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Archive for September 17th, 2008

Once upon a time, Jezebel was a powerful succubus, capable of seducing men and sucking out their souls. But that was before Hell put a bounty on her head. Now her only chance to escape a fate far worse than death is to live as a mortal, losing herself in a sea of unfamiliar humanity, in a place where sinners walk hand-in-hand with saints-a place like New York City.

Working as an exotic dancer is a piece of cake for a former demon who once specialized in sex. But she hadn’t counted on meeting sexy Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Good-bye, succubus; hello, lovestruck.

But Hell hasn’t stopped looking for her. The secrets Jezebel holds are the most dangerous of all, the kind every demon in the Underworld would do their worst to protect. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it’s her love for Paul that’s going to have deadly consequences…

They say that you can never be too rich or too thin. (Obviously, taxes and anorexia are two things that They don’t think about.) But what about sex in romance novels? Can there be too much of a good (and, depending on the characters, very good) thing?

Now, I’m a big believer in sex being a healthy part of an adult romantic relationship. (A very healthy part. Be healthy, folks!) And I’m all for characters being intimate, especially in novels where the relationship between the characters is central to the plot. But what doesn’t work for me, as a reader, is gratuitous sex. In other words, sex for sex’s sake rubs me the wrong way. (Ha, ha, ha.)

I have to point out that gratuitous sex doesn’t necessarily mean graphic sex. But especially when the sex is graphic, it has to flow naturally in the book. I don’t want to go two pages, then boom, a sex scene happens that doesn’t move the plot forward.

Craft secret for you: When I’m writing, there are times when I’ll put in brackets “Insert Sex Scene Here” and then come back to it when I’m ready to write a really good, really meaningful intimate scene. (If I’m not ready to write that sex scene, it would probably come out something akin to Tab-A-Into-Slot-B, and while the tab and the slot might enjoy that, I wouldn’t, and I bet readers wouldn’t, either.) But when I’m reading a novel (including my own), I shouldn’t ever think to myself, This is where the author inserted a sex scene. It should be seamless. And it absolutely shouldn’t feel like authors are being Dickensish about it and get paid by the number of times the heroine climaxes.

So then, some questions for you: What’s the boundary between romance and erotic romance? Should there be a boundary at all? Does too much graphic sex squick out readers? Does too much sex, graphic or not, bother readers? What do you like when you’re reading a romance–contemporary, paranormal, historical, whichever subgenre you’d like?

One random commenter will get a signed copy of HELL’S BELLES — which does have quite a bit of sex. Heck, it’s about a demon of lust who becomes a stripper and learns the hard way about true love. But I’d argue that none of it is gratuitous. (It would be if she were a demon of, say, sloth. But then I guess she’d sleep through all the nooky.)

***Leave a comment by September 19th to be in the running to win Jackie’s book. Good Luck!

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