Don’t I Even Get Dinner?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve managed to read several books that all had the same plot point: the couples headed more or less straight for bed as soon as they met. Sometimes even before they met, as in “Gee that’s a cool guy standing in the alley there, I think I’ll jump him.”

Now as we all know, constant randyness seems to be pretty standard in romance. I mean, geez, you want the h/h to be panting over each other fairly quickly. But do you really want them acting on their hormones within the first twenty pages? I should also say I’m not talking about erotica here, where the rules are obviously different, but about regular old plain-vanilla romance.

Sometimes I think this motif works. Urban fantasy uses it a lot, and it becomes a way to not only work in some really hot scenes, as in Eve Silver’s Sins of the Flesh, but also as a kind of metaphor for the characters’ desperation. In Silver’s case, the heroine is deliberately avoiding any kind of real contact with another human being, so anonymous sex is pretty much part of the package.

But what about characters who aren’t either sporting a few extra supernatural genes or part of an erotic sequence? What does it do to the story if your hero or heroine jumps into the sack with the first attractive person he/she comes across? For me, I guess it depends on the way things work themselves out. One standard formula, for example, is best described as “Oh my god, I can’t believe I did that, how can I look at him from now on?” A certain portion of the rest of the book is devoted to the heroine’s angst over having been so reckless, usually as the result of having been a) drunk or b) under the influence of some extreme emotional state. I can accept this (although it often means the heroine is something of a ditz) if that’s not the only thing that’s happening in the plot. But if the book now centers around the heroine’s mortification, it’s going to be a long, long slog.

I guess I really prefer to watch the sexual tension grow between characters, to see them gradually move closer and closer to that sex scene so that you can build up some anticipation for what will happen between them. I like heroes and heroines who are a little, shall we say, selective. Who spend some time scoping out a potential partner rather than rushing right into the clinch.

So which do you prefer—the heroine who gets it on with the stranger in the alley or the heroine who waits at least a week or so before she and the hero do the double-backed boogie? Yes, I’m overstating it, but it’s my party and I’ll cheat if I want to! –Meg Benjamin


6 responses to “Don’t I Even Get Dinner?

  1. The sexual tension is always a page turnere for me
    too. Nice post!

  2. If the h/h get together emotionally and physically too soon, why bother reading the rest of the book? Unless the book isn’t about them getting together but instead is about staying together. The thing I’m coming to appreciate is how romance morphs. I’m a reader who goes waaaay back to when you had a specific romance formula for every book and they were pretty much the same with different names and slightly different circumstances. I sure was happy to see the jealous other woman who caused trouble begin to fade in popularity. I can’t wait to see the next great writer who bends the rules and changes the genre yet again (and I’m not talking specifically about the erotic romance writer in this statement, either). Great post.

  3. While I enjoy a long dance before the sex part starts, the truth though is that most couples that I know when they start dating are doing the bed sheet tango before they even know how their partners likes his steak cooked. So when I am reading fantasy, it isn’t too far from my reality when it starts soon.

    I enjoy reading how couples grow together. Watching how each other starts to make room in their lives for the other. Building on their friendship. I guess the strengthening of the relations foundation can be just as hot as the sex.

  4. Great post! I think a lot of it depends on the characters and what feels right for them; a lot of it depends on the writer and how well she can prolong the tension and/or mortification; and a lot of it depends on the mood I’m in. Viva la difference!

  5. I like the sexual tension the build up always what I look for

  6. I myself dislike books where as soon as you open the book you get a sex scene. I like plot’s where the people actually do something and grow into the sex. It can sizzle as far as chemistry,but the sex must come later. When the sex starts right away I usually lose interest in the book.

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