No, I am not offering!
My question is spurred by my own reading experience. Yesterday, I picked up a little reverse harem paranormal romance that had been sitting in my to-read list for months. It has a very nice cover, a tastefully suggestive title, and an author who is described as "an international best-selling romance author, Amazon Top 100 Author..."
I spent a pleasant couple of hours reading the short book which is a mix of genres: shifter romance, paranormal, reverse harem, etc. The heroine is the usual lovely, blonde, petite girl on the run from danger. The "male harem" is comprised of four hunky shifter males (cousins and brothers) who rescue and bond with her. They are happy to share her as their wife.
Reverse harem reads usually involve either animal shifter clans or alien worlds, etc. since in our own world the idea of a woman with multiple mates is unacceptable. In my own series, Vampires in the Mist, Rose can have several males because they are vampires and do not follow our usual morality. I call them her protectors instead of mates. In my work, sex is not the focus of the storyline. The heroine's adventures and the suspense takes center stage.
The book was easy reading, but after a while, I began to page through the sex scenes to get to the story line. Lately, I seem to do that more and more. Now, that is surprising since I myself write novels that contain strong erotic scenes. I have always been a firm supporter of authors who don't shy away from including erotic scenes in their work. Not only do I include such content, but I don't limit such scenes to the "norm." I often touch on taboo subjects too.
I began to question why I was paging through the sex scenes, obviously bored. They were not badly done, and the author handled each scene with each male rather well by making the males very different in personality and love-making style. The scenes were not overly long, and the language was not gross or pornographic. Then why was I not engaging?
Am I becoming jaded to erotic content? Was there too much sex in the book? We all know that too much of anything becomes tiring. Erotic scenes are the spice of romance writing today, the equivalent of salt and sugar in our food. Still, I'd never eat a plate of salt or sugar; neither do I want 200 pages of nothing but sexual content. Readers who want such works buy erotica, and the extremes buy pornography.
The opposite holds true also. There are millions of readers who object to sexual content on the grounds of religion or conservative values. I argue that how can you possibly write about romance, empowerment, suffering, emotions, motivation, history, etc. by leaving out the second most powerful motivational element in humanity's history? (The first is the need for power, in my opinion.)
Those readers who want "clean/wholesome" romance do not understand the nature of romance itself. Maybe, they don't want to understand human nature. I do believe that erotic content should be restricted to adult genres. I'd never place erotic scenes in a YA novel. I always have admired the Twilight series for its beautiful handling of the YA topic without using any erotic content.
I've probably said enough to insult half of you and confuse the other half. Anyway, I hope that when my readers work their way through one of my books, they don't skip the erotic pages. I'd sure like to hear your opinion on the subject. Consider the following questions.
- Do you like erotic content in your books? I am not referring to books that are implicitly erotica. I am referring to romance, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, mystery, and such.
- If you don't mind erotic content, how much of it do you like? For example, in a two-hundred-page book, how many pages should be allotted to erotic content?
- Are you turned off by specific types of erotic subjects? (lesbian, homosexual, bondage, etc). Explain.
- Those who object to erotic content: do you object to "romantic sensual" content? These would be more artistic, sensual depictions of erotic scenes.
- What makes you skip pages on specific erotic passages? (Repetition, same-old thing, vulgar language, disgusting imagery, etc.)
- If you strongly object to erotic content (even limited content), explain your reasons.
I hope that some of my readers will respond to this article on the comments section. I will definitely consider your responses when I write my next novel. I hope I did not give offense.