Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fully Depected Love Scenes

Hello Fellow Roses and Friends & Fans of White Rose Authors!

*Warning - the scenes below may be considered too riske' for some readers *

I'm on a quest.....

Many read Inspirational/Christian/Sweet romances because they don't want/need the graphic details of intimacy between a couple. Some, however, bemoan the fact that most of these books are too chaste. Thankfully, at White Rose Publishing, we have a bit more freedom in what we write - but the door is still basically closed when it comes to fully depicted love scenes.

This scene from The Inheritance is about as sensual as I get.....

Rebecca closed her eyes, marveling at the way his heart thundered against her palm, matching rhythm with the blood thrumming through her veins. Mesmerized she slipped her hand inside his shirt, felt him shudder, and heard his soft moan of pleasure. Before she could jerk away, he covered her hand with his.

“It’s all right,” he whispered. “Don’t be shy or afraid.”

She lifted wide, pleading eyes to his. “But I am afraid, Ray. Afraid of where all this will end, afraid that I’ll forget every scrap of morality I ever taught my children and even more afraid that I won’t care if I do.”

“I promise it won’t go that far. I’ll let you know when it’s time to stop,” Ray insisted. She allowed him to shift her slightly so that she was cradled against his side. Murmuring soft words of love and praise, he urged her to relax and to trust him. Slowly, he unbuttoned his shirt and tugged it free from the waist of his jeans. Cupping her face in his hands, he covered her lips in a breathtaking kiss before pulling her in his arms once more.

As though in a trance, her hand moved across his chest to trace circles of fire over the sleek expanse of muscle and flesh. She felt him tremble, heard his sharp intake of breath and jerked her hand away, marveling that she was capable of eliciting such a response. It was obvious that by Jim always being the one to initiate intimacy between them, she’d been robbed of the simple pleasure of cuddling and caressing. And, oh, how she wanted to now.

When Ray didn’t move or speak or open his eyes, she placed her hand over his heart once more. Propping up on one elbow, she ran her fingers up his throat, let them walk over his chin and sweep across his lips to cup one cheek as her lips brushed across the other. Rolling into a sitting position, she placed a hand on each of his shoulders and let them slide slowly and gently down his chest, thrilling at his soft groan of pleasure.

Ray grabbed her hands and stopped the sensual torture, afraid that if she so much as thought about touching him again, he’d surely die from lack of oxygen. His breathing came sharp and painful. His knuckles were white from clenching his fists in order to keep from crushing her to him and ravishing her on the spot. His jaw hurt from grinding his teeth so hard that it was sheer wonder—or a miracle—they weren’t mere dust in his mouth.

“Now, Rebecca,” he rasped in a voice so harsh it sounded, and felt, as though he’d swallowed a Brillo pad. “We have to stop now, before there’s no stopping at all.”

This wedding night scene from my novel Tempered Fire may be considered by some 'fully depicted' .....

His mouth covered hers in a scorching embrace, hands shook when he undid the tiny buttons along her back. “I love you so much,” he whispered, the words punctuated with feathery kisses across her cheeks, eyes and mouth.

“I love you, too,” Amber assured, swallowing the lump of emotion clogging her throat. “Hold me, Stanley, make me your wife,” she invited.

In answer Stanley swung her up into his arms and laid her on the bed. His hands trembled as he undressed her, covering inch by inch of precious skin with kisses. With the tenderness born of love and control he didn’t know he possessed, he kissed and caressed her, mumbling soft, sweet words of love and longing. He nearly lost control when, with trembling hands, she finished unbuttoning his shirt and began placing whisper-soft kisses on his skin; nipping gently at the tender flesh of his broad chest and circling patterns of fire over his skin with her touch.

Amber forgot everything she’d ever heard when he took sweet possession of her body, and felt nothing but the incredible heat, the glorious ache, the delirious need building to a shattering crescendo within her. The heat of his touch circled through her leaving scorching brands on her flesh wherever he stroked her with gentle hands and followed with hot, possessive kisses. Their vows were consummated in a tender celebration of love.

However, many still consider this chaste compared to secular romances.

You may wonder what this has to do with my quest - so I'll tell you... I queried a publisher about another project - an obviously secular publisher that has an 'inspirational' line and was told that even though the story is inspirational, they expect fully depicted love scenes. So now I wonder.....

Would you read a Christian/Inspirational novel if it DID contain fully depicted love scenes as long as the couple is married - more fully than above? Is what I've shared too much or not enough to be considered "fully depicted"?

I've always written "Inspirational with an Edge!" and explored the sensual side of romance more than most Christian/Inspirational authors, but I'm tempted to take this a step show the beauty of physical love, yet I hesitate, wondering if doing so will turn away or disappoint my readers. Of course I can always warn them if I do write one of these LOL!

