Thursday, April 11, 2013

Steam or Not?

One of my Facebook followers posed the following question to me this afternoon:

Suzan, do you think a story can be too "Steamy"...inquiring minds want to know.

I LOVE that question! There simply wasn’t enough room to answer it completely or honestly at FB so I am answering it here.

Steamy scenes are like the old adage about art: I don't know what art is, but I know what I like. The same can be said for steamy scenes. Now, I do, on occasion, like to read a steamy scene or two. However, I don't want to feel like I'm a voyeur or that I'm watching porn. Steam, in certain degrees, can often times make a really good book even better. 

We're all big girls here. (By big, I mean grown up). We know what sex is. We know how to insert tab A into slot B. I don’t need to be beaten around the head with every conceivable way of doing it. Or even ways I hadn’t thought of before! However, there have been a few books where I did learn a thing or two, lol. 

 In my most humble and honest opinion, really good books can have a bit of steam, even a little debauchery.  What separates the very good books, at least in my mind, is this: If you can remove all the steamy scenes and still have a great book, then it is still a great book! Again, it is just my humble opinion that the entire book shouldn’t just be about sex. There has to be something else, otherwise, it is just sex.

When I read a romance I want the romance. I don’t like books where the main characters have just met and were so hopelessly drawn to one another that they’re having sex by the second page. I want the romance and the love to build up first. I want to see what obstacles, what trials and tribulations they might have to go through first. Otherwise, I find it an unbelievable story and again, its just sex. Call me old fashioned if you want. But I believe true romance should stand the test of time. 

For example, I present to you my in-laws. Two of the sweetest, funniest, most down to earth people you will ever meet. They've been married for over 50 years now. They've been through a thing or two. To this day, my father-in-law still gives my mother-in-law a sweet kisses! That is what I think true romance is: together for half a century, seeing each other at your worst, yet, when she steps into the room, he smiles at her like she's been gone for a month and he is so glad to see she's returned, when in fact, she simply stepped down the hall to the ladies room! Loving each other through thick and thin, good times and bad. And at the end of the day, he still makes your stomach do a little flutter and brings a smile to your face. 

That, my friends, is real. That is the type of love I try to put into each of my books. I want my readers to know that if I jumped ahead 50 years, my characters are still hopelessly, passionately in love with each other. But I think I digress....

Yes, I know in the real world people have one night stands on a regular basis. So what? That, in my opinion, is boring. Anyone can have a one-night-stand if they want to. It doesn’t take anything to pull that off except a pitcher of margaritas and a key to a Motel 6. Big deal. That isn’t romance.

Now, I’m no prude. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I like long, lingering, passionate, knee-buckling kisses. (My husband excels at this and it is one of the many, many reasons why I married him!) I like to read about those kinds of kisses in books. Its all part of what makes a good romance a good romance.

I am not the supreme omnipotent despotic ruler of the universe.  I do believe to each his own and what goes on behind closed doors is no one’s business and it especially isn’t mine.  Lots of people like really steamy, detailed, and highly descriptive books and that is quite all right! ;o) I have actually read one or two of those ;o)

I tried once, a year ago, to write a really steamy scene for Findley’s Lass. When I realized that my face had turned beet red and that I wasn’t even looking at the screen…I was just tapping away at the keyboard, had turned my head away in embarrassment, I realized then that that particular type of writing wasn’t for me. If I was too embarrassed to write it, then chances were, my readers were going to be too embarrassed to read it. There are other authors out there, far more talented than I, at writing steamy scenes, lol. I'll leave those to the experts. ;o)

I tend take a different approach to writing love scenes. I try to introduce as much humor to it as possible without being too over the top. Read Wee William's Woman for an example of what I mean by funny, yet romantic and passionate.

I mean honestly, when you really think about what we’re actually doing when we’re actually doing ‘it’, don’t you sometimes get the urge to giggle? I know that I do! And no, that isn’t a bad mark aimed at my husband, so please don’t think of it that way.  I won’t go into personal detail here, but suffice it to say that my husband is delightfully very talented at more than just those knee knocking kisses I mentioned earlier! ;o)

So, to answer the question, is there such a thing as too steamy? It is really up to each person. IF it is written well and IF the characters are believable and likable then steam is fine and dandy. But you have to start with a really good story first. ;o) 

So there you have it. My long answer to your question.



  1. The answer I was expecting and agree with. I don't mind hot scenes but I don't want all sex and no story or romance. I love funny!! My hubby knows I am enjoying my book when I laugh out loud. :-) By the way we have been married for 54 years and we sound like your in-laws. LOL

    1. Congratulations!! I think that is great. ;o) I'm glad you love funny too!