Monday, May 19, 2008

Love and Lust

I have always been an avid reader. I’m sure that most writers must be because in my estimation you have to love books in order to want to write. I vividly remember reading my first romantic novel when I was in about my second or third year of senior school. I started reading Gone With the Wind on the bus on the way home from school on the Friday evening and read it all weekend until I finished it, whereupon I returned, rather bleary eyed, to my classroom on the Monday morning. It is a long book and even though I am a fast reader it was quite a tome to read in such a short space of time, but I just couldn’t put it down because between those pages I’d discovered romance and sexual desire. Scarlett, in my estimation, was stupid in her infatuation for the insipid Ashley and even more stupid for failing to understand that the incredibly sexy Rhett Butler was in love with her. I loved the book, but I was so disappointed because when Rhett swept Scarlett into his arms and carried her up the stairs we never learnt what went on behind that bedroom door. I wanted more, so much more.

He saw concern in her blue eyes for a moment before she managed to conceal it and he knew that she feared he might perish in battle. Life as a knight could be dangerous and death was always a possibility. He could not in good conscious lead her to believe otherwise. He would go to Richard and beg permission to marry her right now if he could but, despite the fact that she had loathed Hugh, she still had to maintain the necessary period of mourning before she took a new husband.

As Stephen looking lovingly at Edwina he was reminded of the last time she had been in his bed; her lips swollen with kisses, her blue eyes languorous with desire, those luscious breast and sweet, cherry coloured nipples. Lust and love entwined like the strands of a rope, binding her even more securely to him than a wedding ring ever could. Just thinking of her, remembering the last night they had spent together and the passion they had shared, had turned his cock rock hard. He could feel it pressing against the heavy constriction of his chain mail leggings.

Of course I was innocent enough to be unaware that pornographic literature (as it was then called) existed at this time, so I continued to read avidly, always secretly hoping that I would find a book that would open that bedroom door and let me creep inside. I read Jane Austin, great but even a kiss was barely mentioned let alone lustful desire, although I’ve no doubt that Miss Austin might well have dreamed of slipping between the sheet one dark night with her handsome Mr Darcy, especially if in her imagination he looked like Colin Firth dressed in that wet, white lawn shirt.

I devoured the Dennis Wheatley novel, which gave me an interesting glimpse into the world of the occult and a fascinating ride through the entire French revolution but still, frustratingly, barely any sex. Then I found Forever Amber and Angelique, where there were heroines who used men, satisfied their sexual desires and slept with whoever they wanted. Yet, now that I was older and knew more about lust and desire, the bedroom scenes seemed overly cautious and rather insipid to me.

Then a multitude of bodice rippers appeared on the bookshelves. They were historical novels, which I’d always loved, with wild heroines, lusty heroes and people who actually sated their sexual desires between the pages. To an extent this did satisfied my need for sensual encounters, because we were allowed through the bedroom door but the sex were short with few very descriptive passage and, as often as not, left the reader panting for more. I didn’t want to be greedy but why did they spent ages building up to the sensual encounter then glossing over it the blink of an eye?

By then of course attitudes had changed somewhat and Lady Chatterley was freely available but that wasn’t a turn on at all in my opinion. While the Story of O, didn’t really excite me that much either, mainly because I couldn’t understand a heroine who enjoyed being dominated and humiliated. I must admit here that many might enjoy it but it just wasn’t my taste so it didn’t turn me on.

What a blessed relief it was when Black Lace books appeared on the scene. At last I found the books I wanted to read. The first one I ever purchased was The Captive Flesh by Cleo Cordell and I loved it so much I read it in one sitting. It was the story of two young women who are captured and imprisoned in a harem ruled over by a handsome dissolute man, Kassim. There was sex, bondage, even homoerotic encounters - the book had it all and after that I was desperate to read more Black Lace. I read a fair number of them – some with a romance at the heart of the story, others just stories with a string of titillating erotic encounters.

‘Let me feel you inside me,’ she begged, knowing that Taranis was right and that every moment they spent together increased the danger they were in.

He covered her body and slid into her soft moist core. Tension and excitement surged through her as he started to sensuously move his hips, all the while staring at her face, as if he could somehow fix her features in his mind forever. Sirona’s hands reached for his shoulders, her fingers digging into the hard muscles. She pulled him towards her, wanting to feel the entire weight of him pressing down on her as he thrust harder, knowing that never in a myriad of lifetimes could any man ever replace Taranis in her heart.

