In Defence of Dirty Books … by Josephine Myles

Dirty books

Dirty books shouldn’t need defending, should they? However, there’s a certain kind of book I’ve noticed that gets badmouthed everywhere it goes. It’s treated like an uninvited guest who turns up at a formal party looking like a streetwalker, then proceeds to get drunk, foul-mouthed and does a lewd dance on the table top, flashing her skimpy undies. Everyone considers her an embarrassment, but you can guarantee most of them are secretly enjoying the show.

What books am I talking about? I’m talking romantic porn. You know the sort of book: the one where the plot is the thinnest excuse for hanging together a series of sex scenes. Romance readers feel cheated because there’s little in the way of a romantic arc: just two unfeasibly hot men (or whatever gender combination you like) shagging like rabbits at every opportunity. Erotica addicts get annoyed because it isn’t edgy or literary enough, and there’s too much lovey-dovey snuggling for their tastes.

And yet this stuff sells like hot cakes, making all us writers who are aiming for a higher class of erotic romance—the kind where there’s character development and genuinely plotty sex—look on in bewildered envy. Who is buying this stuff? Don’t they know it’s tawdry rubbish? Why would they turn down our gourmet feast for the literary equivalent of a fast food burger? It makes no sense.

Except it does.

I used to be a literary snob. I think it comes with the territory of having a degree in English Literature. For years I looked down on both romance and porn, while secretly devouring them when I had the chance and no one was looking. As an undergraduate I even wrote a paper on Mills and Boon romances, purely so I had the opportunity to sit and read them with a valid excuse: “I’m not doing it for fun. It’s research, honest!”

I still remember the illicit excitement of reading those books, much like I remember the thrill of reading my first genuinely pornographic novel. I was about fourteen when I found a paperback copy of “The Sheik” by Anonymous on a park bench. The plot was a fairly standard—western woman kidnapped and becomes part of the Sheik’s harem, then falls in love with one of the other slaves—but I was hooked. Here was sex on the page. Genuinely dirty, explicit scenes that revelled in the human body and arousal. I read it secretly under the covers with a torch, and it fed my sexual fantasies for years.

Now I own an ereader it’s much easier for me to read trashy books without anyone knowing. I don’t have to admit I’ve read them on Goodreads—no one need know about my deviant tastes. Except I don’t want to hide it anymore like a shameful secret. I want to be open and honest about it:

I read romantic porn, and I’m proud of it.

Dirty book web

I read and enjoy a lot of other kinds of erotica too—romance doesn’t have to figure, but the longer the book, the more I yearn for some kind of romance in the plot, even if it’s between a whole bunch of people—and there are certain publishers out there who are more than happy to cater to my hunger for smut-laden polyamorous romances between more men than you can fit on the cover.

I’m not entirely sure why I like my smut to have hint of romance, but it seems as if many other women feel the same way—and no doubt a fair few men, although female readers do represent the majority of the market for written erotica. I recently spoke to erotica publisher Hazel Cushion (Xcite Books), and she told me that since “that book” exploded all over the marketplace (you know the one: tie on the cover, rhymes with “shifty fades”), her biggest sellers are no longer the more edgy BDSM titles, but it’s the books featuring a romance in amongst all the sex. The new set of erotica readers want something safe, not too challenging, but with copious amounts of explicit sex. And they want all that sex to be between two loving and consensual partners (or more than two, if they’re kinky sods like me).

Without wanting to get mired in that age-old debate about what makes something erotica rather than porn, I’m going for the following definition of porn when I use the term: writing that is designed to arouse the reader, where the plot exists to provide scenarios for sex, and where the characters are pretty much ruled by their sex drives. When I think about it in those terms, I can’t help but wonder if all my novels so far have in fact been porn (although the next one has very little sex in it, which was quite a surprise to me!). Of course, I try to be literary and include themes and a wider world outside the bedroom, but the fact remains I enjoy writing sex scenes, and I enjoy writing highly-sexed characters. It stands to reason that my plots will provide plenty of opportunity for them to get it on, and I’ve never shied away from using explicit language. Indeed, I was rather proud when The Hot Floor came out, and reviewers said it felt like they were “reading porn”. They often said it in a rather surprised way, as in they were expecting erotica and got something rather more filthy. Fine. It is a very dirty book, I’ll admit it, and I definitely wrote it with the intention of arousing the reader. I can’t think of a finer compliment than someone telling me my book has fed their erotic fantasies, but so far I can only think of one review where the reader has actually stated they masturbated while reading.

