Jan 5 2015 11:00am

Let’s Talk About (Oral) Sex, Baby, in Historical Romance!

The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica PetersonToday we're delighted to be joined by author Jessica Peterson, whose book The Millionaire Rogue, the second book in her Hope Diamond trilogy, is released tomorrow. The titular Rogue in Jessica's book takes the heroine on a scandalous adventure—and of course engages the heroine in some mutal passion and exploration. Jessica is here to talk about oral sex in historical novels. Thanks, Jessica!

I like my romance novels hot.

There, I said it.

I like a sweeping love story, of course, and an emotionally intense, often overwhelming connection between the hero and heroine, too. Even if the sex is great, it falls flat if these things aren’t occurring in tandem with the—ahem—more physical manifestations of love.

But combine that emotionally intense connection with mind blowing sex—that, my friends, is the sweet spot. (Sorry for the terrible pun…I had to.)

I’ve been reading romance for almost fifteen years. I started in my teens, as soon as my mom let me read my first paperback. I think it was Catherine Coulter’s Devil’s Embrace; I must’ve read that one five times, at least. Christina Dodd’s The Runaway Princess was another early favorite. I remember one of the sex scenes being particularly long—like, twenty glorious pages!—and super steamy.

I was hooked. I decided that if I ever wanted to write romance, I wanted to write it like that: a really great love story with some really great smooching scenes to go with it.

But as a writer, it’s a tough balance: portraying, in an honest way, a natural way, the growing emotional connection between the hero and heroine while also pumping up the sexual jam. This is especially difficult in historical romance; strict social mores in Regency England (the period in which I write) meant sex was no casual affair. Considering there were no reliable methods of birth control, a dance between the sheets could have very real, and very lasting, consequences.

Basically: we, as readers, love it when the hero and heroine get it on. But for practical, as well as narrative, reasons, they can’t hop into bed on page twenty, and every twenty pages thereafter. That would be pretty boring besides; it’s all excitement and nerves when manhood first meets sheath, but wouldn’t it be cool if other things, besides penetration, happened before the manhood-meets-sheath moment, after it, even during it?

Enter oral sex into the historical romance lexicon.

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Back in the old school days, there was little, if any, mention of oral sex, female orgasms, or foreplay (aside from the usual fondling) in historical romance. Not that the sex wasn’t great; but it was just sex, plain though never simple.
Fast forward a decade or two, and you’ve got all that in historicals and more. Authors now use oral sex to brilliant effect: not only does it intensify the sexual tension between hero and heroine, it’s also a great way to shake up sex scenes without sacrificing all that hotness we, as readers, adore.

It’s pretty cool, in my opinion, that oral sex is becoming more mainstream in the romance world. I’d like to think that, by reading about sexual acts in which female pleasure is the focus, the goal, even, women might be empowered to let go of any shame, fear, or dissatisfaction they may feel about their bodies and their sex lives. Including oral sex in romance gives us the knowledge, and the power, to take control of our experience, sexual and otherwise, to try new things, and have a little fun while doing it.

Sex is such an intimate, often secret thing in our lives. It’s cool to know, even through fictional characters, that we are not alone in our desires. Our fantasies.

I just finished reading Sarah MacLean’s Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover. She is a master of many things; among them, the oral sex scene. (I hope she takes this as a compliment, because it is!) This scene takes place in the hero’s fire-warmed indoor pool. The hero, still wading in the pool, lifts the heroine onto the tiled edge. All sorts of awesomeness ensues.

Shana Galen’s debut, When Dashing Met Danger, includes a fabulous bit of hanky panky that begins with the hero asking the heroine, “Do you want me to kiss you here?” Yes, please.

In my own newest release, The Millionaire Rogue, my hero and heroine share some similar awesomeness when Thomas Hope settles Sophia onto the enormous desk in his office. (This was a particularly fun scene to write.)

