Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

How much sex is too much sex?

The question in the header isn’t actually mine. I borrowed it from a gentleman who attended a talk I gave recently to a local writers’ group. After I’d finished speaking, I invited questions from the floor and dealt with all the usual ones that are asked on these occasions: where do I get my ideas: how long does it take me to write a book: how many books have I written, etc.

I was about to round things up when a middle-aged gentleman at the back of the room stood up. He explained that he had been writing category romances for a number of years but hadn’t succeeded in having a book published yet. After a great deal of thought, he’d realised that his books were lacking a vital ingredient – sex. He was currently addressing the problem but what he needed to know was how much sex was too much sex?

After a lot of laughter, the group settled down to discuss the issue and it was surprising how people’s views varied. There were several writers there who preferred to add the barest minimum of sex scenes to their books, while others admitted that they liked to spice things up. However, nobody could – or would – say exactly how much sex was right or wrong.

When my opinion was sought, I explained that I felt it was up to my characters what happened. After I introduce them at the start of the book, I wait to see where they will lead me. Some books are just naturally more sensual than others because of the way the hero and heroine respond to each other. One thing I never do is to add gratuitous sex scenes to “heat” things up. That doesn’t work for me either as a writer or as a reader. I have to feel that a scene is justified, that it hasn’t been put in purely to titillate. (I must confess that whenever I come across a book like that, I skip over the sex scenes as I find them so boring!)

One of the best things about writing Medical Romances is the fact that there are no restrictions on how much or how little sex we should put in. Most of the other lines have very strict guidelines and the writers have to conform to them, but we Medical Romance authors are allowed a tremendous amount of leeway. It suits me perfectly and I believe it’s one of the reasons why Medical Romances have always been so popular. There’s a Medical Romance to suit your every mood.

The sudden interest in erotica, thanks to a certain series of books, has been in the news lately. Much has been made of the fact that women who would not normally read such books are now openly discussing them. My view is that anything that gets people reading and gives them pleasure is fine but what do you think?

That brings me back to my initial question: How much sex is too much sex? I would love to hear your views.

Jennifer Taylor.

Gina’s Little Secret: available as an ebook from http://www.amazon.co.uk and http://www.millsandboon.co.uk





13 thoughts on “How much sex is too much sex?”

  1. Hi Jennifer!
    Of course when the topic turns to sex I feel the need to chime in! This is a tough question. While I agree with the idea of letting your characters decide the level of heat in a book and that some stories are more sensual than others, I feel that if my readers expect a sexy book from me, I’d better find a way to give it to them! That said, a sex scene for the sake of having one at a certain point in a book does not work for me. There needs to be a realistic build up, well….except for when I wrote a sex scene in a prologue – but I think that worked. As with anything, it’s all in the execution. But I’ll stop reading a book if it’s sex scene after sex scene with no emotion or romance or progression of a relationship.

    I’m excited to see what others think!

    1. Wendy, Hi!
      I totally agree about meeting your readers’ expectations. The key, as you so rightly said, is the build up to the scene. It should fit in with what’s happening at the time and help to bring the couple closer and cement their relationship. It certainly shouldn’t be popped into the story because the writer has reached X number of words!

      As for your prologue, well that’s different. I bet it was a great scene and whetted the readers’ appetites for the rest of the book.

  2. FF here. It all depends on the characters. Some characters get it, and some characters don’t. I read Stephanie Laurens and Betty Neels, so I can deal with range of sexual situations.

    1. I agree, Fake Frenchie. I enjoy books right across the spectrum, from the gentle stories of Betty Neels to ones that are far raunchier. It’s what suits the characters that is important.

  3. Interestingly I was asked if i would go on Radio Scotland and talk about 50 shades and the re- release of Harlequin’s spice books- Twelve Shades of Pleasure.

    I declined, on the basis I hadn’t read 50 shades and don’t read erotica, but then I got to thinking…

    What is erotica? I mean as compared to hot sex scenes? Who decides? Some of my sex scenes are more explicit than others, but some people might find my hottest scenes tame and others my mildest sex scenes too much. If you see what I mean?

    I also thought – how can you have a romance without sex? Isn’t physical lust a necessary part of falling in love? Or being in love? I couldn’t imagine for example being with a man who I didn’t fancy the pants off. (Just as well then that after more than twenty years I still find my husband very sexy- at least mostly- there are exceptions- him snoring on the sofa isn’t his most attractive look.)

    I always tell anyone who asks me if I think if the man they’re with is the man they should be with, that unless there is passion- forget it. No amount of shared hobbies etc will ever make up for that lack.


  4. If you make me care abou your characters ( of which you are master Jennifer Taylor!) then you can have any level of sensuality and I’m all yours. But please if your book is page- turninly sexy, don’t shut the bedroom door on me. I like the pay off!

  5. Anne, I so agree that sex is a vital part of a relationship. And fancying the person you are married to/living with is a given – why bother otherwise? My husband and I were married for 36 years (I was a child bride!) and I still found him the most attractive man I’d ever met!

    Amy, thank you. It’s a thrill to hear that you enjoy my characters. As you so rightly said, if you care about the characters, the level of sensuality isn’t important – you’re just so caught up in their story. I laughed at the thought of your disappointment if the bedroom door closes too soon. Must make sure I never, ever do that!


  6. How much is too much? Good lord, I have no idea. I’ve read some books (not medicals) where the sex didn’t seem to be organic (or orgasmic-lol). Instead the scenes seemed to be superimposed upon the story. Didn’t work for me. I’ve read other stories, sweet romances, that had plenty of spark and sensuality. Hot, or sweet, I want whatever is happening to arise from the characters.

    1. Hi Nan,
      That’s the key, isn’t it? That the sex scenes stem from what’s happening to the characters at that particular moment otherwise they tend to be very pointless and, dare I say it, boring!

  7. Hi Jennifer, sorry to chime in so late – and without being sure of an answer, either. I enjoy books right across the heat spectrum too and I guess that my definition of too much sex is when a sex scene isn’t telling me anything new. Thinking about it that goes for any kind of scene, but it’s the emotionally charged passages (not just sex scenes) which annoy me the most if they’re not adding anything to my understanding of the characters and their respective situations.

  8. Jennifer, I’m chiming in late with Annie! And agreeing with the comments already here – I love a good steamy scene where I really care about the characters! But if I haven’t got swept up in the story and I just feel that it’s a sex scene plonked in to fill space then I can surely leave it!

  9. Hi Annie and Sharon,
    It seems we’re all in accord when it comes to our preferences. We don’t really mind how hot the scene is so long as it’s relevant to the people and their story. I’ve read some great romances where the most passionate thing that happened was a chaste kiss! As our editors so often say, it’s all in the execution, isn’t it?


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