Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Once upon a time there were two guys...

You probably figured out by now that I'm all about heroes.

Heroines? Can take em or leave em, though I suppose without em there'd be no reason for the heroes to be stoopit, then dashing, then on-their-knees in love.

If all we had were heroes, we'd all be reading alternative lifestyle romance.

Or Slash.

The premise of Slash, [which grew out of Fan(tasy) Fiction] as I understand it, is two heroes, usually well-known characters from popular TV shows, fall in love and have off-the-charts sex. These are guys. Two of em. And most Slash is written by women.

So, my my Nice Catholic Girl friend, Kato, says, "You've gotta read Slash, Michelle." And I, say, "lay it on me," cause the moral ethicist/unbiased reviewer in me wants to read everything anyone considers romantic or erotic. Though I'm thinking, "yuk. Autoerotica is more appealing to me."

Then I read "Whacked," a classic Slash piece by an author called Bone. And it's, like, totally emotionally romantic and erotic and really well-written.

What's your romance novel sexuality comfort zone?
Do you push the envelope?

We're All Grown-Ups Here Alert: If you choose to visit Bone's site, please be prepared for grown up content: As Bone puts it, "This site contains graphic descriptions of male/male sex."

Encore! I just finished Laura Kinsale's "My Sweet Folly." It's just wonderful, with this great epistolary beginning that works through the whole of the piece. It's being reissued this spring.


amy kennedy said...

The qualifying words here are "well-written"

I have unintentionally pushed my comfort zone when I picked-up books that went where this woman had not gone before--what kept me reading was the beauty of it. The words, the emotion, and my suspension of disbelief

I read Anne Rice's Beauty books. All of them. If someone had said to me, "Do you want to read about princes and princesses imprisoned and spanked"--yes, spanked. I would have said,"Are you high? No."

When I picked-up Emma Holly's Strange Attractions--I had never thought to be interrested in a loving three way relationship/two men/one woman.

Read them I did. And darn glad of it.

Obviously--nothing illegal--don't even want to talk about what I wouldn't read.

Amanda said...

The boundaries of my comfort zone are not easy to define, but when I step outside of those bounds boy do I know it.

I have to say that the little catholic school girl in me balks at less and less these days, but even so there are still some books (mostly the ones that are more sex than plot or characterization) that make me vow never to read an author again.

But I have to agree with Amy, it really depends on the writing.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah Ames and Amanda, ya know it when you see it, right? I do tend to read stuff other than vanilla romance or erotic romance in a sort of clinical way, so I'm gonna plow through it no matter how it might disturb me.

HOWEVER: as I write in the FAQs on my site, there's never a reason to eroticise sexual abuse of children and other illegal acts. I would never read it clinically and would have a tough time defending the First Amendment issue. A real tough time. I wouldn't do it.

Now, let's talk TOO MUCH sex! I know, you never thought you'd hear it from me. But I just read a novel by a writer I adore who writes beautifully and knows how to let characters decide when/where, etc. of sex. Apparently, this woman is being encouraged by publisher to add more sex, cause even I was saying 2/3rds through Basta! enough with the sex. I mean, it was written well, but it wasn't necessary.

I was so disappointed. I was dying to write about this author and now I feel as though I should wait to see if she works out the issue.


BTW, I'm trying out this new thing today, allowing anonymous comments, but using the mix word thing. Waddya think?

Amanda said...

Oh! That's what that word thing was...I thought it was something blog spot did. Good idea...anonymity might get people talking more freely...

I hear you on the too much sex. I just read a book that has been sort of a lightning rod (no pun intended) this past year on the amazon reviews and some websites. Some people LOVE it, and some people talk about it like it signals the end of time.

It wasn't a bad book, but the whole first half of the novel was one sex scene after another. Frankly, most of them sounded painful and I can't imagine the heroine being able to walk upright after the first couple of times, much less have sex with this guy again...and again...and...well, you get the idea. Take out the sex scenes and it would have been a novella.

