How hot do you like it?

This post is for grownups, adults, mature readers, or least for those who are old enough to know what sex is!

First, I will defend any writer who chooses to write erotic stories. I will also defend the reader who chooses to read it. That said, I don’t write it, and I hardly ever read it except for friends who will ask me to read a manuscript. Those who know me and write erotic, will point, laugh, and roll on the floor, then tell me I’m totally incapable of writing it.

I was happily married to a man who happened to love sex. He never missed seeing a good-looking woman, or failed to notice one that was bra-less, etc. But sex was simply get naked and have fun. No one invited the neighbors, the dog, or any wildlife, took videos of the act, dribbled hot wax, or used any devices. We never did it in the bed of the pickup, in an alleyway, at the company office, or on the kitchen table. Apparently, that makes me a little too tame.

I had a beautiful white nightgown that was given to me for my wedding night. I put it on and my darling hubby told me to take it off and get into bed. He never wanted anything between us. So yes, I slept naked from then onwards. My robe was hooked to the foot board post. I never thought about it as being romantic or even sexy. It’s just the way we slept.

I cannot imagine sleeping in a king-sized bed. How do other people find each other in those things? We slept in what is called a spoon. I was either snuggled to his chest or against his back, or he was snugged to my back. In the heart of summer when it was too hot to sleep, some part of us touched, even if it was just our fingers.

Prior to marriage, I wasn’t the wild thing who jumped any man I met. So obviously, I have no background for writing it. My imagination doesn’t even go there. I haven’t lived under a turnip leaf. I know what goes on in the world, I know what homosexuals do. I’d rather not think about it. Therefore, I won’t read it. Yet, I have wonderful friends who are gay. (I’m blessed with two different neighbors who are gay and I adore both those men! I couldn’t ask for better neighbors or friends. But what they do behind closed doors is their business.)

I don’t mind a little sexy reading. Everyone has body parts. We know RC3a&t200x320how to use them and where they fit. Some of the exceptionally “clean” romances are incredibly funny to read because they make no sense. It was that night when they held hands. Yep, she got pregnant from doing that! And of course he denied it was his child. If I had been him, I would have demanded paternity testing! I would would have never married the conniving little witch! (This book was on the best sellers list!) (No not mine. I just put the cover there because they are holding hands and yes, she got pregnant and it wasn’t from holding hands!)

So let’s talk real life! I don’t care if the guy is fifteen or seventy-five. If that guy isn’t raising the flag from a serious kiss, he’s either got a real physical problem, or he doesn’t like the person he’s kissing.  And if you’re dating him and not having serious kisses – run away! (I’m not talking about virginity; I’m talking natural human desire and involuntary reactions.)

Sex is part of the normal human relationship between two people who are in love. Once that relationship is established, the mating dance begins. Depending on the individuals and their comfort levels, it progresses accordingly.

To strip that away from a story isn’t very realistic. As readers we want to feel all those wonderful glorious feelings that come with being in love. We want to know when we kiss the hero what we’ve done to him and we want that to show in the writing.  So someplace there is a line of what we want and what we don’t want when we read.

I think I write in the middle. If my heroine gets pregnant from the hero, it’s not because she held his hand! But on the flip side, I don’t hide what they did. It’s part of that relationship. And maybe the difference is in the wording or the fact that no one is screaming obscenities. When you peel off all the layers, we’re down to body parts and which parts go where.

There’s a huge market for erotic books. It used to be that people had to e-readergo to some book or video store with a back room, or into an adult shop to buy them. Then ebooks arrived and opened the door for reading erotic books to those who enjoyed them, but didn’t dare go to such places. Many people had never read anything like it – didn’t even know such stories existed. Now people could buy and read books that even their spouses didn’t know about.

Then more general romance flocked to ebooks.  No longer did the reader have to worry about anyone knowing they were reading a book that had a cover of a woman swooning in the arms of man with his shirt unbuttoned. The elitists that preferred to keep their romance reading a secret could!

A few years ago, there were a lot of references to the silent majority when it came to politics. Today, I think there is a huge silent majority when it comes to reading, especially romance. They are average people and they don’t want their romance too hot.

