Is sex always about love?

Fire & Ice 380

This is actually a writing post…kind of. We all know I like titles that drag you guys in because I am a comment whore.

Plus Julian Froment started this conversation and asked me not to tell everyone even though he said it in the comments. He is a very reserved gentleman who would never swear and/or make a lewd comment to anyone anywhere. What we like to refer to as proper English Gent. I lie. I digress. Go check out his blog anyway. I hang out there. We can have a drink.

So here is the question. When you are writing and reading, how important is it to you that the characters fall in love with one another before they fall into bed? Do they ever have to fall in love or is the act itself good enough to satisfy you?

When I write love scenes, they can be pretty intense, but I tailor them to the individual character. If the character has a fiery, forward type of personality, I try to make sure the love scene reflects this. If they are more reserved, then I take that into consideration.

What do you all think? Is love the same thing as sex when it comes to a novel? Do you like the character less if they have a meaningless one night stand or if they become involved too quickly, even if it is with their intended?

As a general question to other writers, do you get nervous when you write a sex scene, fearing that you will botch it up and make it silly?

 

Answers please. Comment whore.

 

 

 

 

141 thoughts on “Is sex always about love?”

  1. I may be old fashioned, but I believe that sex is a bout more than just the physical act. I prefer that characters be in love, before sex. I think that a relationship is stronger as a result. Still I suppose it depends on the characters and on the story.

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      1. I don’t know about lower expectations. It may just be that the subject matter requires treatment of the subject differently. I assume that a romance novel includes romance, love and sex. So for me I think that the process of love before sex fits better in that genre than in some others where transitory meetings are a more acceptable norm.

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      2. Certainly the scene needs to fit the characters personalities. A certain type of person will not naturally be someone that will partake of one night stands, and by the same virtue, others may not be able to act romantically.

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      3. What bothers me is when the scene comes out of left field. “Martha was making toast. She had an orange cat. Then Fred banged her.” ??? What happened to the toast?

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      4. Ionia wrote “What bothers me is when the scene comes out of left field. β€œMartha was making toast. She had an orange cat. Then Fred banged her.” ??? What happened to the toast?”

        HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

        I LOVE that! πŸ™‚

        And what happened to the orange cat? πŸ˜‰ Did Fred bang Martha, or the orange cat? :-O

        πŸ˜‰

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  2. It depends on the character. Some characters would be the types to have sex without the attachment while others need love. For example, I have one couple that starts awkward and falls in love before having sex. I have another couple that practically starts out with their tongues in each others mouth. Both are different, but both work for the characters involved.

    My personal preference is to have there be romance and intimacy beforehand. That makes the characters’ relationship more real and stable. In a lust-based relationship, I tend to wait for one character to get bored with the other.

    I don’t write true sex scenes because they don’t really fit my writing style. Also, I don’t think I could pull it off. I do the making out session beforehand and the naked blissful aftermath with more intimacy. Maybe I’m just an intimacy addict.

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    1. That makes sense. I have read some pretty vivid scenes in fantasy books, but to me they often feel out of place. I think a lot of people don’t expect them in fantasy as well, and they could be met with some rather harsh judgment.

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      1. Definitely. The plot decides it too. I write humorous adventures, so a hot sex scene would be very out of place. Yet, I’m sure there are fantasy books that can include sex and not get criticized. I can see it being done if you describe the way the main character (or whoever is going to get lucky) thinks and acts towards women. If he/she is always checking them out in lewd terms then a lustful sex scene would be very far-fetched. In the same vein, two characters that talk a lot about having kids or use charming innuendo could get away with a mild sex scene if done correctly.

        It’s all in the delivery.

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      2. Definitely. Though, I’m not sure if younger or older readers would be more inclined toward the romantic side. Would gender be a factor since the books that typically have sex scenes are more geared for women?

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      3. I think that might be a consideration but I have also read plenty of other genres that have a lot of very passionate scenes. I think it depends largely on the reader and what they consider appropriate. I have a friend who swears every other word but hates anything with a sex scene as if it is going to make her unclean.