Why are we still so ashamed of admitting we’re aroused by reading smut? It strikes me that a lot of the snobbish attitude I see directed at dirty books springs from us being uncomfortable with our own sex drives. Instead of looking down on pornographic writing, the feminist in me rejoices in the fact that this is one lucrative part of the porn industry that’s almost entirely in the control of women. The vast majority of writers and publishers of erotica are female, and they’re doing extremely well for themselves out of it. No one gets exploited, and there’s no risk of spreading STDs. Written porn is the ultimate in safe sex, while still giving us the chance to get down and dirty in our imaginations. I want to see an end to this widespread snobbery about dirty books, and I want to celebrate all those books that have nurtured my filthy fantasies.

Yes, even the romantic ones.

Bio:Josephine Myles

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Find Jo at JosephineMyles.com

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

44 comments

  • We bring our own baggage to any book we read. I’m not fussed on sex, personally, which is probably why when reading erotica or erotic romance my mind wanders during sex scenes and I skip pages until I find something like plot again. This is no fault of the writers, it’s just not MY thing. If the book has a fabulous plot and terrific characters doing interesting things between bonking sessions then that’s fantastic, but after a few occasions when I’ve spent $5 on a book and skipped $4 worth of pages I no longer buy erotica or erotic romance. That said, I bought read and adored The Hot Floor. While there was a LOT of scorching sex in it, it was funny, and tender, the boys were so sweet, there were interesting secondary characters, interesting professions, backstory, the lot. It doesn’t pay to generalise.
    As a writer, I’m total pants at writing sex scenes. I’ll put one or more in a story when the time is right for it to happen but writing it is really difficult for me and I think it shows.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Elin! It’s a real buzz to hear that the story worked even for someone who isn’t all that interested in the sex, because there was a lot of sex in there.

      Honestly, I find writing the sex scenes the toughest part of any story. It isn’t that the inspiration isn’t there, but that it’s so hard to put down what’s in my head in a way that doesn’t get repetitive or use cliched phrases and imagery. There are only so many ways to describe the physical actions. That’s why it’s so important to have a strong sense of how the characters are going into it: their emotions and expectations. Gives me more to work with. Still, I find my writing pace slows right down during the smutty bits, and if I wanted to turn out more titles I’d be better off avoiding them!

      I’ve read one of your sex scenes and it was lovely–funny and hot and tender all at once. I wouldn’t have guessed you found it difficult to write!

      Reply
  • “But… I’d like to demand better written sex rather than less sex. Sexuality and kink are perfectly legitimate themes for writers to focus on. I hate to see books with lots of sex being dismissed as worthy of critical attention simply because of that, and this is often the case when those books are also romantic.”

    Oh my goodness, but YES! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Great post, Jo, and a great range of responses 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, Clare! Sex is such an important, fascinating and conflicted part of human life. We have so many different messages coming to us from the media, society and organised religion about how we’re meant to conduct our sex lives, it’s no wonder many people end up secretive, closeted and/or confused. I think that’s why it’s a theme I keep returning to (the other main ones being meaningful work and class conflict).

      Reply
  • I remember Susie Bright saying something along the lines of erotica/romance being like Goldilocks and the Three Bears–some will find the same scenes too pornographic, others will see them as too genteel, and there’s no way to get them “just right” for everybody. I do find myself skimming a lot of sex scenes lately, but that’s more because of what I don’t find compelling in the plot or the characters in the first place. (Like when I saw the movie SHORTBUS, I didn’t like the characters enough as people to be excited at the thought of watching them have sex.) The frankness of THE HOT FLOOR to me didn’t seem dirty, just honest, and that was a lot of its charm for me–three very real, compelling guys (in and out of the bedroom, or kitchen, or bathroom, or…you get the point) trying to navigate very different needs, and their sexual ones would naturally be a big part of that. (I agree with a lot of the entries on your list, by the way, and would also add Damon Suede’s HOT HEAD to any romantic porn shortlist…I’m absolutely blown away by its effectiveness at both levels each time I read it!)

    Reply
    • I read through some of my book by Susie Bright before writing this–she has some really interesting thoughts on what makes something erotica or porn, and I felt inspired by her defence of porn.

