Am I overdoing this? Sure. But joy is an eruption, a boiling over of emotion and/or senses. Your cat may show pleasure, purring and rubbing against your leg, but your dog greets you with frenzied, tail-wagging joy. Joy may well up inside you until you shed tears of joy, or come with metaphorical blasts of trumpets. In the Christmas carol “Joy to the World!” the implied trumpets come with implied angels. “Merry Christmas” speaks of fun, of enjoyment, while the supposed French equivalent “Joyeux Noel” seems to up the ante with a wish for a high pitch of joy.
Joy and enjoyment are not quite the same thing. Enjoyment seems to apply to an extended period of pleasure. You can enjoy an entire concert, or movie, or book, or conversation, or meal, but joy is the peak of enjoyment, the height of the crescendo.
All of this is, of course, just my spur-of-the-moment opinion. Joy, like pleasure, or happiness, or contentment, is an entirely subjective matter. When it comes to discussing writing about sex, as we so often do, joy plays a large role, not just in the climax but in as much intense foreplay as we can fit in. Okay, yes, I’m contradicting my “peak” claim above. Getting there can be almost as joyful as reaching the goal.
I’d better stop trying to analyze the meaning of joy and just post an excerpt that demonstrates, I now realize, how much I overused the term in a scene that I should have edited more carefully. I guess I was having too much fun.
A bit of context. This is from my story in Delilah Devlin’s anthology Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors, and it’s as het as het can be. As the Golden Horde of the Mongols pours across eastern Europe, the strong-minded Lady ruling a province of Armenia is entangled with the Mongolian Governor taking over her lands and people. Much strife ensues, until, just after she has saved her hunting falcon from his much larger gyrfalcon by shooting an arrow between them…
From "A Hawk in Flight"
At first Ardzvik rode Yul, her long dark hair flailing across his body as she savored the exquisite joy of easing inch by inch onto his great length and breadth. Men were more like stallions than she had ever dreamed! Then he growled low, lurched atop her, and thrust deep and hard. Her hips arched upward to take him in still deeper. Her passage gripped him, yet let him slide in its wetness just enough to drive her to a peak of intensity close to madness. Sounds burst from her that were not words, and from him as well, until all she could hear was her own voice rising in a cry of triumph, her body wrenched by joy.
But Yul, she saw, when she could focus on anything outside herself, was braced above her on stiffened arms, face twisted, jaw grimly set, the cords of his neck standing out like tree roots. “I must…” he forced out the words. “I would not get a bastard on you!” He struggled to lift his great weight from her, to withdraw.
“Then you had better wed me!” Ardzvik cried. “I will have now what is mine!” Need surged in her again. She dug her hands into his clenched buttocks, gripped him close, and tightened her inner walls about his hardness until he had no words at all, only rough groans accelerating into a mighty roar. That sound, and the hot fierce flow of his seed, sent her into a second spasm of joy.
At last Yul rolled aside. She lay beside him, both breathing in the sunwarmed air as though they could never get enough. “I too will have what is mine,” he said at last. “But what of your priest?”
“Father Kristopor?” Ardzvik gave a short laugh. “I’ll wager that one will already have ordered extra candles for the ceremony in the chapel.” She lifted her head enough to rest it on his damp chest. “What of your Shaman? And the ceremonies of your people?”
A low chuckle made his chest rise and fall. “Much simpler. We pledge to each other outdoors under the Blue Eternal Sky, with respect for Mother Earth, and the Shaman chants such ancient songs and burn such herbs as he thinks proper. Each has his own ways. Then there is feasting, but that must be the same the world over.”
“Well then, we have made good progress already under the Blue Eternal Sky. But more would surely not be wasted.”
There was time, now, for Ardzvik to lean over Yul and explore his long, strong body, tracing the contours of his wide shoulders with her fingers, pressing her mouth into the hollow of his throat and feeling the vibrations of a moan too low for ears to hear, moving her lips across his great chest and around his nipples. She licked at salty traces of sweat all the way down past his belly to where his skin became paler and more tender. By then the sounds of his pleasure were loud enough to signal renewed arousal, already clear from the rising of his shaft. Still he remained unmoving, letting Ardzvik enjoy her journey.
The temptation to take him into her mouth was great, but she moved past with only a teasing flick of her tongue at the dewy pearl on his tip. His hands tightened painfully on her arms. She kept on downward along his strong thighs, heavily muscled as only those of a man who’d spent his life on horseback could be.
“Let me…” Ardzvik twisted so that she knelt between Yul’s widespread legs, gripping those powerful thighs and bending at last to savor the taste and feel of his hard, jutting shaft. His hips rose to thrust himself deeper into her mouth. She matched his rhythm, hearing the harsh sounds tearing from his throat, feeling them vibrate into her own core as though he touched her between her legs—and suddenly she needed him there more than she needed breath.
She lifted her head. “Ride me!” she pleaded, rolling onto her back, and at once Yul was on her, in her, his thighs gripping her flanks. They raced together, soared together, until both shouted their triumph in tones as keen as any fierce pair of mating hawks. The sun, when they came to earth, was warm on their naked skin, and even clouds would not have diminished the inner heat they shared.
The horse grew restive. The falcon, knowing there was meat for her in the saddlebag, began to make her hunger known. They could wait. Life would seldom be easy, peace was always fleeting, but nothing that bound together in joy the Lady of Aragatsotn and Yul Darugha would ever be a waste.
Ahem. Yes, one of those books with a naked, muscular male chest filling the cover image, except that in this case it’s a naked, muscular male back, with quite an artistic sword being held right down the middle. Very, um, tasteful. I do seem to have used my other name for this one. Just as well.
Note: I've been trying since last night to post this, and getting a "too many redirects" message. Thus morning I found a way around that, but the original problem is still there. Maybe fate was turning up its nose at the excerpt I chose. I probably should have gone with exhibitionist sex on a ledge in the Grand Canyon. That was joyful in its way, too.