I know that the market is tending toward hotter stuff these days, but I don't understand why there isn't room for every variation from Warm to Superhot. What stinks is that when an author goes from warm to superhot at warp speed it's usually an author whose work is already emotionally satisfying and doesn't need the extra spice.

What should we call this heartburn inducing phenomenon? TMS (too much spice)?; Overcooked?; Overspice?

Lucy Monroe said...

Michelle...what a is so hard to define and I tend to think it really is about the writing, though I have no interest in reading about a character who debases themselves or gets humiliated by their lover, or genuinely hurt. No matter how well written. Other than that, I'm not sure I can define where my boundaries are...except that for me, I like to read love scenes, not sex scenes and if love is an integral part of the intimacy (even unrecognized), I'm more likely to enjoy something that I wouldn't otherwise expect to.

As for too much sex? That's all about the writing too, isn't it? I mean if the love/sex scene is like any other scene and does more for the story than describing body parts (even if it is gorgeously done), it works...but if it's just a bunch of sex for sex's sake...that doesn't work for me at all.

Michelle...I've heard from other authors that have been asked to increase the sensuality level in their stories (though honestly not very many). But I've never been asked to do that...not by any of my publishers. It's possible the author herself felt the pressure of the market...either way, hopefully she'll find her stride with the increase in sensuality she wants to incorporate.

It truly is about the physical love being an integral extension of the plot and the emotional arc of the story. It needs to fit with the characterization too...if it does, no matter how much there is, it won't jar you out of the story. Because it will BE the story.

Sometimes, I know my characters are making love, but there is nothing to be gained from describing the act except a love scene. In that case, I'll allude to it, but not go into detail. It is my hope that if you took the love scenes out of my books, the story would fall apart. Why? Becuase I work really hard at making EVERY scene count for moving the story forward on multiple levels.

For me, it's about pacing, but it's also about burrowing into a reader's heart and staying there. That's much easier to do when emotion is the key element of every scene, wheter it is lovemaking, or not.

I didn't mean to go on and on...but human sexuality is a key component of romance for me. I need a fab heroine as much as a fab hero, because I want to explore both their emotions, their drives, ambitions, conflicts and sexualities and how all of those things impact each other as their lives collide.


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

TMS it is. Can we add another to our RBtheBlog lexicon? TMS=Too Much Spice?

Are you talking about Mr Darcy? Cause I thought the amount of sex in that was hilarious and in keeping with the spoofy nature of the thing. I'm a big fan of it, though I know that's not a popular view to take. I can't wait for the sequel to the sequel. Mr. Darcy, to me, is like a big ol bag of cheese puffs and an icy Coca-cola: pure, orangy, cheesy bliss.

Vivi Anna said...

Hi Michelle, I have to say I can't read a book with m/m sex. I just can't, no matter how well written it is. To me it's just not right, not unless I am in the middle...

Now a m/Vivi/m scene....that I can handle...over and over again.

I also couldn't read the Beauty series. Hated it!!!

It's suprising what I find uncomfortable to read considering what I write...but even I have my limites when it comes to sex scenes. I have been told to add extra scenes in my books, and I frankly couldn't do it. If it doesn't add to the couple's or character's growth, I think it's unnecessary.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi Vivi Anna: You're making me laugh. I thought the same about m/m, but was surprised about "Whacked." I haven't searched out more, though. m/Vivi/m over and over? What about UATW?

What do you write? What is the Beauty series?

I am glad to hear you stuck with your convictions on the sex. It's gotta propel the story, make sense to the characters. Your readers thank you!

Kati said...

I have an extremely high tolerance for sex. It rarely bothers or upsets me. I don't really mind m/f/m, f/f, m/m or any other kind, assuming it's well written.

I do find that spanking is a mystery to me. I've read the scenes, and I guess, since pain and sex shouldn't go together in my world, I don't really understand how someone can find that hot. I also have a hard time with human/werecreature (bestiality of any kind) sex.

There are also those sex scenes that make me laugh. Generally it's because the prose is SO purple, it's just silly.

I think Ellora's Cave is a great purveyor of hot books. I also like the new Aphrodesia line.

