Vikki’s Musings for the day!
Hope everyone had a great weekend, and read an awesome book, or at least started one! I am listening to Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. I am picking up on so much more the second time around. It triggered my desire to write about the difference between a sensual love scene and an erotic one. I will use two such scenes from Ms. Gabaldon’s book to explain what I mean.
Here is a very brief history on one of the couples I am going to use. Denzel Hunter is a Quaker, whose conscience leads him to serve in the Continental Army as a surgeon. Dorthea Gray is the daughter of a duke, raised with all the luxuries money can buy and plenty of pomp and circumstance that only a privileged few enjoy. Because of her deep love for Denzel and her own personal convictions, she chooses to become a Quaker and put aside all that is familiar to her. Obviously this couple has vastly different backgrounds and upbringing, yet they are able to achieve their ‘Happily Ever After’.
For me, a well-written sensual love scene is not as explicit as an erotic one. It deals more with the emotions that the characters are feeling, than what body part goes where. I just listened to the consummation scene between Denzel and Dorthea and found it one the most moving and romantic scenes I have ever read or listened to. Both of them are virgins, which is highly unusual to say the least. Most of the time, practically all the time in fact, the male hero has had a great deal of experience. Only Diana Gabaldon can remove what could be an extremely awkward scene and turn it into one so incredibly moving and emotional that my heart went pitter-patter and my eyes teared up as they explored each other for the first time.
Now for the other couple I have chosen, Ian Murray and Rachel Hunter. Ian is a Scottish warrior and became an adopted member of the Mohawk. He marries a Mohawk woman, but when she is unable to carry his children, she puts him out of her longhouse, ending their marriage. (Side note here: Claire Frazer tells Ian that the reason his Mohawk wife could not carry his child was because their blood was not compatible.) Rachel is Denzel’s sister and also a Quaker. She and Ian fall in love and again another unlikely couple manages to find their HEA.
When Ian, who is very experienced, takes Rachel to his bed for the first time on their wedding night, the love scene is much more graphic and very erotic. It does describe the body parts and what they are doing, yet Ms. Gabaldon again writes a scene so emotionally-charged, it swept me up in much the same way as Dottie and Denzel’s scene had.
To me, whether the love scene is sensual or erotic, there needs to be a balance, allowing me as the reader to become emotionally involved with the characters. I have read erotic romance where the scene is described in very graphic terms, leaving little to the imagination, but the love and passion the characters feel comes across loud and clear. On the flip side, I’ve read erotic scenes that have left me dissatisfied because it is all about the body parts and what they are doing with very little emotion.
Another important ingredient of a well-written love scene is the placement in the story. If the couple is running in fear of their lives with the villain close at hand, that is not the time to have an explosive love scene. As a reader, I am thinking, who in their right mind would have sex at a time like that? Now immediately after they have escaped the villain and are safe, that is a great place for a highly passionate love scene. After a close brush with death, one’s adrenaline is pumping, the heart is pounding and the need to release the built up tension is overwhelming. Now that is a great place to put an emotionally-charged, erotic love scene.
As a reader, I can and do enjoy graphic love scenes if they are emotional. I can also appreciate the sexual tension that is so often in historical romances. The slow build of that tension makes a great reading experience. I can also enjoy an inspirational love story, where the hero and heroine barely kiss. The most important thing for me is an emotionally-charged story. Whether it is an erotic love story or an inspirational one, I want the writer to pull me in, to allow me to experience what the characters are feeling. After all, most people read fiction as a means of escape from the everyday stresses of life. What better way to do that than reading a beautifully-written romantic love story?
I hope you have enjoyed my musings today, and I would love to hear how you feel about this topic. Whether you enjoy sensual or erotic scenes and why you feel that way, my curious mind would like to know. Happy reading!