Seriously though....It is NEVER my intention to offend anyone and if I have by sharing these scenes with you - the PLEASE accept my SINCEREST apologies.

Your opinion on this matter is valued and greatly appreciated.

Leave a comment and you just may win your choice of one of my E-books.

Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!"


Mary Ricksen said...

So what's the definitive answer?

Cindy K. Green said...

Interesting topic, Pam. In my personal opinion, the readers within the market for Christian/Inspirational fiction do not want fully depicted love scenes. Even b/w married couples. Yes, tickle our senses with a heart quickening scene. But know when to close the door. IMO.

Susan Macatee said...

Although I don't write or read inspirationals, I think it's a sticky problem for both publishers and readers. How far can you go and still call it inspirational? And will you offend readers if you do go too far?

And I really don't think adding spicy scenes, even for married couples, would get me to read an inspirational, either.

Ashley Ludwig said...

I think inspirational readers -- at least mine, as far as I know -- are more interested in the art of falling in love, the thrill of the emotion behind the event. I probably veer toward sensual descriptions of desire, longing, and the dance of two lovers learning their boundaries... in my inspy and my sweet stories.

Inspy readers need to know the book will be "safe" -- something that you could have a 12 year old girl read.

Fully described scenes, like your second one, are beautiful and tasteful IMO.

Passion in an inspy should be focused on the Soul level -- more than what happens in the physical realm.

Excellent topic!

wendy said...

I wouldn't enjoy reading a graphic love scene in an inspirational romantic novel. However, I've written just such a scene myself. But this novel - although it has elements of inspirational - also has elements of paranormal. This is, of course, an unpublished novel. I don't want to leave out the inspirational part as I feel it contains important truths I want to share.

I was surprised to read that a secular publisher requested more graphic scenes; but, perhaps, the editor/publisher was aiming at greater realism to strengthen the inspirational part.

Mallary said...

Hey Pamela, You can get very sensual without fully depicted scenes. Sometimes leaving something to the imagination is great. I wouldn't want to pick up an inspirational and have fully detailed scenes. I would much rather this be behind closed doors. You know what's happening in these scenes but I think to detail would really take it out of inspirational That said, I do love the edgy inspirational but these are often edgy in so many ways not just love scenes They really make the characters real.

Jessiecue said...

I read inspirational and non inspirational. So I personally would be perfectly fine with the love scenes.

Read To Review said...

In my honest opinion, no I would not read one if it had the depicted love scenes. Although I have had to review some they are far and few between.A nice sensual romance is great but the bedroom scenes should be just that. Behind closed doors. I do not feel it should be in a inspirational book.

Cindy D said...

I would not like to read an inspirational romance that has fully depected love scenes. I enjoy reading a romance that leads up to it. But I wouldn't want it to go any further than that.
I would not want to read it even if it were between a married couple. I feel stuff like that should be kept private.Even if it's in a book

Janelle said...

Hi Pamela,

God put the Song of Solomon in HIS book, let's not forget. Also, none of us would be alive if not for our parents fully depticted love scenes. Not a scene we neccesarly want to image, but true nonetheless. :-) Some people are so prudish you would think sex was always a dirty thing. God doesn't think so, which He makes clear in the Bible. "The marriage bed is undefiled."

I think as with anything in life there is a balance between depicting romantic love scenes and being down right graphic. Some love scenes in secular books would be considered porn if they were acted out on screen.

I try not to write anything that I wouldn't want my teenage daugther to read. That is the compass I always keep in mind.

I thought your scenes were lovely Pam, escpecially I am sure, if they are read in the context of the blossoming love story.

This was a great question.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Not sure what the definitive answer is Mary, maybe we'll discover it here. :-)

Thanks Cindy, your opinion reflects that of most of us and you do a great job of that!

You're right Susan, it is a sticky situation - But I'm curious as to why you don't want to read inspirationals? Most of us strive to reach readers outside the traditional Christian market - so if you were asked what, in your opinion, is one ingredient missing from inpirationals - what is it?

Thanks Ashley - I love the way you weave that sensual element in your stories!

Stay true to your story Wendy, take nothing out that you feel is important unless you can find another way to say it - btw, this was not a trad secular publisher, it was an indy :-)

Thanks Mallary - I understand and for the most part agree. I distinctly remember asking God why these scenes weren't accepted - afterall, lovemaking is a gift from Him and He replied "because it's private." That conversation took place between us while writing Tempered Fire and the scene I shared here is the toned down version LOL!

I'm with you Jessicue - I read both, although I stray away from erotica - don't need the vulgar language/ultraexplicit descriptions you find in most.

Thanks for commenting - you all are entered into the drawing for a book!


Elizabeth Pina said...

