Good Love Stories

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.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Good Love Stories

  1. Good commentary on the matter. I don’t really enjoy reading sex scenes (the American tendency toward media-based voyeurism must have missed me somehow), but I understand why they’re so prevalent in ‘romance.’ Men have nudie pics to see on numerous porn sites throughout the internet. Generally speaking, women aren’t aroused by visuals quite as much or as readily as men. Women are aroused by emotional attachments. So give them a (usually flimsy) plot with characters and lots of emotions, then BAM with the sex scene, and you have female porn. The reason sex is so prevalent in romance novels is the same reason there are millions of porno sites on the internet; they’re just aimed at different audiences.

    I’m a big supporter of the ‘slow-burn’ romance. One example is the ‘will they/won’t they’ type that’s commonly seen in TV shows, where the two main characters frequently come close to admitting their feelings for each other, but for some reason always stop short (or are interrupted in some way). I feel this kind not only is better suited to my tastes, but also creates a stronger attachment with the reader without resorting to soft porn to do so. In a typical romance, the two leads kiss and the reader says ‘aww, they must like each other.’ In a slow-burn, the two leads look like they MIGHT kiss, and the reader is on the edge of her seat, heart in her throat, hoping against all hope that they’ll finally realize how right they are for each other. The kiss in the first case makes the reader smile; the kiss in the second case makes the reader scream, cheer, jump up and down, and all other manner of wild celebration.

    I’m glad you mentioned these two romances where (SPOILER RECAP) the leads wind up with a close friend rather than a typical romantic target. (END SPOILER) I’ve often thought that would be an excellent turn on the typical romance, so I’m glad to hear it’s been done. In real life, friendship is a far better base for a romantic relationship than lust and hormones, the latter of which can fade entirely too quickly.

    I think all of this is one of the main reasons I don’t write romance. I’m not interested in writing soft-core pornography, and I’m not very good at stretching out romantic feelings for an entire book (for the more chaste, Heartsong or Love Inspired type of romance). But I do find I often wind up with some degree of romance within the more action/sci-fi/fantasy books I write, and in some more than others. I’ve got a new piece I’m soon to start on that I have most of the main plot points worked out in my head, and as I came across the ending, I realized – it’s a romance. It’s post-apocalyptic fantasy with vague zombie overtones, but at it’s heart, it’s a romance. It just doesn’t look like one until the end.

    TL;DR: Good blog post today. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Eternity (Guardian Trilogy Book 2) | WWW.DBESTREVIEW.COM

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