I’m bored at work and Jessica posted this sexy reading meme so I figured I’d kill some time by answering the questions!
(The questionnaire is originally from The Literary Lollipop.)
1. Most romantic male character
This is an awful question to ask me, because I dislike romance. I find it funny when boys bring me presents to dates or try to impress me by taking me for fancy dinners. I do read a lot of romance novels, but many of the male characters tend towards the lust-worthy than the truly romantic.
Let’s face it: really romantic men are boring to read about. Give me a bad boy any day.
2. Most romantic female character
Yet another question that has me stumped. Hmmm… upon reflection what about Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter? Despite being publicly shamed and shunned, she refuses to identify who she had an affair with in order to protect her lover from judgement (he totally doesn’t deserve her). Speaking of long-suffering women, what about Penelope, Odysseys’ faithful wife who never loses courage and fights the suitors crowding her house?
3. Best sex scene ever
This is a tough one. Strangely, the first that comes to mind is a really sweet scene from a Harry Potter fanfiction (oops?). And all the other books I thought of don’t stand out for their sex scenes but for the intimacy and connection between the two love interests, which is to me more important than the act itself. Indeed, sometimes the follow through to sex ruins the story if the scene is badly written. So, short answer? No idea.
4. Do you think sex scenes are appropriate in Young Adult novels?
It depends, but my first instinct is to respond: why not? I remember how I was back then. The more my mom told me not to read something, the more I wanted to read it — and I even read romance novels far above my age range. And that’s as far as I went, but a lot of my classmates were openly experimenting. By discussing things openly — sex or drinking etc — I think kids are less likely to make mistakes.
That doesn’t mean I condone graphic, violent or disturbing scenes. But avoiding the issue entirely will do more harm than good.
5. Sexiest book I’ve read this year
I’ve read a LOT of romance this year. It’s been the first proper year as a book review blog, and somehow I received a lot of romance submissions, plus there are so many free ebooks around. So picking one is hard!
I enjoyed a lot of G. L. Drummond‘s work and have some more Felicity Heaton lined up to read. As for specific titles, I really enjoyed (despite the title) Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean but perhaps the sexiest book overall is Lovers and Beloveds by MeiLin Miranda.
6. Literary turn on
Realistic dialogue. Strong, independent and intelligent characters. Stories where the stakes are high and the romance is a garnishing rather than the main course. Language that is honest and direct and somehow all the more effective for its simplicity.
7. Literary turn off
Far too many! Too Stupid To Live female characters. Actually, any unrealistic character who ignores their better judgement if only to drag the plot out — it throws me out of the story entirely. Not to mention author-insert characters (yuck!). Language-wise, ridiculously purple prose, boring dialogue and/or strange euphemisms for body parts.
8. Most uncomfortable sex scene I’ve ever read
Probably something from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, which recounts the author’s experiences with an abusive step-father. It’s not very graphic, but she’s 9 years old and has no idea what’s going on. Enough said.
9. Have you ever read erotica? If so, did the experience re-affirm or alter your initial opinion of the genre?
I’ve read some. I recently finished reading The Initiations of Miss Holly by KD Grace which I won through the Goodreads First Reads program (which has taught me to read summaries before entering competitions!).
My opinion hasn’t changed much. A lot of it is badly written, and stories where sex is the only goal of the plot really aren’t for me. The plots often feel contrived and the characters aren’t believable. However, they can be entertaining to read — some of the stuff in The Initiations of Miss Holly was so ridiculous as to be laughable!
10. What’s the difference between a sexy book and a romantic book?
In a nutshell, a romantic book focuses more on characters’ emotions and motivations, and a sexy book focuses more on their actions and physical responses. The books that hit the mark with me are the ones that do both.
11. Does gender appropriation (men writing women and vice versa) change your opinion of a sex scene or sexually adventurous character?
It depends on how that character is written. For the most part, no, although I am more likely to be suspicious of men writing women than the opposite if only because I know women better than I know men, and can recognize character cracks more easily. But the only times I think about gender appropriation is after I’ve noticed that a character seems off in some way.
12. Would you feel embarrassed or self-conscious if you were to peruse the erotica section of your local bookstore?
Errr… yes, probably! I never have. I already feel self-conscious browsing other shelves (wondering what other people think about the books I pick up).
13. What makes a love story realistic?
That’s impossible to answer! It’s such a finely balanced equation. It has to build slowly, and it can’t be forced. I dislike the ‘fated to be together’ approach because I’m suspicious of love at first sight. And the ‘only one soulmate’ thing rankles sometimes, too. I like people falling in love despite circumstance and personality, rather than because of some unexplained outside force.
Out of the romance titles I’ve reviewed so far on the blog, the most realistic/enjoyable was Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn.
14. Most unrealistic love story I’ve ever read
The afore-mentioned erotica was pretty awful, but that’s to be expected. I don’t think Twilight is particularly realistic, nor Vampyre Kisses which I read earlier this year.
15. Have you ever purchased a book from the romance section of your local bookstore?
Nope, although I’ve read store-bought books that I’ve stolen off of my mom. Romance is booming on the ebook front and ebooks tend to be a lot cheaper, so I’ve been buying them online.
What about you? What are your sexy reading thoughts?