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

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


The love scenes of modern Romance novels are the subject of this book because of the intimate and popular nature of the topic. I originally thought that the written description of the sex act would be somewhat limited and repetitious, and that it would become boring rather quickly. However, I found most of the descriptions to be interesting, usually exciting, and occasionally educational, especially in some of the more creative passages and scenes.

Where sex is concerned, you can either watch it (movies, videos, voyeurism), do it (alone, not alone), or read about it (books, magazines). Watching it has limitations typical of the visual presentation of material interpreted through others - usually a producer, a director, and performers. Even with brilliantly written material, the producer has his ideas, the director has her ideas, and the performers have their ideas, and each may have talent very much different from their intentions. The performers are also subject to physical limitations and can only perform so many times in completely uncomfortable and unnatural positions with any semblance of enthusiasm. This may change if Industrial Light and Magic starts doing special effects for the X-rated movie industry, but budgetary constraints prohibit this any time soon. (If they can bring back dinosaurs, then they can bring back John Holmes.) Between the viewer and the creator are interpretations that may or may not coincide with the ideas and fantasies of the viewer. Generally, even in the mainstream movie industry, the movie is not as good as the book.

As for the "doing" part, this is the ultimate goal. Not in the sense that the only reason males and females interact is to jump each other's bones, but because we evolved to reproduce and propagate the species. The most effective incentive to insure that that gets done is to make it pleasurable. Nature and evolution have done an outstanding job here because the human species is rapidly filling up the planet. How long that will continue has been and will continue to be the subject of many books and motion pictures.

There are also limitations with the "doing" part. First, you have to be willing and you need a partner who is also willing, unless you're in the "alone" mood, and even then you have to be willing. (Sex with an unwilling partner is not sex but violence, regardless of the biological similarity of the act.) If you have unwilling sex when you're alone, you have a serious problem and should seek medical help immediately. Given that the couple is willing, I assume that they also either love or like each other, lust after each other, or have at least known each other for the better part of an evening.

After the "willing", comes able (no pun intended). The partners must be physically and emotionally capable of consummating the relationship. As someone said, "When sex is good, it's beautiful, but when it's bad, it's still pretty good." Even after an assumed award winning performance on your part, you're never really sure how you rated with your partner. It's perfectly proper to ask, but it better be more tactful than a nudge to the shoulder with a "Not bad, Huh."

Sometimes it's obvious, for instance if the house moves off its foundation, or the neighbors call the police because they thought someone was being murdered. Score sheets would be effective but may be considered slightly tacky, although if they ever do become popular, I recommend using the scoring system devised for this review. No royalties or fees are required, except that a copy of the score be sent to me for documentation purposes only. Typically, the expectations of the performance probably greatly exceeded the actual performance. I don't want to discourage anyone, but sex is easy - great sex is hard work (again, no pun intended).

Then there are AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, irate spouses, pregnancy, etc. It's enough to make you want to consider celibacy.

Which brings us to written sex. The plot is conceived (honest, no pun intended) in the author's mind, with the only limitations being imagination and creativity. The words are put to paper (or word processor), limited not only by imagination and creativity, but also by talent and literary style. These may seem like immense obstacles, but consider that anything is possible. ANYTHING. There are no limits - physical, emotional, or otherwise. The scene is written exactly as intended by its creator, and directly interpreted by the reader. No producers, no directors, and no actors are involved to alter the intentions of the author with other interpretations. The transfer is from the mind of the creator to the mind of the consumer, and moves to other organs from there. The effects depend entirely on the talents of the author and the imagination of the reader.

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