      Liking the characters enough to care about them is fundamental for good fiction, but I don’t see why romantic porn can’t create lovable characters too. It’s about their voice and the way they express their vulnarabilities. Although I do like to know a bit more about a character than their sex lives, I’ve still read remarkably effective erotica/porn that manages to get across a huge amount of characterisation just through sex.

      Thank you so much for the kind words about The Hot Floor, and yes, Hot Head was a great read too!

      Reply
  • Sex sells, of that there is no doubt. My problem with ‘dirty’ romances is not that there is sex in them, even though I’m predominantly there for the relationship, if much a of the development of that relationship is done in the bedroom then I would expect sex and lots of it (I’ve just read the first of KA Mitchells Bad in Baltimore books, and had no qualms about the amount of sex in the story). My objection as a reader is when books are sold as romance and then filled with sex scenes that are basically ‘same old, same old’ insert tab A into slot B, 1 finger 2 fingers 3 fingers whoa; scenes that feel like filler to bump up the word count and allow the book to be sold in a higher price bracket. Hot sex is good whatever the genre, bland sex is…well, easily skimmed.

    I have the same issue with too quickly and oft said ‘I love you’s.

    I guess it all comes back to the old adage ‘quality over quantity’.

    And whatever the genre, you, my dear, write quality.

    Reply
    • Hi Lillian! Yes, bland sex is bland sex. You’re right there. If a book is to have lots of sex in it, I want a variety of locations, positions, role-switching, and emotional charge to the scenes. There’s no excuse for having lots of similar scenes–that’s just lazy writing.

      And that’s very sweet of you to say–thank you so much 😀

      Reply
  • Hang on a minute, so you don’t own up to reading dirty books on Goodreads but are commenting on the fact that only one review of the Hot Floor mentions masturbating? ummm…. lol! I also love smut-laden polyamorous romances and actually just last night read one such a book that led to having a bit fun with myself and a recap this morning as I thought about certain scenes on this book. That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about someone you don’t know. but I do agree that romantic porn is vital for keeping up sexual fantasies. have been with the same man 14 years and I find that fantasies are essential to keep the flame going. You need to mix it up even if it is all just in your head!

    It may be true that romantic porn is exploding now but think about how many readers just discovered the genre. As I mentioned above, I feel we eventually build a “resistance” if you will and start skipping sex scenes as they just blend from one to the next. So how many of these new readers will still be there in a year? a lot may burn out of reading a variation of the same scenes day in and day out and go back to looking for the essentials of a good book: a good story, great characters and good writing!

    Now share your list of romantic porn faves ;-D

    Reply
    • Hehe – I didn’t say I wasn’t a hypocrite myself, Mercedes!

      Actually, I have a whole heap of books I’ve read and never put onto GR, mainly because I forget or think I’ll do it later. It’s built up into a file of 120 on my Kindle right now. Arrgh!

      You’re probably right about getting porn fatigue. I’m sure I demand better writing these days, and I certainly wouldn’t want to live on a diet of erotic romance alone. Anything gets to be overkill after a while.

      I would share my faves, but I’m worried other authors will think I’m dissing their writing if I call it porn! In terms of the sex content, though, my favourite m/m erotic romances are these: anything by KA Mitchell (but especially Collision Course), JCP’s Channelling Morpheus, Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan, anything by Ava March (especially His Client), anything by Chris Owen, the Goldilocks books by AM Riley, anything by Anne Tenino, anything by LB Gregg, the Deputy Joe books by James Buchanan, anything by Jaye Valentine and Reno McLeod… err, there are others I’m sure. It’s not that this is a definitive list of my favourite authors, but these are all authors who write sex scenes I find both hot and memorable.

      I’m also a huge fan of James Lear, but I couldn’t call his stuff romantic, particularly.

      Reply
      • Thanks jo!

        I gotta read some JCP, Chris Owen, LB Gregg and James Buchanan. Most are already on my TBR folder as it is. Love Ava, AM Riley, KA Mitchell and more. And yeah, these are NOT romantic porn books, lol

        Reply
  • Hi Josephine, I enjoyed your post! As a reader, I love to read lots of sex, zero sex, and everything in between, with or without any plot. BUT, I have two absolute demands attached to that:
    1) I want to know whether or not to expect a genre romance, with a happy ending (not necessarily HEA, HFN is fine for me); if it’s not and is labeled as such, I will be an unhappy Ally. If it’s not labeled as romance, I will not expect it to be one and I will go in without expectations, barring demand #2…
    2) The writing HAS to be good. Whatever the story is — pure PWP porn, erotica, romance, lit fic, horror, some combination of the above, some new invention — it must be well done or it will not satisfy me as a reader.

