Recently on Twitter, someone posted a comment like “Reading about protection in a romance novel is so not sexy.” It got this woman to thinking as we live in a somewhat scary time of so many diseases being passed around.
When I started reading romance novels back *coughs* in the 80s, I mostly read historical romances. I don’t even think paranormal was a round, a few sci-fi and contemporary. But I dumped most genres just for historical romances. Using any type of protection was pretty much never mentioned. Yes, some forms of condoms existed but as a rule they weren’t widely available and you just didn’t mention it in the story. That is where a lot of the excitement came in historical romances. Was the dashing rake going to impregnate the damsel in distress with his gigantic cock and extremely strong swimmers? Ok, tongue in cheek, I got a little carried away there, but you get my point. It just wasn’t mentioned except for the “he pulled out and spilled all over her belly.” The 80s were rampant with sexuality and the ever-growing epidemic of AIDS. So getting lost in a historical romance where this wasn’t a big deal had lots of appeal.
Until about 5-6 years ago, I was pretty much a historical only romance reader. Paranormal was making its way into my reading material and even then, you know a vampire can’t reproduce nor impregnate a lady. Yeah, right. But that seems to be the prevalent thinking in paranormal. The men and women are immortal, so they can’t get a disease from sex and may or may not get pregnant. That depends on the interpretation the author wants to throw our way.
But one genre just can’t ignore using some form of protection. Contemporary romance genre. When I read contemporary romance, I expect it to live in the bounds of what is real. So in this reality, we have AIDS, STDs and pregnancy. We also have birth control, condoms, IUDs and more. While most protection will prevent pregnancy, only condoms can prevent the diseases. So as a reader, I expect there to be talk about their sexual habits and what protection they are going to use.
So here we get to the meat of what I wanted to talk about (pun intended). Is talking and/or using protection in a sex scene sexy or gross? To me it is sexy. Why? Because my expectation is they need to live in the real world even if they are make believe. That is the genre I am reading and I expect it. Just do. The wonderful part of a fiction story is you can make it as graphic or as small as you want. “He put on a condom.” OR “He grasped his cock in a firm grip, watching her eyes as he slowly worked the condom over his hard cock.” I am not a writer, but either description works. Now I know neither of these situations really works. It isn’t a just slip it on and go at it, but as an author you don’t need to make it as complicated as it is as long as it feels real.
I recently read a book where there were twins and a lady who met at a bar. They were all college kids. She wanted a wild night and she got it. Not once did she ask them to use condoms, and they didn’t. Not once did the guys ask her if she was on birth control. It was a clusterfuck, pardon my language, of young idiots in an erotic book. That right away turned me off the book.
Reading is made to be a way to escape our world and enjoy someone else’s for a while. So is this a big problem if protection is not used nor talked about? To me yes it is. I expect it. I embrace it. I want it. And I want it to be sexy. I need it to be sexy…because it just isn’t in reality. So yes, maybe in reality it isn’t sexy, but in my stories I expect it to be and want it to be.
So what are your thoughts on this? Do you want to read that your h/h is being responsible or do you want that swept under the rug? Let’s talk about it by commenting below.