Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dakota Flint Day 3: Let's Get It On. Or Not.

(A little ironic, but please enjoy the very random eye candy!)

I've been thinking a lot about sexual tension lately. In fiction. *clears throat*

It all started when I read a story last week where the "love" interest was a real d-bag. Total asshole. In fact, I wasn't even sure if it was going to turn out to be a romance regardless of how the book was marketed. But it was, in fact, a romance and I finished it thinking, "Boy, I should have hated that, but I kind of liked it." It was…refreshing. Why assholes would be refreshing…yeah, I don’t think I’ll continue with that line of commentary… *g*

But it got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the jerkish behavior I found refreshing, it was the sexual tension, the attraction and the will-they-won't-they feeling. It felt like something was building and I was really enjoying that slow burn, which has been a little sparse in my romantic reads of late.

I love that slow burn. I love the waiting. I love the whisper of unfulfilled desire in the room, the shiver of want down the spine, the wave of anticipation moving over skin. For me, that's often sexier and more intriguing than a full-on sexual relationship from the start.

Sometimes what I like to call instant-lust fits a story and that's fine. I can name some of my favorite romances where the couple is getting down and dirty within the first chapter. But even then, my personal preference leans toward the ones where after the sex in in the first chapter, the two characters take a step back and the story--conflict!--develops with a break from the bedroom, maybe some belated build-up. One heated encounter vs. constant sexing, if you will.

But overall, I just dig stories that lay the sexual tension on thick and the characters don't get together right away. Because then when they do finally kick it, it's like passing a point of no return. No U-turns ahead. The dynamic has changed and now it's all about the conflict and the obstacles and whatever is keeping them from trying on Happy Together hats. Nothing about it feels easy, and so the payoff feels that much more significant.

And maybe that’s what it comes down to for me—sex in romance shouldn’t be easy. Sure, sometimes gratification can be just that easy, but moving into a sexual relationship with someone, becoming intimate, should be complex, complicated, maybe even uncomfortable or just plain hard. *cough*

That’s just what makes good reading for me. I like characters to work for it.

What about you, do you like the slow build-up or do you prefer characters to feel the attraction and then act on it?

Thanks to the lovely Dakota for joining us for these three days on the island.  Her boat now awaits to take her back to reality, but don't forget that all those who comment today and the previous two days are in the running for a copy of Dakota's new m/m cowboy novella Seeing You.


Jenre said...

Interesting post Dakota.

My answer is that it depends on the book and on my mood. Sometimes I want to have a quick sex scene at the beginning and other times I'm happy to let the stew in their sexual tension for a while. I do sometimes think it's a shame when the men jump too quickly into bed. Then again, these are men we are talking about here and having them hold on too long might seem a bit unrealistic :)

Amanda said...

Great Post! and the pictures.... Yuuummmeee I am going to have to mop the keyboard!

My answer is going to be a bit like Jenre's. It does depend on my mood but I think I lean more towards the tension and the build-up to the big moment but then other times and other characters I want the big moment ASAP.

Hmmm guess that means I'm hard to please LOL.

Thanks for joining us here hope you had fun!

Tam said...

I think I lean more towards a slow burn. When that first kiss FINALLY comes and it's like a bubble of tension pops inside you. Whew, steamy.

But like most, sometimes meeting and instantly falling in bed can work, the build up can be only a few minutes as eyes meet across a crowded bar and you KNOW it's coming. But I think in general I like there to be some build-up.

Mary G said...

I like both as long as there is that tension. If they get together early & something happens to split them up, it works as conflict is central to the plot moving. A commenter on a post a few monthe ago said that she hates being in the the characters heads while they're apart & just get on with it. I think the yearning & angst is what makes it good & keeps me reading.

Chris said...

Another "It depends" here. :)

I will say that it seems as if there are far fewer stories which build up the sexual tension.

Janna said...

It definitely depends on my mood. I don't want the one or the other all the time. For some book couples a slow build up is better, for others it fits perfectly that they act on their attraction instantly. For example, I liked the slow build up of Dylan and Wade's attraction, and that they took a step back after their first sex scene. It wouldn't have made their love very believable if they hadn't. As for other couples with less angst filled backgrounds, it can be unrealistic if they don't act on their sexual feelings...

Dakota Flint said...

Jen: So you like it both ways, eh? ;) I think maybe I've been reading too many books lately where they jump instantly into bed and then we never get to know the characters outside of that (maybe it's also a lack of conflict problem, too)

Amanda: Thanks! Not hard to please, it just means you're discerning and you have good taste. :) Oh and I've had a lot of fun here, I'm so glad to have been asked.

Tam: Steamy is a perfect word for how hot a scene can be when a couple is, erm, releasing all that tension. Heh, now I'm in the mood. To read! *g*

Karen W. said...

I usually like the slow burn too. It's fun to see the journey and the struggle.

Great pictures! :)

Dakota Flint said...

Mary G: Well I'm with you, being in the character's head while they're apart is usually one of the best parts. Not THE best part, of course. But it's what can make a story satisfying.

Chris: I definitely agree with you there, I feel like for every romance I read these days that has a good bit of sexual tension, I read 4 that don't.

Janna: I'm glad you liked the way Dylan and Wade took a step back. I felt that was really important to the development of the story, that they not settle into something that wasn't right for them. But I can see what you mean, in some situations it would be pretty unrealistic for the characters not to act on their feelings. I love a slow build-up, but sometimes I wonder what's stopping them...

Lea said...

Hi Dakota:

Thought provoking post. I have to agree with the "slow burn" scenario, the build up of sexual tension being much more satisfying in a romance then the "booty call" with no lead up.

Now I have to preface this by saying that in some novels an author pulls off the "rampant desire instant sex", scenario extremely well. So I guess at the end of the day it depends on the story, sub-genre and reader preferances.. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Kris said...

I'm a mood reader too so it does depend on whether I'm up for slow or fast. :) I also totally agree with your point that sometimes insta-lust fits the storyline.

The bottom line is, for me at least, that it's the author's job to make it convincing to the reader regardless of how quickly (or nor) the characters end up in bed together.

Having said that, I love the build up of sexual tension in a book. These types of stories, unfortunately, are few and far between.

Dakota Flint said...

Lea: You're right...a lot of it has to do with good writing--a good writer can make me love just about anything. I guess I'm just more inclined to love the slow burn. :)

Kris: I agree, I don't often run across many stories with a build-up of sexual tension. I'm always on the look out, and if I find any m/m romances with a big build up like that they usually go in my re-read file.

The Bookworm said...

great post :) I do like that slow burn, the anticipation while reading.

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