Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: How Hot is Too Hot?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

How Hot is Too Hot?

I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately, so I thought I'd toss it out on the blog. For those of you who enjoy reading sexy romances, how hot is too hot? (And by the way, since there is no contest involved this week, if you would feel more comfortable about posting without your real name, feel free.)

I have always enjoyed romances with wonderful love scenes. I started reading Lori Foster in Harlequins long before I knew who she was, and I really enjoyed the way she wrote her sex scenes. I started reading Bravas for the same reason.

Now, new publishers and lines are popping up all the time... Kensington's new Aphrodisia line, for example. And by the way... that line is being marketed as "erotica" and not romance. Do these distinctions make sense to you as a reader? Does it matter?

I'll admit that there are certain words and situations that turn me off. But since I can't be anonymous, I won't write them down here. Ha! But I do have my preferences when it comes to the nature of a sex scene. For one thing (and I will admit this), I hate to see a woman do anything stupid or dangerous in the name of sexual fantasy. I can't separate my judgment about what is safe and smart from the fantasy aspect.

In other words, you'll never see me write about a woman having sex with a total stranger she just met in a dark bathroom. See what I mean? The guy could drug her or knife her, or who knows what? Even though I have written (and will still write) super sexy scenes, my mental editor stands by my side making sure my heroines are doing these fun, sexy things in relatively safe scenarios.

And what about language? Are there words that are "too" coarse? Maybe I shouldn't get into that here... but I do wonder. For example, I never curse in real life, but my characters do. Does that make me a hypocrite? I'm writing fiction, and everyone is not just like me... so that's my take on it. But everyone may not feel the same.

I guess in a way, romance novels are a lot like TV. When I was a little kid, Lucy and Desi were still sleeping in twin beds. Now, if you're watching cable, almost anything goes. The world has changed. Books have changed, too, and one thing I love about the romance genre is that there is something out there for everyone... from sweet inspirational romances to fantasy worlds where sexual taboos are ignored.

So tell me what you think. What spoils a sexy romance in your opinion? What makes your heart race in a good way? And if you need to answer under an assumed identity, we promise not to reveal you for the scamp you are. :)


P.S. Don't forget to stop by my website and enter my February contest. I have two fun prize packages up for grabs. :)


Anonymous said...

Like you said Janice there are some things that could be said for some of the books that are coming out now. Of course I'm not going into details here. Like I was telling my husband the other day, he was watching something on TV and I just had to stand up and leave the room. I'm not getting into details about the program he was watching, but he is always teasing me about my books. The calls them my "porno books" So I explained to him the difference. I asked him this question, "Will you still love me the same way if we will never ever have sex again?". He looked at me like I had grow another head but said "Isnt sex supposed to be the greatest expresion of love between a couple?". EXACTLY! Now that is the difference! Porno its just sex for the heck of it! And sometimes the way a sex scene is described in a book its a turn off. I think that as long as its tastefully done and like you said, even when sometimes is a "fantasy" it has to be done in a safe way.
That is why I love your books, and the rest of the authors in the loop are great a this too. I guess that another factor is the way somethings trigger a memory that could be a pleasant or unpleasant one. One thing is for sure. I know I will always enjoy your books!

jamie said...

I love hot scenes, but for them to really work for me, I need to feel the emotional commitment between the couple. I don't mind some cursing, in fact, the mild forms that show a loss of control (in a passionate way) can add a little excitement, but the really demeaning words throw me right out of a scene. I agree with the sensisble setting, wild in a safe environment is good, reckless just because is not. If the relationship between the hero and heroine is expressed well I can handle any level of passion between them, from mild to meltdown.

Cryna said...

There are a lot of books that are coming out right at the moment that are sterotyped........when it comes to the "wham bang" effect. These are more porn to me than a good sex scene that is well written. It seems that in some lines the rush is on to see who can come up with the most outrageous scenes with no real story to tie it all together.

I do not like to read the stuff where they engage in sex anywhere, anytime, and have no real feelings for what they are doing, and most of the time it is unsafe. Just for the sake of filling up the pages.

If the scene is well written and shows emotions between the couple, then that is fine with me. And all the authors from this loop that I have read have always handled it tastefully even when it is a hot scene, which I like.

As for swear words, I think that sometimes it seems to fit the scene, but at the same time does not have to degrading or just curse words for the sake of having something to say. That for me is a turnoff from the book and generally the author involved.

Janice Maynard said...

I forgot to mention... have any of you read the Black Lace books? They are erotica written by women for women. Some are single titles and some are short story collections.As with any line of books, there are some authors I like better than others. And some of them have more of a romantic storyline than others.

On every copyright page it says, "These stories contain sexual fantasies. In real life, always practice safe sex."

I like that the company says right up front where it stands and that they are thinking responsibly about the consumer. Of course, that may just be to keep from getting sued. Kind of like the McDonalds people who have to put up signs saying that hot coffee "may" burn you. Duh! But I guess some people always have to be told.

Cryna said...

No Janice I have not tried that line of books. I guess I tend to stay away from the Erotica line.

I like some authors better than others, but at the same time if they start to turn out books I am not keen on, I will move onto someone else, but that is just me and in no way bashing an author. It is just the direction they feel they must go at the moment. Too bad but true.

Like you say sometimes they have to put the warning there for people, but a lot of times who reads the copyright page, unless I am looking to see if it has been printed before, I know that I don't. Again that is just me and I am not speaking for anyone else......


LuAnn McLane said...

Janice, I enjoy all sub-genres of romance but my favorites are those where the sex is steamy. To me this is where the couples are heading and the greatest expression of love. Leaving that out would be leaving out the heart of the story. I want to know the characters inside, get into their heads and their hearts.

As far as language, well I want a guy to talk like a guy and the big "f" bomb is dropped when I think he would say it. I use it sparingly buy I have a twenty-three year old and a twenty year old and that's just the reality of language these days. Years ago I would not have even thought of using it but it pops up in my books once in a while.

As far as language in the love scenes, well, the same goes...whatever the character feels is going to end up on the page. The characters take over and oddly enough I lose control when I'm into the story....

The love scenes have to be a part of the plot or to move the story to the next level and not for shock value. Written scenes seem so much hotter than seen on the tv screen because we are in the character's heads and it makes the whole thing even more intimate.

Trista Bane said...

There is a difference between erotic romance and erotica. The difference is that Erotica does not focus on a relationship and does not include a happily ever after. Erotic romance is typically still a romance. I enjoy, and write, erotic romance, but it bothers me to read erotica. I don't like one-night stands, and there are many other situations I find adversive.

To me, the language has to be spoken by the character, not the writer. Your character is a seperate person, a seperate entity, and if he/she uses language you wouldn't normally use-- so be it.