Aug 8 2012 9:30am

When Romance Novels Go TMI: Drenched in Squick-Inducing Seed

The Proposal by Mary BaloghSo I was enjoying Mary Balogh’s newest RegencyinDisguise, The Proposal (which kicks off her new Survivor’s Club series as well as being a Bedwyn prequel), when a bit of dialogue stopped me dead in my tracks. The hero, Hugh, Lord Trentham, whispers this in his lady’s ear while he tells her of his deepest, darkest dream: “There will come a time, Gwendoline, when you will be drenched with my seed. And I think at least one of them will take root. And if it does not, at least we will have fun trying.”

Though Gwen turns breathless and goes weak in the knees in response to that sweet nothing, my reaction was Squick! All in all I thought The Proposal was pretty fabulous—it came thisclose to being an all-time keeper (missing  for another reason altogether), but that seed business stuck in my brain long after I finished reading.

Instead, I thought about how often heroes drench, fill, pour, soak, spout, spurt, spew or otherwise flood their heroines in seed, ejaculate, semen, seminal fluid, come, or even (the dreaded, dreadful) cum. Do romance writers think we find this sexy, or is it their somewhat ham-fisted attempt to tie sex with babies, which is—at least—what Balogh tries to do here? Honestly, it’s not something I like to think about when reading a love scene, whether it’s one of those as in The Proposal, or as erotic as, say, Sarah McCarty’s Conception. Or anything in between.

Conception by Sarah McCartyConception was intended to be the start of The Others series. I don’t know if McCarty ever intends to return to it—I hope she does—but if I’m not mistaken, Dusan’s mating oath to Eden also makes appearances in at least one of the author’s two Wild anthologies.

Conception was published in 2006, so a lot of what is de rigueur in paranormal romance today was considerably more attention-grabbing six years ago.

In a nutshell, Eden Lavery escapes her grandfather’s fanatical experiments with her infant daughter and makes her way to the child’s father, Dusan Knight. He has led The Chosen for six centuries, and she is his mate. She brought him their daughter with plans to leave the baby in his care, intent upon returning by herself to the evil old man and his experiments to protect those she loves. Dusan intends to keep Eden and their baby safe for eternity. It just so happens that his blood can help heal the internal injuries inflicted upon her by evening out her body’s chemistry, but it’s not just his blood. Other bodily fluids will work just fine.

“My blood is not the only fluid in my body that contains elements necessary for conversion.” She blinked. He was talking about his semen. She shook her head. “You aren’t seriously going to try and convince me that giving you a blowjob will save my life.”

And not just any blowjob. It’s a never-ending blowjob, a sacred blowjob, a life-saving and life-giving blowjob that must be meted out like an I.V. drip so as not to overwhelm Eden’s immune system.

Take from me what you need. The ancient words flowed easily from Deuce, filling the space between them. This was more than sex. More than pleasure. This was how it was between the Chosen and their mates. She gave him light, purpose and freedom from loneliness, and he nourished her with his seed, his blood, providing all that she needed in all ways...

She took his first offering with a soft whimper of satisfaction that centered his attention. “Whatever you desire from me, I am here to provide.”...

She took his next offering with an enthusiasm that brought sweat to his brow. He held still, waiting, analyzing her body for signs of rejection. When she did not vomit, he gave her a little more, feeling her body’s scream of relief to his soul, resenting the necessity of holding back. He wanted to give her what she cried for, slice an artery, do whatever it took to relieve her pain. Instead he had to give her a just a little of himself at a time, while watching her respiration for signs of distress.

That’s just the beginning of The Conception’s seedathon. As part of the bonding, Dusan will give Eden exactly what she craves, which involves so much bodily fluid deposited past her cervix that her abdomen actually distends from it.

She was aware of the incredible fullness in her abdomen...“What have you done?”

“We are mated the Chosen way.”

Internal feminine muscles clenched. He groaned and jerked.

Pain and pleasure blended as his cock danced deep within. “What does that mean?”

He didn’t answer verbally, but an image of his cock sliding through her cervix flashed through her mind. “That’s not possible!” Horror built in the aftermath. Her mind denied the reality, but her body knew the truth.

Even after realizing what is happening, Eden can’t seem to help herself. In Conception’s world, it’s completely natural for a male to push past the cervix during sex and share so much of the sacred stuff that a thousand crunches wouldn’t alleviate your distended tummy.

She struggled as he pressed, nature fighting for what it wanted, wiggling her hips, jostling him within, drawing more semen from his balls long past when he thought he should be empty...

She had taken more than he would have expected. He gentled his touch but could not resist curving his fingers on the convex curve of her stomach. A seeded woman was a thing of beauty. “You are beautiful.”

She looked down, shock in her eyes and voice as she saw the small distension caused by their union.

“I’m a bloated cow.”

“Any Chosen man who saw you now would be instantly in rut.”

She cast him a glance that indicated he’d lost his mind.

