Just how sexy can historical novels be?
To the surprise of no one, romance novelists often talk about sex when they get together. When my writing pal, debut author Sara Jane Stone, and I were chatting about sex it was how soon it should happen in a book. She writes super sexy Blaze books for Harlequin where sex must happen by, like, page 20.
She’s always advising me to add more sex to my novels.
“But my plot won’t allow it!” I protest.
That’s the thing—historical romances derive so much of their tension from the rules and restrictions around sex. Or rather: not having sex.
A proper lord and lady cannot just fall into bed with each other and still be true to the era. Think of the scandal, one’s reputations, the risk of an out of wedlock baby! Sex in historical novels is fraught with complications. But it a way, it also makes it more meaningful. When the hero and heroine break the rules to make love, the risks they face show how much they want it. Or we—and they—have to wait, full of pent up lust, until wedding vows are exchanged.
But in contemporary novels (and in contemporary real life), the restrictions around sex have lessened. Heroes and heroines can do it by page 20 without feeling pressured to get married. It’s ok to act on desire—and not have all those other questions about marriage, and forever, and what does this mean answered.
So how sexy can historical romance novels be while maintaining accuracy, and can they compete with super sexy contemporaries? Or perhaps they don’t need to. I think all that restrained desire that’s been smoldering on page one make the inevitable sex scene on page 189 even better.
How sexy do you like historical romance novels to be?
(And do you ever skim over sex scenes to get back to the plot?)
Ps: Sara Jane Stone’s book is Command Performance. There is LOTS of sex.