Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Totally Inappropriate Sex

So I’m reading this historical, never mind by whom, and the hero and heroine, as so often happens in historicals, are on the run. They’re being pursued by hostile forces who will kill them if they’re found, probably with a little extended torture along the way. Moreover, they’ve only just met, having made a mutual escape pact to try to get them through the perilous country ahead. They’re hiding out, trying not to be found by the aforementioned murderous troops. Oh, and the hero is wounded and ill. So what’s foremost in the hero’s mind? How much he wants to have sex with this mysterious woman.

Yeah. Right.

As most of us are only too well aware, romance is far from the most realistic genre out there. Not that I’m against this, necessarily. Realism isn’t high on my list. And some sex scenes that take place under weird circumstances are fun—Larissa Ione has her paranormals make out in a snow-choked forest and it’s really hot. But there are limits. Trust me, there are going to be times when sex is not uppermost in a person’s mind, even if you’re a Really Hot Guy or One Sexy Babe. Some of these times include

1. When you’re being closely pursued by a hostile army and your companion is someone you hardly know.

2. When your companion is so annoying readers want to give him or her a quick kick—contrary to the logic of a lot of Hollywood romcoms, being annoying is not a turn-on for most of us

3. When you’ve just discovered a corpse

4. When you’re hiding from a supernatural being who wants to drain some of your favorite bodily fluids

5. When you’ve been through some kind of physical ordeal that’s left you broken, bleeding, and totally exhausted.

I have, in fact, encountered sex scenes that took place in circumstances that were very similar to all five of these examples. And I have to admit, occasionally I’m willing to give the author a bye, if she’s good enough at setting up the characters. But for the most part, nah.

Yes, sex is a big part of romances, and most of the time I’m willing to accept the idea that romance heroes and heroines are just exceptionally randy. But every once in a while, I find myself going, “Really? Now? They want to do it now? Are they totally insane?” At least the author could have waited until the hero and heroine had gotten around to introducing themselves.

So how about you? Have you run into scenes where you totally couldn’t believe anybody would be interested in sex? Or are you more tolerant than I am (a very likely possibility)?


Missy Jane said...

I completely agree! I read a scene where the heroine had been sick, no mention of brushing teeth or mouthwash or anything, and then they kissed. Eeew! Ruined the whole rest of the book for me.

PG Forte said...

Well, I have to agree with you, Meg. And unfortunately I think it's a problem that's very hard to address in romantic suspense. A single brief passionate kiss when you're about to go off and do something heroically stupid and your chances of kissing anyone ever again are looking dim--I can live with that. It's a time honored tradition, after all.

But, beyond that? Even adrenalin and survival sex can only account for so much.

Juniper Bell said...

You make an excellent point, Meg! All the situations you list are great for ratcheting up the sexual tension and providing moments for characters to bond in ways other than doing the nasty. It doesn't always have to be about the sex. Which sounds funny coming from an erotic romance author, but hey, if I ever write romantic suspense, I'll try to remember it!

Stevie Carroll said...

I blame Pride and Prejudice for a lot of the antagonist sex that goes around. What people forget is that Darcy and Elisabeth keep getting set up to like each other, then knocked back by misunderstandings. Plus they're witty rather than sniping at each other.

As for the sex in dangerous situations: it's a kink that can be done well or badly, depending on how it's set up and executed. You need characters to already have the kink, and you need the danger to be temporarily gone for a known minimum time. After that's been set-up, the sex may work. Otherwise some action heroes might never get any!

Anonymous said...

I think if you can write it to be believable, then yeah. But I have to agree with you. In most of those situations I doubted they'd be thinking about sex.

Side note: I get bothered by writers presenting questions in a book and then never answering them, or making the main character kill off another character with a random weapon, like a garden trowel or a gun filled with lemon juice. Just sayin.