Chat Between Chapters: Since When Is Sex Love?

January 12, 2014 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 33


 Since when is sex love? Is it okay to substitute lust for love in literature? As a reader, does this work for you?


Rose review avatar Rose:

Okay so I get the fact that we read fiction as a form of escape and pleasure. However, one of my biggest pet peeves in books is when the love story is not even the least bit realistic. I dislike it when the two main characters meet each other and jump into bed with one another and ooh ahh true love ensues. That is soooo not realistic. Usually once a book gets to this point if we are only in the first few chapters, I have a strong urge to put the book down. If I decide to continue on, the plot becomes completely predictable. Next comes the staring at one another longingly whenever it is NOT appropriate or possible to jump into bed with one another. This is the part of the book in which the characters FANTASIZE about having sex with the other character or replay what they have already done in their head. All this desire and attraction is usually substituted for love. What a load of crap! I want to see my characters develop a true appreciation for one another, not a mere physical infatuation. I want to see them build a relationship that is based on real strength of character and commitment to one another. I want the main character who is narrating the book to offer the reader a guided glimpse into the heart of his/her companion, not just a raunchy roll in the hay. So to answer the topic question for today, it is NEVER okay to substitute sex for love! Give me a tender, loving, rip you heart out scene any day over a steamy sex scene and I will believe in my character’s love for one another.


Julie Review Avatar Julie:

One of the things I absolutely hate in romance is the instalove/instalust aspect. I’m sorry but I don’t buy it that just because someone is hot, all of a sudden the character wants to jump their bones and thinks they’re in love. No. Just, no. That, my friends is lust, it is attraction, but it is not love.  It is fine to be attracted to someone and want to start a relationship with them, but I hate when books call that love. I don’t believe in love at first sight because you really need to get to know someone before you can truly love them. So in romance books where the characters fall in love two pages after meeting, I find the character development lacking. I as the reader want to fall in love with the book’s love interest as the protagonist falls in love, so that is why sex and lust does not work for me as falling in love.

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33 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Since When Is Sex Love?”

  1. Paula Barrett

    But Rose one thing I want to assure you is that because you don’t like that aspect doesn’t mean it’s not realistic, it does happens but just the way our books have been polishing them. 🙂

  2. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I agree with you – I hate it when the plot of a book is ALL about sex (you hit the nail right on the head when you said sometimes it seems like the characters are always either having sex or wishing they were having sex). I get lust and attraction, but that can’t be all there is to it. When lust is substituted for love in YA books, it bugs me even more. I HATE it when the two main characters can’t keep their hands off of each other and therefore “know” that they are truly in love. Um, no.

    • Julie

      I was watching NewsFIX last night and they talked about a bra that only opens when the sensors sense the wearer is “in love” (aka, the heart is beating a certain way). Then it snaps open. And I thought to myself, um, no. So apparently attraction = love to these people. Just, ugh!

      • Rose

        whoa! For real!? that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of! What if you get really scared or surprised or something? Does that mean your bra will just SNAP right open!? WTF!

    • Rose

      I hear where you are coming from, Jennifer. I DO pefer more realistic stuff, but I get what you are saying.

  3. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Great subject, ladies! I agree, I need there to be some story and character development along with the sex! And I absolutely hate stories with insta-love/insta-lust. I get that we need to suspend disbelief, but not to the point where nothing would make sense to me at all if it happened in the real world.

    I think a good romance is one where the characters might be interested in each other from the start, and have strong chemistry, but that they actually get to know each other before they fall into bed (or against the wall or the back-seat of a car) together. And I’m not against reading about sex at all! But there has to be more to the story than just the bedroom activity, if not, I’ll be bored very quickly, no matter how good the sex seems to be.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Panic (Rook and Ronin #3) – J.A. Huss

    • Rose

      Perfectly put, Lexxie! I like your phrase “bedroom activity”, mind if I borrow it in future posts? I get so bored with any book if it is all about the “bedroom activity” and not about the character development.

  4. Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

    Awesome discussion, ladies! I agree with all of your points. While I am not against our characters having sex the first time they meet, I would still not believe it when they would instantly declare love for each other.

    Yes, I do understand lust. I do understand if our characters want to hook up immediately because their bodies need it or whatever. But they shouldn’t describe it as love. Or they shouldn’t even act like they’re truly madly, deeply, inlove.

    Instant hookups are realistic since I know real people who engage in such things but it is just that. At the end of the day, those people will just call it “charge it to experience” and find another one on the next.

    In simpler terms, love and lust are two different things. Though you lust after a person, it doesn’t mean that you love him/her. Really true story. I have an acquaintance who got herself involved with someone just for sex but her heart has always belonged to another man who for several years didn’t return her love. I am just glad that after the long and hard journey, they ended up married.
    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted…Book Review: Uninvited

    • Rose

      I understand hooking up early on in the relationship as well because they DOES happen in real life. good point. I like when authors make the distinction between lust and love, though. SO your friend, did she end up with the man who didn’t return her love or the one she didn’t love, just lusted after first???

  5. Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    Rose and Julie,

    Personally, I’m not a fan of romance/love/lust in books at all. Maybe that’s why though. It’s so fake and blech most of the time. I’m not a romantic girlie girl when it comes to love (although my nails always look fab and I dress girlie) but when it’s romance/sex/love/lust in books. . . it’s just not “me.” The only time quick-love works is in a story like Eleanor & Park and/or The Fault in Our Stars because those are very similar to what “real” high school love would be like.
    Rebecca @ Love at First Book recently posted…Spread the Love Linky Party: Co-hosted by My Life in Books

    • Rose

      Rebecca! How can you not love romance!? just teasing. I know it might seem kind of redundant to some people, but I guess realistically speaking, most genres are just that… repeating the same pattern and readers having the same expectations.. I guess that is why we return to the “type” or genre we love to read the most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And I agree that TFIOS and Eleanor and Park were realist representations of high school love.

