Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guest Blogger Kaily Hart - How "Safe" Do You Like Your Sex?

My heroines might be many things (misguided, judgmental, sassy, arrogant, demanding, etc.), but they’re never dumb. As such, I find I can’t write a heroine who doesn’t think about practicing safe sex in the context of a contemporary erotic romance. OK, I have written stories where it’s been forgotten in the heat of the moment, but the fact that there’s some level of realization and perhaps apprehension, is still addressing it in an indirect way. Historicals I think can get away with leaving it out entirely, depending on the time period. Paranormals, urban fantasy, even science fiction are also able to avoid it perhaps because certain diseases have been eradicated or the characters are immune or there’s some other unique element that makes it obsolete. In contemporary romance though, it’s pretty hard to ignore, at least for me. If I read a contemporary romance and it’s not mentioned at all, I can’t help think ‘yeah, but what about…’. Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me preaching anything in my books and the practice of safe sex is not emphasized in my stories at all. In this day and age, ‘taking care of business’ is just part of modern sex. Is it not? Sometimes it’s as basic as ‘he sheathed himself quickly’ or some reference to him taking care of the condom afterwards (while she gets to check out his tight butt LOL). It’s not a big deal and I don’t make it out to be, but I do worry about how this is perceived by readers.
Would the preference be for this to be left out of books completely? It is expected that it be addressed in some fashion? Is it OK if it’s consistent with the story and characters or does it just pull you out of the story too much?
So, tell me. How ‘safe’ do YOU like your sex (in books, of course)?

Picture This
Ellora’s Cave – June 29, 2010

Desperate and young, Jillian Moore did something she knew would one day come back to bite her in the ass. She’d posed nude. For money. Years later, and on the fast track to a successful career, she’s still haunted by her mistake. She can’t help but wonder when her past will catch up with her.
Samuel Steele is not short on female attention, but the women who warm his bed pale in comparison to the fantasy he’s created of the seductive temptress in the painting hanging prominently in his bedroom. A fantasy that has ruined his once satisfying sex life. When he discovers that her exact likeness works in his building—for him—things get…interesting.
Copyright KAILY HART, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Well, thank you for your time and for the information. It was very helpful.”
Jillian put the phone down a little harder than she’d intended. It slammed back into the cradle with a sharp crack that more than matched her mood.
It’d been sold, again, three months earlier. Private auction, anonymous bidder and there was no way for her to find out who’d bought it. All she knew for sure was that it’d been a man. It figured. Damn, she’d been close this time. Not that she would have been able to afford to make even one bid herself. It had opened at fifteen thousand and after some fast and furious bidding had finally gone for a cool seventy-five thousand—dollars. Jeez, she’d probably be paying off her student loans for another twenty years and some guy had dropped seventy-five grand on a picture?
Jillian sighed. She wasn’t even sure what she’d do if she could uncover the identity of the new owner. She’d kept telling herself she’d be able to buy it one day once she got established. She’d planned on it, she’d counted on it. It was why she’d tried her damndest to keep track of it for the past ten years. Her only hope now was that it would sit in some private collection, gathering dust and never see the light of day. Yeah, right. She’d never, ever been that lucky. All those years ago, who would have thought? Deep down though she’d known and it had plagued her ever since. When she least expected it, it was going to come back and bite her on the ass. She just knew it.
* * * * *
“Sam? Man, are you even listening to me?”
Sam couldn’t tear his eyes off her. The dark luster of her hair, the curve of her cheek, something about the shape of her body. It just now occurred to him, but he’d seen her around the building before. He’d noticed her legs he remembered, appreciated the toned lengths, the shapely calves and too easily imagined how they’d look wrapped around his waist or up around her ears. And her mouth. God, the things he’d thought about her mouth.
How could I have forgotten that?
As soon as the thought formed he knew the answer. He had a strict hands-off rule at work that he’d never broken, not even in his head. Until her. He’d made himself forget.
He watched her mouth curve into a smile and his dick twitched in immediate response. Something flared low and sharp in his gut. It was a sensation he didn’t think he’d ever felt before, at least without some form of specific and intentional stimulation.
“Who’s that?” he demanded.
He heard rather than saw Duncan’s puzzlement. He motioned across the expanse of the elegant lobby. “The woman there. Slim, dark hair, black suit. Talking to the blonde.”
“I thought you didn’t fuck around with the staff?”
Sam’s balls tightened in a rush. The explicit image he got was shocking. Not just because it was of her—on her knees in front of him while he fucked her from behind—but because he hadn’t been able to censor it, or control his body’s reaction to it. Sam shot him a glare. He was in no mood to be trifled with.
Duncan cleared his throat. “Ah, sorry, I think her name’s Jennifer, something like that. She works in Finance. Or maybe it’s Legal.”
“Jillian?” he managed to choke out. “Could her name be Jillian?”
“I…maybe. Why?”
“Last time I checked you were head of Human Resources, Duncan.”
“Jesus, Sam, we have over four thousand employees, two thousand in this building alone. I can’t personally keep track of all of them. I haven’t worked with her directly. She’s probably—”
“Find out. I want her file on my desk in ten minutes.”
“What’s got into you?”
Sam took a deep breath. “Schedule a meeting with her.”
“A meeting?”
“Yeah, with me.”
“You don’t know where she works or what she does in your company, but you want a meeting with her? Why?”
Sam felt the impatience he’d tried to contain roar through him. He wasn’t used to having his orders questioned and he sure as hell wasn’t used to explaining himself to anyone.
“Because I’m the fucking boss and I said so.”


