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July 19, 2009

Explicit Sex in Books - a Turn Off?

I'm currently reading Eve of Darkness (The Marked: Book 1), by S.J. Day, and enjoying it for the most part. It's a book I received from Curled Up With a Good Book, the site I review books for, so I won't be able to post the review until it's up. Unless the ending is a complete cop-out, though, it's going to get a decent (though not outstanding) review.

This is the first time in a long while (probably since The Queen's Bastard) that I've read a book that has had explicit sex in it. And it's the most explicit sex I've read in a long time even before that.

One question it brings to mind. Does knowing a book have explicit sex make it more or less likely that you'll read it? Or will it turn you off completely, making you avoid it totally despite the fact that the subject matter might be something you're interested in? This particular book is an urban fantasy, where a one-night stand with one of the original brothers gives Evangeline Hollis the "Mark of Cain," causing her to become one of "the Marked," those sinners who have been tasked by Heaven to deal with the demons who walk the earth in a rather final way. They are given superhuman powers to enable them to do this.

But that's beside the point. What are your thoughts? And if you read Romance novels, then I know the way you lean, though I'd still love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I think it depends on how skillfully done the writing about explicit sex is done. I've read some that was downright hilarious (and therefore completely ineffective), and I've read some that was pretty... uh... enjoyable.

    I don't mind it, sometimes I even like it, but if the entire point of the book/story is explicit sex, I'm not a fan.

    Interestingly, I am pretty good friends with Maryjanice Davidson, the author of the _Undead and Unwed_ paranormal romance series (I've known her since we were both in high school). I know that she has mentioned in the past that she doesn't enjoy writing the sex scenes much anymore.

    As uncomfortable as some of the *other* stuff in the _Outlander_ series book is, I think Diana Gabaldon does sex scenes pretty well. But those books are also about a lot more than just sex; the historical and time travel elements are more important, and the characters have life goals further than just getting together and having sex.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Sara!

    This series (or at least, this book, as I have no idea if it will eventually go down the Laurel K. Hamilton route) is definitely about more than just the sex, though it's always just hiding in the shadows a bit.

    You can definitely tell that the author has a history in the romance genre, at least from the prose style.

  3. Hmmmm, should I feel awkward that the first time I comment on your blog it is about sex?!

    I have only read the one LKH book (Guilty Pleasures), and didn't love it as much as everyone claimed I was going to. And then they started complaining about how the series became a vehicle for Anita Blake to have lots and lots of sex, and I was like... no, I don't think I'm interested.

    For what it's worth, every time I've tried participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I've tried to write romances, and those sex scenes are just not very easy to write. At least if you were raised Catholic like I was!

    Next time I comment I will try to make it be on something ELSE!

  4. Nah, don't feel uncomfortable. Sex seems to be the universal constant that everybody has an opinion on. Why do you think I posted about it so quickly! :)

    I can't imagine that writing those types of scenes is easy, especially when you have to write it in the more flowery language. This book certainly didn't pull any punches! It's actually quite graphic. Not that it bothered me TOO much, of course. Like you said, sometimes it's... done well. :)

  5. Incidentally, I just checked out Day's web site, and it looks like she hasn't written any romance books. At least none that she's acknowledging. :)


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