Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It is what it is

Check out the contest at the end.

We’ve been talking about Happy Ever After, Happy For Now and maybe not even Happy At All (my personal NoNo.) Call me a sap, but when I read or write a book, I’m only truly satisfied if the ending is “happy,” whatever that turns out to be. I’ve read books that left me hanging and hated the author. I’ve read books that depressed me with the ending and hated the author even more. I love a good cry at the end of a book but only if the tears are happy ones.
So call me a sap. It’s who and what I am.
Somehow in the past year the great “out there” has decided that erotic romance doesn’t necessarily mean a happy ending, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. What can be happier than truly wonderful sex? If the author develops the characters well and invests the reader in them, if the emotion comes across as real, then the sex—detailed and graphic—is just a natural progression of that.
I like to create characters who have challenges to relationships, who have boundaries that are difficult to cross. I want the reader to cheer them on and celebrate with them when they achieve their “Happy Ever After.” A really good example of this is Grace Delaney. The heroine of Rodeo Heat. Do you remember Rodeo Heat? It’s the book I read a passage from to Bill Geist on CBS Sunday Morning. I think I made his eyeballs roll back in his head.
Grace was widowed young with two small children and lived a very contained, restricted life. She’s an excellent accountant but tries to keep the pieces of her life in ruled columns just like numbers in an account. Enter Ben Lowell, ten years young, decades more experienced, and nearly at the end of his rodeo career. When you meet them you think there can’t possibly be any way for them to get together. He’s too jaded and she’s too inexperienced and afraid.
But something not only clicks between them it snaps and sizzles. In small stages Ben takes Grace on a journey of sexual awakening that had me crying while I wrote it. And by the time you get to the final chapter, won’t you be upset if Grace and Ben, after having fulfilling erotic sex, don’t end up together?
Here’s a taste for you:
He moved his mouth over her body as if drawing a map with it, tasting every nook and crevice, seeking her pleasure spots and dwelling a long time on them. His open-mouthed kisses on her heated skin sent shafts of electricity through her, igniting nerves already snapping and firing.
His cock pressed against the soft skin of her inner thigh and her hands suddenly itched to touch it and hold it. Pulling Ben’s head up from its drifting path down to her pussy, she smiled at him. “Stop.”
His eyebrows raised. “Stop? Am I doing something wrong? Something you don’t like? Just tell me—”
“No. You’re doing everything just right. But I want to play too.” She pushed at his shoulders.
“And just what is it you want to do?” he asked, his eyes bright with curiosity as he rolled onto his back.
Wondering where this spurt of boldness had come from, she shifted onto her knees next to him, her gaze riveted to his erection which pointed directly at her. Tentatively she reached out a finger to touch the bead of fluid sitting like a viscous marble atop the slit. Rubbing it back and forth along the velvet surface, she watched the thick stalk bob under her touch and saw Ben’s thigh muscles tighten.
She hadn’t done this since Joe’s death. The few men she’d had sex with hadn’t appealed to her this way at all. Sometimes she wondered if they really appealed to her in any way. Worried that maybe she just wasn’t a sexual person.
No. Wait. Then she wouldn’t be where she was doing what she was. Right?
Inquisitively, she bent her head and licked the surface of the purple head with the tip of her tongue, swiping it back and forth two or three times, loving the slightly salty taste of the fluid and the sensation of the soft skin against her tongue. Her fingers barely wrapped around the thick length of him but she felt the steel beneath the supple covering. She unclasped him and ran one finger the length of the heavy vein, feeling the blood pulsing through it.
“Am I doing this right?” she asked, her voice tremulous, unable to look at him as she waited for his answer.
“Are you kidding?” Ben asked in a strangled voice, one large hand coming up to squeeze her buttocks. “I think you’re trying to torture me.”
Grace’s laugh held just a hint of uncertainty. “Just finding out what you feel like. How you feel.”
His hand moved in slow strokes on the cheek of her ass. “Surely this isn’t the first one you’ve ever seen or felt,” he joked.
“Believe it or not, the first in bright light. At least for longer than I want to remember.”
Because the others didn’t bear looking at. Except for Ben.

To celebrate the rerunning of my segment on CBS, I am giving away a $50 GC for either Amazon or B&N. Here’s all you do. Post a review of the book, send me the link at desireeholt@desireeholt.com and you’ll be entered in the drawing.
Ready? Set? Go!


  1. i'm finding it very interesting that there's a definite line appearing here at least between the taste of those who prefer erotica & those who prefer romance. of course erotic romance allows readers/writers to have their sex & love too ;) but it does seem to be, as most things do, a matter of personal taste. to me, the HEA is the no no & the unhappy ending is the ideal ;) i find the romantic perpetuation of the monogamous ideal m/f ideal to be quite dull personally. it just isn't interesting to me. obviously i'm in the minority ;)

  2. Well, there IS an alternative to the ideal monogamous m/f HFN or even HEA ending, and I'm not just talking about f/f or m/m getting in on the monogamous ideal. There can be poly happy endings, after all, although those are even harder to believe. I'd like to think that non-traditional endings can happy, even when the main characters have no intention of staying together, as long as the characters are happy about how things turn out. In a way, the assumption that endings are ipso fact sad if no monogamous pairing results is another way of buying into the monogamous ideal paradigm.

    Okay, I do realize that we've been using the terms as most readers of erotica and/or romance understand them, and my maundering is irrelevant to the discussion.

  3. "In a way, the assumption that endings are ipso fact sad if no monogamous pairing results is another way of buying into the monogamous ideal paradigm." absolutely. although that wasn't what i said. poly happy endings in fiction bore me as much as mono ones do. generally speaking.

    1. or i should say would likely bore me, since i don't see poly HEA fiction published or much poly fiction published at all. the occasional swinger tale, but is there really much poly stuff published? curious.

  4. Desiree, you would hate me. You would hate the holy fuck outta me.

    But that's okay.

    Amanda, I'm all yours. I'll come to Ottawa and we can be miserable-ever-after together. Although, I've lived alone for a good dozen years and I can't fathom a happier existence. I love being partnered in practice but single on paper.

    This talk of poly-ever-after makes me think of my novel "Anonymous" which is technically HEA since the married couple remains married throughout the novel. Although there's also an HFN component AND an ambivalence to the resolution. If anyone's read "Anonymous" let me know how you would classify it. And if you haven't read it, it's published by Amber Heat and available in print.



    1. sounds good. it's raining in Ottawa this week :)
      the idea of happiness in poly isn't always the same as it is in monogamy. the idea of the long term or life partnership is one of many possible endings.

  5. Is there any HEA that doesn't perpetuate the ideal M/F, F/F M/M? pairing in Romance? Possibly the very idea of 'romance' dictates something romantic happens.

    Happiness outside of the Romance genre can include many other things as well. Someone could wind up happy in business but unhappy in love as long as they didn't call it romance.


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