Like I said, I have a really high tolerance for it and find that there is very little that offends me.

Stacy~ said...

I'm pretty open-minded and don't mind a lot of the scenarios, and I admit to really enjoying some of the really, really steamy stuff, but the f/f or the major sub/dom does nothing for me. And no humiliation or true fear and/or resistance on the heroine's part.

My issue is the "TMS". It seriously gets boring. I admire authors like Lori Foster who have sensual stories but don't feel the need to fill their books with sex scene after sex scene. What makes it hot is the anticipation, the tease, the rule of supply and demand. The more you hold back in your writing, the more we want it LOL. Hey, it works for me.

I think the industry is being bombarded with too much of the scorching sex and not enough emotion or even plot. I have no problem with a heroine being in control of her own sexuality - I think it's great - but it's not appealing to read: they meet. They have sex. They share a dance in a crowded & noisy club, then have sex in the parking lot. They drive home, and have sex in the driveway. They get out of the car. And have sex UATW! Now I like the whole UATW idea (a lot) but not after all that! When did they talk? What draws them to each other? After awhile it becomes way too predictable. Where's the conflict?

Did anyone ever see the movie "The Lover"? It came about about 10-15 yrs ago, and I won't get into the whole age thing which creeped me out, but one of the most erotic scenes takes place in the backseat of the car. The hero was rich, and had offered the heroine a ride home. Slowly, so slowly you felt like it took an eternity, the hero's finger touches the heroine. And slowly still, she keeps her hand there, and he moves centimeter by centimeter to touch her hand even more, all the while not speaking to each other, with the chauffeur driving. I mean, by compared to the scenes in today's books it was completely innocent, but it was hot!

So there you have it, my tolerance level and thoughts on it.

Lucy Monroe said...

Vivi...GOOD for you! I love that you didn't add the extra scenes. You rock, lady.

Stacy...I hear you. :) It can get really boring to read the same thing ad nauseum, so does that mean that the TMS are just repetitive scenes that don't move the story forward?

Another question and I'd really love to hear anyone's view on this...does the kind of language used for the intimacy enhance the sense of TMS? MaryKate said that really purple prose makes her laugh, but does it also toss you out of the story? And what about the language of erotica...a lot of authors use it now in erotic romance. Or, does *not* using the more graphic terms bother you as a reader?

I'm not saying that I can or would change the way I write, but this idea has me curious. Anyone want to comment?

Amanda said...

No, Michelle, it wasn't Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife. I actually enjoyed that book and am looking forward to the sequel, too.

I didn't *hate* the book I was describing. I just kept getting pulled out of the story by the fact that these characters knew nothing about each other except that they were sexually attracted to one another the first three times they had sex. Later on, when they actually exchanged words as well as body fluids, the story became more believable.

Lucy, for whatever reason, language doesn't bother me a bit. Yes, sometimes it adds to TMS, but mostly I enjoy creative use of language--even "bad" words;)

Vivi Anna said...

This is a great topic BTW!!

What is UATW? Sounds like I'm missing something good....

The Beauty series, written by Anne Rice as A.N Roleque (sp?) a different spin on Sleeping Beauty with lots of D/S.

I write mostly futuristic and paranormal erotic romance. My first single title is coming out in month HELL KAT, published my Kensington's new erotic line Aphrodisia. I have a saying that whatever makes your bum hum, is great. But m/m scenes just don't make my bum hum!!! LOL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Glad you like, Vivi: I like that I get to talk about all kinds of romance on this blog, stuff I don't on Romance: B(u)y the Book cause the viewership is more general.

I love to discuss all facets of human sexuality as related to romance. I dig brave writers and brave writing. And I feel lucky to get to talk with all of you about this stuff.

I went to your blog; really cool. If you haven't read it yet, the RBtheBlog lexicon defines UATW as "Up against the wall," meaning my favorite romance novel hero sexual fantasy. IMO, hero should be Alpha and talk nice and raw while doing me, I mean the heroine this way.

Oo, but you do bring out my naughty nature, Vivi.