Lesbian romance novels cover a multitude of scenarios, themes, time periods, and galaxies, and the breadth of lesbian fiction widens every day. This is all fantastic news for our genre, and I love the variety of books now available to me as a reader of lesbian fiction. But something occurred to me the other day: for all this variety in context, where is the sexual variety in lesbian romances?
It’s been my experience that, for the most part, love scenes in lesbian romances follow a very tried and tested formula. The women will be lying down, usually on a bed. There will be kissing, obviously, because we all love that. Then there will be caressing with hands, and possibly penetration with fingers. There may also be some oral sex, with one of the characters going down on the other before they—sometimes—reciprocate. The language used is almost chaste, with no direct mention of body parts other than breasts, nipples and the occasional clit.
Don’t get me wrong, if they are written well they can be sexy as hell, without the need to use particular words or phrases that would be more likely to be found in an erotic story. But, it seems to me, in making a clear distinction between romance and erotic romance, a lot of the joy of lesbian sex has been lost in the former. I’m talking about the sheer variety of lesbian sex that two women can share, both in actions and positions. Let’s face it, the list is pretty much endless, so why aren’t those being brought into stories of lesbian romance? Why don’t the women in these stories use the sixty-nine position? Indulge in watching each other masturbate? Flip things round and not automatically go for a face-to-face experience, but instead one partner takes the other from behind? Hands and knees position? Sitting up? Standing against a wall or door? What about bringing toys and some light bondage to the experience?
Somehow, in the classification ‘lesbian romance’, the sex has come to mean vanilla, and whilst vanilla is always yum (oh yes…), there are so many other sexy things we can share, and in a very romantic way. Many readers of lesbian fiction want sex scenes in the books they read, so I wonder how satisfied they are when so many of them are following such a similar and fairly predictable pattern? Notice I don’t use the word boring – the scenes are never boring, no matter how similar they are. Each book is a story about two women who we, as readers, more than likely connect with and want to see find love together. So when they do reach the intimate stage, we’re already caught up in their story enough to be delighted with whatever sex they have. I would just like to see that sex be more varied and challenging to my imagination (and libido).
Given how much two women who are embarking on a relationship do like to explore each other in the bedroom (or any other room, location, venue—again, that list itself is endless!), I feel the market could benefit from something a little more realistic, a little more spiced up. It doesn’t have to be crude, or use language that people would find offensive. It can still be written in an oblique way, to keep the romantic feel of the scene and the novel itself.
As an example, Gerri Hill wrote an excellent sixty-nine scene in ‘Midnight Moon’. Nothing graphic in her choice of language to describe the scene, because she is first and foremost a romance novelist, but oh boy was it sexy. And romantic – Peyton felt totally trusting of Logan in the scene, and the care Logan took to make her feel comfortable was incredibly sweet. Similarly, in ‘All The Little Moments’, G Benson wrote a deliciously sexy and romantic scene that involved Anna and Lane doing it standing up against a door. It’s a quickie, no time to remove clothes, but it, too, is written in a non-graphic way that draws out the intensity of them already being so into each other at this point in their relationship, as well as the physical pleasure they are sharing.
It can be done, and it can be done very well, and, personally speaking, I’d like to see more of it.
A.L. Brooks currently resides in London, although over the years she has lived in places as far afield as Aberdeen and Australia. She has just published her debut book “The Club” with Ylva. If you are near London this week you can visit her book launch this Friday.
I prefer adult sex scenes. I prefer b/f couples. So, I understand you’re argument eben tho the particulars are different.
Hi Gova, and thanks for reading my blog and leaving your comment. So, are you saying that, for you, the same variety is lacking in stories/books featuring b/f couples, or that they lack b/f couples in the first place? I’m curious… 🙂
I´ve read The Club already and there is amongst others a lot of b/f dynamic in nearly all the above mentioned varietys. And a well written story too. So, give it a try. 🙂
Thanks, I’m so glad you liked it!
First of all Ms. Brooks let me just say, loved your book. Thank you for writing it and I hope to see more from you soon. Have to agree with you, somewhere along the way someone must have made up a rule against lesbians being too sexy or playful. Perhaps it is just too anti-feminist, I don’t know but I happen to like a good love scene and a good splash of variety is even better. In reviews people often say that this or that plot is unrealistic. What about how the same sex scenes over and over are unrealistic. This much vanilla I fear would lead to rapid lesbian bed death. No one has that missionary style, billowy curtains, soft music sex all the time. Sure we need a great story or the sex can get overwhelming, but I think the physical connection of the characters is as important as the emotional. So I am for authors adding more spicy bits, and if they are going to make the characters more varied and deep and interesting why not do the same with the sex. Once again great work on your book. Loved all the characters and how real and untidy it was, like life. No neat ending for Kath or Max, just the right now. Can’t wait for your next book, keep up the sexy bits please.
Thanks for reading my book and blog, and for taking the time to comment – I’m delighted you enjoyed both, and that I’m not the only one out there who thinks spicing it all up is a good thing 🙂
ps. And I can guarantee there will always be sexy bits in my books, never fear….
This gave me much to think about, and I thank you. I, of course, immediately thought of all the scenes I have written, and they primarily fall under the vanilla typical of the genre. That said, I wonder what you’d think of my Robyn and Grace in Such Happiness as This. Also, have you read any of the Micky Knight series? She did several scenes of which I think you’d approve. I think Deaths of Jocasta is the one that has the best scene.
Luckily the search for variety is fun!
My wife is reading Kallmaker’s newest, “Captain of Industry” and tsked that I didn’t remember how non-vanilla the sex is. Chagrined!
Thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to comment – I’m delighted it gave you much to think about. And yes, the search for variety is huge amount of fun – I have heard of the Micky Knight series but not read it, so that sounds like it needs to go on my (large) to-read list. And I’ll need to slot yours on too, obviously, and I’ll start with your recommendation of ‘Such Happiness as This’.
*sighs* So many books, so little time…
A few books come to mind that were left off of your list. I wrote a short story published by Ylva a few years ago entitled Landslide that opens with the main characters having anything but vanilla sex https://www.ylva-publishing.com/product/landslide-by-diane-marina/. A favorite of mine, SX Meagher, also has a novel, All That Matters that has a very memorable scene that involves a strap-on and a bathroom vanity.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, Landslide is a great example of some very nice non-vanilla sexy stuff in a romantic story! Thanks for the SX Meagher recommendation, that will also have to go on my ever-expanding list… 🙂
[…] This update is a bit of a blog fest, so let’s kick off with sex because…actually, do I need a reason?! Anyway, no matter what your lesfic genre of choice, the chances are you’ll have read a few sex scenes in your time. New Ylva author AL Brooks has been discussing “vanilla” versus all the other possible flavours of lady lovin’ in a new blog: […]