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  3. In real life it all depends on the person. There are people who want sex just for the sex. There are others that have or need an emotional connection before they go there. Not necessarily “love” but there’s an appeal or attraction that motivates further action. And then there are those who, once they have sex, the connection automatically gets stronger, more intense.
    I think the same thing applies to fiction. it depends. On the character. On the story. But, I can tell you that sex without love is … well, just sex. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Absolutely. I believe that is true. I have been working on a scene in my book where I really want two characters together , but life just seems to be tearing them apart. I’m wondering if a sex scene will hurt them or help them.

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      1. Write it with them getting together. Write it without them getting together. See which one you like better.

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  4. It depends on the characters and the story. One of my favorite authors, Laurel K Hamilton, has her characters getting busy EARLY in the game, but does so in a way that makes sense, that flows with the story rather being like “WTF? WHY did that happen?”

    I kind of struggled with this on my Tales Of Underfell: Shifting Shadows web series I’m doing on my blog. In #2, two of the main players get their shag on after just one meeting, but after asking advice from a couple of writers before posting, it was pointed out that their attraction was evident in #1, so it wasn’t just like BAM out of the blue. It’s actually one of the best bits of sexy I’ve written, so I’m rather proud of it :p

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    1. I do have one book where my characters went for it rather early. That being said, they also ended up together at the end and it was the struggle for them to be together that I wanted to focus on, so getting the sex out of the way first seemed logical. I must now make myself a not to come dig further through your blog.

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  5. On book level, I like my characters to fall in love if I am reading a romance novel. If I want erotica, I’ll buy that. If it is a sex scene in another genre, like a murder mystery, it doesn’t always matter to me, depends on how or whether I have bonded or identify with the characters. I am an old married lady, and I am just fine with recreational sex. Hell, I was fine with protected recreational sex before I was married. It’s even better when you are also in love πŸ™‚

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    1. I definitely agree that I am often more invested in characters if it is a love story and expect them to include emotion. I write erotica (Big secret revealed) Under a pen name and although i don’t always have love involved, i do often have characters that display tenderness toward one another.

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  6. I follow where my characters take me – if it’s more than my little prude heart can stand, I just do the famous,
    “later, back at the ranch” cut away and let them engage in their lewd behavior without viewers….
    LOL

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    1. I have done that before as well. I think I have one where she drops her clothes and then it is two weeks later….hmmmm….not sure what the readers were thinking on that one. Endurance perhaps.

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      1. LOL – Because I write primarily non-fiction, I don’t have to deal with this very often – – but I realized that a ‘scene’ had to occur in order to best show the motives, motivations and plans of one of my characters – still not sure it’s right, but guess, when it’s all said and done, the critics will let me know….
        LOL

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      2. I always think of George Carlin and his spiel about the Reverend that was offended by a radio talk show…
        “Well, Reverend, did you know there are two nobs on the radio? One to switch the channel and one to turn it off!”

        This does not mean I do not value you the gifts of constructive criticism, but there’s some feedback that just doesn’t mean much, once it’s all said and done…
        πŸ™‚

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      3. Yes.. it’s from “The Letter” right? I saw it years and years ago – – I especially love the part about standing in line at the bank to ask for change for a nickle….

        πŸ˜€

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  7. Great question! And I agree it probably does depend on the genre as well as the characters. As a reader, I’m okay with either kind of scene, provided the scene is true for the character, necessary for the story, etc. I’m currently writing YA, so there it’s more about the romance than actual sex. And, yes, the love scenes make me nervous, because I’m afraid I’ll botch them. I want them to be sexy, without being cheesy, or going too far for the kind of YA novel I’m writing. Do you get nervous too?

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    1. I do. terribly so in fact. Often, the way i think of things before write them does not come out at all as I had imagined. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is bad. You raised another interesting aspect of this discussion though, what to do about intimating a love scene in a YA book? That could be a post all it’s own!

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      1. Now I am laughing. I have to admit as writer rather than a reader, the sex scenes make me nervous. I had a lot more in my first sex scene of my first book and cut it out because I feared it was getting to deep and too cheesy. In the second scene I just talked about the sex that was happening rather than getting too very explicit with it. In the third scene, I just implied that they were going to have sex and went on to the next chapter. That’s probably how I would go with very YA novel…but if YA is supposed to be 18-25…I can tell you that some 18 yos have actually been far more adventuresome than I was at that age, and some 25 yos could make me blush today πŸ™‚

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  8. I just skip past sex scenes in books anyway. Most of the time they add nothing to the story, and I generally find them completely unbelievable. Unless there is a compelling narrative reason why 1) these characters are having sex and 2) we need to know the details, I don’t see any reason to waste my time with them.

