My First Time

Now this was weird ~ I rarely read HuffPo because their format drives me nuts, but I followed a link or three and ended up at this sex scene article (shocker!). It  was about the first sex scene that romance writers remember reading ~ and the first one listed was The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. This was, amazingly enough, my first romance novel sex scene. Note that I qualify this, as I’d read plenty of sex before that, but none of it was as romantic as Captain Brandon having his men go out and get him a hooker, come back with Heather by mistake, and then once she’s in his cabin … well, I’m not sure what happened anymore. I was 14 when I read it (and liked it) and people are now calling that sex scene a rape. I guess it was.

Or was it? Brandon thought she was a quiet, shy hooker. He had no intention of raping anyone. She was too scared to speak up. I don’t know. In any case, it all worked out, as things do. In romance novels. Sorry for the spoiler if you wanted to be surprised.

Moving on. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught is mentioned next, and would you believe I’ve read that too? I bet you do believe it. I barely remember this novel though. McNaught’s characters and um plots tend to meld together in my mind. I enjoyed the books while I read them, and there were plenty of good sex scenes, but they don’t stay with me the way others do. What do I remember from AH? A scene where Elizabeth is testifying on Ian’s behalf in front of the House of Lords saying “he has no peers.” That’s pretty much it.

McNaught is hugely successful so far be it for me to say she has a problem, but I’m going to anyway. She comes up with these totally contrived situations based on misunderstandings of words and half-glimpses of scenes. “They” tell you not to do this, which only shows you that it’s possible to break the rules and sell a zillion books, yet … why not write better ones regardless? It’s fine to have your characters jump to a conclusion because of fear or jealousy, that’s a standard device, but it has to be earned by what’s already happened and who they are. In Whitney, My Love, there was no plot whatsoever, just misunderstandings one after another, and the protagonists stomping off in a huff, only to make up pages later. Ridiculous. But it was a bestseller.

Back to HuffPo ~ there was a sex scene in Jane Eyre? LOL.

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3 responses to “My First Time

  1. In romance novels.
    I can’t claim to have learned much as I’ve gone through life, but for sure that one thing, that romances and stuff like that are not supposed to work out. If they do, it’s just temporary, or some sort of glitch.

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  2. I’m stretching my memory here. It was a book my mother was reading, and I, a preteen? Teen? Picked it up and started reading it. I probably got to the sex scene before she did, else maybe she’d have tucked the book away from my eyes. Then again, maybe not. Mom was never hung up about sex or protecting me from brushing up against the fact that people have sex. I knew the basics of sex and childbirth by the time I was 4.

    Anyway. I think it was something called “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” or somesuch. It was a western romance kind of thing. The gunslinger or marshall or whatever the guy was took the woman right there, her long coltish legs doing what long coltish legs do and my youthful nether regions welled up right then and there!

    Oh! The rape scene in “Gone With The Wind” when Rhett was a little bit commanding with his wife, Scarlet. That got me moist, too.

    (NB: just now googled the cat dancing thing. I guess it was Burt Reynolds movie, too. That’s probably why mom had the novel. She adored Reynolds.)

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  3. Or was it? Brandon thought she was a quiet, shy hooker. He had no intention of raping anyone. She was too scared to speak up. I don’t know.

    I distinctly recall her struggling and trying to get away, which puts it firmly in the rape category to me, but even if you consider it a gray area, I think what most people object to in that one is more the sex that came immediately after that. At that point he knew about the screwup (see what I did there?) but decided ah fuckit, she’s still hot so I’ll just force her to by my mistress. The next time they did it was about as clearly rape as rape can be. It’s been many years and I can’t be arsed to look it up, but it’s my recollection that it was an uncomfortable scene to read.

    I think I read all of Judith McNaught’s historicals back in the day, but damned if I can remember the plots or heroes/heroines of a single one. Woodiwiss is a terrible writer and Brandon is a not-romantic not-heroic rapist, but at least I remember him. Perhaps the biggest crime in a romantic hero is being forgettable, no?

    There’s a scene in Jane Eyre where they’re alone in his room after she saves him from the fire and nothing happens of course but still… so much sexier than any explicit sex scene ever.

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