When I was reading romance by the boxful in the eighties, it seemed to me that the first sex scene always happened in chapter four. In fact, I remember a friend saying she was just going to write a book called Chapter Four, and it would only be the love scenes without all the other build up. I guess she wasn’t a fan of sexual tension.
Sexual tension can be amazing in a romance, when it springs from the core beliefs of the characters and not from constant artificial interruptions (doorbells, phone calls, bodies through the ceiling). If it becomes the be-all, end-all of the characters’ relationship, once they “do it,” it’s all downhill from there. But I’m not talking about Moonlighting, am I?
While I love reading sexual tension in a romance, as a rule, I don’t write it. As one of my friends is fond of pointing out—not the one with a passion for chapter four—“Women need a reason; men just need a place.”
An important bulletin from the Department of Duh: Sex is fun. With a little experience and a good partner, sex can be holy-crap-I-found-religion amazing. That’s all the reason my characters need to find each other hot and get off. The fun (for me as a writer) comes afterward, finding reasons for them to do it again, helping them to an awareness of their connection and giving them realistic reasons why they can't have their HEA right now.
That brings me to my WIP. I really didn’t plan it, but I’m finding that wonder of wonders, I’m creating sexual tension. But talk about your artificial interruptions! These boys just can’t seem to find a place and time to get off. There are illnesses, location issues, and supply issues. I’m not through chapter four yet, but I’m starting to worry about missing even that benchmark.
My characters are getting a little frustrated and so am I. I guess only time will tell if I’m creating believable, skin-tingling sexual tension leading to religious-experience consummation, or if I’m just leading them on.