Diamond Jubilee at Romance at Random

"The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Romance and a Giveaway!

I’ve just had a sweet or clean fantasy romance released from Astraea Press (read below to find out how to win a copy). In this age and market, sweet romances often seem a thing of the past. Erotica is everywhere, which is fine. But what if that’s not your cup of tea? It’s not mine, not so much because of any moral stance, but because I don’t like the heavy reliance placed on sex as a plot device.

Sweet romances do exist, though they’re kind of the ugly duckling of their older sisters--erotica and mainstream romance. Sweet romance writers can get as much negative heat as explicit writers from the public. I daresay they receive more than their fair share from certain sectors. Not only are they writing romance, but they’re not including those all-important sex scenes that titillate readers. How dare they! Most people think if they pick up a romance, it must have the requisite bedroom scene every chapter or so.


Sometimes the most sensual moments come from the two characters standing together, almost touching. The tension is thick, both wanting more but knowing it’s not the right time or place--or maybe even the ‘right’ person. It’s this inner push-and-pull I love to see. If the bedroom scenes pile up or come on too strong, these kinds of moments get smothered between the sheets.

I’m not bad-mouthing more explicit works, but sometimes I want to read something focused on the romance, the growing relationship between hero and heroine. Unfortunately, too many sex scenes, especially graphic ones, leave me wondering where that very romance is. Yes, I get that sex is an important part of a committed relationship. But I don’t like when that aspect makes up a third or a fourth of the book. One or two scenes I can skim over, but when I have to skip pages and pages to get to the ‘good’ parts -- those touches and glances -- I feel cheated.

The bedroom door doesn’t even need to be fully closed. But I prefer not to have a play-by-play description of what each body part is doing, especially every few chapters.

What do you prefer? Or can you read all heat levels without a problem?

For more posts on sweet romances, check out Kay Springsteen's blog. She has a great series on the subject going on.

Giveaway Details:

Leave a comment about this post and be entered to win a PDF of Through the Rabbit Hole! Important: If you're not a follower of this blog, please either follow this blog or leave your email address so I can reach you if you win. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday.

Here's the blurb:

Social worker Natalie Danvers never thought she would fall head first into her very own dimensional tear — straight into a fey lord’s lap. The handsome but infuriatingly vague Lorh insists she’s stuck in his land for three weeks and that only she can discover the reasons behind her appearance in TirAnn. Natalie’s convinced this is all nonsense until forgotten memories of Lorh and his siblings resurface and collide with reason. Just who and what is she to Lorh and his family?


Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, Lisa. The cover of your new novel looks gorgeous!

In addition to the reasons you give in favor of avoiding sex scenes, I have another. Sex scenes are BORING! I mean, when an author goes on for page after page after page describing every little detail, the slightest nuances of sensation, every moan and groan---gimme a break!

There are only so many ways humans can have sex. Only so many of them are likely to turn up in romance fiction. And by now we're all pretty familiar with what goes on during sex. We've read it all before.

But if a writer focuses on the heads and hearts of her characters, she can explore a wealth of possibilities. It's far more likely she'll discover something unusual and fascinating there than if she heads further south. And the ways she can write about it are limited only by her imagination. That's my kind of romance!

Good luck with "Through the Rabbit Hole" and your upcoming works!

jennajaxon said...

Thought provoking post, Lisa. One of my favorite historical authors, Jo Beverly, often leaves the sex scenes out--or if they are there they are somewhat glossed over. And I love her books for the characters and their relationship. But I like a good sex scene in a novel too--as long as it's revealing the characters through the act of making love. If they're just pounding away, then it's not very interesting. Can't wait to read "Rabbit Hole."

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks, Mary Ann! Elaina Lee does wonderful work with cover art, doesn't she?

Your reason--so true! It does get repetitive and boring. I can stand one or two scenes, and then it's like, "I've read this a million times already!"

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for commenting, Jenna! I totally agree with your 'pounding away' comment and can stand one or two fairly descriptive sex scenes. But I've often found sex scenes are like ants--when there's one, there bound to be a whole horde following it:)

Kary said...

The romance is key in either kind of story. I generally read YA which has little if any sex and lots of angst. I am satisfied as long as emotions are expressed. I only feel cheated if the characters don't specifically profess their love to each other.
I recently struggled with including a sex scene in one of my stories. What I realized was by adding the sex the tension significantly diminished in the remainder of the story and there were two scenes afterward that included obligatory sex because it didn't make sense for the characters to abstain once that door was opened. Needless to say, I removed the sex. Some stories it works and some it doesn't. There is a place in the romance market for all the different genres but it's good to give a little love to the sweet romances.

Congrats, Lisa on your release.

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for the response, Kary! I couldn't agree with you more. The romance market--and all its various tastes--is diverse enough that every genre should have its place.

Sex does have a way of reducing the sensual tension for me, also. I think that's why, most of the time, I avoid it as long as I can. But some plotlines do call for it to happen early on in the story. In these cases, the bed scene works because everything hinges on it.

kayspringsteen said...

Emotions advance the story far more than the how-to of the physical reactions. Show me a hero's unexpected tenderness and the heroine's equally unexpected reaction, and that will take the story somewhere. Great post, Lisa. And congrats on the book. It's a great read. Those who haven't read it yet, you're missing out!

Lisa Kumar said...

Kay, what you said about emotions--I couldn't agree more!

Old Folkie said...

In vast general I don’t dislike sex scenes, if they are tastefully written that is and preferably with a hint of humour. I’m a fan of Lori Handeland’s Moon series partly because of the sex, but I really love the way Patricia Briggs handles this topic between her characters. However, in non-paranormal romances, at least in those I’ve read so far, I begin to detest sex scenes because for one the descriptions tend to be much more detailed than I could ever care for to read and it seems common to skip any meaningful bonding because “the sex” becomes the bonding moment … call me old fashioned, but where I come from you do this little thing called courting.

Also, where are all the really fun parts of a relationship left off in modern romances?
What about the whole getting to know each other, the flirting and teasing, sharing memories and life with each other… there’s this whole plethora of enriching experiences which I think are really important to build out a lasting relationship (and really to enjoy sex) that just get skipped or, I guess, assumed as granted once you got the characters in the bedroom.
I find it sad that a genre which is in theory build around the idea of ending in an HEA or at least in a believable prospect of one, fails in exactly that department because I can’t see those couple’s relationships last.

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for commenting, Old Folkie. I agree with what you said. Sex scenes can be done well, but too many times are over descriptive with no real emotion. Romance is not only made in the bedroom, which I think a lot of writers are forgetting.

Amy said...

Thanks for the post! I really do enjoy sweet romances. I like sex scenes that are tastefully done and add to the story. The most important thing to me is the story. If the good story is there, some sex scenes can add to it. Since I read young adult novels as well, I do appreciate some clean romance also. Would love to read Through the Rabbit Hole!


Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for commenting, Amy! The story is the most important thing like you said. A tasteful sex scene can enhance the plot. I know physical intimacy is important in romance, so 'tasteful' to me is where the characters concentrate on the emotional aspect of making love, not just the physical description of what body part goes where,etc.