Last Sunday at church the sermon topic was “Sex and Attraction: An Embodied Spirituality.” (I go to a really cool church.) The minister made the point that religion has sometimes, though not always, created this duality of “spirit=divine and therefore good/body=beastly and therefore evil”. A lot of our culture has embraced this duality, along with the implication that what is good must be boring and what is fun must be evil. It ignores the intimate connection between the spiritual and the physical. Love as an abstract concept doesn’t mean much; it needs to be expressed through the physical: smiles, words, loving acts, including sex.
I think most romance authors understand this body-and-soul thing. But I have heard some authors of so-called “sweet” romance imply that their books are about the relationship and that the so-called “hot” books are “only” about sex. I don’t think so. The hottest erotic romances I’ve read are the ones with strong emotions driving the characters. The most moving “sweet” romances I’ve read are those where the author used the power of simple things like a smoldering gaze, the touch of a hand.
An erotic romance I read a few years ago bombed for me. The characters were so generic and the situation so contrived that it felt as silly as Benny Hill. On the other extreme, I’ve read several inspirational romances which were so careful to avoid not only the act of sex, but any hint of sexuality, that it felt unnatural. I don’t need to always read about sex and stories shouldn’t go further than makes sense for the characters and their situation. But if it’s a romance, I want to feel the sexual attraction, even if it’s expressed in subtle ways. If they kiss, let them enjoy it!
The other thing I’ve been ambivalent about is the fade-out, where the h/h start making love and the next thing we know they are smiling at each other over breakfast. I don’t think authors have to make a scene of it every time the hero and heroine make love. But if it’s the first time or at a turning point in their relationship, it feels like I missed something.
Anyway, what do you think? Does the dichotomy of “sweet” vs “hot” ever bother you? How do you feel about fade-outs? Who does “body and soul” best?