The Author 
Alice Gaines Chambers 
writes humorous historical romance for Leisure and ultrasensual romance for Red Sage. She's the author of four full-length books and two novellas. A University of California, Berkeley Ph.D., Alice lives in Oakland, California with her husband of 22 years. When she's not caring for her garage-door-full of mounted orchids, she can be found in her garden with her best friend, pulling weeds and killing snails.


Location, location, location

It’s often said that in retail there are three things you need to succeed – location, location, location.  While much more goes into a romance than the story’s location, it’s still true that setting can make a good story great and a great story unforgettable.  In my experience, setting can be especially useful in the creation of ultra-sensual and erotic romances.

All romance takes the reader away from the humdrum of everyday existence.  But to create the necessary level of sexual tension for erotic romance, a writer absolutely must free the reader from the concerns and irritations of daily life.  One way to accomplish this escape for the reader is to set your story in someplace exotic.  I have tremendous admiration for writers who can make the present day, ordinary world exciting.  For me, everyday surroundings just aren’t as sexy as a Central American jungle or a lavishly appointed tent beside a desert oasis.

Exotic scenery and climates can create heightened sensuality to enhance the sexual contact between your characters.  My e-book from Hardshell Word Factory, Moon of the Jaguar (by Alice Gaines), takes place among the ruins of an ancient Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula.  I created the haunted city of Caban Itza to enhance the mystery aspect of the story.  I soon discovered that the lush backdrop – complete with the eerie song of tree frogs and the scent of burning incense – helped me to play on all five senses.  I deliberately made the greens of the rainforest brighter than those of the real world.  Even the heat of the jungle helped to make my story sensual. 

Different lands and different societies may also have different sexual mores.  What might seem wicked to us could be more acceptable in another culture.  Several European countries have traditionally held more liberal sexual attitudes than England or the United States.  Imagine the erotic possibilities of an American innocent confronting one of these cultures for the first time.

Of course, the ultimate in exotic locations are those that don’t even exit on Earth.  I think it’s no coincidence that so many ultra-sensual romances are fantasies and futuristics.  Within these settings, the author has the freedom to construct situations that could never exist in the real world.  My first Secrets novella, “The Spinner’s Dream” (Volume 1), takes place in a land where handsome boys of the churl class are routinely selected to serve as sexual servants for their masters’ daughters.  My hero, Thiele, is a completely sexual being who wouldn’t exist in any other place (darn it all).  Characters can make love under multiple moons (Secrets, Volume 5) or in zero gravity (Volume 2).  A young princess can select three young men to initiate her into sexuality (Volume 4)

In general, publishers of erotic romance appear more open to exotic settings than more traditional romance publishers.  As the field expands, we may be fortunate enough to read stories set in the most lavish cities in Europe.  Paris and Rome have been sadly neglected, for example.  We may have stories taking place in non-standard time periods.  I would love to see some books set in ancient Egypt or Rome.  Africa, Australia/New Zealand, the Indian subcontinent – all these settings are sadly missing from romance.  By expanding the possibilities for settings, ultra-sensual romance may end up liberating the genre as a whole.

Alice Chambers

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