I’m not a huge fan of modern romance novels, mainly because there doesn’t seem to be a ton of romance in them. It’s mostly sex. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t care for those stories where the hero and the heroine take one look at each other, the hormones start coursing, and they jump in the sack as soon as the plot/structure says they’ve been apart long enough. That’s not love, to me. That’s lust. Love is an action: patient, kind, gentle, giving. There will definitely be feelings involved, but love is more than a physical attraction and a surge of hormones and an available bed.
I read a great love story that wasn’t really a love story at all. Patricia Wrede wrote a trilogy called The Far West. It’s fantasy, with an alternate Earth history, where magic is normal and the wild west is untamed (because of said magic). The heroine is Eff (Francine). The story begins when she’s five years old. In book three, she’s closer to twenty-three (if I did the math right). There was a tiny thread in the second two books that involved a young man who was smitten with Eff. In book three, he proposed. She turned him down. *SPOILER ALERT – AVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU PLAN TO READ THE BOOKS* At the end of book three, a young man she’d been friends with since the beginning of book one proposed, and she easily accepted. SPOILER ENDED* It felt like a natural and wonderful turn of events, in my mind.
Love that begins as friendship is so much more satisfying to a reader. I just finished reading the last Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris (there’s 13 of them). Most of the reviewers on Goodreads didn’t like it because *MORE SPOILERS* Sookie didn’t end up with Eric. She ended up with Sam, a man she’d been friends with throughout the entire series. It was a beautiful finale (aside from the fact that Sookie and Sam had sex before they even had their first date, something I absolutely hate but got used to in the Sookie books because that seems to be what readers want) *SPOILER ENDED
Do readers really expect a sex scene in with the romance? Or do authors just cram in one or two in order to sell the book? Many of my books have a bit of romance, all of which begin as friendships, and none of which end up between the sheets. I’ve heard that adding a sex scene would attract more attention, but I can’t bring myself to do it. (On a side note, I tried to write a sex scene once. I was so embarrassed I had to delete it.) To add one more problem to the pot, badly written sex scenes turn what’s supposed to be a powerful emotional experience into a laugh fest. My husband once I read a book and wondered aloud if the male author had ever seen a naked woman, much less got her into a bed.
Here’s my question for you, loyal readers. Do you care if there’s a sex scene in with the romance, or would you prefer a sex-free romance? Does a friendship matter in a love story, or is lust the true selling point? Share your opinions please.