Question for (mature) romance readers.

Hi, I have a quick question.

I’m writing a romance novel and I have this male MC. He has a love interest but at the beginning of my book, I write scenes (short sexual ones) of him and another girl.

Him laying down with another girl fits the book so that’s not the problem. I feel it just shows he’s had a life before his love interest.
The main theme of the book is also NOT a love triangle, so his sexual relationship with this girl will stop at a point.

Now my question is how do you feel about an MC laying down with other people besides the love interest? I ask this because I had a comment from a nice woman who mentioned she does not like it when the MC’s have other people that they are involved with.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

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I’m fine with it as long as it’s handled fine. I write mature werewolf romance. Mostly from females pov but there are some chapters in the males pov. Neither character was a virgin when they met, their experience shows through. They were both single when they met but exes surface throughout the series and cause some ripples. I like to think I handle it well in that it makes their lives believable but also builds their character.

As long as you aren’t using it as hollow shock and awe i think there’s nothing wrong with it.

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You mean more in the line of wether it’s relevant to the story or not? Or also in the way the scenes itself are written?

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I think this probably depends on what you are trying to tell us with the scene of him doing the devils tango with another character. Is this side character important to his life? Does he care about this character? How does he treat this other sexual partner? What does that tell us about the character? Why does he choose his eventual love interest instead of the first partner we are introduced to? Why is the author showing us this scene?

When we are introduced to side characters early on, it can make us feel like this character is supposed to have some significance to the book. If they just disappear and you use it as ‘character development’ for someone else, it can be a little confusing about what this character’s role was in the bigger picture.

I think the reason people don’t like this is the ‘confusion’ that a scene like this can cause if its handled incorrectly. Sexual scenes are very intimate and venerable and it might feel odd to share that feeling with a random side character. Readers don’t know what to do with that extra side character or how they were supposed to feel about them once they are gone.

Another reason people might not like this is internalized slut shaming they are not even aware of. Having multiple sexual partners in a short period can make a character feel cheap, slutty, promiscuous, untrustworthy, etc, to readers, even if they are not aware that’s what they are feeling. They just “don’t like it” even if they can’t explain why.

Also, if he stops his relationship with this other partner because he falls in love with this other love interest, that can feel really icky to the reader. It feels a lot like cheating, even if he is unhappy with his current relationship. Falling in love with someone else and eventually leaving your current partner because of that is a bad look, even if its handled realistically.

Especially because that “early love” feeling is a fickle beast of dopamine and can make us question his integrity to this new character. What’s to make us think he wont just tired of this new lover like he did his last one?

How to handle this ultimately comes down to the author. If you need to establish character has had other sexual partners, you need to decide what the best way to portray that while establishing this new love interest is different and thats why we can trust it.

Maybe his past relationships are mentioned in passing, instead of the reader having to experience them first hand. Maybe this side character does play some part in the book later on and cause some tension, playing a more purposeful part in the book. Maybe he wakes up from this sexual experience and his partner is already gone, thus implying what happen, without introducing us to a random side character. Maybe this other side character is integral to the plot of our man ending up with his love interest and thus plays a greater role in the plot. Maybe he is a “promiscuous” character, and that causes some tension, letting the reader feel justified in feeling that way about him.

But ultimately, it is up to the author. Its just important to disconnect yourself from everything you know about your character and see how they are being perceived by the reader. But I think if you handle it in a way thats true to your character, you are probably safe.

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Well, I have that worked out already though. I’m glad you typed up the different views people could have because I didn’t think of that.

