While it’s certainly true that you can find smoking-hot sex scenes in historical romance (see numbers 3 and 5), it is also true that a good sex scene conveys a lot more than the (repeated) meeting of body parts. Following are five historical romance sex scenes that are memorable, in my opinion, for a variety of reasons—they illustrate something unique and personal about the characters or change the direction of the story or do something else extraordinary. Why not? Memorable is more than just titillation.
For angst, I give you Adele Ashworth’s Winter Garden. Winter Garden is a love story between Thomas Blackwood, high level official in England’s Home Office, masquerading as someone else, and Madeleine Dumais, French spy for England, hired by Thomas, although she doesn’t know it. And it is laden with angst. Thomas was grievously injured during the Opium Wars in China and does not confess the extent of his disability until he and Madeleine make love for the first time.
After manually bringing Madeleine to orgasm, Thomas
Silently reached for his right leg, pulling up on the cuff of his pants as he had with the left. This time, however, she noticed a difference in his boot. At the top, near the knee, were two buckled straps, one below the other and an inch or so apart, which he unfastened very slowly. That finished, and with a tug of one hand at the heel, one at the calf, the book gave way, exposing the core of his fear.
Madeleine stared, her body numbing, heart twisting with overwhelming compassion and sadness. Two inches below the scarred and deformed knee, his right leg had been expertly cut off.
“Will you love me now, Maddie?” she heard in a tender, hoarse, far away voice.
Sob! How could she not? And how could we not. This love scene shows us so much about both Thomas and Madeleine, their insecurities, their compassion, and their love.
In He Gives Good Grovel, Laurie Gold offered a glimpse of the relationship between Joyous MacQuarrie and Alec Castlemaine, Duke of Belmore, the heroine and hero of Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I’d like to give you another.
Joy and Alec have just consummated their marriage of convenience. The love scene ends like this:
She clung to him then, their bodies moving as one, time was not moving at all. It could have been a lifetime; she didn’t know, and at that very second she didn’t care.
Slowly but vibrantly her senses came alive again.
She smelled roses—wonderful, sweet-scented roses. The air was filled with the sweet tangy fragrance of them. She felt a featherlike touch again on her arms and her face. She opened her eyes.
Hundreds of pink rose petals floated down from nowhere.
How can you not love a heroine whose orgasm is manifested in rose petals? Well, it takes her duke a while to become accustomed to it but, later in the book, we see that it is one of the ways he clings to her during their dark moment.
I promised you heat, and heat you shall get. For that, we look to Cole Amherst or, as I like to refer to him, The Hunky Vicar, the hero of Liz Carlyle’s A Woman Scorned. Cole Amherst takes on the role of tutor to widowed Jonet Rowland’s two sons and eventually assumes an even greater role in Jonet’s life. But even before he marries her (and I must add the caveat that Jonet started this):
Cole looked at her darkly for a long moment. “Jonet, where are your stockings?”
… “Aha—!” he said, grabbing them up in one hand and stalking toward her.
Jonet’s eyes narrowed. “Cole?. . . What are you doing?” she asked suspiciously
Cole crawled on top of her with the full force of his weight. ”Jonet,“ he said grimly, grabbing hold of one of her wrists and shoving it over her head. ”I am about to tie you to this bedpost and give you the fucking you’ve been begging for since the first day I laid eyes on you.“
Oh, and he does (and not for the first or last time). I definitely recommend you read this one, not only for the heat, but for Liz Carlyle’s complex and compelling characters and a heck of a plot.
Mary Balogh broke new ground with The Notorious Rake. Although she was already noted for being in the vanguard of Traditional Regencies in including sex in this historically sweet sub-genre, The Notorious Rake, went that extra step in writing a sex scene between the barely-introduced hero and heroine in the first chapter. The explanation for this is the heroine’s extreme fear of thunder and lightning and the sudden onslaught of a summer storm. A Regency gentleman does what he can for a lady in distress.
The simultaneous flash of lightning and crack of thunder shook the earth, or so it seemed. But he was moving in her with slow deep strokes and his weight was so heavy on her and the wooden top of the table so unyielding that she could scarcely draw breath. She felt as if she had finally succeeded in crawling inside him, and she felt almost safe. She heard someone whimpering and forced herself to be quiet again.
”It will be all right, Mary,“ he said against her mouth. ”It will pass again.“
This was a totally unprecedented way of introducing two characters in a Traditional Regency, but it was so well-done and was so carefully interwoven into the growth of both characters (and it was Mary Balogh) that it worked and created a classic of its genre.
5. Stephanie Laurens
There is no other way to categorize this last scene. Stephanie Laurens writes sex scenes of great explicitness and duration, which is certainly in keeping with her heroes. I am fond of the Cynsters, particularly the first five or six. I am going to give you Richard (Scandal) Cynster in this post. In Scandal’s Bride, Richard Cynster travels to Scotland and meets Catriona Hennessy (witch) who decides he’s the one for her. Their first love scene is 17 pages long and is succeeded by several other long sex scenes, including one on horseback. Where does one start?!? Instead, I will give you my favorite quote from this book. First, the background:
Later—after the love scene—other Cynsters travel up from London and Catriona tells Honoria, the Duchess of St. Ives and wife of Devil Cynster (Devil’s Bride), that she had previously drugged Richard in order to get him to impregnate her.
Catriona colored. She tried to hedge, prevaricate, avoid the questions, but, she discovered, Her Grace of St. Ives could be ruthless. Honoria dragged the answers from her – then slumped back in her chair and regarded her with awe. “You’re very brave,” she eventually stated. “I don’t know of many women would be game to feed an aphrodisiac to a Cynster – and then climb into bed with him.”
And there you have it, the essence of Stephanie Laurens heroes and hence her sex scenes. Men for whom aphrodisiacs are redundant, perhaps even overkill.
I went through a lot of Historicals looking for the right sex scenes for this post. I rejected some that were wonderful but not quite iconic. But I do recommend the first love scene between Stuart Aysgarth and Emma Hotchkiss in Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart and, even more, recommend the aftermath from Stuart’s perspective.
I’m sure there are many, many other memorable sex scenes in Historical Romance. What would you include?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- Top 5 Hot Sex Scenes in Science Fiction/Fantasy
- Feel the Burn: Top 5 Sizzling Scenes from Leigh, Mynx, Dane, and More
- The Moans and the Fury: Our Favorite Angry Sex Scenes
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.