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Author Topic: Question for romance readers/authors  (Read 2152 times)  

Offline taliwrites

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Question for romance readers/authors
« on: August 06, 2017, 01:08:30 PM »
I have a question for romance readers and authors. The heroine in my mafia romance WIP marries the hero, but they're actually enemies, don't know each other, and the only reason they married is the deal they made. The heroine has some sort of a relationship with another man, but it's just sexual, she doesn't have feelings for him, and he's her right-hand man.

Now my question is, should I avoid showing a sex scene between the heroine and another man? I planned to show it so people would see the real nature of their relationship, but then I remembered some readers don't like when other people are involved, especially when it comes to sex. If the heroine actually liked the hero from the beginning, I wouldn't even think about including something like that, but she doesn't, and I'd love to show just how different what she has with that man is from what she later has with the hero, but I don't want to upset a lot of people. I'm definitely against any sex scenes with other people once the heroine falls for the hero (unless it's a different kind of a book  ;) ), but what about before? She thinks the hero is good-looking, but she hates him because of who his family is until she gets to know him better.

What do you guys think about this?

Offline Watermelon

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2017, 02:26:31 PM »
If your book is a menage type book, then fine.  If you are writing straight up romance between a man and a woman, ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I'm speaking as a romance reader since I have no published books.  Why would I want to read about sex between the heroine and another man who is not the hero?  As a romance reader, that would really turn me off to the heroine. Maybe that would be okay in erotica (and not romance) but I'm not an erotical reader so wouldn't be able to tell you. 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 02:31:23 PM by Watermelon »

Offline Michele_Mills

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 02:44:17 PM »
You're writing a marriage of convenience trope and you want to show the h having another man as her boyfriend at the beginning and her having on page sex with him? Hmm. To be truthful, most readers will have a heart attack over this and not read your books ever again. You'll be talked about in tones of horror on "no cheating" FB reader groups where readers will warn each other to stay away from your books. But, on the other hand there are readers out there who don't mind this, where there is on page sex that H/h have with OW/OM (other woman, other man). Madeline Sheehan is a good example, she has a MC Club series that did well and whoo, lots of on page OW/OM sex. So, you'd just have to decide going in if you want to risk turning away a certain group of readers, or bring in the readers who will think like you, that it's not a big deal. But one thing to think of- the group of readers who will be turned off my the on page OM sex will be WAY BIGGER than the group that will enjoy it.

But, your question is- if you discarded the on page sex, can you still have the h have a boyfriend at the beginning during the beginning stages of her marriage of convenience, in order to illustrate the difference for the h between that relationship and the budding one between the H? I'd say yes, as long as you show that her relationship with her boyfriend is already rocky when the book starts. They haven't had sex in awhile. They don't live together, or if they do, it's really cold now- they don't even see each other much. He's cheating on her. And she breaks up with him by midway through. I've read other romances use this and have it totally work for readers.:)
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Offline KathyWren

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 02:50:10 PM »
As a reader, having a sex scene with someone who's not the hero would totally turn me off.  I've run into that before, and usually it makes me get more invested in the doomed relationship than I am in the supposedly happy one.  Shallow as it is, the first relationship I root for usually sticks with me. 

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2017, 02:52:18 PM »
As a reader, yes, go for it. I love love triangles and prefer them when the heroine is banging both of 'em. Even if it's actual cheating.

As an author, don't do it! You're really limiting your readership with that decision.

Offline MmmmmPie

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2017, 02:53:22 PM »
My gut feeling is that I wouldn't do it. If he's her right-hand man, she should have some sort of respect for him. Sex without feeling doesn't really reflect positively on her, and might disturb your readership, especially if you actually show her getting it on with some dude who isn't the hero.

That's just my opinion though.  Good luck in whichever route you choose!

Offline readingril

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2017, 04:13:47 PM »
I don't like infidelity, even in a marriage of convenience and it would be deal breaker for me for future books.

Offline taliwrites

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2017, 05:01:34 PM »
Thanks, everyone! It's not a menage book, and the other man isn't the heroine's boyfriend. He just filled in the position of her right-hand man after his father died, and the heroine has sex with him as a sort of friends with benefits thing, since dating someone outside her circle would be too dangerous anyway.

I thought that showing this wouldn't be upsetting since the hero and the heroine haven't fallen for each other yet, and that it would be interesting to be able to compare and see how the heroine's interaction with the hero is different, but if it upsets too many people, then I'll have to avoid that sex scene. There will be plenty of other scenes that might chase some readers away, so I dont need any more.