    As a writer, I know for a damn fact that sex sells. Older books of mine that I feel aren’t as strong but have more sex still sell more than newer, much better ones with less sex. A recent book got a low review from a reader because it had less sex than she wanted. I’ve had one reader email me three or four times in the past wanting to know how much sex was in my various books (as in, what percentage, because she wanted a fair bit of sex in her books). I’ve flirted with the idea of just banging out a half-assed book with lots and lots of gratuitous smexing in every chapter, just to bring in some more money, but I can’t make myself do it. If a sex scene doesn’t serve the book in my mind, I can’t make myself write it. Sometimes I wish my brain was full of guys whose stories included fucking all the time, Mama needs new shoes! LOL.

    I have a hard time reading BDSM, for a whole shitload of complex reasons, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about The Hot Floor, Josephine, and I’m SO GLAD it’s doing well for you.The gay romance reading community needs strong writers 😀 I hope I’ll get to meet you in person one of these days!

    Reply
    • Hi Ally! I do completely agree with your two demands. I buy most of my porny stories from erotica publishers rather than romance ones, but I do like to know if they classify it as a romance. I need to be prepared for a sad ending–I really hate it when they take me unawares.

      That said, I can enjoy really bad writing for its own sake, sometimes, if I’m in the mood 😀

      It is definitely tougher for the writers who aren’t plagued with oversexed characters wanting you to tell their tale. So far most of mine have been, and it’s been a real surprise to me the times I’ve started writing something, only to discover the character doesn’t want to have sex just yet, thank you very much. I can’t tell you how frustrated I got with the heroes of my next novel!

      I’ll be looking out for you at GayRomLit in October!

      Reply
  • I use to reward myself with a second hand Mills&Boons after I finished an essay for my Eng Lit course! I just about restrained myself from hiding them beneath cushions, so your words amused me enormously. These days I joke about reviewing dirty sexy books…..but not to my mother, I will never evolve enough for that. 😀

    Well written sex is increasingly rare but when I find a writer, like yourself ..oh and Lou Harper who commented above….. who excells at it, I read all they write.

    Great post.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Raine! I agree that Lou writes wonderful sex scenes 😀

      I’m quite tempted to go out and buy some Mills & Boon books tomorrow, but I already have shelves full of unread erotica anthologies so I should probably make headway on them before I spend more money. Tell you what, though: I am very proud of my kitschtastic hot pink Mills & Boon promotional biro. I carry it around with me, ready to whip it out in public whenever the situation demands a pen.

      And yeah, telling your mother about things like this can be just too much. Mine doesn’t know I write BDSM or menage. I think the whole gay thing was enough of a stumbling block for her. She’s bound to find out sooner or later, but I just hope I’m not in the room when she does!

      Reply
  • Some days the writing world reminds me of high school–it’s full of cliques and everyone has someone to snub. Literary fiction turns its nose ate all genre fiction, the various groups of genre fiction blow raspberries at literary fiction but look down at their noses at each other. Fans are practitioners of erotic romance often dismiss erotica as PWP, smut. Meanwhile, the rallying cry in the erotica camp seems to be that erotica is the one true art form, and dismiss all romance as silly fluff.

    Imo, the only important criteria is whether that sex scene is relevant to the story or not. It doesn’t even have to be arousing. I recently read a book that was neither romance, nor erotica, but had a fair amount of sex–none of it particularly hot, but important to the story.

    I enjoy the story, and if the sex fades to black that’s fine with me. I’d rather have that than a clunky sex scene the author clearly didn’t enjoy writing. I also enjoy well written erotic scenes. And another thing: I like sex dirty. It doesn’t have to be transcendent every time, the best sex the protagonists ever had, a union of souls. Sometimes it’s just good, dirty fun.

    Reply
    • Ooh yes, I’d like more dirty sex in erotic romance. There’s absolutely no reason that shouldn’t contribute to the plot and characterisation, as well as being hot into the bargain.

