Sex and the Singularly Awkward Girl




Somewhere around the time I started plotting Ready to Fall, the fourth book of my Lovestruck Librarians series, I realized something important about my writing: I really enjoy describing sex scenes gone wonky.

I’m not necessarily talking about bad sex. The vast majority of the time, my heroes and heroines end up very well-satisfied. But I don’t tend to write about perfect physical unions, consummated by two people who understand and fulfill each other’s desires without saying a single word.

In my books, the sex is sometimes awkward. Sometimes negotiations are involved—about turnoffs, preferences, positions, or other issues. Sometimes my characters struggle for power or intimacy through sex, while other times they banter as they bonk. And sometimes, as happens in my third Lovestruck Librarians book, Mayday, the sex actually isn’t that good. At least not at first. (I’m not spoiling too much by telling you this, because it all happens in the first chapter.)

Ready to Fall is no different. Because it’s a novella, there’s only one full-on love scene. And while that scene’s hot (I hope), it’s not effortless. Sarah, my mouthy librarian heroine, and Chris, my taciturn man-beast hero, talk to each other about what they want and what they’re feeling in bed together. And when Chris reaches for Sarah’s bedside box of condoms…

Well, I won’t reveal that bit. Let’s just say that several moments of confusion and hilarity ensue.

So I definitely don’t write seamless sex scenes. And here’s why:

  1. Most of us have had bad sex. Or at the very least, mediocre sex. It happens with people we love. It happens with people who’ve satisfied us in the past. It happens with people who’ll satisfy us in the future. It’s normal. And I want to reflect that reality in my books, especially since I don’t believe occasional wonky sex and true love are mutually exclusive.
  1. Most sexual partners can’t read our minds. (If you have a psychic lover, however, congratulations!) Especially at the beginning of a relationship, communication is usually necessary for good sex. Yes, a good partner will pay attention and learn what gives you pleasure, but shouldn’t you try to help in that process? Shouldn’t you express what works for you and what doesn’t?

Again, this sort of negotiation can actually build intimacy, rather than detracting from it. It can be funny, not to mention revelatory about the level of trust you have with your partner. And most of all, it can be hot. So I want it in my books.

  1. I write romantic comedies, so occasional fumbling in bed is good for business. What can I say?

No doubt about it, I write on the hot end of contemporary romance. But my sex scenes aren’t smooth and effortless for the characters, and that’s a deliberate choice. One I’m glad to have made—and one I hope you’ll enjoy too, since I think it reflects the reality of sex in all its messy, bizarre, hilarious, arousing glory.


Olivia-DadeWhile I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn’t read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a “manhood”? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero’s manhood?

Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It’s his “hard length,” sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. At least in romances. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year’s Eve at Cancun.

During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet–it didn’t matter. I loved them all.

Now I’m writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I found a kick-ass agent: Jessica Alvarez from Bookends, LLC. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I’d rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.

So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you. (@OliviaWrites)

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Elementary school teacher and part-time librarian Sarah Mayhew has the perfect plan: show off her cycling skills at her school’s bike retreat and attract her oblivious coworker in the process. Her end game? Fall in love. Only one problem: she needs to find someone to teach her how to ride a bike pronto. But when she catches sight of Chris Dean’s gorgeous physique, her best laid plans are about to go off track . . .

Chris is not looking for a girlfriend. He’s getting over his last one by focusing on his bike repair business. So when a feisty, sexy schoolteacher urges him to help improve her cycling skills, he does it strictly for the money. He vows he won’t repeat history, even for a blond bombshell like Sarah. But when the two find themselves alone on the road, they can’t help taking a detour straight into each other’s arms . . .

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