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2017, 05:12:53 PM »
I think at the point where they enter into the marriage of convenience, the main focus of the story should be those two going at each other like snarling dogs and you show them gradually getting into each other. Adding stuff on the side takes away from the fun stuff you could have the main characters doing which is your final payoff. I really adore hate to lover tropes and would be annoyed at the sidetracking going on with the other guy. Besides, it's more fun to cut the other guy off and make you feel sympathy for him to where you want to read his story next.


Offline telracs

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2017, 05:33:56 PM »
your description is not ticking my definition of Romance, which has certain requirements.  Primary is a HEA or HFN (happily ever after or happily for now) between your hero and your heroine.  If her ex is the Hero and she ends up with him, then I wouldn't mind sex between them, but no sex between her and the husband.  if the husband is the hero, no sex with the ex....


Online Rosie A.

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2017, 06:12:39 PM »
Hello, Tali. Marriage of convenience is a hot trope in romance. Honestly, it sounds even more interesting given your mafia story! However, I agree with the others here to please not include her having sex with anyone else. If her previous relationship is important to the plot somehow, then showing her detangling from this man in order to go into her marriage pure (or off to a good start, rather) would be preferable. Readers want to feel close to your heroes and, dare I say, become them during the span of the book. To throw her into such a mess would make a whole mess of things.

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Offline HSh

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2017, 06:54:40 PM »
Barbara Cartland rules still apply for most straight romance.  Doesn't matter how many people the Bad Boy HeroTM [expletive]s.  But the heroine better be virginal and innocent.   ::) 

I thought that showing this wouldn't be upsetting since the hero and the heroine haven't fallen for each other yet, and that it would be interesting to be able to compare and see how the heroine's interaction with the hero is different, but if it upsets too many people, then I'll have to avoid that sex scene. There will be plenty of other scenes that might chase some readers away, so I dont need any more.

In gay romance, you could probably get away with that.  Though some readers and authors would still shy away, to be honest, or not want to read a descriptive scene between a non end-game couple.  But it could work, it has worked, and IDK, probably it's worked in F/M as well.  Somewhere.

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Offline taliwrites

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 07:02:14 PM »
Just to be clear, I'm talking about the beginning of the book. The hero and the heroine will definitely end up together, so that's not in question. However, their marriage deal isn't planned. The heroine comes up with it right before she's supposed to kill the hero. It's also a moment when a lot of emotions she's been holding in for years surface and she's not thinking clearly (don't tell her I said this ;) ). Since she still hates the hero and has no intention of ever consummating their marriage, I don't think she'd immediately forget about the other guy or pretend she was never with him. The hero would find his way to her eventually, but not right away. I can avoid the sex scene with the other guy, though, but I don't want to erase their non-relationship completely--his motives aren't really pure, so that's also a lot of fun.

Offline taliwrites

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2017, 07:15:25 PM »
Barbara Cartland rules still apply for most straight romance.  Doesn't matter how many people the Bad Boy HeroTM [expletive]s.  But the heroine better be virginal and innocent.   ::) 

One of my heroines had a notebook with a list of the guys she slept with. ;)

Offline telracs

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2017, 09:10:14 PM »
Barbara Cartland rules still apply for most straight romance.  Doesn't matter how many people the Bad Boy HeroTM [expletive]s.  But the heroine better be virginal and innocent.   ::) 


I really hope you're kidding....

No, romance readers reading books in set in modern times don't expect their heroines to be either virginal or innocent. 
But they do tend to dislike cheating in a book.  Especially if a couple is married. 

I stopped reading a series by an author I liked when she had one half of a married couple sleep with her husband's brother.  It bothered me if though the heroine and the brother end up together, and the husband in the relationship was gay and using the marriage as a cover. 

Offline HSh

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2017, 09:13:17 PM »
I'm exaggerating...a bit...and I don't read many straight romances anymore.  It just always seems to me that there are HUGE differences in what's expected of or acceptable from a hero and a heroine in M/F.

(And yeah, cheating is a no-go for me, too.  Whatever the genre.)

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Offline LMareeApps

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2017, 09:52:31 PM »
Just to be clear, I'm talking about the beginning of the book.

I'd treat it as backstory.  You can show the reader the differences by having her question her own behaviours and what those differences mean to her.  Because the focus of Romance is on the development of the current relationship, any past sexual encounters really are best kept in the past when the story starts.

I do think if you're writing a dark, gritty romance, you can push the boundaries - but you then need to recognise you're writing for a niche audience.  If you're wanting to appeal to the masses, keep to the right side of the lines.  Neither approach is wrong - it just impacts the way your market your work.

