The Conversation (Almost) No One Has

I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately.

Well, I’m a romance author, so I tend to think about it a lot anyway. I’ve written, god, 15? 20? manuscripts, some incomplete, some that will never be revealed for public consumption, and they all have multiple sex scenes. It’s a challenge to make each one different, because once I try a new thing, I can’t use it again until I can figure out a way to make it different from the first time I used it.

Sorry. That’s the cold medicine talking. My sinuses are throbbing so badly my gums hurt.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about sex in general more than usual lately. I read two virgin heroine stories this week (Devil’s Game and The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving, both cracktastic) and it sort of played into the whole issue I’ve been having lately with the second book in the Game of Shadows trilogy.

When it comes to losing your virginity, it’s something you work up to, at least in books. The characters explore each other and their bodies, learn how to give and receive pleasure, and one of them (usually the hero) talks the other through their fears, assuring them they can go slow, that there’s no rush. In fact, it’s pretty common to have the “why you haven’t lost your virginity yet” conversation.

But no one seems to have the “should we stop using condoms” conversation. If it happens, it happens off the page, and if it doesn’t, it’s a “shit, we didn’t use a condom” conversation.

Maybe I’m more conservative than I thought, but I’d think that’s a pretty serious decision. If having sex with someone implies a certain level of trust, then going bareback takes that trust and jacks it up. You’re trusting someone to not only be honest with you about the possible physical repercussions – pregnancy, disease – you are, in theory, letting someone do something to you, with you, that could bring on whole new mental and emotional facets you hadn’t considered before.

At least that’s what it means to me.

Sometimes after the “oh, shit” declaration the characters follow it up with “I don’t want to be with anyone else”. Which is all well and good, but I’m starting to want to see this before it happens, not after the fact. I mean, if you’re going to make the effort to soothe a virgin’s nerves over losing it, wouldn’t you do the same for going bareback?

Honestly, when I started writing Blood and Shadows, I didn’t know what was going to happen in Nick and Cass’s physical relationship, beyond that as their feelings for each other grew, their sex would start to reflect that. But the story took a turn I wasn’t expecting, and now Nick and Cass are in a position where, in the real world, they’d probably be talking about whether this is a step they want to take. I’d think for someone like Cass, young, relatively inexperienced compared to her partner, and in a position she’s never been in before, she’d be freaking out about it a little bit.

So this conversation is going to happen. And there will be blowback. Because I said so.

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