I love to read novels. I have eclectic tastes, reading anything from thrillers, to sci-fi and fantasy, to erotica. But my favorite genre is Romance- usually the spicier, the better. Historical, paranormal, suspense- I like them all, and I admit it! I prefer they have explicit sex scenes.
I have also read several reviews of romance novels, written by both professionals and readers, to help me decide what to read next. A common criticism regarding romance writing is “TSTL”, or “Too Stupid To Live”- referring to the plot contrivance of a Heroine that foolishly puts herself in harm’s way so that she can be rescued later. I am sure it is challenging to invent obstacles that are harrowing yet plausible (in fact, I know this to be true, having a few works in progress that I am writing), but it is the writer’s job to create a world where the reader can suspend their disbelief enough to not notice such contrivances.
The recent national fuss over the novel series “Fifty Shades of Grey” by author E.L. James, caught my attention, so I jumped on the bandwagon and downloaded it, more out of curiosity than anything. I wanted to find out why this particular book was causing such a furor, as romances involving BDSM are nothing new. Although it was not the most well-written book, I was intrigued enough to keep turning the pages for the first several chapters. By chapter seventeen, I discovered a few things that were annoying me, but one aspect annoyed me enough to make up my own acronym- “TOTB”, or “Too Orgasmic To Believe”!
I know the purpose of reading a romance novel is to escape the real world, and as a fantasy, the sex has to be perfect. But, does it, really? In almost every romance novel I have read, the Heroine has a mind-blowing-out-of-body-experience orgasm every time she has sex. Does this make anyone else roll their eyes?! The reason “Fifty Shades” hit this home for me was the fact that the Heroine was a virgin, had never had any kind of sex with anyone (including herself), and she orgasms not only the first time, but every single one of the hundreds of times they do it subsequently! Even while she was on her period, and twice in a row, no less! (Ewww- sorry, but that scene in the bathroom was just gross). My “subconscious” and my “inner goddess” were both shaking their heads! That woman is not just exceptional, she’s a freakin’ medical miracle!
I know Christian Grey and all the other alpha-male heroes are such super awesome perfect lovers, that they MAKE the heroines come every time….and, believe me, I aspire to that in real life. But writers are also advised to make their heroes and heroines flawed in some way, so that their characters are more “relatable” to their readers, and have room to grow in the story. Except in the bedroom apparently- where they have to be perfect lovers, eleven on a scale of one to ten, every time. (The only notable exception is some BDSM stories have orgasm denial as a technique, in which case it is withheld on purpose.)
I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my own experience, having sex also has about ‘fifty shades’ to it- it’s rarely black or white, rarely awful or utterly fantastic. It is possible to have awesome sex without orgasm, and it is also possible to have mind-blowing multiples. And orgasms can vary in intensity and duration- I can count at least twenty different “shades” or types, of orgasm that I have experienced!
I am not saying that the sex scenes should be disappointing (unless that is part of the plot), but can we at least be a little more realistic? I have heard there has been discussion over using more realistic physical descriptions, so that heroines would be more like “real” people and less like supermodels or Barbie Dolls. With the trend toward making more relatable characters, will the sex become more realistic, and thereby more like real-life experiences? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the experience was more varied for the characters, rather than sexual nirvana every time?
And Ladies, if you actually do have over-the-top orgasms every time you have sex; if you are truly “TOTB”, then I salute you! Please start your own blog and tell us how you do it.
How do you like your romance/erotica sex scenes? Complete fantasy or with a dose of realism? What would you like to see done differently in regards to sex scenes?