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    1. I tend to do the same, oddly. I kind of figure it has already been done before and most of it will end up being a “fill in character name here” type of deal.

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  9. I do not enjoy writing sex scenes, and that’s why I tend to avoid them, I suppose. I don’t mind reading them, if they work for the book and its characters, and I don’t judge their choices.

    My editor turned my first book into a romance as a pre-requisite for working with me. I will never publish that book, because I ended up hating it. Oh, I wrote the sex scenes and the starry eyes and all that, and I think, overall, the book turned out well. I just never wanted to be that kind of writer. (There’s nothing wrong with that kind of writing. At all. It just didn’t suit me.)

    My current novel is in submittal stage, and I devised a story with absolutely no sex scenes. Maybe that’s why it keeps getting rejected…………

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    1. You have an excellent point. I did the same. only, I sold out and began to write the sex scenes. I am not returning to my original ideas and although they may not do as well, they certainly seem more me.

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  10. For me personally, it’s all about what suits the characters. Some characters are fine jumping each other without being in love (or admitting to it) and others need that commitment first before they can go any further. As long as it feels right for the character, it makes not a hoot of difference for me. In fact, as in all things, variety is key. If everything was the same, it’d just be really boring.
    As for writing sex, no, I don’t get embarrassed at all really. I’ve had complaints about too much sex in my book, but I’ve yet to have someone say that it was bad sex. Actually, the best review I’ve had (that mentioned it) called it ‘improbably athletic sex of the panting, thrusting, never-before-been-so-good variety’. I loved that description. Apart from that, all my colleagues at work know I write kinky stuff, and one of them keeps finding the ‘worst’ bits and giving them to my boss to read. It’s hard to keep getting embarrassed at that.

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      1. Actually, I’ve got a worse one than that. I brought in a paperback version of my book to show off to people, and a colleague from another department (lovely bloke) came to ask something. So I said ‘here, have a look at my book’, and he opened it on a random page and read out the first sentence he came across.
        I swear to you, there is no possible worst place he could have picked, especially without context. The sentence in question was ‘He slid the ring around his cock lovingly.’
        So yeah, that time I did get embarrassed. (Although believe it or not, that wasn’t actually from a sex scene.)

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  11. I leave it up to the characters. What are their morals? What are they looking for? Is the character looking for love through a physical connection? Does he/she give love to have love? Is it a story between teens or older people? So many variations, I can’t say what they would do. It depends on the story.

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      1. Hmmm, yes and no. If I wrote a story based on my personality, well, it would probably be boring. LOL An author has to step outside of their shell and think of what the characters are driven to do. My characters do not reflect my morals or views. They are their own individuals and have much more fun than I do!

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  12. It really depends on the type of book you are writing. I am old fashioned in my ways of thinking that sex and love go together and you can’t be fully satisfied with one without the other. However, in a book…. as a writer, I know there are all kinds out there. Sometimes a really hot scene of a one night stand can grasp some attention. I am not personally a one night stand kind of person but sometimes the whole point of being a writer is stepping outside yourself and being the person you sometimes wish you could be or allows you to venture into that one forbidden place that lets you be the “bad girl” for once. I am not allows easy at for writing scenes like that as I am a thriller author but a good sex scene gives people a touchy feely connection with a book that keeps things interesting to say the least. In real life though, my thoughts, dreams, visions and fantasies surround the one person I lie with in bed every night. And from that perspective sex and love MUST go together, but from the fantasy side of things…. a good hot forbidden sex scene can be exciting. Do I feel awkward writing such a scene…kind of cause I’m not that kind of person in real life, so I’m more awkward with how it will sound because I don’t really know how that kind acts. With that said, I am also the least judgmental person you will ever meet and I think to each their own..

