By Barbara Meyers On Jun 25 2014, 9:00 am
Non-romance readers think romance novels are all about the sex. Even if they include descriptive love scenes they are not. They are about romantic love and commitment. For the purpose of this discussion let’s separate out erotica from the romance genre and stick to romance novels.
If they’re not about sex then why include sex scenes? I’ll speak for my own writing and no one else’s. I include them because it seems natural to the story. I like subtle, passionate well-written love scenes that reflect what’s going on both physically and emotionally with the characters.
Often the characters aren’t married to each other the first time they have sex. That’s simply a reflection of the times we live in. I write contemporary romance. My novels don’t necessarily reflect my own moral views. I’d wager most fiction doesn’t reflect the moral views of its readers. Most readers of murder mysteries, for example, aren’t killers in real life. A police procedural, however, shows how a murderer is caught. (Usually with some fictional license taken.) In the same way, a romance novel shows how a romantic relationship develops in a believable but not necessarily realistic situation.
In my novels, sex is the binding element. The characters may have already forged an emotional or psychological bond with each other. Certainly they are attracted to each other both physically and emotionally. There’s usually some reason they resist acting on the physical component of that attraction, a reason they fight it, delay it, refuse to give into it. Is this sounding at all like a real life situation you might have experienced?
There comes a point where they do give in, however. That bond they already had with each other becomes more intimate and meaningful because that’s what sex does. There’s always an emotional component whether any of us want to believe it or not. There’s no such thing as “just sex.” Not in a good romance novel and not in real life.
If we could have “just sex” with someone and walk away and forget about it, there wouldn’t be stalkers or jealous rages; murders by exes or sad songs about love gone wrong; we wouldn’t be popping anti-depressants in record numbers either or wonder why we feel so used up before the age of thirty. Sex, even a one-night stand, leaves an imprint on our hearts and our psyches.
Sex outside of or before marriage always complicates things because emotions are complicated. But if a writer has done the work of building the potential for a lasting relationship between the characters, a sexual relationship will be the glue that holds them together and helps them overcome obstacles together. That’s how they find their happy ending.