finished Mistletoe and Margaritas by Shannon Stacey. Yet another holiday romance. I might actually be reaching my saturation point on the holiday romances, believe it or not.

I had high hopes for this one, since I heartily enjoyed Stacey's book Exclusively Yours. It was cute and sexy and funny. Unfortunately, Mistletoe and Margaritas was a big flop for me. Some authors can capture the magic in a shorter format, and some can't. This book was too short, the ending was way too abrupt, and the sex scenes were a huge let-down. Which made me think about something that drives me nuts.

The sex scenes in a romance/erotica need to be appropriate for the book.

Here's what I mean.....If the book is an angsty Amish story that focuses on the emotional connection between the characters, then throwing in a wild orgy scene is not appropriate. Likewise, if the book has highly sexualized characters, then having "closed-door" sex scenes is not appropriate. (Imagine JR Ward's series without the sex....)

With some Harly books, the authors concentrate on sweet and loving gestures, such as kissing, holding hands, etc. These books don't need graphic sex scenes to complete them. The emotional connection is more important for the story arc.

On the other hand, if an author spends a lot of time building up sexual tension between the H/h, talking about how they lust for each other, are hot for each other, have been fantasizing about each other for years, can't wait to get it on, etc etc etc, then for the love of God, we better get a smokin-hot sex scene in that book. You can't build up sexual tension and then leave your readers hanging. That is a less-than-satisfying read, and super disappointing.

That was one of my main problems with Mistletoe and Margaritas. The hero has been in love (and lust) with the heroine for years. The heroine keeps talking about how horny she is. But the sex scenes didn't deliver. They were too brief and totally unsatisfying, in my opinion. If the sexual tension is a big part of the story, then we need a lot of frosting on the cake of love. (That sort of sounds like an Elvis song).

Grade: C-

Anyhoo, I think I might read a non-Christmasy book next. To cleanse the palate, so to speak.

Don't Leave Me Hanging,


anny cook said...

Exactly. It's difficult to answer the reader who has their own expectations, though. For instance, I have a series, Mystic Valley, that is...not "kinky" at all. Mostly vanilla type sex. I have another series, Flowers of Camelot, that is wild and crazy.

Readers who begin with Flowers are disappointed when they try the other series because it's tamer, though the wild and crazy would be out of place in those stories.

I suspect that is why some authors toss in the sex, even if it is inappropriate. I don't, but I sometimes hear from readers who have different expectations.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Anny! That is a very good point. There is the matter of consistency....which cropped up with Karen Marie Moning's UF series. Her romance series was very sexy, but the UF series did not have any sex at the beginning. Her romance fans were pissed. But there is a big difference between a UF series and a romance series. The sex or lack thereof needs to be appropriate for the book.

I think it's great that you are doing what is appropriate for each story.

Unknown said...

Another issue is the publisher you write for. Sometimes they dictate how many sex scenes and how graphic.
Personally, I'm having trouble writing sex these days. I'm leaning towards sensual. Maybe I'll land an agent at NEC. (I know it's a long shot), but I'd rather be writing contemporary romance than erotic going forward.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Amber! If your publisher is pushing you to write tons of sex scenes, and you don't feel that they are appropriate for your story, then you def. need to get a new publisher! Sounds like you have true romance in your soul....gotta let it out!

Good luck!

Tales of Whimsy said...

I feel ya. It totally needs to flow with the book. You definitely excel at this :)

Penny Watson said...

Hi Juju! needs to be part of the flow of the book...too much graphic sex in a sweet story is jarring, and not enough sex in a very sensual story is lacking. It's gotta flow!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Some authors write outstanding sexual tension, but can't deliver on the act itself. Other authors can deliver on the act but the tension is lacking. Regardless, an author has to be comfortable with the subject matter and the subject matter must fit the story.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! This is true. I like the rule that this sex scene an important part of the story? it integral to the story, relationship arc? If the answer is yes, the scene stays. If it's no, you gotta reconsider.