Anonymous said...

I have been preaching safe sex since the late 70s, way before AIDS, HIV or even herpes was an issue...Vietnam Rose (an incurable strain of gonorrhea) got my attention and I started handing out condoms. That said, I don't feel the need to read about safe sex in erotic fiction. IMHO, it detracts from the story line, but that's just me. Ciao, Ardee-ann

Kaily Hart said...

Thank you so much for having me here today! This is a topic for modern and erotic romance I think about as I craft my stories. I'm not talking about the inclusion of a detailed discussion where they share sexual histories, but do readers just expect the hero will use a condom or do you prefer to just not know about it at all? I'd love to know what everyone thinks!

Thanks Ardee-ann!

Maria said...

I absolutely consider it pivital to erotic fiction. As you stated in historical fiction prior to the invention of the condom- can't do anything about it but any erotic fiction that is not paranormal/UF should definitely have it- young women read these books too and they need to have safe sex re-inforced. I even like that the hero/heroine has it for "heat of the moment" type scenes...don't think it detracts from them at all...Thanks for the post...getting off my soapbox now..lol

Debra St. John said...

Oooh, great excerpt.

Ah, safe sex is such a tricky thing in a romance novel. You don't want it to "ruin the mood", but, I agree, you don't want dumb characters. I try to do a quick reference to show my hero and heroine are being responsible. Except for one particular scene when I needed her to get pregnant!

Skylar Kade said...

Kaily, this is one of my pet peeves--how the H/h don't mention or explicitly use protection, even when they've just met! As it is, STDs steadily rising among the under 25 crowd; we don't need to encourage such behavior by ignoring it in our books. At the same time, I don't think a protracted step-by-step account of using the protection is necessary. Just knowing that they're being responsible is enough.

Meg Benjamin said...

Hi Kaily, welcome to the Naughty Nine. This is definitely a topic we all grapple with, but then so do people in "real life"!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome to the Naughty Nine Kaily! Great topic. I agree it needs to be addressed, even if very briefly. I've had characters forget, as you said,in the heat of the moment, but then discuss it after -it would just be stupid not to. Yes it's romance, but it's also real life, as Meg said.

Kaily Hart said...

Thanks, Maria. I think it CAN be written in a way that it doesn't detract from the story!

Debra, exactly! I don't think it needs it's own story line LOL. A sentence or a comment can cover it to show they are being responsible.

Skylar, right. It doesn't have to be a technical manual! I do think it's part and parcel of the sexually active scene these days and is not out of place in a romance.

Meg, yeah, it's probably one of those hot button topics.

Hi Kelly. Yes, I'm trying to reflect real life in my books (wrapped in some wonderful fantasy of course) and this is just part of that!

Erin Nicholas said...

Welcome Kailey!
First, love the line "Because I'm the fucking boss and I said so."!!

I've been thrown out of stories before, as a reader, due to condom-issues, but I do think it's important to include so I forgive it :) But yeah, as brief as possible is good.

Kaily Hart said...

Hi Erin. Yeah, I think that line sums up Sam well! At least at the beginning. I think it can be written in a way that it's just a seemless part of the scene and not a big deal!