Apparently, back in the day, as Drusan reminisces, Chosen women proudly walked around parading their “seeded” stomachs, wearing clothing to highlight their condition, making a statement about their Chosen status as their proud mates watch. So says Drusan to Eva...

“There is something beyond beautiful in a seeded woman to the point that many of our women wear clothes to imitate the state.”

He would love to see her abdomen distended with his come, love to parade her past the Others with a belly so round she would have to waddle as Chosen had in days of old, her stomach marking her so much his that none would dare to trespass.


Amazingly enough, McCarty’s book as a whole features an interesting world and offers up plenty of romance and eroticism. Unfortunately, that whole seeding thing was as squicky the second time I read it (for this article) as it was the first time around, even though I knew what was coming (sorry...I couldn’t help myself). I’d actually wholeheartedly recommend Conception to those wanting to try a paranormal erotic romance—yes, even with the “better body chemistry through blow jobs” moments—but for those seeding scenes. What was the author thinking?

Bared to You by Sylvia DayThere’s one other book I want to mention before signing off. It’s a book I’m sure many of you have read in recent weeks...Sylvia Day’s Bared to You. It’s still on my mind a couple of weeks after finishing it, which in itself is fodder for another article, but before I go off on that tangent, let me set the scene that totally took me out of the narrative, and not because I took off in search of my husband for some afternoon delight. 

Gideon has just brutalized Eve’s “tender sex with [his] thick column of rigid flesh” while on a couch in his mother’s house, not yet knowing, as Eve does, that they’ve been watched:

Cautiously, he began to pull out of me. I was shocked to feel how wet I was, how copiously he’d come. The final few inches of his cock slid out in a rush and semen slicked my inner thighs. A moment later, two audacious droplets fell to the hardwood floor between my spread legs.

“Oh, shit.” He groaned. “That’s so damn hot. I’m getting hard again.”

Once again, squick!

My husband is my sounding board for male attitudes and desires, and we had quite a conversation about this. He asked me if women fantasize about being drenched in it at almost the same moment that I asked him if men fantasize about drenching women in it. Clearly, neither of us has a clue whose fantasy this fulfills; quite frankly the notion of “audacious droplets” was squicky for us both. What about you?

Laurie Gold cannot stop reading and writing about romance—she’s been blabbing online for years. She remains a work in progress. Keep up with her on tumblr and goodreads, where she spends much of her time of late, follow her on Google+Pinterest, or on Twitter @laurie_gold, where she mostly tweets about publishing news and [probably too often] politics.

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Laura K. Curtis
1. LauraKCurtis
Umm...let's see:

1) Ewww.

2) Totally gross.

3) Nasty.

Nope, body fluids flying all over the place, or even being neatly deposited are not my idea of romaticism or even eroticism.
2. Rebe
I suggest you stay away from Lora Leigh's Breed series. Lots of squirting and spurting. Ick!
Darlene Marshall
3. DarleneMarshall
I also recall the old "Spaceways" soft-core porn SF that featured a woman who had some special power involving blow-jobs.

But what I meant to say was there may be a subtle psychological ploy at work here. If you read Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? the author discusses how longer penises and massive ejaculate have a biological function, so we could be responding to an evolutionary cue of "Gobs of semen = uber male"

Frankly, I'd love to see more arguments in novels over who gets to sleep on the wetspot. That's realistic!
Megan Frampton
4. MFrampton
@darlenemarshall, I LOVE the idea of a more realistic argument in romance--and why DO women usually wind up on the wet spot?
6. Brunette Librarian
Ewww - Usually Mary Balogh is pretty great. Reading that description, all I could think of was YUCK! That Sarah McCarty book is on my nook and I sooo don't want to read it now. Blech. Funny article though :)
7. Erin Satie
I think the semen stuff is about male sexuality at its most base; making an authentic attempt to portray a man behaving in a primal, instinctive fashion. A lot of men fixate on their sperm and a lot of men fixate on the quantity of sperm they produce; a lot of men equate oodles of sperm with sexual success, sexual prowess, etc.

I imagine there are very FEW women who are turned on specifically at the idea of being covered in sperm...but a LOT of women who are turned on at the prospect of seeing a partner so turned on that he's stripped down to that basic, primal male self.
Brie Clementine
9. Brie.Clem
I’m probably in the minority here but I don’t think it’s icky, I find it realistic and even hot (when handled right). Obviously those examples are ridiculous, specially the one with the distended stomach. But the Bared to You quote seems fine to me. Again, not the brutalizing of the vagina by the ginormous penis, but the leaking part. It happens. Sex is messy and I like seeing that reflected in romance. How many times have we read about the heroine being so aroused her panties are soaking wet, but then after the sex everything is magically clean and they just go to sleep, where did all the wet go? I remember the first time I read a sex scene in which the heroine had to go clean herself afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised and I would love to see more of that. So I vote no to being drenched by a bucketload of seed, but yes to some leakage!
10. Lucy D
Laurie - priceless article and just god-awful...