Taranis fucked her with smooth hard strokes, angling his body so that his shaft stimulated her clit at the same time. As she felt the weight of him powering against her pelvis, an intense erotic pleasure welled up inside her, becoming so strong she thought she might expire with bliss. The Elysian Fields moved closer and closer as she heard his breath coming in short urgent gasps.

The sun had set at last and darkness began to descend as the moon appeared in the sky. Its soft silvery light bathed their bodies in an eerie almost magical light as their pleasure peaked. As Sirona climaxed she heard Taranis whisper fevered words of love in her ear as he too came.

I began to understand that, for me, I didn’t really enjoy the books that didn’t have a romance at the heart of the story. Sex purely for the sake of lustful desire wasn’t quite satisfying enough for me and after a time it became plain boring if there wasn’t some kind of emotion involved. I freely admit that I’m a romantic at heart and of course many readers might not feel as I do. This world would be an uninteresting place if everyone was the same.

For me lust was good but love and lust together were far more exciting, so I decided to pick up a pen and write my own Black Lace with everything I wanted to read included between those, hopefully steamy, pages. I was fortunate enough to have my first proposal accepted and Savage Surrender was born. A story of a young woman, Rianna, who is forced into an unwanted marriage with a man she has never laid eyes on but falls in love with Tarn, a young man who has rebelled against her husband, Sarin, and is now his slave. She loves Tarn but she also finds herself sexually attracted to her husband and soon she is seduced by the sexual depravity of Sarin’s court. I loved these characters so much that I wrote a sequel, Wild Kingdom continuing the story of Rianna and Tarn.

‘How I’ve longed for this moment,’ he said softly, his voice taut with passion as he lifted her, tipping her buttocks away from him so that he could slide into her with one smooth stroke. He jerked her back against his rigid stomach, filling her with the hot hardness of his flesh as he held his hand across the soft swell of her lower belly. The pressure of his fingers further increased the sensation of fullness she experienced as he began to roll his hips and thrust at the same time. A low moan escaped Rianna’s lips as he compounded the assault on her senses by lightly tugging at her clit, rolling the swollen flesh between finger and thumb.

The water eddied and swirled around them, splashing over the sides of the tub in a steady stream as Tarn’s movements became harder and more vigorous. All Rianna’s attention was focused on her relentlessly rising pleasure as she felt his body power harder and deeper. She had no wish for this to end, yet all too soon her stomach contracted as the sensations erupted in an orgasm so sweetly profound that she felt faint from its power as it ripped through her flesh.

More books followed but probably without even being fully aware of it at the time, there was always a passionate romance at the heart of my story. Even though my novels were always classed as erotica, I always felt that wasn’t quite what I wanted and so I was relieved when Virgin reclassified them as ‘Erotic romance’. Now quite often they are available on the romance shelves, which makes them more freely available to the book buying public and why not? Sex in books is not considered all that risqué any more, in fact it is much more acceptable these days, thank goodness.

Now we know all that goes on behind the bedroom door, on the kitchen table, outside under the trees or anywhere else we care to think of. Readers now have a choice – love, lust or maybe just a mixture of both. It is up to you, so go ahead and enjoy!


Janine Ashbless said...

For me lust was good but love and lust together were far more exciting

I'm of the same opinion, at least when it comes to novels. In a short story hot lust is all I want, but a novel that just goes bonkety-bonkety-bonkety-bonk with no emotional core is going to bore me eventually.

Also sex with the added dimension of love is so much riskier and more frightening! The protagonist becomes vulnerable in whole new ways. She can't just shrug and walk off thinking, "well that didn't work out the way I wanted." A romantic author has so much more scope to be really cruel to their characters - and their readers!

Madelynne Ellis said...

I like passion and emotional depth. As Janine said, things are so much more interesting when love and sex are mixed. There's just more at stake. However, unlike many I don't demand a HEA. I like to open a book and genuinely feel it could go either way. Love can be darned cruel.

Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, I totally believe that there's got to be an evolving relationship in an erotic book, and for me, that relationship needs to be love.

I'm also a sucker for a traditional full on HEA. I just love them... I like to have a happy grin on my face when I read the final page of a romance. :)

Erastes said...

Co-incidentally I've just been advising an author on this subject. I like my sex to be meaningful, and I don't mean just emotional or whatever. I think that each sex scene should be relevant to the plot, and should help drive it on, in exactly the same way that conversation scenes should be.

A reader would soon get very bored of the protags just having conversation after conversation with no point to it all. I remember being on a Livejournal Role Playing Game where two of the characters did NOTHING but meet up and drink tea and eat cheese and chat. It was abominably dull. Look at Austen, she never has a conversation scene that doesn't further the plot.

