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Miranda Owen | Some Like it HOT: Erotic Moments in Romance

May 17, 2019

“To bask in passion’s glow. To bathe in love’s fountain. To swim in the rivers of Eros.”

“It sounds quite vile. No thank you.” It was very difficult not to laugh. She managed it, just. MUCH ADO ABOUT DUTTON by Claudia Dain

The other day one of the authors in one of the many online reading groups I’m in posted a question asking readers how many love scenes they demanded in a romance. I get why authors ask this, but I feel like it’s a difficult thing for readers to answer. I know there has been a lot of debate and general discussion about how many love scenes/sex scenes put in romances, and over how the quantity and quality of love scenes in a book should be advertised to readers. I remember reading a few years ago that a favorite romance author of mine felt pressured by her publisher to include a specific number of sex scenes in her book. I felt that was unfair; not just because I think that she should be allowed complete freedom in her creative process, but also because those scenes weren’t what I found most enjoyable about her books. In the end, I took a break from her books because her normally very funny stories took a sharp turn toward being more adventure and suspense-filled. From a reader’s perspective, I think it’s fair to convey whether a romance has explicit sex scenes with a naked play-by-play (because some readers love that and some get freaked out), but I understand that a lot is very subjective. In this article, I’m going to list some of the books with my favorite erotic scenes and go into what I like about them.

Why was it that Blakesley’s eyes, which she had always known somewhere in the back of her mind were blue, scalded her in their blueness now? Certainly Penrith’s rather remarkable green gaze, which was certainly lovely, did not affect her in quite the same way. Nor did Mr. Grey’s, no matter how he leered. No, it was Blakesley, who had always been quite impossible and reliably unpredictable, who made every nerve quiver in both anger and interest. THE COURTESAN’S SECRET by Claudia Dain

I’ve read and enjoyed books with very few sex scenes and ones with one on every other page. Some are better than others. I’ve read ones that were very explicit that left me totally cold and ones that didn’t include a lot of physical intimacy revealed to the reader but were intensely erotic because of the verbal exchanges between the main characters and emotional intimacy. Some of my favorite historical romances are those by authors who are masters of dialogue and witty banter like Celeste Bradley, Theresa Romain, Jo Beverly, and Claudia Dain to name a few. With a few well-placed words or clever phrases, these authors can entertain as well as have the heat level go from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. The first Claudia Dain book I read was HOW TO DAZZLE A DUKE. HOW TO DAZZLE A DUKE is a great book if you want to laugh. THE COURTESAN’S SECRET by Claudia Dain showcases Dain’s razor-sharp wit but it is also super-hot. I love unrequited love and friends-to-lovers tropes and THE COURTESAN’S SECRET is a perfect example of both. Blakesley’s desire takes his friend Louisa by surprise when it’s revealed. Since she was hung up for years on bad boy Lord Dutton, Blakesley inadvertently got “friend-zoned”. When circumstances and certain individuals provoke Blakesley to confess his true feelings and act on them, the result is little short of “wow”. I admit to having a few copies of this book stashed throughout my house “just in case” – especially since an e-book copy is currently unavailable.

Another of my favorite books is ROMANCING THE COUNTESS by Ashley March. This hero and heroine are thrown together after the sudden death of their cheating spouses. Ashley March uses words to convey the depth of emotional wounds as well as to build on a surprising attraction. Because of her late husband’s behavior, Leah feels incapable of feeling attracted to anyone or feeling sexual at all. The hero is slowly enthralled by her and in one scene, as he’s pleading for her to give him a chance and see where things will go between them, he stumbles upon a way to verbally entice Leah. The tension is exquisite as he touches her mind without and begins the process of seducing her without ever laying a hand on her. His technique elicits confusion and ecstasy in Leah and makes readers cheer.