I agree with the majority. No fully depicted love scenes. Closed-door if they're married, and abstinence if they aren't.

You did a great job with tension throughout The Inheritance (I have it) and I would have been disappointed if you hadn't made them hold out to the bitter end.

Although your second scene followed through to completion, I'm not sure that it qualifies as "fully depicted" by most expectations.

Please let's leave our inspirational reads something we can pass around to any and all members of our family. If people want to read sex scenes there's plenty of novels for them to choose from, but let's make sure there is still a small haven available for those who don't.

Marianne Arkins said...

I've largely stopped reading inspirational stories because I feel they are unrealistic... most don't even have the slightest physical anything -- not even a kiss.

That said -- I think most Christian audiences would be offended by fully depicted love scenes, even if they occurred between a husband and wife.

I'd like to see a balance between reality (because even Christians kiss before they're married) and the desire to promote solid Christian beliefs.

To be honest, from your excerpts I think you've done just that. Well done!

:::wanders off to pick up your books:::

Carol Ann said...

Personally, I started reading and writing inspirational/christian novels because I wasn't comfortable with writing fully depicted love scenes. I enjoy reading and writing about the growing emotions that develop along the journey, with the tender touches, and the sacrifices that show love developing. And, then, at the end, the happily ever after kiss and embrace.


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Thanks for your comment, Read to Review - having a reviewer answer always helps!

Confirmation on what God showed me when writing Tempered Fire, Cindy D - thanks!

Lovely reminder Janelle that God's love for us and ours for our spouse is undefiled - you've a great compass to go by - I often use it myself when talking about the difference in my writing and traditional Christian romances.

I hear you, Elizabeth! Those who don't like fully depicted love scenes SHOULD have the opportunity to read something without them!

So many agree with you Marianne about the lack of expression in traditional Christian romances. I am one of them - which is one reason why I write the way I do - Oh I tried to conform to the standards set forth by CBA/EPCA, just couldn't LOL -

I believe the sacrifices and HEA make it all worthwhile, Carol Ann afterall, restraint against the tug and pull of desire builds character and self control.

All this said, Friends, let's remember that EVERYTHING that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

I THANK each of you for your comments!

I'll pick a winner within a day or so and announce it here.


Miss Mae said...

One thing I always considered about an inspirational was that I wouldn't have to worry AT ALL about anything suggestive. Even if the couples were married, sure, you knew they loved each other by the way the hero winked at his wife, brushed the back of his hand down her cheek, or whacked her affectionately on her rear. And the ONLY time we trespassed into their bedroom was because the hero was there jerking clean clothes from a bureau drawer and his wife followed in to continue their argument.

Of course God made sex and of course we know what our parents did to beget us. However, when we are in our most private moments with our sponse in the bedroom, do we fling open the doors and allow our children to watch?

I think sensual scenes should remain in a sensual book, and an inspirational should concentrate on the inspiration. Does that make Miss Mae a prude? You betcha, and it don't bother me none to be called so! LOL

Clare Austin said...

Your scenes are quite tastefully done. I think if that publisher is looking for "fully depicted" love scenes this is probably the type of scene they mean.
Other publishers will make their standards just as clear. Submit to the line that matches your book and you shouldn't have a problem.
Clare Austin

elaine cantrell said...

Personally, I liked your excerpts, but I don't think most inspirational readers would want it to go any further. I think they're more interested in the spiritual rather than the physical side of love.

PatriciaW said...

I too read both inspirational and secular fiction, but I do expect there to be a difference. There's a wide berth between having a married couple enter a room and close the door, and describing the sex act in full detail. It has to do with the emphasis on the emotion in the scene, and with the words/phrases chosen for the physical gestures. Even then, in an inspirational, I expect the author to stop short of describing the actual sex.

Author Julie Lessman writes great sensual scenes in her books, which by the way, are published by a Christian publisher. I've read a lot of inspirationals published by secular publishers that do not have fully depicted love scenes.

I think you have to know how far you are willing to go to in your stories--your outer limit--and, if that's not enough for the publisher, perhaps that publisher is not right for you.

Lesa Henderson said...

Pamela: Personally I would read fully depicted love scenes if the couple were married, if done tastefully. It is a tight rope we walk as writers. Perhaps if there were a way to put a warning on the book that it's more graphic???

Susan Macatee said...

Pamela, while I don't mind religion being mentioned in a romance story, I don't want to read one where religion is the main focus. That's just my taste, though. I don't read erotic romance either, not because I think there's anything wrong with it, but the genre just doesn't appeal to me.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Oh Miss Mae, I wouldn't call you a prude, just a woman who knows her own mind LOL!

Thanks Clare, I strive to meet the boundaries within wich to write my stories - though I don't mind pushing the edge just a tad :-)

I agree Elaine the spiritual is much more important.

