Gratuitous Sex, what does it mean to you?


Perceptions are a funny thing. Just look at erotica. Some people believe erotica is different from pornography, while others insist they are basically the same thing, with erotica having a bit more storyline to conceal the carnal nature of the tale.

And then there is that term I loath, “clean romance” – for readers who prefer their romance stories basically sex-free. I hate the term because it implies there is something dirty about sex, and I believe sex is a natural and beautiful part of life.

When I created my Sensual Romance Series I wanted to give my readers a heads up on what to expect. I wasn’t going for erotic romance, yet neither was I writing “clean” romance. Until I actually write the story, I never know for certain how much sex – or how detailed the scenes will be, because I’m not a formula writer and I try to write for the story, not to a generic blueprint.

Unfortunately, there are readers who expect more heat, and I’ve had a number of reviewers refer to While Snowbound as a sweet, clean romance. While there were a few sex scenes they weren’t explicit. I’m sorry if the sensual was interpreted for erotic and misled some readers.

And then we have Coulson’s Secret, the fourth book in my Coulson Series. I’ve been rather shocked at some of the comments by reviewers who were offended by the language, and sex scenes in the book. I’ve always considered Coulson’s Secret to be the tamest of all my Coulson books – and I never considered the series to be erotica.

One reviewer didn’t like the gratuitous sex. I wanted to ask that reviewer, do you know what gratuitous sex is? The scenes in that book were not graphic, in my opinion, and I imagine if my romance readers, instead of mystery readers (it is a mystery romance) was leaving a review, they would call the scenes tame.

As for what gratuitous sex means – it means unnecessary – and those scenes were necessary to tell the story. Delete those scenes, and the entire storyline changes.

Another complaint – the language – notably the “F-bombs” yet one reviewer also complained about “damn.” I understand some readers don’t want to read any words or scenes they consider obscene. That is fine. Yet, they probably shouldn’t read my books.

Some people want to read stories where the main characters set an example. Those characters don’t curse or have sex outside of marriage. While it is acceptable for characters in the story to do something dastardly, like murder, those readers don’t want to hear the killer use profanity.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not insinuating there is anything wrong with a reader seeking a G-rating. From my perspective it is no different than a reader preferring to read science fiction over romance, or non-fiction over fiction. We all have our personal preferences.

I write what I term realistic fiction. I  create three dimensional, flawed characters – who have both good and bad qualities. Sometimes they curse, and sometimes they have sex when they shouldn’t. After all, they are only human.

2 comments on “Gratuitous Sex, what does it mean to you?

  1. Anna

    I really hated that you felt compelled to neutralize both the sex and language by qualifying people as being flawed. We continue to relegate sex to that place ‘nice’ people don’t speak of. I think we’re more Puritan than we were a couple centuries ago.

    1. Anna J. McIntyre

      I think you misunderstood what I was saying.

      As a flawed human being, we often make bad choices. That bad choice may be opening a restaurant or having sex with a particular person. It doesn’t mean opening a restaurant is a bad thing, no more than having sex is bad—it just means, in that particular instance, it was a bad choice for that person.

      In my Anna J. McIntyre books, I try to portray the characters as real people with flaws. I also try to depict people doing real things: such as having sex and using colorful language. Having sex and making bad choices are not mutually exclusive.

      And if you re-read the post, you’ll see where I mentioned how I loathe the term “clean romance” which implies there is something dirty about sex. I definitely do not believe that. Yet, as a writer, I understand readers seek out genres with varying degrees of sexuality for their personal reading preferences.

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