When to have the first love scene in the novel is a common dilemma for writers, including me. There is a lot of temptation, even pressure from some quarters, to try to hooks readers as quickly as possible. A compelling love scene as early as possible is one way to accomplish that. I have read historical romances where this approach worked very well. In Shanna and The Flame and the Flower, Katherine Woodiwiss has her couple engage in sex within pages of first meeting each other. They then spend the rest of the novel getting to know one another. I’ve also read erotica where the couple was physically addicted to each other and the consequences of that addiction for good or bad is what drives the plot. In the hands of a good writer, these sorts of novels can be a great read.
However, I prefer for the reader to get to know the characters prior to their first physical encounter. I want the reader to be seduced as the characters are being seduced. In the case of The Gift of Surrender, there was also the issue of unfolding the political situation around the characters that threw them together. I want the situation to be as realistic as it can be in a fantasy setting that a reader would believe this pair could be thrown so intimately with each other in the way I’ve set up. But above all, I want the readers to know and like the characters as individuals so that they will root for the relationship.
My husband points out that I also enjoy subverting the typical romance novel. And this is very true. In many ways, the Gift of Surrender is a typical period or fantasy romance. It has the feel of a fairy tale at times. The beautiful Princess falls in love with the handsome prince. There is even an evil queen. But I had to subvert it. Yes, Sarianna is a virgin bride, but she and Nikulainen had been doing almost everything but the Big Deed (yes, it’s the Catholic school girl experience coming into play). On top of their exploiting the virgin loophole, there are the B&D elements to their physical relationship.
So once the couple has engaged in the act or in my case, begun round one of ever increasing foreplay, how often to engage them in carnal activities. As a rule, writers want the pages to get hot often enough to keep the reader interested. However, I really can’t stand formulas (every 25 pages, there must be sex). When a formula like that is imposed on a story, I believe the reader can feel it. Then again, the writer cannot get so wrapped up in dense plot and intrigues that the reason for writing a romance is forgotten. I like the love scenes to feel organic to the story. Before they are wed, Sarianna and Nikulainen seek each other’s physical comfort in response to the stress of their relationship. After they are married, they are addicted to each other and permitted to fully act upon those feelings. They are also strengthening the psychic bond they share after intercourse finally occurs.
So, for me as a writer, love scenes take a while before they happen, but they are frequent once they begin.
If this piques your interest, read the excerpt :
Better yet, buy the book!