Excerpted from
"Sex in the Romance:
A Review of Romantic Encounters of the Close Kind".

(copyright John L. Ferri 1994, jlferri@epix.net)



The Language of Romance

The authors of modern romance novels create a love scene with words and phrases that are traditionally used in their genre. They describe sex organs and sexual activities without the use of anatomically or clinically correct, commonly used, or vulgar language. Romance writing requires suggestive phrasing and subtle wording that allows the reader the freedom to imagine the scene as their own personal production. According to Jean Kent, author of "The Romance Writers' Phrase Book," the language of the romance novel transforms "a cold, factual, report" into "an eager, pulsing, sensuous story that whisks the reader out of this world into a rapturous dream of wondrous love."

Before writing about sex in romance novels, I felt obliged to become familiar with the genres' critics, supporters, authors, readers, and publishers. It seemed like casual sex to write about the industry without first becoming familiar with it. Maybe I'm a romantic at heart, but casual sex, even when I'm only writing about it, never appealed to me. Sex needs emotion. You have to know your partner before you know them intimately. Sex without emotion is like ice-cream without chocolate syrup and crushed peanuts on it - not bad, but missing something vital. (Before I knew my wife, if I received an offer of sex with no emotional involvement, I'd probably accept - but not without the chocolate syrup.)

So I headed to several libraries, many bookstores, and a multi-author autographing session and spent countless hours to become familiar with the industry. Since I was now emotionally involved, I felt that I was ready for the sex. I read hundreds of love scenes and based on these, selected a few dozen novels to read completely. My personal preferences are lots of sex, humor, and vampires. I'm still trying to find a romance novel about a vampire with a sense of humor. It seems that death (or undeath) makes them so somber.

Here, I've organized the wording and phrasing used for the love scenes and, when necessary, further separated the references to various body parts and activities into sub-categories. Since most of the words and phrases used for the love scenes in the romance novels are not unique, no references are given. I've also introduced each section with some commentary, mostly humorous, that is related, sometimes loosely, to the subject of the section. I hope that you agree with my opinions and conclusions, however, if you do, you should be concerned.

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