  6. Jennine G.

    What a good topic! This does happen more often than not it seems. It’s hit or miss for me…as long as the storyline is interesting I’ll keep reading, but it does sometimes become predictable. It paints unrealistic expectations too!

    Thanks for linking up to Spread the Love Linky Party!
    Jennine G. recently posted…Co-hosting Spread the Love Linky Party

    • Rose

      Yes. It does paint unrealistic expectations. I am constantly telling my boyfriend all about my book boyfriends. He just says he wishes he had a chic like in the movies so fair is fair. lol But no, seriously though, so books have opened my eyes to what love SHOULD be like in some cases. I have broken up with guys because I wanted to bf like one I read in a book. (Not a steamy romance, but like a really good love story. I read The Bronze Horseman and I wouldn’t doubt if it was the cause of a three year relationship ending. I wanted a guy who paid attention to me and cared about me and didn’t even realize what I was missing until I read that book…)

  7. Octavia

    Nice topic ladies. I admit, instalove doesn’t immediately kill a story for me IF there is an actually plot within the pages. As far as love at first sight, I don’t believe in that. I think it’s all fine and dandy to see someone and say “yes I would jump your bones in a crowded airport”. But I don’t think it’s ok to spot someone from across the room and then drop down on one knee. I just don’t see that as realistic or true love.

    I appreciate a good sappy and easy story some days but I do see, and agree, with what you both have said. Fabulous discussion!
    Octavia recently posted…Stop & Chat! ~ It’s not you, it’s me! ~

    • Rose

      Thanks Octavia! I will continue to read a book even if there is instalove as well. But I really appreciate when an author takes the time necessary to develop a true relationship between her characters… it makes everything so much more real to me… I feel the character’s pain and tribulations so much more if the author does a good job. WIth instalove books I am like, oh this sucks for these characters, but everything will be okay in the end (bc, I mean, heck they fell in love in all of three sentences on page 2) but if the author does a good job of letting the love develop at a more appropriate pace, I will be like tears streaming down my face, nails bitten to the quick, sneaking peeks in the pages ahead to make myself calm down and read on… these books do not always guarantee a happy time had by all because it is REAL.

  8. Braine Talk Supe

    I agree with you girls. Even if it’s fiction it still has to be believable right? That’s why I’m slowly getting wary of erotica because that’s the theme of most erotica books. With all the crazy people and nasty diseases out there, I would think it over a million times before I jump into bed with someone.

    But of course in the perfect fictional world that won’t happen. Still there’s a part of me that refuses to be “swept away” which explains why I’m probably not the best romance reviewer.

    Great post, ladies!
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Bought Borrowed & Bagged #83

    • Julie

      Yes! That is why I struggle reading romances. It isn’t just erotica where this happens, but in a lot of newer romance novels, whether NA or general adult. If I can’t picture myself behaving that way, it becomes difficult to get into the story and trust the character heh.

        • Julie

          Ooh that’s an interesting theory. That might be some of it. Sex and attraction might be easier to write than a true emotional connection over time.

          • Rose

            I think you bring up a good questions Rebecca. I would not use the word lazy but rather, less experienced or talented? I mean, I think it is incredibly difficult to translate a slow burn, incredible romance in your head onto paper. Sometimes things you feel are hard to put into words. Some authors really excel at this. Others write what I guess I think of as instalove.

      • Rose

        Lexxie, This is a good point you bring up. I like when they characters have to think just like real life people… so yeah, I agree safe sex, contraception… these things are sexy in books. Can you give me a link to your discussion post? I’d love to read it!

  9. Annamari @ Read at all hours

    I completely agree with both of you, instalove is the worst, and sex as substitute for love really doesn’t work for me. This has been sort of annoying me lately, because I’m currently trying to venture more from young adult books with a romance angle towards new adult books where the romance usually takes center stage. But it often feels like just because in NA books it’s allowed to feature adult content and steamy scenes the characters immediately start lusting after each other/jump into bed and there’s no real build-up. That’s not to say there’s no instalove in YA books (that annoys me too) but since the characters are, for the most part, ‘restricted’ to just talking to each other, the physical aspect, when it comes, usually feels more natural to me. But that’s just my opinion. Sorry for the long rambling, hope I made sense. If you guys have any NA book recommendations where the romance is genuinely well-developed, I’d welcome it. So far Easy is the only one I really loved.

    • Julie

      I completely agree – the build up is what matters. Have you read any Cora Carmack? I think her books do a good job with that balance as well.

        • Rose

          okay, I would recommend The Breathing Trilogy by Rebecca Donovan, but the first book is YA and the second two are NA. and for a true NA book, try Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens. As you read on the relationship between the two main characters develops deeper and deeper. There is love and lust, but it is nicely balanced I think. The first book is not a well written as the second two, but give it a try. As for The Edge of Never, I liked that book, but I felt like the sex scenes didn’t fit the relationship if that makes sense. I was listening on audio so maybe I wasn’t paying attention but the slow build was there and I was liking everything and BAM! some dialogue threw me off and I was like, WHAT??? but still a good book. lol.

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