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    1. I do see your point there. I also struggle with writing characters during a love scene. I always feel like the audience will cringe. I cringe sometimes when I go back and read what i have written. Not necessarily because it is bad, just because I worry how it will be taken and if it was too much, or not enough.

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  13. For me it totally depends on the characters, but then any time I write it’s character driven. Do I get nervous writing them? Not at all. Hetero, homo, bi, group, vampire, gentle, murderous (it’s a vampire thing): I’m happy to write it all. πŸ™‚

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  14. The original question(s) was (were) When you are writing and reading, how important is it to you that the characters fall in love with one another before they fall into bed? Do they ever have to fall in love or is the act itself good enough to satisfy you? I think the characters need to do what they have been designed to do. I read and write characters who would NEVER have sex before falling in love. They are totally wrapped up in the condition. Other characters can have sex with no thought at all. As far as me as a reader, I usually like the character to be true to themselves. As a writer I try to make the character “in character” as much as possible. Great question.

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    1. I agree with that strongly. One of the main things I tend to hate about romance novels, is that when you get into one you almost know what is going to happen and it is rarely dependent on the situation. Truly, I see this happening more and more in other genres and mainstream literature as well. It irks me.

      I want my character’s actions to match their personality. i doubt the mousy little woman that works in the church archives is the vixen she seems five minutes into the book unless the author is a little drunk or a lot twisted.

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  15. I think sex can be about love, if that is the right thing for your characters. But what about situations where your character may be self-destructive (unprotected sex, random sex partners, dangerous sex, public sex, multiple partner sex) or controlling/power-mad (sex as dominance, S&M) or simply sensual beings (sex as experience, sharing, physical connection).

    What happens and what you describe is up to you, but I think it is unfair to your characters and potentially to your story to demand that love be a prerequisite to sex. It would be like saying hate must be a prerequisite for physical violence, or joy for laughter.

    My $0.02 Canadian (~$0.019 USD)…Randy

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    1. Very well thought comment, thank you. I do agree with you that not every character needs to be in love for there to be an opportunity for a great sex scene. I just think sometimes that authors forget that their characters need to have human qualities and I like to see a bit of development emerge before it becomes a random mess of tangled bodies.

      exchange rates, honestly. πŸ™‚

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      1. I totally agree with your proposition (if you’ll pardon the expression). There has to be a reason beyond salacious copy and the desire to publish naughty words.

        I look forward to reading more of your posts and engaging in further discussions.

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      2. Thank you so much. I do as well. Okay, so there is no good way to say position. I tried to think of one but they all sounded bad. πŸ™‚

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  16. uhhh, i do not know, basically because i write silly poems but if i was to write something or if someday i do, i doubt i will get beyond the kiss phase, just because at this moment in my life i cannot even think about men, romance or anything like that without falling apart. Which, I suppose, brings to the table that if you want it to be believable – sincere – then the character should be sincere (and the writing creating the character should have some vested sincerity. If not, it would not be very believable even gratuitous. Ah geez, i do not even think I am making sense – this is what the whole idea of love and romance and sex is doing to me right now. Yuck!

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  17. I really am not qualified to speak about this at all! Um… for me I would like sex to be about love but when it comes to the Romance genre… I don’t know. I think it could be anything really, like it starts out as lust and then turns into love… or… you know… I am blushing too much…. so…. yeah… that is all I am going to say, lol.

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  18. Reblogged this on Amanda's Words / starfire8me and commented:
    Well, I DO NOT think sex is always about love. Especially when you are a young adult, unless you have already found “the one”??? Anyway this is a time to experiment and find out what you like or don’t! What position you like etc.

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  19. I’m not too sure… I’m 10,000 words into writing a so called romance and I haven’t written a sex scene involving the two characters yet… and it might be another 10,000 words before the do… lol…

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  20. I tend to scan sentences when I get to the sexy time parts. I find it a little bit tedious when everything is described for me, leaving nothing to the imagination. Also, I already know that each session is going to be the best they’d ever had with each round getting better and better (even if they start out as virgins) until they are the best lovers the universe has ever seen. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a sex scene where the people involved were like “Meh. Hopefully next time will be better. At least he/she’s got a great personality.”

    To answer your question though, I don’t think that there has to be love before sex, but it needs to fit into the story. I hate extraneous sex scenes which are just there to fit a genre or to shock.

