Yes, I knew that would probably get your attention, so I’ll get right to the point.
I spent almost an entire day at the shop getting work done on my car. Now it’s all fixed up and ready to go for a winter that looms on the horizon like an unwelcome guest. I don’t mind snow, but I detest the bitter cold. I took with me, for the purpose of keeping myself occupied while my car was on the lifter, a Regency romance by Georgette Heyer, ‘The Toll Gate’, which is both a romance and a mystery novel.
Now, while Ms. Heyer never relayed to her reader the business of lovemaking by the parties involved, because she didn’t think it was necessary, she went to a great deal of trouble to build relationships between the principals involved. It is almost entirely modern authors who include love-making scenes for their readers.
I have no issues with that, as long as it is appropriate to the context of the story. We should all know the difference between the gratuitous use of sex, which you find in what are politely called girlie magazines, and romantic sex, which is what you find in modern-day romance novels.
But I do think that if you want the reader to believe that it’s going to be truly romantic, you should take into account the setting. That, too, needs to be romantic, and there is nothing romantic about making love in a hayfield. It might seem as though there is, but if you’re the one creating a love scene in a hayfield, I’d like to know if you’ve ever really done that yourself. Do you have any idea how many bugs there are flapping around in the hay before it’s cut? Or what it’s like to have your nicely-washed hair tangled in weeds? Have you ever had the stubble stick you right in the behind?
It’s not much better in a barn. They usually smell of horse or cow manure, they’re as dusty as all get-out, and the spiders up in the rafters will wonder what on earth those two humans are doing down there on the hayloft flooring. And in a barn stall, it’s worse. There is ALWAYS, ALWAYS detritus of all sorts everywhere, stuff that you don’t want on your clothes or in your hair. And you certainly don’t want either a telltale straw stuck to your clothing or the smell wafting out of your hair, do you? No.
There’s that scene in ‘From Here to Eternity’ where Burt Lancaster is on the beach with the waves coming in, kissing Donna Reed. Seriously, folks, there is nothing kills the moment quite like being swashed with cold water. It is NOT sexy, but it is definitely uncomfortable, never mind the sand in your swimsuit. I know that the waves washing over the two lovers was a cinematographic euphemism for (gasp!) forbidden sex, but the producers obviously hadn’t down been to the beach to have that particular experience.
The front porch steps won’t do it, either. The edge of each step in your back. Try it some time. And then there’s campout overnight – mosquito city. Do you really want people to notice the mosquito bites on your neck? And has anyone, anywhere, ever actually tried it on the back of a horse? Let me know: you must have remarkable anatomy.
No, I’m heavily in favor of lovemaking (okay, sex) in a comfortable, clean bed. Warm in the wintertime, where you can enjoy each other’s body heat, and cool in the summer, with the night breezes washing over you and the moonlight showing the sparkle in your lover’s eyes.
Even in the movie ‘Body Heat’, the two lovers were in or on a bed.
All that other stuff comes under the category of foreplay.