Monday, October 09, 2006

Stand And Deliver

We say it all the time, or at least think on it -- if only guys would read romance novels, they'd finally figure out how to be romantic.

Allow me to translate what's not printed between those lines -- they'd finally get it right in bed.

As Virgin Books erotica editor Adam Nevill put it in our recent interview, "the number one thing men are obsessed with is knowing just what is it women want in bed."

Now, I could have told him on behalf of all of us, but my job is to ask the questions, not to put forth information that would change for ever the male-female power dynamic.

Your job today is to put your fiction where your mouth is:

What single romance novel would you offer men as a reference for learning how to turn our heads, capture our hearts, then turn us inside-out?

Especially the last part. Caveat: guys have feelings, too. So we can't just go tossing em a Lisa Kleypas like it's Female Sexuality for Dummies. We've got to be cognizent of men's adequacies in relation to the novel's hero, in the same way we're affected by the heroines who are our placeholders.

That's where it gets tricky, no?
One guy who never has trouble pleasing women is William, hero of Kathryn Jordan's "Hot Water." Kathryn Jordan joins us tomorrow, Tues., Oct. 10, with her GuestBlog and Cyber Spa Party!
Encore! Please read my new article "Romance Novels Go Mainstream" at , then send the link to your friends, if you'll be so kind! Molto grazie!


Vivi Anna said...

For me, I would hand them a copy of Hell Kat. Hades lets her be her, loves her for all her craziness, but also let's her know when she's being stupid, and he would go into hell itself to save her. Even if she doesn't think she needs saving...

Kati said...

Hmm, well, Nora Roberts' NORTHERN LIGHTS was written mostly from the perspective of the hero. Although the heroine wasn't particularly likeable (she was particularly crotchety).

This is a hard question! I'm going to have to ponder and get back to you. Good question, Michelle!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ah, Thanks, MK. This one isn't as easy, but we do say it always. I mean, what's the one sexy love scene where you just think, "oh, GOD! If only all men could do that thing he just did just like he did it!"

It's kind of unfair of us, don't you think, to expect guys to be like romance heroes -- as much as they can be in real life -- then not be able to cough up the goods we'd want them to read.

I hear you, Viv. Your heroine isn't afraid to get what she wants when she neeeds it. Do you think a guy could read your book and then translate it into action? Could he read it and make some lucky Bella's life happier?

I've gotta think on the books, too. I may have stumped myself. But you all are so much better ab out remembering details than I am...

Jess said...

As You Desire by Connie Brockaway. Most men can take (ahem) directions during the physical stuff but blow the romance. If my husband ever said to me anything comparable to what Harry says to Dizzy when he compares her to Egypt, I would probably want to keep him in bed for a week straight! :-)

Kati said...

Huh. OK, well, I've been pondering, and I'd have to hold Roarke from JD Robb's IN DEATH series as the guy. He's strong and powerful, he's extremely sexy both in bed and out of it, he deeply appreciates his woman's strengths and helps her through her weaknesses. He'd do anything at all for her. He's ALPHA in a big way, but understands that there are times when he needs to back off. He is a bit managing, and does have an impressive temper. But h*ll, who doesn't?!

That being said, we learn most of this about Roarke from a series of 23 books. Perhaps the reason that he's such a good example of "What to do" is because she's had so long to develop him as a character. Sooo, he may not be a good example. But he's one of the most complete romance heroes out there. IMHO.

ev said...

That is such a hard (no pun intended) question. I don't know where to begin.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, OK, MK, we're gettin closer. But is there a particular Roarke scene that you think should be required reading for men everywhere?

See, ev? That's what I mean about us putting our fiction where our big mouths are. We're always "if me would just read romance, blahblahblah..." I think we're insightful enough here to admit it's easier said than done, that what we understand about romance instinctively, really comes from reading a vast selection.

Hee hee hee. I LOVE this one. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OH, YEAH, Jess. Harry. So it's the words that make the lovemaking sexy?

Kati said...

OK, so we're talking about sexiest scenes that should be required reading? I was thinking more in terms of romance heroes that would be held up as examples of "what to do."

If we're going for scenes. Well, frankly, there's a scene in LOVER ETERNAL where Rhage and Mary are walking in the park at night. And well, he talks her through physically having him touch her where she wants. I dunno. The scene totally does it for me because he's huge and alpha and he's handing her all the power and control. It certainly gets my motor going. They don't actually end up having sex in the scene, but it's incredibly erotic.

Maybe I just have something about the dirty talk thing. That's probably more than any of you wanted to know about me. LOL!

Is that more what you're talking about, Michelle?

Anonymous said...

Oh hell, any scene where the hero makes sure the heroine has an orgasm first, then takes her there again while he does. Who am I fooling? Any scene where the heroine has an orgasm, period.

Playground Monitor said...

Female Sexuality for Dummies

Hey, it's a great idea. Should be required reading for all men.

