Sex Sells, But I’m Not Buying It

Posted October 9, 2007 by Holly in Discussions | 8 Comments

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Lately I’ve been in the mood for straight up romances. No romantic suspense, no paranormal, no erotica, just two people finding themselves and each other, falling in love and living happily ever after.

I think part of the reason I’m so obsessed with those particular stories right now is because I just came off a Romantic Suspense kick. I love suspense as much as the next reader, maybe even more so. I cut my teeth on Goosebumps and King and Koontz. Prior to reading my first Romance Novel, I read nothing but mysteries.

But lately, I’ve become disgusted with Romantic Suspense. I have a really hard time suspending all disbelief and actually falling for the ol’, “We’re hiding from a gunned madman who’s been shooting at us and our lives are in danger, but all I can thinking about is that sweet behind pressed up against my fly”. I mean, come on, be honest, if you were in a life threatening situation, would your first thought be “I want, dammit”?

Like so many other Romance Readers, I want a little sex in my books…and sometimes, I even want a lot of sex in my books. But I want the sex to be believable. And when a couple is hiding behind a tree in the woods with some crazed killer five feet away, that’s not a believable time for a sexual encounter. After they ditch said crazed killer and are holed up in some dirty motel room? Sure. We all want that reaffirmation of life after a death defying experience. But right in the middle of battle? I don’t think so.

But then, I’m not a man. And we all know men generally have one thing on their minds and one thing only. So I thought, “maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a man WOULD be thinking nothing but sex with a crazed killer five feet away.” So I asked MM. Basically this is the scenario I put to him:

We’re in bed sleeping and we hear a noise in the living room. He gets up to investigate and finds someone in our house. He sneaks me out the window before confronting the would-be burglar (because my safety is of the utmost importance to him, naturally) and in the meantime the Burglar sneaks outside, pinning MM and I behind a tree. Now, for those of you who don’t know, MM is a cop. So of course he’d have a gun drawn at the time.

So there we are, hiding behind a tree, with me pressed up against MM while he tries to track the Burglar and we wait for backup in the form of the Boys in Blue to arrive. Is he thinking about how good it feels to have me pressed up against him and how amazing my breasts feel pushing against his back?

His answer? Well, probably it’s not fit for polite company. But the gist of it? He’d be thinking about getting me to safety and where the Burglar was and how soon backup would arrive. He’d be trying to decide if he could leave me to investigate further or if he should stay with me in case I needed protection.

Now, MM is a pretty randy guy. He thinks about, talks about or tries to get sex more than most guys I know. It’s on his mind pretty much 24/7. But in a dangerous situation, he’s not going to be thinking about boinking me, he’s going to be thinking about keeping me safe.

That I believe.

So I have to wonder, if that’s the case, why do so many romantic suspense authors fill their books with so much UNBELIEVABLE sexual tension? Or is it just me? Maybe I’m reading too much into the constant sexual attraction between protagonists in RS books.

What works for you and what doesn’t? Do you think too many RS authors cross the line when it comes to sexual tension? Or don’t you notice?

I could name examples, but I think anyone who’s read RS knows what I’m referring to.

Tell me, am I all alone here?

*Please note: I’m not referring to erotica here, just straight romantic suspense. Erotica, IMO, is a whole other ball of wax.

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8 responses to “Sex Sells, But I’m Not Buying It

  1. You are not alone.
    Thats why I was so happy with a book I just reviewed. All jacked up by Penny McCall. The sexual tension was there, but it was very subtle, and they were not having sex while the bullets were flying.
    I usually don’t like romatice suspense for the same reasons as you.

  2. I’ve read a couple like that, but the running theme seems to be sex sex and more sex. I just saw that Wendy had a post up today about wanting more suspense than romance in her RS’s and I think I have to agree. Or at least make it believable.

  3. I think it’s a little overkill sometimes. I used to read strickly romance/romantic suspense type books, I happen one day to pick up a mystery detective/csi type book and I have not looked back since. When I was younger I considered romance type books learning tools. LOL! If you get my meaning.

    Now that I’m older I find I need more than just sex to keep me interested in a book.

  4. I rarely read romantic suspense for precisely this reason, and also because I can’t stand heroines who don’t act like they’re interested in keeping themselves alive. I can tell you now, if I were in a life or death situation, my stomach would be churning so bad, I’d be in the toilet every chance I got and that is so not romantic.

    I’m really curious about the unprintable things that MM said…

  5. Holly this is a great topic and one I’m sure many readers would agree with. Even in military type romances where the couple is in some war torn country and sleeping in the woods on the lam with the enemy breathing down their necks we’re supposed to believe that all they can think about it is sex? If I’m sleeping on the ground, with no food, water, blanket or fire trust me I’m thinking about a shower and a bed, not sex.

    Just my opinion, but even if it’s erotica I prefer the plot support the sex and that it not be contrived or set just to titillate.

  6. I agree with you Holly. I’d like a bit less sex in my books… The thing that annoys me most however, is that how long have they known each other, the H/H? Less than a week and already, they’d had sex and have fallen in love with each other. Okay, sure, I want them to fall in love… but maybe fall in love and then, have sex. Not just feel attracted, have sex and oh, maybe love.

    I guess it’s hard to balance… and also, it seems that recently, readers want more sex… so authors have to provide.

  7. Crystal,
    I have read a couple RS where the sex took a backseat to the mystery. Those were good. But otherwise, I’m with you.

    LOL! Bathroom. Wouldn’t THAT be a great story?

    I agree that I like a little plot with my erotica, but I don’t hold it to the same standards I do straight RS. I mean, it’s erotica. The whole point is the sex, right?

    I’ve read a couple LH’s like that, too. Although I do think she’s better at giving us a plot and more believable sex than a lot of other RS authors.

    Yep, that’s another irritating issue. Falling into bed with someone less than a week after meeting them isn’t really my style. But then to say, a week after that you’re in lurrrve? Meh.

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