      You’re spot on about the different genres all wanting to look down at each other. I don’t think everyone does it, but some of the most vocal do. Ultimately, I’m all about how good the writing is and you get good and bad in every single genre. I’d far rather read a bad porny romance than a bad litfic book, though. There’s many a time I’ve had to give up on poor litfic when the writer completely forgot to include sympathetic characters or any kind of coherent plot. At least with poorly written porny romance you get a few laughs. Purple prose can be wonderfully entertaining, and anatomically impossible sex always makes me chuckle 😀

      Reply
  • Hi Jo

    Thank you for writing this post as it gives me an opportunity to comment about the trend of “romantic porn” (as you refer to it), dominating M/M romances. I love sex and and I also love reading about it, but not at the expense of and to the exclusion of what are the basics of good writing: engaging characters, an actual plot and great dialogue and prose.

    I have been reading M/M romances for a decade, since the first books from Torquere were released. I moved from het romance to m/m because of the diversity and strength of the characters and the incredible plots and writing. Now it seems that we’re moving in another direction – the same one that het romance had fallen into when I left: for the most part, no plots and wall to wall sex. I realize that the amount of sex in these books is something that most readers seem to want and find desirable. As you indicate in your post, readers are buying these PWP books at an unprecedented rate, and they are flying off the virtual shelves. Is this what we want as readers – the lowest common denominator in our literature? I love sex as much as the next person and I have written many posts where I talked about the different tastes of readers in this genre, but now these same differences are driving some readers away, those who are looking for novels with coherent plots that keep them up all night because they are so well written and have engaging characters but do not focus so much on sex. As an aside, I’m sure that most M/M authors think they write dynamite sex scenes 🙂 but I hate to burst their bubble – many of these scenes (not yours) 🙂 are pedestrian and boring and I skip a lot of the sex in these books. But maybe I’m an anomaly. 😀

    I know that M/M is, for the most part, erotic romance but what about those wonderful authors like Tamara Allen whose books are not selling because there’s little or no sex in their books and readers refuse to buy them in numbers that would encourage her and authors like her to continue writing for this genre? Tamara’s characters are wonderfully crafted and her books have actual plots, but do readers care? Seems not, and many authors like her are getting out of M/M which is a huge loss because all we would be left with is “romantic porn”. Of course there’s nothing wrong with romantic porn, but if that’s all we’ re going to get in the future, readers like me who are looking for books with complex characters, great dialogue, actual plots and everything that makes reading so pleasurable will leave M/M and go elsewhere. There must be other elements in a book in addition to the sex to interest me – K.A. Mitchell’s books are an example, incredibly hot and exciting sex but there’s a lot of content to satisfy me and I think I’m a pretty discerning reader.

    We can all get free porn on the internet so we don’t need to buy it when it pretends to be M/M romances. Many publishers and authors complain about the ghettoizing of M/M because all books in this genre are currently rated as erotica/porn. The direction in which things are going will only stiffen the resolve of the re-sellers.

    Reply
    • Hi Wave. Thanks for letting me blog here today!

      Excellent points, and you probably already know that I do agree with you on many of them. Yes, of course I like books to be well-written with engaging characters, and I’d hate to have plotty books disappear because they weren’t financially viable to write.

      But… I’d like to demand better written sex rather than less sex. Sexuality and kink are perfectly legitimate themes for writers to focus on. I hate to see books with lots of sex being dismissed as worthy of critical attention simply because of that, and this is often the case when those books are also romantic.

      I’m not intending to have a dig at anyone reviewing or commenting here, but making a more general observation about the attitude towards sex in our wider culture. We are voracious consumers of erotic media, but we don’t tend to acknowledge it in public. It’s treated as an embarrassment, and I think that’s a real shame.

      Reply
      • I hate to see books with lots of sex being dismissed as worthy of critical attention simply because of that, and this is often the case when those books are also romantic.

        The example I gave of the kind of author who writes sex well is K.A. Mitchell whose books I enjoy. There’s no doubt that her books teem with sex but she is one of my auto buy authors and I have rated most of her books as 5 stars because she is a wonderful writer. 🙂 So I’m definitely not against sex, or lots of it, as long as it’s well written and has all the elements that make for a good book. As for PWP, I have read many “shorts” that are wall to wall sex that I have enjoyed but I don’t want this as a steady diet.

        You’ll never hear me looking down on sex in books generally – I love it too much – but try to give me a story to go along with the sex. 🙂

        Reply
        • I love K.A. Mitchell’s work too and she’s a real inspiration to me as a writer–she certainly knows how to write sex that is not only incredibly hot, but that moves the story along too. I’ve just started reading Bad Attitude and really want to get back to it!

