Give Me Sex or Give me Death

Apologies to Patrick Henry.

Way back—gosh, was it only six months ago?—when I sent off the partial for SCHEMES OF LOVE to Kristin Nelson, I wrote an accompanying cover letter that contained a “one paragraph blurb that summarizes your work and highlights your pitch” that she specified in her request.

Not being shy, I informed Kristin in the cover letter that my romance novel contained the best hook of all: mandatory sex. Yep, in those exact words. The heroine wants a divorce, the hero insists on an heir before he’d allow the divorce to go through. And we’ve got one very hot book.

There is a reason that romances with setups that stipulate mandatory sex—marriages of convenience, girl selling herself to the highest bidder, etc. etc.—remain perennially popular. We are, or at least I am, hardwired to enjoy the frisson we get when we know something steamy is afoot.

And for that very reason, I am usually drawn to write historical romances that take place in what I call a hermetically sealed bedroom. Hero, meet Heroine, meet Four-poster-bed. What do you mean you don’t know what to do? You are married, aren’t you? And even if you aren’t, you’ve signed a deal in blood to boink for three months straight. I have it right here in chapter three, so get on with it. And neither of you are allowed out until your cynical black hearts break a little bit.

I’m sure you see now why I was pulling my hair out over DELICIOUS. No mandatory sex. This couple, for perverse reasons that drive my muse to the opium den, do not need to sleep together. They want to, but they don’t need to, and the reasons against it are legion, and all I’ve got, in my puny armory of writerly devices, is whatever overriding passion I can foment in them.

And then, because I am a charter member of Romance Writers against Deliberate Character Manipulation, I can’t make the heroine run outside during a freezing downpour just so the hero can find her and strip her of her sodden night rail. Or put the hero in a hallucinating high fever, because damn it, she is his cook, not his maid or housekeeper, and she won’t be the one standing by his bedside should he yank someone down on top of himself. And even when I abandon my principles and have her get tipsy, he wouldn’t take advantage of her inebriation. What has the world come to, I ask you?

So what is a writer of reputedly hot romances to do? Write, I guess, and pray, and stake out all the opium dens nearby in case her muse wobbles out, ready to be taken home for some tender loving care.

Stay tuned for irregular future updates in The Mighty Struggle for a Good Shag.

7 thoughts on “Give Me Sex or Give me Death

  1. Interesting stuff. 🙂

    I just recently read and enjoyed a paranormal romance (and I usually don’t read romances). The hero and heroine (and this takes place in the 1700s) can shapeshift into dragons.

    Wait for it…

    But afterwards, when they come back down to Earth (literally), they’re nekkid. Stripped bare, because of the shapeshift.

    That made for some very interesting and hot scenes (esp. one in the last 1/3 of the book…nice!).

    So my suggestion is to have the hero and heroine in DELICIOUS be shapeshifers, so then nobody can accuse you of deus ex machina or manipulating the plot line just to get them in bed.

    Meh. Don’t mind me. I’ve just had lunch, and I actually feel more awake now than earlier this morning when I first got into work, so disregard my weird meanderings. 🙂

    ~JerseyGirl

  2. Wow, what a problem to have! Your post made me laugh out loud. Mandatory sex. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that before. None of my 9 mss. has had mandatory sex in it…

    Hmm, maybe that’s my problem right there!!! (Though I can’t think of a reason why contemporary characters would get roped into mandatory sex that wouldn’t turn the reader off from page 1. Seems like a device that works much better in historicals.)

  3. Bwahahah! Soooo true! {loff!}

    Mandatory sex is hot sex! Anything else is cheap, shallow and gratuitious.

    The hard part is introducing the mandate if it’s not already present.

    Good luck.

  4. LOL! Great post.

    And, oh, man. This is what I need in my current book. (Looks for way to add mandatory sex — demon binding sounds kind of sexy and icky, at the same time.)

    Gah! I should start writing historicals.

  5. Lol, Meljean. Everytime I’m deep into the third act of a pure historical, I think longingly of writing action adventure. Chases. Thrills. Giant meteors!

    Guess grass is really always greener on the other side.