I was first introduced to historical romances through my grandmotherâ€™s vast collection of clean/sweet romances. We called them the Smut Books precisely because there was zero smut in them. Â People met, fell in love, got married, then maybe, but just maybe, they kissed – cut to epilogue where magically children have been obtained from somewhere.
That’s always been my preferred type of romance. Â Iâ€™m just not interested in anyoneâ€™s sex life in books, movies, or the real world. I was disappointed to find that clean romances were harder to find now that Iâ€™ve gotten back into historical romance. I like the stories so Iâ€™m marching on and now I have opinions about sex in romance books.
Can we be more realistic?
Hereâ€™s the storyline that makes me roll my eyes. Â A blushing English beauty who has never had a sexual thought in her brain meets a dashing Duke. (It is always a Duke. Apparently there are two of those for every non-Duke person in England.) They get married or if they are really racy they are planning to get married and then they have sex. Â It is always straight to the intercourse. Â Never any sessions of â€œHey, I know you donâ€™t have any idea what sexual activity is because weâ€™ve got messed up ideas about keeping knowledge away from women, so why donâ€™t we just kiss for a while until you feel more comfortable?â€
Then, then, this woman has a mind-blowing orgasm purely through intercourse with no other stimulation at the same time as her partner because of course she does.
Look, I understand that this is female escapism but come on. Â About 70% of women never experience orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone. Iâ€™m willing to bet that number is near 100% for virgins who have been told to lay back and think of England. Given the sorry state of sexual education in the world I would guess that romance novels might be the main sex ed some people get. I hate to think that some people might think that that is what sex is supposed to be like every time and that they are somehow wrong if that isn’t how it is for them.
Here are some outlandish thoughts for other plot lines that could be interesting.
- I love you but this sex stuff isnâ€™t doing much for me. Maybe we could talk about it and figure something out.
- Male virgins who learn from experienced ladies. Think man marries rich widow if you want to keep it between married folk.
- Sometimes a sexual encounter doesnâ€™t have to include intercourse. GASP!
Thatâ€™s just off the top of my head while writing this post. Iâ€™m sure authors could come up with more ideas.
I have found some books with more realistic and open minded sexual story lines. The common denominator seems to be that they are stories about working-class people, especially people of color, instead of aristocracy. Â (Although Iâ€™m not even sure how they find each other with all the Dukes running around.)
How do you feel about sex in historical romances? Too much, not enough, too predictable? What would you like to see?
**Shout out for creativity to a book I picked up once that had a guy running a sex dungeon in his castleâ€™s actual dungeon. It was one of the first books I picked up when coming back to the genre after 20 years. I was quite surprised how things had changed from my grandma’s books. I didn’t read the book or remember what it was called.
I completely agree about the storyline you describe—it’s so common and it drives me more than a little crazy.
Great post Heather! I would love to get the insights of actual romance writers on this. Even if it’s pure escapism, surely there are better, more creative, even more escapist ways to write a good sex scene, other than the insta-multiple-simultaneous-orgasm that seems to be the norm!
I recently read a book called That Potent Alchemy that did a good job with increasing the intensity of the sexual contact as the characters got to know each other better and trusted each other more. That seems much more realistic.
Man, you nailed it with this post! I don’t read very many romances, those under that genre, but I do read women’s fiction where romance and sex come up. Any time I saw the same passage as you described above about the two having a simultaneous orgasm I would just roll my eyes. When i read fantasy or sci-fi and even some thrillers, that’s when I suspend disbelief. Not supposed to need that “suspension ” when it’s a sex scene.
I don’t read a lot of straight-up romance, but I agree all the same–sex in books is so often unrealistic. I love all of the aspects you suggest could be explored. They could still be *hot* right? It could even add to the build-up, as the couple learn more about their bodies and get more comfortable with each other.