They like a good story. They want to escape the madness of everyday life. They’re tired of the 8-5 grind, the long commute, and everything else that goes with living today. A curse word is something that is used, under breath, when the grocery bag falls and the jar of pickle relish breaks or they open the dryer door only to discover they had washed and “dried” a crayon with the family’s whites. It’s not something they use constantly.

To call erotic a niche market, is wrong. Today, it’s widely read and by more than a small niche. But I happen to think that there’s a huge silent market out there of readers who prefer to read a story that isn’t quite that hot.  They want something where they can see themselves as the heroine or even their husband as the hero. They will buy a book because the cover has a blond with blue eyes in a kilt. (Um, hubby has blue eyes, blond hair, and probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt.)

I figure almost anyone can read my stuff. And if the eleven year old in the house picks up my story and reads it… There’s no reason to panic. Yes, that’s what two people do in a committed relationship.

To me, sex is aARWlandspe 400 x 600 wonderful, fantastic expression of love.  It’s a part of life and as natural as breathing.  It should never be taken lightly or abused. It’s not where the body parts go as much as the expression of that love. So those who will read hotter will read mine, and those who prefer very little to no heat will still usually read mine. Maybe it’s not what I write, but the context in which it is written.

I recently received an excellent review on one of my books and the reviewer praised it for not having any sex in it. Thank you, whoever you are, for leaving such a nice review. I really do appreciate it, but you might have missed a few things, like the sex… It ‘s not  thrown in anyone’s face with heavy details, but it’s there. It’s right after: One by one, her clothes fell to the floor.

The Authors of Main Street write to the silent majority that I call Main 3D weddingStreet. In Weddings on Main Street the stories range from sweet to sexy, but nothing is erotic or over the top. You might laugh at the antics of my hero and heroine in my story and I hope you do enjoy their youthful, energetic expressions. I’ll give you a sexy snippet this weekend!

So what is hot? What’s not? Where will you read? And if you are a writer, what do you read and write? How do you feel about the silent majority of readers or do you think the silent majority today does read erotic? Please keep your answers PG! I don’t want WordPress shutting me down over an answer.

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22 Responses to How hot do you like it?

  1. I’m with you–right there in the middle. Most of my books have at least one full blown love scene and a few less intense, or glossed over scenes of love. And these are the types of books I enjoy reading. It’s all about the romance, the adventure, or mystery, or whatever the books are about that captures me, not the sex. I have nothing against erotic romance, but, like you, it’s not what I prefer to read, the same way I don’t go for those pure books where the sex is hidden, if it happens at all.

    With my first romance book, a time travel, I was actually afraid I couldn’t write a bedroom scene, but my critique partners eased me through it and I was able to pull it off with success. And I try to make that scene different for each book and set of characters.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      I haven’t read any of your books, but I find it amazing that you manage to write something that you weren’t comfortable writing in the first place.

      I can only write heat to a certain level. I know the drill, but I’m certain if I attempted to write hotter, it would show.

      When I wrote COMING OUT OF HIDING, I had to fight with myself the entire time. Not because of heat level, but because it was different.The number of scenes that were cut and permanently removed or re-written was unreal.

      I was constantly teetering as I wrote it and re-wrote it. I could not ignore the fact that the hero was impotent. So what became “normal” for them is not “normal” for the average reader. I didn’t want it to seem kinky. I wanted to show the love and the willingness to overcome and work with the problem. I didn’t want it to be the how-to manual and I didn’t want it to be too hot.

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  2. rosgemmell says:

    Completely agree with you! The most I’ve written so far is one gentle sex scene in my contemporary novellas but I keep it to sexual tension in the historicals. And that’s exactly what I like to read – the constant naming of body parts and sex turns me off (read one for the first time recently and that excess spoiled the good story!). Give me good sexual tension and deep romance any time!

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    • E. Ayers says:

      It’s the body parts that get to me. Start reading a nice story and suddenly they are in the bedroom using terms for body parts and doing things that I’d never… then it ends and goes back to a nice story. What the heck is going on?

