Why Not Write Sensual Romance?

Lori Foster

Life should be enjoyed. Every day, every hour, every minute. And that means using all our senses; taste, touch, smell and sight. If we're not doing that, we're missing out on a lot.
Our bodies were created with the instinctive need to indulge our senses. And the most intense, explosive feeling of physical pleasures come through sex. So, why shouldn't that carry through in our writing?

People say money makes the world go 'round. They're wrong. It's sex. Or sex appeal or sensuality or that little touch and look that makes your heart pound, your body heat. It really does happen. It's not something we make up to entice people into buying our books. It's a vital, fundamental part of basic nature. When all is said and done, we're animals. Human animals, with refined senses. Which only means we feel that much more, with much more definition.

To write about a romance -- any romance -- without sex, isn't honest. To create a hero and heroine who aren't driven to touch and explore each other is cowardly and a cop-out. Why do so many romance writers shy away from the realities of the bedroom?

In today's world, caution rules, which only makes the romance novel more enthralling. Readers can find hot, sizzling, romantic sex through their favorite characters. Fantasy is just that: fantasy. But it is important to our lives all the same.

Real romance isn't centered solely on emotions or mechanics. The two must work together and become entwined to establish complete, uncompromising love. This is true of life, and I believe it should be true of written romance.

As a writer, I want readers involved. I want them anxious to see my hero and heroine ultimately sharing every aspect of love. That means entering the scene, feeling the passionate anger of an argument or the whisper of the hero's breath on her cheek during sex. Readers should experience the warmth of aroused skin, hot looks and passionate kisses. This is fiction, so the hero can be the perfect lover.

Eye contact is a must. In many ways, it's more intimate than a physical stroked, and can be used with devastating effect. Our eyes reflect our fears and our hopes. And what hero doesn't want to see into his heroine's soul? Think of how often you look at people, and they look away. By making prolonged eye contact, you can strip a person naked, figuratively of course.

Sex in the dark is out. Not unless the dark can be used to enhance other senses. This is not an age of innocence. It's an age of intelligence and women's freedom. Women deserve to be seen. And if the hero can see the heroine, she can see him, too. And where an aroused male form is involved, there are always a lot of exciting things to see. I enjoy showing the excitement.

Romance should not be shy and sweet. Sex between our heroes and heroines (those two above average, fascinating people) should never be dull or merely perfunctory.

Rich or poor, pretty or plain, dynamic or withdrawn, the hero and heroine have to be sexually attracted to each other. That's too important to skimp on. Beyond that, our characters love each other, so they should be able to share that love in the most elemental way possible. It's not nasty, or embarrassing. It's erotic and enveloping and all encompassing. It's lovemaking. Why pull back, or rely on ridiculous euphemisms to describe a natural physical response? An erection is just that. And orgasm is even more. You can't be struck down for being accurate.

We should never leave our readers guessing. It’s our duty to be explicit, to allow our characters good wholesome sex -- and plenty of reasons and opportunities to indulge. Ultimately, if we grant them this, our characters will be very happy. Which is, after all, the most basic criteria for a romance: the happy ending.

1996-2004 Lori Foster
Reprinted with permission

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