Why ultrasensual romance?
Sex is everywhere
in our culture these days. It's in our music, our movies, our books,
our television. -- even the commercials.
Why shouldn't it
end up in our romance stories as well?
I don't have to
tell the readers here that sex has always been in our romances. From
the most chaste traditional to the most sensual historical and short contemporary,
romances have always explored that delicious tension that goes with true
and loving sexual awakening. The outside world might think of romance
writers and readers as bored housewives, asexual creatures more concerned
with pretty clothes and Prince Charming than more nitty-gritty human urges.
But women and men who write and read romances know sex to be a creative
and procreative force , a gift and celebration of life.
If you're like me,
you've looked over the years for stories that combine this life force with
the sort of intense physical arousal portrayed in erotica. While
love scenes in romances could be explicit, they didn't quite reach that
feeling of hovering on the edge of oblivion, perhaps of doing something
truly dangerous or unwise, of seeking the forbidden. If you're like
me, you'd occasionally gravitate toward more frankly erotic works only
to be disappointed. You might find yourself immersed in a story that
treats sex as part of the human condition and we all know how miserable
that can be rather than a part of love. You might find stories
of sex as self-destruction or exploitation of other. You might find
highly intellectual and literary explorations of sexuality that resolve
nothing for the characters involved but leave them just as perplexed at
the end of the story as they were at the beginning.
If you're like me,
you'll find all these excursions unsatisfying even while you might admire
the authors' skills. What I like to read is a rollicking good story
where two people who love each other (even though they may not know it
yet) have delicious sex. And I want to experience it with them.
In other words, I want a damned good and sexy romance.
When; Or, how
long has this been going on?
In December of 1995,
Red Sage Publishing released the first volume of Secrets. It contained
four novellas that contained all the elements of romance novels -- love
story, rich characterization, conflict between hero and heroine, and happy
ending -- but the stories went beyond the level of sensuality of more traditional
romances. My fantasy, The Spinner's Dream, was in that volume of
stories. In fact, it was the first story that Alexandria Kendall
bought, so I like to say that I started the whole ultrasensual romance
trend. (Don't write to me. I'm joking.)
Since then, we've
seen an explosion of interest in romances that push the envelope of sexuality.
In 1999 , Kensington released Captivated, and their big four -- Robin Schone,
Thea Devine, Bertrice Small, and Susan Johnson -- showed just how elegant
and compelling ultrasensual stories within the romance genre can be.
Kensington is now featuring these four authors in their line called Brava.
In category, Harlequin
Temptation had such success with their Blaze books that they've given those
stories a line of their own. You'll soon be reading longer and more
sensual stories by such authors as Janelle Dennison, Carly Phillips, Julie
Kenner, Julie Elizabeth Leto, Vicki Lewis Thompson and Cathy Yardley.
opened new avenues for authors to explore this aspect of romance.
Wonderful authors such as Nikita Black and Jaid Black offer their stories
from on-line publishers. There's even a bi-lingual website in Germany
for exploring women's erotica. With the success of all of these publishers,
ultrasensual romance is coming into its own.
I'm happy to report
that Secrets, Volume 7 will be published in December, and all the Secrets
books are available in hardback from The Doubleday Book Club and the Literary
Guild. By now, everyone knows about Angela Knight's delicious vampires
and the awards they have won. I'm currently working on my third novella
for Red Sage.
What is ultrasensual
This is, perhaps,
the most difficult question to answer about ultrasensual romance.
People often say about erotica, "I can't tell you what it is, but I'll
know it when I see it." Within this subgenre authors find a lot of
freedom (hooray!) to explore what excites them and what they hope will
excite readers. What floats your boat may leave me cold, and what I find
delectable you may find not to your liking. It seems to me that,
with individual tastes so different in this important aspect of our lives,
such variation is inevitable. Let's live and let live, and maybe
we'll all learn something along the way.
I do find one common
aspect to most ultrasensual stories, though, and that is that they tend
to have a sexy premise. The underlying energy that drives the story
will be sexual. It might be a woman's sexual awakening or the lengths
to which a male sex slave will go to escape his bondage, but the reader
knows from the outset that this story is going to be "about" sex in a way
that other romances aren't. This underlying sexual theme raises the
level of sexual tension and holds it there throughout the story.
Who reads and
writes ultrasensual romance?
I happen to be a
52-year-old, grey-haired lady who's been married to the same man for 22
years. I hear from lots of people, mostly women, who read this kind
of story, and they seem to me to be a very varied group of people.
Most of them are involved in committed, happy relationships.
I will tell you two
stories of people I know who've read my Secrets novellas. One is
the chief of a large department at a hospital with the HMO I work for.
He bought Secrets I because he knew me as an e-mail acquaintance.
He read my story and "got turned on." So, he gave it to his wife
to read, and she "got turned on," too. As a result, they conceived
their second child.
I thought that was
pretty cool -- with me having Created Life and all (imagine Dr. Frankenstein
here). But recently I heard an even more satisfying story about the
power of my pen. A friend's husband suffered a debilitating stroke
last December, despite the fact that he's quite a young man. Life
has been a major struggle for my friend and her husband since then, as
you can imagine. Among other things, my friend's husband's vision
has been severely affected to the extent that at present he can't read.
My friend was reading aloud to him from my second Red Sage story recently
but had to stop because they "got distracted." If that force isn't
creative and life-affirming, I'd like for you to tell me what is.
Where to look
for ultrasensual romances?
From publishers in
Canada (Harlequin), to New York (Kensington), to Connecticut (Dreams Unlimited),
to Florida (Red Sage); from bookstores to book clubs to websites; from
established writers to new voices just breaking in, ultrasensual romance
is breaking new ground. The authors are writing delicious stories
for you to savor in the privacy of your imagination while you laze in a
hammock or stretch out in front of a roaring fire or entertain your lover
in any number of secret places. We hope you'll sit back and enjoy
this erotic journey into romance for the new millennium and beyond.