For those of you who know what I write, it won’t be a surprise to know that I like my books sexy. But it’s not essential.
Recently I read two books that were kisses-only by one author I already know I like, namely, Trish Wylie’s His L.A. Cinderella and Kate Hewitt’s The Sheikh’s Love Child (both recent releases). I’m a huge fan of Trish Wylie who is doing her best to bring the Harlequin lines up to date, trying to disperse the tycoon/mistress image that is dragging the image of the Presents/Modern line back forty years or more. (Btw, Harlequin, I get the books DESPITE the titles, not because of them – more later, on that, maybe).
The Wylie was a delightful read, charming with characters you can like and believe. The heroine abandoned her career as a scriptwriter when the first film she wrote with her partner and lover bombed at the box office. He carried on and found success, she went on to teach and they separated. He brings her back to write a sequel to what turned out to be a sleeper, and they fall in love all over again. I really enjoyed it.
Kate Hewitt is a new writer to me and while the book isn’t without its faults – it’s one of the rugby books, and as a rugby fan, they make me squirm – it worked. I nearly stopped reading at the first chapter, when the whiney hero feels so sorry for himself I wanted to slap him silly, but I did like the heroine when I read her, and as it turned out, the hero did have a reason to be so miserable. This has a secret baby theme, but I went past it, and while there were some inconsistencies, the central characters were strong and well-defined.
But for me, at any rate, there was a big hole in the middle of each book. No sex. No, I’m not shallow, I honestly believe that sex is a very important part of any adult romantic relationship. It needs to work in bed. You can have love without sex, you can have sex without love, but in the kind of relationship described in romance novels, sex is essential. I don’t even need it described in great detail.
It was entirely absent in the Wylie book, and while I could understand why she kept pushing him away, in the end it became a little TSTL and even tiresome. With the Hewitt, there was a consummated relationship, but it was in a kind of “oh well, we got that bit over with” way, although the sexual tension throughout the book was well described. I wanted to know why and how.
For a woman, sex changes everything, one way or the other and it does for many men, too. Good or bad, it’s an important part of the relationship. From getting down and dirty with each other, to the pillow talk, to the necessary intimacies that make a relationship real, I missed it in these books. It was like eating the icing without the cake.
In these books I loved the way the couples rebuilt their relationships, but I wanted more, even if it was just a “reconnecting in that way made all the difference” kind of vague description. Sex is there, it’s the elephant in the room, and when the epublishers finally opened the door and examined that part of it, it opened romance to a new world and a new sensibility. Authors could finally examine in detail that central part of a relationship, what is right about it, and what is wrong.
One of the most important parts of the best books about BDSM describe how one person finds fulfillment through a particular kind of sex, novels by the likes of Joey W. Hill and Doreen Orsini and in so doing, find the person who can help him or her achieve it. It’s about souls connecting as well as bodies, and I think that was what I missed in these two books.