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  21. There should at least be romance unless it is a chance encounter. That’s my personal opinion and I’m so glad I’m not a romance writer. I’ll leave that to the experts.

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  22. I do get nervous when writing sex things and they have ended up in silliness. Though I have tried writing only twice. But still I think, it’s not always about love. Sometimes, just to provide satisfaction to one character, or from his POV!

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  23. Found your blog by way of Susan Nicholls’ reblog – you pose extremely interesting questions in this post.

    I’ll start by echoing your comment about the scene reflecting the individual character, because while sex is the same by definition, it can be so different for each individual. I’m reminded of a sex scene that reflected its emptiness in a YA lit text, because the protagonist was trying to forget about her mother’s death.

    I’ll add that a sex scene might reflect what the author wants its readers to experience. If an author wants to get me hot and bothered, the motive for the characters’ sex may be off the beaten path of, “I love you,” first. While a character’s sexual decisions may reflect on their person, it isn’t the only thing I am looking for when reading.

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  24. I think the sex scenes depend on the type of book. I’ve read books that didn’t have any at all and I loved them. Then I’ve read others where there’s a lot and its not even erotica. My first manuscript had a sex scene in almost every chapter. My new one that I’m working on for Camp NaNoWriMo is 5 chapters in and no sex at all.

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  25. Well, as you know i don’t like sex scenes. I can’t even stand PDAs to be honest. I’m not sure why. I used to work as a check out person and i remember having a few customers making out at the registers and trying to tell them the amount they owed. “Sorry? How much did you say?” she said with her tongue still sticking out halfway down his throat. Blech. I think i’m just a very private person and i don’t want to know (or see). That’s their business. I don’t really think that answered your question. Oh well.

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    1. eeeeeew! I got this mental image of a couple fondling the grapefruit and making rude gestures with the bananas.

      I do agree with the public displays of groping and so on needing to be kept under control, but then again, the older the couple is the cuter I think it is. I discriminate.

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      1. Haha! Or maybe the watermelons πŸ˜‰
        Yes. I do agree. If the couples had been in their eighties making out I would have been like, “Good on you! Keep up the good work!”

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  26. I’m hesitant to throw my 2 cents in here because so many people have already said what I think πŸ˜‰ But I don’t recall seeing the word “gratuitous.” One pithy commenter basically said that it just needs to “make sense.” It has to be necessary to the characters, to the story line. Gratuitous sex (and violence) can detract from an otherwise good story. Even in erotica, where you expect to find plenty of sex, it has to be make sense. Otherwise it’s just porn.
    I want to take the high road and say that I prefer love before sex, but I’m a real-life kind of gal. Truth be told, I was in lust with my husband before I was in love with him. Sometimes a story line that starts with sex and ends with love can be very nice πŸ™‚

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    1. I very much agree. What I find bothersome about many authors is that they seem to throw in something random just for shock and awe value, when it doesn’t even fit the story or the characters. Have you ever read something and thought “If they would have left out that part this would have been great?”

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      1. Oh, I definitely have! I wish I could remember some titles but I probably don’t want to remember ;). I do remember a funny story … a little off-topic … John Grisham was being interviewed by Stephen Colbert who noted that Grisham didn’t include sex scenes in his novels. Grisham said he tried to write one once, handed to his wife for review. She read it, handed it back, and told him not to bother πŸ˜‰

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  27. I’ll admit it…I came here to read your post after reading Charles’ and Crankies post comment…a great post and very informative, I don’t do love scenes yet but this would be a place to be to learn something about them… still such a let-down after all the hype πŸ˜‰ …but I loved the great fantastic “comment whore” I can live with that in a big way!

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      1. Ooops…I’m afraid I was still under the influence of the silly posts…hmmm…my mind is influenced by the African heat that is invading Italy…I was wondering how to make a photo challenge that included the word erotic and/or sex and then show photos of ice-cream…you teasing me by chance… sorry dear Ionia can’t seem to get serious today…forgive me pls…

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  28. I would venture to say that some would appreciate the sex scene to adhere to their value system. Yet, on the other hand, some may like two characters to have senseless sex because they may never do that in their lifetime.

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