Readers' Favorite

May 11, 2014

Two Cents Discussion: Is Sex Required for a Great Romance Novel?

We had a great discussion last week about what makes a book a favorite. If you missed it, you can still drop your two cents in the comments on that post. You can add your two cents to this discussion by leaving a comment, writing your own post and link it up below, or share on Twitter, Facebook, etc to get the discussion going with your friends and fans.

Does a love story have to contain sex scenes to be a great romance novel?

I like romance and I actually prefer there to be a little love in the air between characters in most of the books I read. Yet, my long time readers know that I don't care for sex scenes. But it isn't just not wanting sex in the book. It is more about how the sex is portrayed. When the scene is only physical description of hand (and other body parts) placement and moan it is rarely adding anything to the story for me. One exception is a manuscript I content edited. The main character was a sex addict, though that isn't disclosed to the reader until a little later in the story. The sex was only physical for him and through the description of the act, the reader sees that there is no emotional connection and his actions inform the reader to an aspect of his personality.

If the scene is there just to add a measure of "hotness" to the story, for me it actually cools my reading pleasure. The story would be better served fading to black and getting on with the more important parts of the story.

If an author wants to add hotness through sex scenes, then they should focus on the emotions, the connection that is being formed between the two characters. An excellent example is Sylvain Reynard's trilogy: Gabriel's Inferno, Gabriel's Rapture, and Gabriel's Redemption. After reading the first book in the series, I really had to think about was there sex in the book. That's because the actually act was wrapped in the emotions, the devotion, love the characters shared.

So that's my two cents. What do you think? Link up with your own post or leave a comment below.

Next week's topic: Why is the dystopian genre so popular, particularly in young adult fiction?

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  1. I don't think sex is required. Romance isn't alway about sex and if it does contain sex is it then considered borderline erotica?
    I often wonder if a love element is necessary in every book to give people someone to root for.

  2. This is a fabulous topic... especially since my books though the genre is romance there is no sex to speak of. I tend to prefer reading deeper stories that don't need the sex to get the point across. I am no prude but sometimes there is just a bit too much description to my liking. Imagination is a beautiful thing and should be used.

    There seems to be too much sexual content out there in the media and Internet. Many YA books are very sexual in nature. Can't tell people how to write but I am not a fan.

    Love and romance is what makes the world go around!

    1. I don't mind that the characters have sex, I just don't care to accompany them between the sheets.

  3. I totally agree. Sex for the sake of sex or 'hotness value' that doesn't add tension/propel the plot/etc. is distracting. ALL scenes allowed to remain in a story should contribute to the forward action of the plot or the development of characters (and to be honest, some of these sex scenes are downright tasteless). I'd personally prefer to have a stirring moment with a kiss on the forehead than pointless smut.

    1. But for some reason, a number of authors think they need to have the sex scene. I wonder with the increased popularity of erotica, if the romance author feels they need to push that line to be competitive.

  4. I almost decided not to comment on this topic. I write what is termed sweet romance as opposed to erotica. We need a sensual scene if it is Iitegral to the story or plot. I write about people falling in love. I don't write the hot stuff--my readers already know where all the body parts go and don't need an anatomy lesson from me. In a recent interview I was asked my opinion about Fifty Shades of Gray. If a guy tried that stuff with one of my daughters, I'd shoot him with my snake gun. I live in Texas. It's allowed. The other thing is--if the guy had been a janitor--he would've been labeled a pervert. My audience is the over thirty-five age group. Characters have to be emotionally connected. I had an editor a couple of years ago who encouraged me to write the characters into a meet/greet/one-night stand--then have them fall in love. Pffft. I like for my heroines to have a little more sense than that. Just sayin'....
    Jackie Weger

    1. Thank you for commenting. I love a good girl meets boy (or other way around) story. I'm happy that there are romance authors that don't mend to the pressure to increase the "sexiness" of their love stories with increased physical "love". Maybe the physical is easier to write than the emotional.