Julie in Ohio said...

My vote would be for any UATW action or anything spontaneous. You know, that I'm not going to make it without being with you right at this very second action.
That is what I like best about Christine Feehan's Carpathians and JR's BDB, they know what they want and they want it NOW!

Female Sexuality for Dummies... Hmmm, does Amazon have that in stock? :P

Stacy~ said...

Well, 2 of the alpha males that rock my world are Bram, from Lori Foster's "Luring Lucy". Bram is totally in love with the widowed Lucy, and he is one hot alpha male who knows how to pleasure his woman. Whew is it getting hot in here?!?!

Another would be the fabulous Linda Howard's "Mr. Perfect" and the hot relationship between Jaine and Sam.

I think along with what Kay said, you want to have a man who still respects your intelligence and independence while making sure you're enjoying yourself. These guys make the grade...and then some.

Rach said...

Oh, jeezy peezy, Michelle, why don't you make this hard or something?!? :oP

I gotta go with Jessie on the Harry thing. Words can certainly be foreplay, and isn't that a prelude to great sex? Let me think this one over for a few minutes and see what else I can come up with.

Monica Burns said...

I don't think one singular romance book to hand to guys is the answer. I think it's more like the one special book that does it for that one certain woman. If she hands that special book to that special guy, then he'll get her, but only her. All of require and receive something different from a good book.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm going deep here. *smile*

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ah, well, yes, Monica, you make a lovely point, one that speaks eloquently of the power of romance to affect intimacy between partners.

But I really wanna talk about MaryKate's love of talkin dirty.

I. LOVE. IT! Words are so powerful, and I wonder if brainy chicks dig "hello talk" across the board.

So, don't be shy, MK. I think you know I love scenes in which the hero, how did you put it re Z?, takes himself in hand.

I'll not be shy in saying I totally get turned on by what jazzes my aural sensuality. So reading a hero talking raw w/in context in a well-written scene is a knockout for me. I'm thinkin it might get a guy goin hearing his lover read a scene that included the heroine doing the same.

But let's take the gloves off, shall we, Bellas? I'm still wondering the same thing as in the blog? What's that book we keep sayin we want guys to read?

Or do we just do a lot of kvetching and moaning, signifying nothing?

Kati said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kati said...

Well, I like any scene where an alpha male hands over control, or has it wrested from him.

There's a scene in DREAM MAN by Linda Howard where the heroine, who has been pretty traumatized, takes control of lovemaking with the hero. He lets her be totally in control and on top, but she's...I don't know how to say this delicately...riding him shallowly, concentrating all the sensation in one area. It makes him utterly crazy, ripping the sheets, crazy, but he perseveres because he knows how much she needs it.

It's also a very erotic scene. He's utterly in her hands, ehem, or something, and the scene totally from his POV, so it's amazing to see him...suffer. ;~)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

So, we want to take responsibility for our own pleasure (I'm likin it) and he's along for the ride, as it were. So the message to the guy reading this is, be there for me, let me take pleasure in your body and you'll be torn apart, too.

I'd think that'd be pretty freeing to guys on a lot of levels. Like, you don't have to perform, so just relax and let your woman handle things. And I read once something that really spoke to me about women taking responsibility for sexual enjoyment.

Guys -- if they're healthy, and depending on age, etc. --have orgasms just about every time they have intercourse, and they're using (and I don;t mean "using" in the not caring sense) their partner's body to stroke to ejaculation, right?

OK, so what'd be so wrong w/ a woman doing the same w/ her partner's body. (and I'm just talking heterosexual in this example).

Now younger women may be like, well, duh, but I assure you that not all women from my generation learned that sex was about their pleasure as well.

But anyway, how does MK's example help guys? Greatly, I think (of course, he's got to work on the staying power, cause we all know romance heroes can have porn star erectile function). Cause another thing Nevill said in our interview was that men's #1 fantasy was being dominated, and I can imagine that's the case, the poor bastards.

I mean, here they thought they were supposed to be all Alan Alda-y, and, day-amn, the next thing they know, their Feminist wife is getting off on romance novels with total Alpha forced seductions.

Good God, what's a guy to do? Of COURSE he wants us to take the pressure off and have someone else in control. So I think rather than feeling emasculated by their woman taking the lead as in the example MK puts forth, guys would dig knowing thier woman would like to use them for their own sexual pleasure.

Most guys I know would just grin and bear it, I'm guessin...

ev said...

michelle- MaryKate got her comment in while I was typing mine so I missed it. But I have to agree with her. I love Roarke- what isn't there to love about him? I love how the character takes care of his woman, and I love the sex scenes.

There is such an age difference between hubby and me, i am afraid if I gave him anything but a Barbara Cartland book to read, he might never recover!! 0;p

E. M. Selinger said...

You have no idea how much I'm enjoying this particular topic, Michelle! And taking notes, like a good student should (grin).