          Reply
    • I love Tamara’s books and have read all of her books! I really hope she is not leaving the genre because I will miss her but I also would read other books she puts out.
      I enjoy as much sex off page and also well written sex scenes and yes that means I also do a lot of page skipping. I think as readers we eventually become desensitized to sex scenes or well at least I have which is why now I enjoy reading more and more books without a lot of sex in them. But I also do enjoy my smutt, so there’s a bit for everyone I think.

      Reply
      • I’ve only read one Tamara Allen so far, but I must get more. She’s an incredibly talented writer.

        Historical never sells as well as contemporary in this genre, though. Combine that with a low heat level, and you’re never going to hit the bestseller lists. It’s just an unfortunate truth for those who love reading and writing them.

        Reply
        • That’s reassuring, my latest project is a historical with little to no sex. Makes me wonder why I’m bothering, except I want this story to be told 🙂

          And I was aware of this fact before I started, and I still chose to write it. In fact I’d say 50% of the notes in my ideas file are for historicals. 😮

          Reply
  • Hi Jo, I must say I am very surprised by your post – as you say books with a lot of sex are selling like hot cakes. I always feel that the books on another end of spectrum are the books that need defending. And defending is probably the wrong words, I should say if I was otherwise happy with the book where sex is fading to black, I always wished more readers for such a book. My favorite mm author writes books like that and I always wonder whether the fact that she does not put a lot of sex in her books is the main reason her books are not climbing the tops of the charts, because surely excellent plot, great characters and romantic chemistry are all there.

    But as you know I also love your books, I think you are selling yourself short, because while you write excellent sex scenes, you also more often than not you write fantastic characters IMO. I ended up not rereading “Hot floor” (even though I liked it when I read it), but I lost count how many times I have reread your last book.

    Re: reading books for arousal – I think it is awesome, I mean I have read PWP stories in the past and certainly will go and pick up one when this is what I want, but for pure sexual enjoyment I usually stick with short/er stories, snobbish or not – I read novels for more than that. I am happy to enjoy sex scene/s in the novel as well, but if I do not enjoy characters and plot which got me there – I am not happy.

    But again, after all the online conversations and discussions I have a very strong impression that I am in the small authority and I am REALLY not sure whom the books with a lot of sex need defending from 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Sirius! I think you’re right, and both extremes need someone to speak up for them from time to time. It’s a real shame if books don’t sell because there isn’t any sex at all, as not all writers feel comfortable with including it.

      As you say, dirty books sell well so they probably don’t need me to stand up for them. However, I have noticed many comments in reviews, comments on reviews, etc, where readers complain that a romance has too much sex in it. I totally understand that lots of sex isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste (and if not well written it can get extremely repetitive), but I don’t like to see erotica being looked down on in the same way that romance is looked down on by the mainstream.

      It’s more about respect. We might not all like dirty books or want to read them, but I get annoyed when they’re treated like an embarrassment, or in some way less worthy than “proper” romances–whatever those are.

      Oh, and I’m with you on the short stories. That’s why so many of the books in my photo are anthologies!

      Reply
      • I think to me it ultimately comes down to this – I want to get to know the character as a multilayered human being after I am done with the story. Even if the story concentrates around the character finding love – I want to get to know him and I want to know more than just who he is sexually and what he wants sexually. Unless it is a short PWP story, if all I know about the character is how he expresses himself sexually I will complain and complain loudly. I respect if other readers who are not interested in more, but I am just one reader and I am usually bored silly with long books like that. I find them ultimately unsatisfying.

        Reply
        • Oh yes, I agree with you. I expect the character to come across clearly within the sex scenes, and in a longer book you need to see something outside of the sex or it gets boring pretty quickly. A good writer can get all this across even in a sex-fuelled plotline, though.

          Ultimately, I’m more interested in how a character acts in the bedroom (alleyway, shower, etc) if I’ve seen something of them outside of that situation. Even the porniest of short erotica stories usually manage to give some kind of set up that lets us know something more about the character’s background, so that we can actually care about what they’re doing sexually.

          I suppose what I’m trying to say is that porny romances really don’t have to be badly written, and that the word “porn” doesn’t have be used in a derogatory way. There’s some really good stuff out there!

          Reply

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