I am guessing there were no more in the The Others series once they printed copies and actually read those scenes. Yuck!!

Although I do believe my husband has tried the "blowjob will save my life/restore my heath" lines before.
11. The_Book_Queen
Great article, thanks for sharing! :) The subject may be a bit..messy, but I think it's something that many of us never stop and think about until someone else brings it up.

I'll admit that the scenes from Sarah's book (which I have not read) did freak me out a bit, and "Um...ew" went through my mind a dozen times at least. But, like another reader said, Day's scene did not bother me as much. Perhaps becasue it's a bit more realistic. I think it's all in the way the author handles it, the genre the book is, etc.

I can't say that women fantasize about being drenched in, well, anything other than clean water (I know I don't!), but, to a certain degree, such, ahem, actions are necessary.

12. Annabel
Whatever you do, don't google bukkake! lol.

I have mixed feelings about this. I support readers' rights to squick at whatever they want, but at the same time I think we need to be sensitive to the fact that everything turns *someone* on.

One woman's squick is another one's pleasure. :-)
Brittany Melson
13. BrittanyMelson
This post made me laugh so much. I'm still giggling. Not so much at the actual examples, but at the way you presented them, Laurie. So hilarious.
14. Martha Eddy
I took Mary Balogh's drenched with his seed to be an "internal" natural drenching. The other descriptions were definitely ick/squick/gross ... fill in the blank.
15. TTori
I totally get what Erin means about the primal male thing, and Brie too about sex being messy, it takes a lot to squick me out. Sometimes in erotica when they go back and forth between vaginal and anal sex, all I can think is eww gross, that's an infection waiting to happen.
16. Senjoli
@darlenemarshall, The wetspot argument is in Robin Kaye's Breakfast in Bed. The hero says he'll sleep in the wetspot for her. It's romantically nasty.
17. Isabel C.
I'm with Brie, and also going "ew" on the distended stomach thing. I find, er, "money shots" kind of hot in moderation, but: no. Just no. (Rule of thumb: anything that involves bloating is not gonna be a turn-on for me, or for most people I know.)

Also, I now have "never-ending blowjob" going through my head, to the tune of the Neverending Story theme. So...thanks? ;)
18. SassyT
Okay, I'm completely grossed Ewwwww, ewwww, and some more ewwww. This would have totally taken me out of the story. I admit to squealing like a school girl whenever I read a passage that mentions any of the aforementioned (in the article) words for seed. It's just a reflex for me to start guffawing. Anywho, hell no to anything going past my cervix. I actually got a phantom pain just from reading that. Don't even get me started on the distended abdomen thing. I just got chills (and not in a good way). Honestly, I'm sure this is exciting for some women but I think a vast majority (as seen from this very small sampling of commenters) don't find it sexy at all. Yeah, I realize that sex is messy but I'm not necessarily reading for reality (especially if it's a SF/F book). It's like going to the movies. Do I want to see some realism? Sure (just so I know we are still on Earth), but do I really need to see all the messiness that is real life in detail? No (I already know about the discussion of who has to sleep where and the clean up afterwards). That kind of takes the "entertainment" out of the entertainment. I have to go cervix is still in pain from reading that
Candice Burnett
19. SleepyVamp
I've always thought that talk of seed and cum and whatnot has always been an attempt to transform porn, a visual medium, into books, a cerebral/imaginative medium. Ejaculation becomes a less than subtle code for the pleasure of climax as portrayed in a visual medium.

With regard to the truly bizzare sex scenes of "Conception" I can only say that I've always found pornography to be full of alien bodies (augmented and hairless as many in the industry are) so alien/paranormal sex in romance novels is not so far beyond what we already have. Though, when I first read "Conception", I actually had to double check because I thought it was written by a man, it seemed like such a male-dominated sexual fantasy.
rachel sternberg
20. rae70
omg! i'm with sassyt, i don't want reality in my books about fluids and clean up! i will be "yucking" out loud while reading if i came across that in a book and prolly would fast forward thru it to get past it.. distending bellies from ejaculate is just a shuddering thought.. mother nature and periods are bad enough.. no extra bloating please!

lol at lucy about her hubs using those bj lines...
21. anne208r
Ick " Never-ending blowjob" ick yuck yew gross.......please give me a new music cue.....
22. Jacqueline DeGroot
I don't think men think of their "essence" as ewww. I try to write these scenes so the impression is that they're sharing something intensely personal--that while fulfulling a base need for himself, he's also providing satisfaction for his partner. It is somewhat satisfying to me to have proof of a job well done.
23. Carmen Goode
Squick! Oh I love that...I haven't laughed so hard in some time thank you.
24. nocturne
Perhaps in my teens and twenties I would have said ewww. Now that I have fully embraced my sexuality and discovered I can squirt, it's not disgusting. I'm not turned on by semen swallowing or being covered externally in it, but internal sounds hot. I don't mind reading such in fiction.
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