Offline taliwrites

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2017, 01:17:51 PM »
I'd treat it as backstory.  You can show the reader the differences by having her question her own behaviours and what those differences mean to her.  Because the focus of Romance is on the development of the current relationship, any past sexual encounters really are best kept in the past when the story starts.

I do think if you're writing a dark, gritty romance, you can push the boundaries - but you then need to recognise you're writing for a niche audience.  If you're wanting to appeal to the masses, keep to the right side of the lines.  Neither approach is wrong - it just impacts the way your market your work.

I'm probably already writing for a niche audience, but this is something I can avoid since I don't want to narrow my audience even more. I thought that a situation like this wouldn't be considered as cheating since the heroine and the hero are united only by a pesky little piece of paper, but I see now that I was wrong.

Offline DeniJackson

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2017, 01:57:59 PM »
As a reader, this wouldn't bother me. I love this sort of thing, and as long as the heroine doesn't continue that sexual relationship when she becomes more serious with the hero, then I'd greatly enjoy a story like this...in fact, I would honestly buy it off of that premise alone.

But most Romance readers might be turned off by it. If you want a bigger audience, I would avoid writing out sex scenes, and maybe the whole subplot if you really want to cast a wider net.

But the story could still do well with the other man. Some readers really enjoy seeing a heroine who is a little more sexually active, even in a marriage of convenience. Some is very different than most, though.

Offline taliwrites

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2017, 02:10:49 PM »
As a reader, this wouldn't bother me. I love this sort of thing, and as long as the heroine doesn't continue that sexual relationship when she becomes more serious with the hero, then I'd greatly enjoy a story like this...in fact, I would honestly buy it off of that premise alone.

But most Romance readers might be turned off by it. If you want a bigger audience, I would avoid writing out sex scenes, and maybe the whole subplot if you really want to cast a wider net.

But the story could still do well with the other man. Some readers really enjoy seeing a heroine who is a little more sexually active, even in a marriage of convenience. Some is very different than most, though.

That's how I feel too. Once the heroine gets interested in the hero, she'd no longer be with the other guy. But, as you say, a lot of readers would be turned off and since I already know there will be more scenes that will turn people off, I'm going to avoid the sex scene. I'm not going to get rid of the whole subplot, though, because I really like it.

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2017, 02:19:14 PM »
I'm exaggerating...a bit...and I don't read many straight romances anymore.  It just always seems to me that there are HUGE differences in what's expected of or acceptable from a hero and a heroine in M/F.

(And yeah, cheating is a no-go for me, too.  Whatever the genre.)

Yeah, I wouldn't say readers expect virgin heroines, but there are still a lot of readers who are quick to write off slutty heroines while they'll gladly embrace manwhore heroes. Generally, romance readers are really hard on heroines and let heroes get away with murder (sometimes literally).

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2017, 06:15:50 PM »
I like your idea, OP - it reminds me of a S/L that was on a soap opera a few years ago. I don't really have any advice because it seems like I'm not that in tune with what romance readers expect.

Yeah, I wouldn't say readers expect virgin heroines, but there are still a lot of readers who are quick to write off slutty heroines while they'll gladly embrace manwhore heroes. Generally, romance readers are really hard on heroines and let heroes get away with murder (sometimes literally).

Now I'm really glad my WIP genre hopped to UF because it's established that my female MC pretty much slept with every vampire that came through town.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2017, 01:14:17 AM »
Am I allowed to be offended that the Hero is represented by a great big capital H, while the heroine has only a teeny weeny little h?


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Offline LifesHumor

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2017, 01:33:28 AM »
I think this could work because it is a mafia romance. As someone stated, many MC romance books show sex with someone else at the beginning.
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Offline EB

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Re: Question for romance readers/authors
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2017, 07:30:05 AM »
I like the idea & think it could work if crafted well. As a reader, it doesn't bother me, although I know some readers are adamant it shouldn't be done.
I had a storyline in my first book where the heroine believed the hero was dead, married another man for protection and had sex, and then the hero came back for her. It became a tangled storyline and the hero/heroine struggled to work out their issues over it, and the "other man" ended up as a complex character with his own part in the story. The majority of reviewers enjoyed the storyline. It was a hisotical and part of a four-book series, so I suppose genre plays a part, but if you feel strongly about it and confident you can craft it, then I say go for it.
Sometime I think it is worth it to press the boundaries and expectations within a genre. With romance, it's not just about a HAE; it's about how they fought and traveled to get there, and giving the reader a heavy dose of satisfaction when the characters finally make it. Plenty of people fall in love, have minor issues, and then live a happy life, which is great. But creating characters who have to conquer things that would tear the rest of us mere mortals to pieces can make an ordinary HAE into something epic.
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