The desire wasn’t normal. In some distant part of her mind, she knew that. Too intense. Too fast. Too consuming. But – Screw normal. BITTER BLOOD by Cynthia Eden

I’ve heard some romance fans say that they get to a point where they flip past the sex scenes in books because they find them to be repetitive and lacking in some way. I get it. For me, it all depends on the author. I have read books, some have even been by favorite authors, which have great characters and a fascinating story but the scenes with physical intimacy seem to have the characters just going through the motions. The key phrases and expected acts are there, but the scenes seem to be lacking any genuine chemistry between the characters involved. Some of the best writers of erotic physical scenes, in my opinion, are Lauren Dane, Jen Frederick, Olivia Cunning, and Cynthia Eden. I have authors that I love but who seem lost when it comes to writing a love scene. It goes on too long when a well-written sentence or paragraph says it all. With a Cynthia Eden book, whether it’s her romantic suspense or paranormal romances, there is always a sense of immediacy when it comes to the passion between the couple in question. Whether the hero and heroine have known each other five minutes or for years, Cynthia Eden is a master of building the tension – sexual or otherwise – with delicious results. Trust is a huge theme in Cynthia Eden’s books, and I think she can use that to bump up the “hot” factor without falling into the expected betrayal-themed pitfalls. Her heroes are alpha hotties – whether they’re vampires, shifters, Frankenstein-like creations, FBI types, or bad boys. Eden can convey a sense of masculine power and swagger without venturing into alpha-hole territory.

I was discussing Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour books with a friend, and she said how one particularly gross scene in a book put her off. I completely forgot the scene she was referring to. The thing is, Olivia Cunning’s books are a mix of humor, grossness (depending on preference), and utterly amazing. Cunning gives reader’s an up-close view of the physical details in a sex scene. What makes these books worth reading is the way Olivia Cunning tailors the sex scenes to the specific couple involved and the temperature of their relationship at the time. There is no formula for an Olivia Cunning sex scene – except that the characters don’t usually feel any shame or force any moral judgements on others. In WICKED BEAT, the two main characters are physical from almost the first minute that they meet, but there is an authenticity to the way they fall for each other. The way they laugh together, almost as much as they connect physically, is endearing.

“Now, I am short on some props, and there isn’t nearly enough time in one night to run through all the ways I’ve fantasized about taking you, but I promise you this…” His voice deepened. “You’ll be scandalized in the morning when you can think again.” ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost

One beloved and often discussed bit of erotic gold is the infamous “Chapter 32” in ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost. It is fabulous and yummy for sure, but for more than one reason.  A big part of why the erotic scenes in a Jeaniene Frost book have so much pull and are so powerful is because of the emotional and spiritual connection between the hero and heroine. I don’t think “Chapter 32” would be quite so amazing if it wasn’t for all the history between the hero and heroine.  In the previous book, HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, Cat and Bones first meet and seemingly experience a lifetime together in a very short period as they deal with the trials thrown their way. It’s the same with Jeaniene Frost’s “Night Prince” and “Night Rebel” series – the author doesn’t shy away from depicting physical intimacy, but it has resonance attached to it because of the character development and phenomenal storytelling describing how the characters got to that point.

Jeaniene Frost tells very character-driven stories about people you care about and root for, and that makes the love scenes more intense because of it. Years ago, I read the first book in Carolyn Jewel’s My Immortals series. Like Jeaniene Frost’s books, the My Immortals series tells very character-driven stories with paranormal elements and magic. The similarities end there. In the first book in the series, MY WICKED ENEMY, nothing and nobody is “safe”. I have called this series “cerebral erotica” because the reader is thrown off center, you don’t know what to expect next, and what you’ve read may affect you in surprising ways. There are antiheroes galore, and the erotic moments often involve unusual exchanges of power that are occasionally unsettling but always entrancing.

Books with some of my favorite erotic moments:



MASKS by Evangeline Anderson

HOTTER THAN EVER by Elle Kennedy


MATE CLAIMED by Jennifer Ashley



WICKED BEAT by Olivia Cunning


ONE KISS FROM YOU by Christina Dodd

STEALING KATHRYN by Jacquelyn Frank

SACKED by Jen Frederick






UNLEASH THE NIGHT by Sherrilyn Kenyon


“Like a Wolf with a Bone” by Shelly Laurenston


JACKED UP by Erin McCarthy

KISS OF STEEL by Bec McMaster

BLACK SILK by Sharon Page

NOT FIT FOR A KING? By Jane Porter

KINGPIN by Alexa Riley

WRONG BED, RIGHT GUY by Katee Robert

SAVOR THE MOMENT by Nora Roberts

A BITE TO REMEMBER by Lynsay Sands

DARK PRINCE by Eve Silver





More Courtesan Chronicles #1

Much Ado About Dutton

It all began in The Courtesan’s Daughter and continued through the next four books of the Courtesan Chronicles. The Marquis of Dutton didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to Anne Warren until he found out that she was the daughter of a courtesan. His careless, confident, ill-considered pursuit of her began upon that lurid foundation.