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  3. Lily Bishop says:

    I’m right there with you. I like it in the middle. Sometimes when I’m reading I find myself skimming the sex parts and thinking blah blah blah get on with the story. I’m wondering if it’s a generational issue? But then my sister said that my book was too racy for her. I don’t know what the answer is, but I try to do what feels right for my characters, and I try to have the kind of variety that couples in a relationship have. Even with that, my heat level is a solid 3. It’s not sweet, but every other scene isn’t sex either.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Oh, I’ve done that! How many pages of this…skip, skip, skip! But other times I’ve read every single word in a story. Is it my state of mind at the time or is it the writing? It was probably both.

      I know I’d hate to think that someone skipped one of my scenes, but they probably have because it’s too hot or too tame for that reader.

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  4. Missy Lou says:

    I’m a poet not an author so the eroticism in the poems I write is not blatant, because sex isn’t the driving force in them. Instead, emotion plays the biggest role. Like Ms Bishop I find myself turning the pages as quickly as possible to get back to the story because I’m much more interested in what is happening when people have their clothes on than in reading a detailed descriptions of whose body parts did what or in what those body parts looked like.–I’ve seen them so I know what they look like and what fits where on whom so I don’t need an instruction manual! Keep the romance but skip the out and out sex scenes.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      I think it’s the intense feelings that are important, the craving and heat, etc. What is she making him feel or what is he making her feel? Beyond that it’s Slot A and Tab B.

      My brain is conjuring up images of those old line drawings. Anyone remember those? This is a man and this is a woman. Then they’d show six little tadpoles swimming towards the uterus, but never said how the tadpoles got in there in the first place.

      Mom never wanted me playing with tadpoles or swimming in the local pond. On the other hand, my dad would bring home a jar of tadpoles for me. My father swore it was perfectly safe for me to play with the tadpoles and thought nothing of my swimming in the pond. I guess mom thought I’d get pregnant.

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  5. Jane Leopold Quinn says:

    I can read all heat levels but seem to only be able to write hot. It just seems to be the way my mind goes. Always did. E, your love scenes are good and very appropriate for your style of writing.

    There should be reading material for people of all interests. And nowadays, there is.

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    • E. Ayers says:

      Keep writing! I can’t wait to read your westerns. You write HOT, but you do it with style and class.

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      • E. Ayers says:

        Maybe it’s the lack of class that makes me revolt. That and the kink. And what is kinky to one person isn’t to another.

        People have the right to choose what they read. It’s also why I try to alert people of the differences in what I write. People don’t want to be blind-sided.

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  6. melissakeir says:

    I love a variety of stories. I don’t pick a book based on heat but on the quality of the writing. I love passion in a story that keeps me melting.

    I’m at that part of my married life where mundane things get in the way of the “fun” stuff. I work hard to set aside time to be romantic and show the importance of the passion but an escape into a book is a nice diversion from the everyday ordinary parts of life. I don’t live the stories in my books but I’d love to! 🙂

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    • E. Ayers says:

      I think everyone goes through those times in a marriage. You tumble into bed and fall asleep six seconds after your head hits the pillow. We used to reserve Sunday morning, but there were periods of time when even that didn’t work because of other commitments. Stress, worn out, and worried about other stuff really zaps the passion in a relationship.

      I think reading helps many women to find that passion that they lost along the way.

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  7. Jill James says:

    I like to think I write middle of the road. My books are definitely not sweet or clean, but they aren’t erotic romance either. My characters do sometimes cuss if life isn’t going their way. They also have sex if it seems right for them and the story. How hot really depends on them. 🙂

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  8. E. Ayers says:

    I’m loving all these responses because it shows how wide spread everyone is on the issue. Although this if far from scientific with just a few comments, I’d say there is a silent majority that doesn’t care for blatant sex in a story. As Missy said, I’ve seen them so I know what they look like and what fits where on whom.

    I love writing sexual tension, but if that’s all there is then it’s almost as though something is missing. I know my contemporary stories, especially my River City novels, tend to be much warmer. Why? Character driven – these folks are younger, more energy, more cosmopolitan, and less reserved when it comes to sex. My westerns are more conservative with small town values.

    Jane writes hot, but she writes a good story. I can read what she writes because of the storyline. Her sex scenes fit what she writes and she doesn’t try to pack three extra ones into the story.

