Jun 10 2015 1:30pm

Putting the “Adult” in Young Adult: Sex in YA

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

One of the reasons I read romance is the throbbing , bodice ripping, hot, steam factor—um, better known as the sex scenes. YA literature is marketed to teens, but many adults (yours truly) also read them. With older teens in mind, the sex scenes (if there are any) are usually pretty tame. There is something refreshing about a love story that may be simpler and less um...turgid. 

In fact, the protagonist's may have a long road before characters consummate their feelings at all.  Some people don't believe actual sex belongs in YA books- but it is still there.  Many times it is done so tastefully that it doesn't become teen erotica.  It becomes part of a coming of age/first time story. This is a fact that many teens find relatable. Something that can be a sweet, appropriate part of the main characters' story.

Here are several YA books that have sex scenes—but they add to the storyline in some way or other. 

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

In this second book in her YA Arcana Series, she plays out the physical relationship between Evie and her love interests—Jack (a human) and Aric (Physical representative of the Death tarot card). The first is her first time, and it is done tastefully and sweetly with Jack. 

He traced his hand between us, lower, lower, dipping his fingers. “So hot,” he groaned. “So perfect. You want this too.” It wasn’t a question. He began touching me as I needed him to, petting me. Whatever he was doing made me crazed for more. I rocked my hips to his caressing fingers, lids growing heavy, but I kept my gaze pinned to his. His hips rocked too, wedging his hardness against me. My eyes went wide when he started to press inside.

When Evie gets captured by Aric, she isn't aware of their past.  Her time in his captivity leads to another hot scene that is done very well. 

He grazed his lips past my breasts, down my belly, his warm breaths ghosting over my skin. He nuzzled my navel, then continued his path lower. Lower. “Uh, Aric?” With a desperate groan, Death...kissed.

Meg Cabot's Abandon series also does this skillfully with the second in her series, Underworld. In this storyline, the female protagonist, Pierce, has her first time with (yet another) ruler of the underwold/death, John Hayden. In this remake of the Hades/Persephone trope, Piece isn't forced to stay in the underworld if she eats. Instead, she is caught when she has sexy time with John. It is alluded to much more than it is shown, and it works for the audience and gave the adult reader a little more PG-13 aspects. 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Finally, in Veronica Roth's Allegiant, Tris and Four have their little intimate time together. Living in their futuristic world, they have little time alone—especially when they are running away from other factions or terrorists. The suspense builds throughout their story until they are finally alone. The scene is sweet and doesn't overtake the storyline. After reading an interview with Roth, she said she did this on purpose. She didn't want sex to be the thing in this book. There are so many other important storylines to follow. But, we are all in for the sweet connection between these two. I was waiting for something—I always am, as a crazy romance reader! 

What about you? Are you wanting sexy times when you read YA? Or do you want to save your sexy times for adult romance? How do you think sex is (or should be) handled differently in YA versus adult romance?


Learn more about the books mentioned in the post:

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole  
Abandon (Book 1 in the Abandon Triliogy Series) by Meg Cabot  
Allegiant (Book 3 of the Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth  






Biz Dykty- Is an aspiring writer of YA and historical romance. Follow me on Twitter at Biz Jaust@BizJaust.

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