How important is the presence of sex scenes in a romance novel for you? For me, romance and sex go together, like peas and carrots. That doesn’t mean I want to read 200 pages of sex and 50 pages of story, but a romance novel with nary a sex scene…
That being said, how important is safe sex in romance? I’ve been reading romance novels long enough to remember a time when protagonists did the deed without any discussion of protection from STDs or baby-proofing whatsoever. Then a time came where almost every sex scene began with reaching for a foil packet. These days, I’m reading more and more books where protagonists are GOING IN without any mention of a condom or birth control. Is that OK or do authors have a responsibility to readers to promote safe sex?
I’ve worked in healthcare my entire career so I’m all about making the sex safely IRL. The things I’ve seen — 😱😱😱! But in a book I don’t need to be beat over the head with it. That’s not what I’m there for in a work of fiction. A mention early on setting the foundation, “I’m on the pill…I’ve had the necessary tests, I’m clean.” and I’m good. If there’s little or no mention of condom use or birth control, I expect that the author is laying the ground work for an unplanned pregnancy to come before the end. After reading literally thousands of romance novels in my lifetime, I’ve only read ONE book where a main character had an STD from a past relationship. I’d say most authors (and most readers) aren’t interested in that level of realism in their stories.
Perhaps it depends on the characters’ arc? For instance, I can believe that two characters who have a long history (e.g. friends to lovers) will trust one another enough to not discuss protection ad nauseam. Whereas, strangers — no matter how much they love one another after meeting 3 days ago — NEED to have a conversation or I’m side-eyeing the author HARD.
There’s a fine line where an author can go a little bit too far with the safety, though. I read a book recently where every. single. time. the couple had sex there was a mention of the hero putting on a condom. It started to become quite distracting. Also, I don’t want or need an after school special when I’m reading fiction.
So…what say you? Safe sex in romance — yay or nay?