And thus make romance readers happy, I should imagine. Well, this romance reader anyway. 🙂 After having spent the past weeks reading nothing but Heyer novels, I woke up this morning, craving a romance with sex in it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not necessarily in favour of the recent sexing-it-up trend. When reading a straightforward, mainstream romance novel, I don’t need the characters to jump into bed on page two, to have wild bunny sex every twenty pages, or to indulge in any kinky sex games. The hero most certainly doesn’t need to have a monstrously big penis nor one with any retractable appendages. Nor, heaven forbid, any body parts that glow in the dark (even if this might help to cut the cost of electricity!).
I like sweet romances, but I also like to read about characters getting physically intimate. After all, physical intimacy forms such an important part of a relationship. So as a reader I want to be shown that the characters also click on that level.
In my late teens, I read a lot of historical novels and I found most love-scenes included in those rather off-putting (e.g., the goat-sex scenes in “Die Kinder des Gral,” or the voodoo doll scene in “The Wise Woman”). When I stumbled across historical romance, I was enthralled by the love scenes in those books. Active women? Check. No off-putting descriptions? Check. Men who love pleasing their women? Check. Female point of view? Check, check, and check again.
One of the first romance novels I read was Stephanie Laurens’s “A Rake’s Vow.” I positively adored that first love scene, in which Patience secudes Vane to secude her. Strong woman gets hunky hero, and in the end they live happily ever after. And don’t die on top of some stupid tower with arrows raining on them. Ha!
And who could forget that wonderfully funny love scene in Jo Beverley’s “The Devil’s Heiress,” in which the heroine is comparing what she feels and sees to what she read about making love in a book called “The Annals of Aphrodite” (“‘It was rather alliterative.'”)? I mean, who could forget something like this:
“Men have books, and women steal them.” She was still looking at his Rod of Rapture, wondering if the book was right, and he would like her Felicitous Fingers.
*g* Beverley should get top marks for coming up with the most hilarious euphemisms in the history of the romance novel. (And they are hilarious on purpose, not by accident! *ggg*)
A love scene doesn’t even need to be explicit to pack a nice, emotional punch. Dorothy Dunnett’s “Checkmate” anybody? When Pippa and Francis finally made love, I cried buckets. It’s such a beautiful scene, and I was so very happy for them.
And then his true courtship of her had its beginning; and to the worship of his body, he joined the fairest garlands from the treasure-house of his mind, and made a bower for her.
* The Valley Forge Romance Writers RWA chapter sold tee-shirts with this motto at the 2005 RWA National Conference. I met a lady wearing such a tee-shirt at my stopover in Dallas on the way to Reno. I still remember this meeting not just because of the cool shirt, but also because she remembered that I had won the chapter’s Winning Beginnings contest in 2003. As a result of that first place in the historical category, I sold my first novel to Chris Keeslar. 🙂