Anne had been smitten by the dashing Lord Dutton from her first encounter with him. But to be pursued because her mother was a woman of the demi-monde? No. That was unacceptable. Anne was not going to make the mistakes her mother had made, each decision taking her further down the social ladder. Anne meant to improve her station, not hobble it with an amorous encounter with the nearly irresistible Lord Dutton.

Over the course of the London Season of 1802, Dutton pursued and lost Anne again and again. He became something of a drunken sot about it all, even a laughingstock. When Anne married Lord Staverton, his fall was complete. Anne married wisely, and Dutton was befuddled by it.

Two years later, in the 1804 Season, Anne is a widow and Dutton is sober. Lady Staverton and Lord Dutton, both available and both still interested, continue the seductive dance they began when she was his social inferior. She is no longer his inferior, and because of that, the tables have turned and Dutton is at her mercy.

Or perhaps Anne is at Dutton’s mercy.

It all depends upon whom you ask.

Romance Historical [Author Self-Published, On Sale: August 23, 2013, e-Book, ISBN: 2940148789345 / eISBN: 9781940940021]


BITTER BLOOD by Cynthia Eden

Blood and Moonlight #3

Bitter Blood

Some bonds go deeper than blood…they go to the very soul.

New Orleans detective Jane Hart is a vampire. She craves blood, has supernatural strength, and when the mood hits her just right, she can grow one killer pair of fangs. She never counted on being a vamp, but she also never counted on falling hard for werewolf alpha Aidan Locke. Now she’s mated to the wolf, and even though she’s living the undead life, Aidan refuses to leave her side.

But Jane is being watched, hunted…tested. And each deadly test that she faces puts Jane—and the people she loves—in the path of a determined killer. She has to find out who is setting her up, before it’s too late. Too late for Jane. Too late for Aidan.

He claimed her…and she obsessed him.

Because now her lover is the one who is changing. Jane’s blood has infected Aidan and the wolf that lives within him is fighting for survival. Each battle…each dark test that their enemy puts in their path…each move slides Aidan closer to the edge. A darkness is growing inside of him. A darkness that is slowly consuming the man he’s been… And leaving only the monster behind.

When blood and darkness rule, even mates can be torn apart.

In the final book of the BLOOD AND MOONLIGHT trilogy, Jane and Aidan will find out who they can really trust…and who has been waiting to destroy them all along. Are you ready for the end?

Romance Paranormal [Self Published, On Sale: April 12, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781942840138 / eISBN: 9781942840138]

An epic love story, and danger and excitement in spades!


WICKED BEAT by Olivia Cunning

Sinners on Tour #4

Wicked Beat

On stage, on tour, in bed, they’ll rock your world

Olivia Cunning delivers the perfect blend of steamy sex, heartwarming romance, and a wicked sense of humor in her wildly popular erotic romance series, The Sinners on Tour. Wicked Beat, fifth in this racy rock ‘n’ roll series, is the hottest yet.

From the moment he lays eyes on Sinners’ new soundboard operator, drummer Eric Sticks is completely smitten. Rebekah Blake loves the uninhibited fun she’s having and thrives on Eric’s daring in the bedroom, but she’s got good reasons for not committing. Through role play, voyeuristic games, and lots of sex talk, this pair of kinky lovers must overcome their inner demons to have the perfect relationship they both secretly desire.

Erotica | Romance Erotica Sensual | Romance Music [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: August 6, 2013, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781402245862 / eISBN: 9781402245886]

A perfect addition to the Sinners On Tour series.


ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost

Night Huntress #2

One Foot In The Grave

You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide . . .

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won’t let her get away again.

Romance Paranormal | Fantasy Urban [Avon, On Sale: April 29, 2008, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780061245091 / eISBN: 9780061736490]

This follow-up to HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE is a thoroughly entertaining urban fantasy romance.

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