Guest Post - Author RC Matthews

Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014 12:01 AM

Sexy Time: How Much Is Enough in Romance Novels?

Many publishers of romance have come up with creative ways to designate the amount of sexual content within the books they offer. My debut contemporary romance novel, Little White Lies, was published by Crimson Romance on March 24, 2014 and is designated as being “Sensual”. The other potential categories include “Behind Closed Doors” and “Spicy”.

While writing Little White Lies, I struggled with how much sexy time to include in the story and how explicit the sex scenes should be. Part of the reason I struggled is that every reader is different. Some readers prefer euphemisms to describe what all of the essential body parts are doing during the act, while others prefer explicit and hard core terminology. Yet another group of readers would rather leave the sex to their own imagination.

So how much sex is the right amount of sex in a romance novel and how explicit should it be? In the end, I realized that I will never be able to please every single reader. It’s simply impossible. You want proof? Check out reviews for my second romance novel, Date Night. One reader rated the book four stars and withheld one star because there wasn’t enough sex in the book. Whereas another reader rated the book three stars because there was too much explicit sex in the book. Go figure! So instead of worrying over how much sex to include in my books or how explicit that sex should be, I focus on the story line and the romance and let the characters dictate how much sex is the right amount for the story.

In Little White Lies, the first sex scene is long and hot and explicit – which is essential to the story because the heroine is having her first fling ever and she learns that sex can be mind-blowing with anyone as long as you’re physically attracted. The second sex scene is also long but the descriptions are softer and the pace is slower which gives the heroine the impression of making love. This was intentional as it is a reflection of the development of her relationship with the hero beyond just physical attraction. The rest of the sex scenes in the book are shorter and euphemistic because the sex wasn’t necessary in moving the story along.

Contrast this with my third romance novel, Fair Game, which doesn’t go beyond kissing. The hero and heroine start off in an adversarial relationship. So it didn’t make sense that they would be jumping in the sack together. The heroine is trying to resist the hero for most of the story so sexy time didn’t make sense in the middle either. The story ends with the pair falling in love and ready to do the dirty deed, but I leave it to the imagination of the reader because the sex wasn’t essential to the story line and the hero and heroine had already reached their happily ever after.

And when it came to my most recent romance novel, Begin Again, the sex scenes were downright funny albeit explicit. The hero was a waiter at a male strip club and met the heroine while she was at the establishment for a bachelorette party. She received a bag full of silly party favors – like a glow in the dark body paint and condoms. How could I not let them use them? 

So how much sexy time is enough in a romance novel? I can’t answer that question. Instead, I let the characters in my novels make that decision and then the readers can go along for the ride – or shut their eyes, if they prefer.

Amazon Author Page:
Book Purchase Links: (* US, UK, etc.)
Loren Mathis


  1. This is an excellent post, RC! I think that for romance writers, determining how much physical intimacy to display between characters is a tricky. I agree that instead of determining a set number of "sex scenes" writers should focus on whether the intimate moment makes sense to the progression of the plot.


  2. Thanks Loren! I'm glad you enjoyed this topic. The more books I write, the more I strongly agree with the concept that the sex scenes should be a natural progression in the relationship of the characters and progression of the plot. I've read too many books lately filled with sex but it didn't move the story forward. That can get tedious reading.


I love to hear your comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright © 2013-2014 Loren Mathis Books
Template by Hopeless Romantics
Subtle Patterns (Subtle Patterns) / CC BY-SA 3.0