Sex sells – what are you buying?

Now that I have your attention… Sexy books-  Yes or no?

Some call these “hot romances” or even “erotica”.  I’ve seen the term “smut” thrown about as well.  To me, the last term has a connotation of underhanded, filth and lechery.  That’s not always true.  I will concede there is a ton of erotica out there and not all of it good.

I have a lot of authors that I enjoy reading on a regular basis.  Susan Stoker and T.S. Joyce are two of my favorites.  I also love Celia Kyle, Carrie Ann Ryan and Roxie Riviera.  There are a score of others that I watch for but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll focus on those five.

If you are not aware of these talented ladies, let me introduce you.  Susan writes what I call “man in uniform” books.  SEALs, Delta Force, Police, Firemen.  You get my point.  T.S. Joyce and Celia Kyle are in the shifter worlds.  Carrie Ann Ryan handles mostly tattoo artists (Got to love those Montgomery men!) and shifter as well.  Roxie Riviera has a fantastic series involving the underbelly of Houston – Russian mob, fighters, loan sharks, etc. All of these different stories have two things in common.  Alpha males protecting the women they love and sex.

We live in a society that sexual innuendos and situations have become the norm.  Watch a television show and you get bombarded with sexual references followed by 5 minutes of sexual advertisement.  Movies?  Sex, sex, sex, violence, potty humor and sex.

I’ve often said I was born in the wrong decade.  I prefer movies that told a good story.  The musicals of the 40s and 50s are my favorites.  Give me Gene Kelly dancing across the floor or Ginger Rogers gracefully moving in perfect synchronization with Fred Astaire.  The music had heart.  The comedians knew how to turn a phrase and not one single “f” bomb in existence.  Toilets were non-existent and one didn’t even hint that more than one person may possibly sleep in a bed at a time – except for babies or small children. It was a more innocent time.  A time that will most likely never return.

Entertainment has taken a drastic turn in the years since.  I’ll give you an example.

In 1969, the movie Easy Rider was released. At the time, the blatant sexuality and hardcore subject matter earned it a scathing X rating – AFTER several scenes were cut.  I’ll let that soak in a second… The movie had to be re-edited to qualify for an X rating.  In the mid 80’s, that rating was changed to R.  A few years later, it was downplayed to NC-17.  Currently, there are 2 versions.  One is still NC-17 and the other is PG-13.  If I am correct, the original too hot for the public version is now NC-17 and the one that barely qualified for X is now PG-13.  Of course, I realize that some scenes are cut and some censoring is in place in order to be played on national television, but still the subject is the same.

When I was a teenager, I got my hands on a book that would have gotten me grounded had my mother knew I was reading it.  I can’t remember the name nor the author but it is what is known as a “bodice ripper”.  Regency type novel full of fighting, intrigue and sex.

I discovered something from reading that book.  I liked the story.  It was amazing and I read it several times between 15 and 19 when it finally disappeared.  (Maybe my mother found it?)  However, I didn’t really understand why there was so much graphic sex in it. I was both intrigued and scandalized.  I blushed at every mention of the hero’s “mighty flesh sword” or the woman’s “tender dainty pearl”. It seemed silly to me to throw all that other stuff in.  The story didn’t need it.

Over the years, I got into a habit.  With the first mention of “love buttons” or “steely shaft” I would become embarrassed and skip over the following passages until the story picked up again.  This is something I do today. So, even though I do love my fabulous five ladies, I skip over the juicy parts and concentrate on the story line only.  It’s a personal preference. There is nothing wrong with the hot to trot parts, it’s just not ‘me’.

When I first started writing, I was told to write what I read. So my avoidance of the steamy parts has become reflected in my works. This has lead to something of a controversy lately.

Because I wrote Protecting Joselyn in Susan Stoker’s Operation Alpha Kindle World (still bouncing in the top 10 Romance – YAY!), I believe readers expected to have steamy parts in there.  This belief is somewhat validated by one of my reviews:

Truely one of the best in kindle world. This book has alot of love and family togetherness. I love it. I feel its missing the love making scene. But other than that its awesome. Great job!! Melissa!!

This review has been bothering me since it appeared two weeks ago. Was I doing a disservice to my stories by avoiding the sex?  Then again, since I didn’t really read the sex scenes in other’s books, could I even portray one effectively?  I have been back and forth on the fence about this.  Should I try with Saving Olivia or just keep going with what I know?

Today I got another review:

This is a great little read.
I enjoyed both the main characters, their reactions felt realistic with no to stupid to live moments. This had no sexy time, while unusual, it was not missed. The story is plot and character based and didn’t need anything else to enhance it.
I truly cannot wait for more from this author.

I have asked the question about steamy scenes to many people.  They all say the same thing – be true to what you know and write it the way you would read it.

So, I’ve made the decision to stick to what I know.  That means no steamy sex scenes.  Perhaps I will change my mind at some later date but I relatively confident that won’t happen.  If I haven’t found the need to read hot scenes for the past 35 years, I don’t think that will change in the next 35.

However, if you see something written by Savannah Storm in the erotica section… don’t hold it against me.  If I do try at some future date, I’ll go incognito.

— Melissa


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