Juliana Gray’s A Lady Never Lies was the first historical I read in which the heroine performs oral sex on the hero. This scene inspired a (rather naughty) one in my The Millionaire Rogue, where Sophia wants to return Thomas’s favor —on the deck of a ship in the middle of the Thames.

Oral sex isn’t, thankfully, the only kind of inventive sex in historicals these days. In Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do, there’s a bit of role playing (master and servant, delicious!) that charmed my socks off—and was, at the same time, emotionally devastating. So.good.

I’m curious to know what you think about sex in historials—the good, the naughty, the oral, the traditional.

As long as it’s consensual – and empowering – I’m all for it.

Thanks for having me, and happy reading!

Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson, out tomorrow:

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Jessica Peterson began reading romance to escape the decidedly unromantic awkwardness of her teenage years. Having found solace in the likes of Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy, it wasn’t long before she began creating tall, dark, and handsome heroes of her own. She is the author of the Hope Diamond trilogy including The Gentleman Jewel Thief.

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Lynne Connolly
1. Lynne Connolly
I've done a study of sexual practices in the Georgian era (I know, the sacrifices I make!)
In an era when contraception was difficult, and childbirth life threatening, the people involved got very inventive. Anal sex was more common, for instance, as a way of contraception and of having sex without breaking a woman's hymen (that happened in the first series of Downton!) They enjoyed oral sex, too.
The French national library has an extensive collection of prints showing various sexual scenes, and there are a few "French" prints online. Then there are books like "Fanny Hill," letters, journals and more.
The language of sex is interesting, too. For instance, the phrase "having sex" to mean "engaging in sexual intercourse" is twentieth century in origin. so is "climax." but the f word and "come" meaning orgasm were used for centuries before!
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
@LynneConnolly, FUCK is one of my favorite naughty historical fun facts: fornication under the consent of the king. Yay! This was a great post!
Lynne Connolly
3. Lynne Connolly
not a fact, though, Jennifer, but a fun thing! It's a word based on middle English, and it definitely means to fornicate! No acronyms involved.
In fact, if you read a historical "fact" that involves acronyms, it's almost always wrong! It's said to be pseudo-Latin in origin.
Jessica Peterson
5. JessicaPAuthor
Hi, Lynne and Jennifer! Love this thread...and really, that FUCK acronym is stuck in my head now, whether or not it's historical fact! Thanks for sharing. I wonder, Lynne, if you researched attitudes towards non-intercourse sexual practices in Georgian England. Was it shunned? Expected? Something only a certain kind of man/woman was thought to do? I wonder, too, if oral sex was more common then for the reasons you mentioned (dangerous childbirth, etc.). I guess there is no way to tell, really, but I am intrigued nonetheless. Sex, all kinds, is such a vital part of the human experience - whether we're having it or not, who we're having it with, why. It's cool to think about how this experience has, or hasn't, changed over the centuries.
Lynne Connolly
6. Lynne Connolly
They certainly engaged in and enjoyed oral sex. (just read "Fanny Hill"!) - it would be another way to avoid conception. But they really went in for orgies in a big way. Look at Hogarth's "Rake's Progress," for a scene of debauchery. There are many paintings and especially engravings that show what people got up to in the period. Also, a poet like the Restoration Lord Rochester described sexual practices in his scurrilous poetry.
Jessica Peterson
7. JessicaPAuthor
I know Lord Rochester - wasn't the move THE LIBERTINE about his life (and his horrific syphilis?). Interesting. Thanks for sharing!
8. DestinyW90
I have definitely noticed and am pleased at the oral sex in HR. I think I've read more with than without. My first one was almost a decade ago and it featured oral.
Jessica Peterson
9. JessicaPAuthor
Hi Destiny! Thanks for stopping by. Agreed that oral has become so much more prevalent in historical romance - sounds like we're both pretty pleased by that development! Wonder what your first one was? Mine was THE DEVIL'S EMBRACE by Catherine Coulter. Don't remember if there was oral in that one...
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