No votes for Welcome to Temptation?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

LOL, Eric! Your wife is a lucky women, but we've all said that before. I wonder if the guys who take your classes have a better insight into women's sexual interest and desires after the semester's over.

BTW, Billy Gleason (he was our Princeton scholar, Bellas, if you didn't catch the Back to School Week) is going to have his survey class come to RBtheBlog for the day in the spring. I'd love to have a special day for your class, too!

Welcome to Temptation really spoke to you, didn't it? I seem to remember some bondage lite, and a a pool table. But I was actually thinking today about something the heroine's sister says after the hn has had been given a marvelous orgasm by the hro one lazy eve'n by the river.

The hn was all like, "he didn't have any fun, cause he didn't have an orgasm (paraphrasing here, kids) and sis was like, he got into your panties -- believe me, he had a blast. (total fave imagery of mine, btw, hero clothed, hn not. Although I know the opp is big now in visual erotica).

There's such power for men in knowing women are enjoying what's being done to them, especially if the guy "gets it right," which as we know is rarely a prob for a hero. In real life, a bit more mysterious and time-consuming.

But women, as I remarked above, often feel guilty about taking their pleasure, having thought it was all about woman serving man's need.

The other thing the hn says is: Look, I'm a modern woman and I know I'm responsible for my own orgasm during sex. And Sis was all like: the VERY LEAST a man should be able to do for his partner is give her an orgasm (implied is if he cares about her).

I thought those two points within this novel were some of the strongest and most empowering I'd read in romance. A Feminist is writing that yeah, women are responsible for their pleasure, but if he loves and cares about you, he's got to learn to get in the game, too.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ev, LOL! Please, be gentle with the guy. He's a war hero, after all. And they don't give purple hearts for injury during that kind of skirmish. :)

I'm picking up now on the theme of wanting men to know sometimes women want to lay back and be taken care of sexually, rather than having to worry about pleasing him?

Monica Burns said...

But I really wanna talk about MaryKate's love of talkin dirty.

Oh you're talking sex!! Duh! *grin* A book for guys to know how to give it to a woman...I don't know...I'm pretty good at demanding what I want and sounding off when I don't like something. A book...hmmm...Well, I do have to say I love Wrath in JRW's Dark Lover. He's putty in her hands, and that's the way I like a man to be with me. Well, putty AFTER the fact, if ya know what I mean. *grin*

And next time will you give me some better clues that it's sex we're suppose to be talking about. LOL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Holy cow! It took me six months, but I tricked monica into talking about somethin besides a little somethin somethin. :)

I'm not sure what clues I could have given. OK. I was trying to be demure; you know me, Mon.

Putty AFTER the fact. tee hee...

Stacy~ said...

Oh yeah, I do love the dirty talk, the rawness of it. Pair that up with an UATW moment and wow. That works for me.

I am totally with women taking control and getting her own pleasure, and definitely don't feel one bit guilty. Michelle, you mentioned something that reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about 10 yrs younger than me - her new boyfriend didn't like to perform oral sex, yet fully expected her to do it to him. He wouldn't even consider it. Well, let's just say that was the beginning of the end. Not that's a total deal-breaker (pretty d*mn close though!), but it shows that a man who is unwilling to even talk about what his woman enjoys is not going to be as concerned about whether she's enjoying herself in the bedroom, or livingroom, or wherever.

I like MK's example because it gives both the man and the woman the opportunity to switch roles. A man who lets the woman lead is not weak, but rather just the opposite, especially if he can endure the "torture" ;) Plus, it's a great chance for guys to do one of their favorite things, and that's watch what's right in front of him, and he's got the added bonus of knowing she's enjoying herself.

Overall, I believe women have to be more vocal, in bed and out of it. And I believe in that because I've been reading romances for over 20 yrs, since I was 12, and that's a long time to have gotten to the point where I am now. I've matured enough to not want to settle for just any guy just so I'm not alone, but also not to feel guilty about wanting sexual pleasure out of a relationship. I'm not a casual person by any means, that's just not how I'm wired, but at the same time, I know what I want, what I don't want, and I've learned not to be afraid to ask. Otherwise I have no one to blame but myself if I don't speak up.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I love the way you think, Stace.

Unknown said...

Linda Howard:
Mackenzies Pleasure
Zane MacKenzie, (Navy Seal) lets the heroine, Barrie make love to him. He thinks she's been raped-she wants him to be the first guy whom she chooses to make love to-just in case they get captured again. (not that he would let that happend being a NS)
He gives up control to her.
It's one of my all time favorite scenes in Linda Howard's many fine scenes.
check it out

Vivi Anna said...

Stace, you totally rock girl!

I agree with you 110%!

I do think the measure of a man is in the bedroom and whether they are interested in pleasing you. If they are, I bet they want to please you in other areas too!