Everyone who reads romantic fiction has an opinion on this touchy subject (no pun intended.)
For me, the essence of a romance novel is the relationship between the main characters, and relationship must involve more than the sexual aspects.
So how the characters interact before they have a sexual encounter, their problems, their strengths and weaknesses, are far more engaging than the sex scenes themselves—not that well written sexual encounters aren’t fun reading, they absolutely are. (Emphasis here on well written.)
Emphasis as well on romance. When romance is alive and well, love scenes make the story even more enjoyable and interesting. Isn’t it fascinating to find out how the gorgeous guy goes about the process? And how the gal reacts? (I’ve always loved stories where either or both have a well developed sense of humor.) And when the writer does something ususual.
After all, what’s the best answer when a guy asks what a woman likes in bed?
Surprise me. (Vice versa as well.)
It’s also the best answer for erotic scenes in romance novels. So the question isn’t really how much sex in a romance novel is too much.
As with most things, it’s not a question of quantity.
It has to do with quality.
My personal pick for great sex scenes:
The Outlander series, of course. (By now you know this is one of my favorite series. Jamie is the epitome of a fantasy lover, and Claire is no slouch when it comes to romance.)
Nancy Warren writes great sex scenes. Read Kiss A Girl In The Rain, the first of the Take A Chance series.
Toby Neal’s books have romantic scenes that are believable and erotic.
Jo Graham is a master at writing realistic and unusual erotic encounters.
I’d love to hear your comments. What do you love? What do you hate?
I just came across your book, “Knights of the North” through Bookbub. Boy, I LOVE your writing and the story. I’m only about halfway through, but you’ve won me over. I’ve read a lot of different romance authors lately, and am thrilled to have found an author I ‘click’ with. I love these characters, their journey, and can’t wait to read more. Thank you so much for sharing your gift. And thanks for the recommendation of other romances you enjoy.
Ahh, you get it! Just finished reading The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, about women who were concubines in China in the early 1900’s. Amy Tan is brilliant at writing sexual encounters and incorporating emotions, both negative and positive. Big difference between sexuality and sensuality, and this book really points that out, within a captivating story line.
Thanks so much for the insightful comment, Annie.
I agree, Bobby! When it comes to sex, it’s about quality, not quantity. I would rather read a romance book with one amazing sex scene, instead of feeling like the passion has been forced. Great fiction writers take the time to build the emotion of a situation. Romantic encounters are like any other plot point, from the reader’s perspective. We want the climax to payoff for our emotional investment!
Carole, such great feedback, thank you! I agree about gradual buildup, glad you do too.
I’ll be re-publishing Now and Then soon as an ebook, when I do I’ll gift you a copy for your Kindle. Great to connect with you-I love Hawaii as well, have been there numerous times and feel it’s a very spiritual place.
Very best to you and yours,
I love romance novels & have read a lot of historical romance novels as well as some contemporary ones. I like the sensual sexual relationships that are built up gradually, as you did in Island Sunrise. Some authors are extremely graphic in depicting the sexual encounters & others skim the surface. I think it is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I don’t feel an author needs to elaborate but do enough to make it titillating to the reader & giving them some leeway with their own imaginations. One book of yours I absolutely loved, however, was Then & Now, a time warp story. I read it four times. It was so interesting, fascinating & titillating at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed Island Sunrise. It was delightful. I am a romantic at heart, part Italian, my dad was in Hawaii at the end of WWII & I have visited 4 of the islands myself so could really get into the visualization of this story. I liked all of the characters & how the story evolved. I plan to reread it again.,
Hi Iron Bess,
Relationship (sex) scenes are by far the hardest to write. And by all means, read quite a few romance novels in the genre you’re writing in to get a feel for how other writers handle these scenes. If there’s a tool I sure don’t know about it–although there’s a pattern to Harlequin romance, it’s certainly not a formula. It’s like a football game, there’s a general pattern but the plays are individual. The best advice I can give is to let the characters personalities determine the love scene. The type of people they are will be reflected in how they make love.
Very best to you–writing is never easy, but it is gratifying. Thank you so much for the comment.
I’m just getting to the part in my novel where a relationship is about to begin between my characters, never having been big on reading romance novels I feel at a disadvantage when it comes to writing about a blossoming love so I’m stalling on the next part. I know that Harliquin is pretty formulaic so you have to follow rules, but when you aren’t constrained by those rules what is the best way into a relationship scene? Conflict? Also, would you recommend reading a few romance books to get the feel on ‘how to’ write an actual love scene? Or is there a good tool out there that one can use? Thank you.