I love Julie's books, Patricia W! I agree that knowing our limit is important for an author - and we should find a publisher that fits those boundaries.

Interesting thought Lesa, a rating/warning of some sort. Have to keep that in mind.

I agree Susan - religion should not be the main focus in a romance - that's one good thing about us here at WRP/TWRP - they make sure ROMANCE is the main focus. Thanks for answering.

Thanks to you ALL for commenting!

I'll post a winner in a day or so along with another challenging question.


Kara Lynn Russell said...

I'm jumping in a little late with this, but here goes. Pam, Your scenes are beautifully done. I think that as inspy writers it is good for us to show sex in a positive light in the proper context. But that doesn't mean we need a "play by play" description.

While in most cases I would agree with the "closed door" policy, there may be exceptions. I once read a secular romance where the hero had been badly scarred by a fire and had become almost a recluse. His first "romantic interlude" with the heroine was very difficult. He was afraid of what she would think of his disfigured body. The heroine was so patient, loving and accepting, it was just...beautiful

I think the scene was important in showing how the heroine's love helped bring healing to the hero. It was one of those very rare cases where the story would have been less powerful without that scene.

Rachel Rossano said...

You have posed an interesting question. :) You are a brave woman to bring it up. :)

I, personally, would not purchase and read 'inspirational' novels with fully dipicted love scenes. The reason being that reading such things invites my mind to go into areas that are not honoring to God. Yes, God created sex and sexual love, but He created them within the context of a marriage, an expression of married love. By writing fully depicted love scenes, an author takes them out of the marriage relationship and puts them before the eyes and into the minds of those who are not in the marriage. So, that is why I would not do it, but that is just me.

I found nothing offensive about the two scenes you posted. They definitely were passionate and sensual, but within a married relationship, appropriate. :) You have a talent for description. :)

Deb Carr said...

I am SO GLAD to see this Blog Post! I am VERY new to writing romances, since I usually read historicals and mysteries that touch on romance (i.e. Agatha Christie, or Molly Costain).
I just learned about Inspirational Novels last weekend. I attended my first RWA meeting on August 15th, and sat at the table with sevaral Inspirational writers, who explained some of the guidelines that they used. I knew that there was a published list of "100 Words That You Cannot Use in Inspirational Novels", but I had NO IDEA about SEX. I thought the whole concept was taboo!
I am writing an Historical Suspense Romance at the moment, and there is plenty of sexual tension (attraction but no sex - except for a few passionate kisses at desperate "I may never see you again" moments), and a lot of self-sacrifice for "the greater good of all mankind" on the heroine's part (during wartime).
This Blog answers my question about whether it could possibly be an Inspirational story, too. I don't want to submit to an editor if it crosses the line!
Thank You!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Never too late to jump in Kara and I agree - I read a book like the one you described perhaps the same one. I think the power of true love expressed can heal especially in the circumstances you describe and/or victims of domestic violence where the beauty of it has been marred.

You hit the nail on the head Rachel, when you said "By writing fully depicted love scenes, an author takes them out of the marriage relationship and puts them before the eyes and into the minds of those who are not in the marriage." Thank you for the reminder.

I'm glad the post has answered some questions for you Deb. Good luck and God's blessings with your writing.

Thanks to all for posting.

Deb Carr said...

Pamela and Kara, can you share the title of the one with the disfigured hero? I am a fan of the hero who is not perfect (I am also a Phantom Phan). If you cannot post it here, I will send my email address...

Hywela Lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hywela Lyn said...

I've only just found this post and felt, as a 'non inspirational'writer I had to comment.

First of all, Pam, I thought your love scenes were beautiful, and I would love to write scenes like that. I think 'sensual' is a wonderful way of describing intimate scenes between a married couple, without going the 'whole hog'. I can read and enjoy scenes such as the ones you hae posted. I have to admit some of the explicit scenes that are posted on 'loops' make me cringe.

Love between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing, but it is also a very personal one. Sometimes one needs to see a little of the 'physical' side in order to understand how deep the spiritual love is. As I said, I'm not an 'Inspirational' writer myself, I write 'futuristic' but in my first novel 'Starquest', my heroine is an inter stellar missionary, and has a deep belief in God which she never loses depite all the trials she goes through. At the end she and the hero make love - on his world it is the act of love itself that binds them in marriage, so I felt I needed to describe the scene - but not in graphic detail. I hint, and use analogies. No four letter words or anything that would make one blush. I hope I got it right, it's still only a 'sensual' scene but I felt it was necessary, as much as anything to show how the hero had controlled his feelings until this moment, when at last, it was right.

For me, Pam, you strike the perfect balance. I do read Inspirational romances and for me graphic love scenes would spoil them.