Sex and love. Most folks will agree they are best when one accompanies the other. But each, by itself, can be entertaining as well.
Styles in literature, as it pertains to sex and love, are as changeable as anything seen on a New York fashion runway. Things that used to get an author "banned in Boston" are now found on bestseller lists. Sex and love don't just show up in steamy romance novels anymore. They are equally likely to appear in thrillers or mysteries or just about any other genre.
The treatment of sex and love in literature runs the gamut. Back in the 70s and 80s, blatant scenes of often-violent sexual assault, in what came to be known as "bodice rippers", were what passed for "love" scenes in the romance industry. I picked up one of these not long ago and was appalled. The hero drugged and raped the heroine in order to sully her so that her fiancé would no longer want her. He did this, of course, because he loved her, and eventually, she returned that affection. In another famous, and hugely bestselling series by Rosemary Rogers, the hero and heroine romp through three books, willy-nilly engaging in sex and/or love affairs and/or marriages with multiple partners. If I recall, the heroine is sexually assaulted by bandits, pirates, a Turkish pasha, Native Americans, soldiers, and prison guards, as well as by her beloved. Of course, it is only the last one she loves. And in spite of abandoning her multiple times (at one time, while she is pregnant with his twins), marrying and/or cavorting with others, of course the hero loves her as well, and there is the requisite happily ever after.
In mainstream contemporary erotica today, love is sometimes included as an element, but just as often, the encounters are purely for sexual purposes. The sex scenes in these works very often are include threesomes/multiples, same sex couplings, every level of BDSM from light to dark, or a combination of these elements. Plot and character development varies from being an integral part of the story, to merely being the thread that twines through the scenes. Yet even in these, at least by mainstream publishers such as Ellora's Cave, certain acts and pairings are still off limits.
Popular new inspirational love stories are at the opposite end of the spectrum, with the emphasis on relationship development, the sacredness of one's body and sex, and the invaluable importance of love as the most important element in the story. These types of stories are gaining growing audiences.
The current "fashion" in literature, as far as sex scenes vs. love scenes goes, provides enormous freedom for authors and readers of every taste and style. How do you, as a writer, incorporate love scenes or sex scenes or love/sex scenes in your works? How did you decide what level of heat was right for you to write about? And if you don't include this in your works, why not?
The group No Whine, Just Champagne will try to answer this question during our Live Chat on Thursday, July 3rd, at 9:00pm ET. Hope to see you there!