    I curse occasionally (maybe more than occasionally) and what I say wouldn’t get bleeped from the TV. But I tend to keep it out of my writing, except when appropriate. I have teens who curse in my stories. Has anyone listened to teens these days? You’d swear those four-letter words are the new adjectives to be sprinkled generously into speech.

    I guess nothing is totally off limits to me and I’ll use whatever, whenever in my stories as they fit. But I think my readers know that. If that reader is new to my books, they might lift an eyebrow, but I doubt they will quit reading. Maybe it’s not what, but how it is said and done.

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  9. fionamcgier says:

    My late mother and her sisters used to trade romance paperbacks by the bagful. Many’s a time I’d see her yelling at a book, then drop-kicking it across the room. “All that time I wasted, reading you and there’s NO pay-off? NO sex? I’ll never read you again!” She used to make fun of Heyer with her liberal use of “…” by reading aloud to me, making “tsk” sounds for each dot. Hilarious!

    I’ve always thought about sex a lot…probably more than most women. But that being said, I don’t do menage scenes or BDSM, nor do I write gay romance. I have gay friends and cousins, but I don’t care to know what they do in their bedrooms, and I would never presume to know how they feel about dealing with societal disapproval. I’ll read/judge anything for contests because I don’t find things offensive…just not what I’d choose. And not what my muse gives me to write.

    So my stories involve how people relate to one another across the male/female chasm, and how hormones can cause them to fall in love forever with someone. I’m way too tame for some reviewers who complain about the lack of “variety” in my hot, erotic sex scenes. But I can’t make it known in the town I live in what I write lest I be tarred and feathered and run out of town! So I’m too hot for some, and not hot enough for others. Finding the right readers is indeed tough!

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    • E. Ayers says:

      It’s really a shame that authors must hide what they write. Why can’t people just accept and move forward? I don’t care what people write. I think there are still too many witch hunts out there. Teachers who have been fired because their pen name escaped into the wrong hands, etc.

      We have the right to choose what we read and what we write. Even if a reader prefers the purest lily-white romance, that doesn’t make the stuff terrible. To me, it’s like ice cream flavors. I might not like rocky road, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t or that I need to turn my nose up at someone who will eat such a concoction.

      Think about it? Who doesn’t think about it? We’re getting it, we’re getting too much of it, we’re not getting it, we want it, we don’t want it, or oh, we want it with him!
      🙂

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  10. I didn’t read the other comments (but will after leaving my own). Writing my, “Immortal Relations” http://amzn.com/B006ZCBT6G I wasn’t thinking about human hang-ups about sex…these good vampires didn’t ascribe to such mundane concerns of decorum but lived their “lives” in a way that would clearly shock mere humans. Of course that was all well and good until my relatives, who had no idea I was writing a novel, found out and read the released book. “None-Too-Pleased” would be an understatement as to their reaction. What was it that Rhett Butler said in Gone With the Wind!
    I didn’t write the story for them, I wrote it to be true to myself. Maybe in a “well regulated society” one must conform to social norms in order to better fit in, but I think freedom of expression is just as important…perhaps overly caring what others see as proper is one of the reasons freedom today is in such peril…IMHO.

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  11. Ann Jacobs says:

    How hot? I love romance, and I’m certainly no prude about sex–I’ve written a lot of it, and some of what I wrote for Ellora’s Cave went way beyond what I consider sex in good taste, sex that fits the characters who’re having it. As my titles revert, I’m rewriting some completely, heavily sanitizing out unnecessary locker room talk, and removing focus on body parts instead of emotions.

    On the other hand, every woman I know thinks her hero’s the best, and it would be kind of odd if she never thought so–or said so when the occasion was right.

    That said, I don’t mind an occasional menage a trois, and occasional male-male action in them, but for the most part I go for heterosexual romances, one man and one woman going through serious conflict to find happily ever after. FALLING IN LOVE, the box set that just came out last month, is a nice mixture of sexy and less so–but always full of depth and emotion that makes the stories romance, never porn. I’m old-fashioned enough to want my story people to be ladies and gentlemen out in public, so they save the hot, hot stuff for places where there’s not much risk of being interrupted!

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