I'm getting a little off the point, but I know what I mean...

I agree with you about the closed door scenes, they drove me mad as a child and I wanted to follow the characters into the bedroom, even before I really knew what they were up to.

When I discovered books like Henry Miller's Sexus, Plexus, Nexus I was turned on by them, but they left me unfulfilled (other than... well, you know.) which porn does, really to this day (other than.. well, you know..) I wanted a mix of both and like you I say HURRAH that we can finally get it.

Janine Ashbless said...

Great pictures BTW, Deanna - every one an inspiration.

Deanna Ashford said...

I agree Janine, in short stories hot lust is great but in a novel I think an emotional core at the cente of the story makes the reader keep turning the page.

What a lovely way of putting it " sex with the added dimension of love is so much riskier and more frightening."

Deanna Ashford said...

Madelynne, I wish sometimes I could be cruel to my characters and not go for a happy ending but be the end of the manuscript I've got so fond of them that I just can't seem to disappoint them.

Like Portia I too love to have a happy grin on my face at the end of a book. I find it satisfying and these days there aren't so many happily every after endings in real life so it is nice to have some in the books I read.

Deanna Ashford said...


I agree sex should be meaningful in the context of the book and drive the plot forward in some way or another. It doesn't really work for me without it.

Kate Pearce said...

Great post, pictures and excerpts, Deanna!

Totally agree with the majority here that for me sex and love in all their many forms are a lethal combination and that writing a book where the characters remain true to themselves and find a happy ending is hard :)

For me, every sex scene should further the relationship, just as much as any piece of dialogue. I'm always secretly amused when readers tell me with great surprise that the sex scenes in my books weren't actually gratuitous!!-like I would sit there and write sex when I thought I needed to fill up a couple of pages or I wrote to a formula. I wiah it was that easy :)

Madeline Moore said...

This is an interesting topic and worthy of a considered reply. In erotica, sex drives the story. Now that we are writers of erotic romance, the focus has shifted, I think, so that sex and romance drive the story.

My first BL book, Wild Card, was a blizzard of sex, to quote Adam. There were two sex scenes that weren't necessary to the plot, but, as the novel took place primarily in a hotel room, I thought they would help relieve the claustrophobia. And they were marvelous sex scenes, which should count for something in erotica, shouldn't it?

My new book, 'Amanda's Young Men' is also packed with sex, probably a blizzard...but this time all the sex pertains to the plot. (And this time there are no strict time/place constraints, phew)

I admit that the trad HEA ending is missing from both books. I've decided the next one I propose will be romantic.

My characters in novels are always a little confused - is it love she wants? Or freedom from obsession (WC) or a variety of lovers to play with (AYM) There is usually at least one sex scene that isn't perfect (because I think it's important for women to get that it doesn't have to be 'perfect' to be good.)

So, I think it's possible that I could be accused of 'too much sex' and I'll look at that in the future but...there's a part of me that really feels 'for the most bang for your buck, buy MY book' or 'if you only buy one, buy THIS one because there's a little bit of everything between these covers!

I might be better off cultivating and writing to 'fans' who would buy my books by author you think?

Madeline Moore said...

ps - sorry to be so late with this, it's Victoria Day in Canada, a holiday, so I've been lounging...

I've been thinking about novels/short stories because it's possible the 'voice' in my stories is much clearer than the 'voice' in my two novels.

Now, that voice is not the same one in all stories, each one has a different point of view and the sex in the story reflects that. Maybe that's why my main characters in my novels are a bit confused? Actually, I think most women ARE confused about what they want. And what they want changes as they mature, no?

This is a biggie for me because I want my main characters to be true to the picture of them that I've painted, but at the same time I think 'confusion' is part of the plot, often, in romances and erotica.

I think women readers/editors see that, whereas the male reader/editors might see 'an inconsistent protgagonist.'


limecello said...

Hi Deanna,
I felt the *exact same way* about Gone With the Wind! I loved these excerpts you included, and now want to find those books and read them. I need to have love/romance with the lust, otherwise it just doesn't grab me/my attention. Excellent topic and post :)

t'Sade said...

Great topic, lovely points. I do agree, I want a story and a plot with my boinking. :) Give me a reason to make me want them together.

Lauren Dane said...

Yes, definitely a mixture. Love without lust isn't very exciting to me but when they're combined it can be combustible. However, sometimes short, hot bursts of lust can be hot as well. Overall for me -I want to see connection between the characters on the screen or page

And I completely agree that sex should further the plot - like any scene in a book should.