“There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited - waited with beating heart.” —Dracula by Bram Stoker
The so-called love bite, a temporary red mark that is more often than not caused by a lover sucking or biting on the skin, has been a main element in supernatural romances since the beginning. Bram Stoker’s Dracula wrote the bite of a vampire for blood (food) as a way to sexualize his novel during the Victorian era, effectively creating a “requirement” that has appeared in almost every vampire (and other supernatural beings) novel since. Vampires sucking the blood of their victims is almost always written as a symbolic gesture that mimics the taking of one's virginity and/or the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. More often than not, the vampire bite is likened to a quick pinch of pain (the breaking of a woman’s hymen), that leads to a feeling of ecstasy until the feeding ends in a climatic, dare I say orgasmic, finish.
The success of Dracula opened the doors to the distinctive modern vampire, increasing the genre's popularity with an outpouring of books, films, and television shows. The vampire persona has since become a dominant figure in the paranormal romance world, evolving and changing in many ways to match the needs and desires of the viewer(s), though the need to feed through biting and its sexual condonations remains evergreen.
“I’ve heard the women in the Refuge talk about how sensual it is when you feed from them.” —Andromeda to Nassir in Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh
More often than not, the bite is wanted and craved, with veins offered up voluntarily almost as a form of payment for the pleasure that will follow. Larissa Ione’s Chained by Night, (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) book two in her Moonclan Vampire series, follows various vampire clans as they struggle to live and love in a world that wants them dead permanently. The following love scene focuses on the sexuality behind the bite of a vampire:
Her tongue flicked out to catch the stream, licking upward in a lazy, sensual stroke. When she reached the puncture from her bite, she latched on again, drawing like she was starving. He shouted at the ecstasy of it and thrust against her as though he was already inside her.
“Keep doing that.” His voice was a guttural rasp he could barely hear over the sound of his pulse drumming in his ears. “Harder. Suck me harder.”
A petite snarl rose in her throat, and if he thought he'd been hard before, he went painfully rod-stiff. His balls joined the party, throbbing and aching inside the prison of his denim pants.
“That's it.” He closed his palm over her breast. “F*ck, yeah, just . . . like . . . that.”
In Heather R. Blair’s Phoenix Fallen, (Amazon) the biter is just as affected, if not more so, by the actions taken. There is a feeling of dubious consent here as the reader senses not only the sexuality behind his actions but also the power he feels at his conquest:
Forcing her up as his mouth came down harder, his fangs sliding deeper.
Rissa made a soft sound; whether of pleasure, encouragement or pain, it didn't matter.
Nothing fucking mattered.
Some stories do not champion the bitten or the biter. They don’t seek to seduce the reader through this long held and titillating legend but rather chooses to reveal that biting hurts and it’s not always an erotic experience. It’s not common on the whole, though, and rarely seen in romance.
In Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) perpetual teenage vampire Edward falls for the human Bella in this bestselling tale of love, betrayal, and redemption. In Edward’s tale of his and his family’s individual turnings, one aspect that remained consistent is the fact that the bite hurts. They secrete a venom that burns like acid through the blood. Something Bella learns the hard way.
“My hand is burning!” I screamed, finally breaking through the last of the darkness, my eyes fluttering open. I couldn't see his face, something dark and warm was clouding my eyes. Why couldn't they see the fire and put it out?
His voice was frightened. “Bella?”
“The fire! Someone stop the fire!” I screamed as it burned me.
“Carlisle! Her hand!”
“He bit her.” Carlisle's voice was no longer calm, it was appalled.
Both Edward and Carlisle are horrified that Edward bit a human—something the family strives never to do.
Sherrilyn Kenyon gives her hero Acheron (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) all kinds of bad experiences with biting and feeding as she tells readers of a tortured god who shares a love/hate relationship with a goddess. The mixing and twisting of mythology creates a vacuum of sorts where they must feed upon each. They both have the ability to make the biting pain free. When Acheron desires a new lover, his ex-lover, Artemis (yes, THAT Artemis), captures and starves him, then tricks him into biting and killing his new lover, Tory, through his bloodlust.
Horror filled him. Her neck was savagely torn from his teeth, her brown eyes half hooded as she struggled to breathe. No! His soul screamed out. How could he have hurt her? [...] She coughed as she reached up to touch his lips that ere covered in her blood from his feeding. He saw the fear in her eyes and the pain that he’d caused her.
As far as romances go, most fans will almost always choose to chase the pleasure that follows the pain.
So what do you think? Is biting on your pleasure list or are teeth a big turn off?
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