So, I’ve mentioned in some of my reviews that I prefer my Regencies without graphic sex scenes. This is true, and for several reasons. However, let me clarify my statement — for those who think I’m being prudish or silly or otherwise out of character. To me, Regency romances are a specific sub-genre of historical fiction, created by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer (most notably). They need not be light little drawing room comedies of manners, but they do represent a period of time that held a very specific and regimented code of behavior, and should reflect that, at least to a degree. It’s one thing to have a heroine with “modern” attributes or ideas (such as education for women/lower classes, etc), that did exist in the Regency period, even if not widely accepted. To have gratuitous, premarital sex is just so far out of what would be acceptable, that I find the male seducers contemptible, not romantic or dashing. Most girls learned about sex for the first time on their wedding day. A kiss would be shocking between an unengaged couple. This was a very regimented society. Of course, it happened. But not with so little discretion, nor so casually!
All that aside, my real point is that, as a reader, I am SICK TO DEATH of graphic sex scenes that do nothing but take away from the story! I find that to be most true of Regency romances with sex scenes. I want story and character, banter, a comedy of errors and/or manners. I don’t want to be jarred out of my enjoyment by a sex scene that doesn’t add to either, and doesn’t really belong.
Don’t get me wrong — in the right book, I enjoy a hot sex scene as much as anyone and (I’m sure) far more than some, but only in the right book. When it adds to character or plot or is an organic part of the story the author is telling. Otherwise, let’s just get on with the story! My biggest pet peeve is the Regencies, since romantic gestures can be portrayed with long looks, hand holding, frissons of excitement/attraction to just as much advantage (more, in my opinion) as more graphic scenes. Why lose banter and character for sweaty sex scenes that just don’t belong?
Examples of writers who create great sex scenes include Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, and Patricia Briggs, just to name a few. Ilona Andrews’ sex scenes definitely show character and relationship development, and she keeps it fairly brief. Nalini Singh writes wonderful, hot, powerful sex scenes. In her Psy-Changeling series, they add to the characters and their relationships, as well as establishing and expanding the world she has created. In Singh’s Hunter series (the Angels), I must admit that I get sick of the detailed, FREQUENT sexual play that the main characters engage in. To a point, it is part of the story she is telling, but I don’t think it needs to be spelled out so graphically, every single time. We get the point. Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson is raped (without graphic detail), and her sexuality is an important part of her relationship with her mate; however, Briggs still manages to portray the intensity of Mercy and Adam’s relationship and their sexuality without giving the reader a play-by-play…I’m just saying. I don’t want to be reading a book I love, with characters I love, and be bored by the detailed account of their sex lives!