My story is a historical novel referencing the Assassins of the 11th century. The myth says they had a garden of lust where they could enjoy a taste of paradise. I romanticized it and made it a ‘hang out’ spot let’s say, where my assassins can go for music, drinks, and other fun.
The girl in question is a girl that ‘works’ in the garden. She and my MC have an understanding that she’s just doing her job. Which is taking care of the assassins’ every need. My MC keeps making it clear to her that it’s NOT romantic between them, even though she did develop some feelings for him which he is oblivious to. So before he falls for the actual love interest I write a few short scenes for them together.
After a while, he finds out that he hurt the first girl and apologizes to her because he didn’t mean for it to happen. The girl itself is mentioned a lot throughout the book as she’s a visible side character. Eventually, they will become ‘just friends’ and will speak fondly about one another. That’s a general idea anyway.

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Ooohhhh sounds like fun! Assassins, 11th century?? Sounds like my kind of story! ^o^

I think in that case its pretty clear his intentions behind this other ‘relationship’ and the reader could easily separate it from the love interest he develops later. That personally wouldn’t bother me, as long as he doesn’t have weird reasons for not considering this other girl as a long term partner. Or, those reasons could be confronted with in the story itself. IE: he doesn’t see her as a long term partner because he doesn’t respect her and that causes her to lose respect for him for feeling that way about her. So their relationship is used as development of his flaws. Etc etc.

I just love good reasons behind things instead of them just happening. xD Its a weakness.

If she is a long term character though, I think you are setting yourself up for an inevitable love triangle, even if its one sided on one side of the triangle. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is something to consider as you are writing this side character and her long term relationship with him.

Personally I wouldn’t changed things based off one comment. That person probably just prefers a more straightforward classic romance without entanglements, but that isn’t the preference of every reader. (At least not me as a reader. xD I love complications)

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Oh well, feel free to read haha. I have twenty chapters up for my dutch version but I’m translating to English and that only has three, for now, a fourth one on the way.

But that aside haha, I’m not planning to change the entire thing based on a comment, I just wondered about it because I never thought it could be a negative thing.

As for a love triangle…yeah maybe, in the beginning. When the girl discovers that the MC begins to spend more time with his love interest she does get jealous. I’ve written a short scene where my MC starts to think about what he did with the girl and talks to her about their situation and saying he does care for her and wants to make amends, which she doesn’t want at that time. But they do have a connection in some way. Which I also try to show in a scene where he comforts her after she lost someone she loved. She will also be the first one to badmouth the love interest when she can because she cares for the MC and doesn’t want to see him hurt.
My MC doesn’t let a lot of people in, and unlike some other assassins who pick a different girl every night, he rather chooses someone he’s connected with. That’s why he let the girl keep coming back to him. So really, they’ve established a sort of ‘friends with benefits’ situation, which leads to her developing feelings, her getting hurt, but my MC is a great guy and wants everyone to feel good. that’s why he still cares for the girl even after he knows he hurt her.
As for the reason, well he’s an assassin, a killer who goes out on dangerous missions and is gone for weeks at a time. So he figures he’ll never waste his time falling in love with someone and starting a family because he doesn’t want them to live in fear. And he’s content with that, but then he meets his love interest and…well…a lot happens and eventually, the heart wants what it wants. Convenient or not.

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Watching too many graphic HBO series has made me jaded to this lolol. I honestly wouldn’t mind.

You probably don’t need to go too into detail about the acts they do, and just have it be implied.

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I say do it. I did it (it’s the first time I’ve explicitly done this with a non love interest) and I mean, it fits my book and it gives people their smutty fix until my two characters get together, so :woman_shrugging:t5:.

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Both like ive seen it used where it was like irrelevant to the story. It added nothing to the plot and told you nothing about the character. Like you could cut it and never know it was gone. It was just cheep smutt to draw readers.

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I do try to be a ‘tad’ explicit. Because it’s mature so haha. but it’s not like I go into detail each time. The first time I do because it’s the first time I write an erotic scene in the book. The second time it’s just ‘I take her with me and…’ :smile:

That’s also true. For me it also fits the book, because the Assassins actually had a ‘lust’ garden although it was used differently according to the myth. But hey he’s a man. The first time the girl comes up she seduces him and, as I already told you I think lol, I was gonna make him refuse. But as my boyfriend said ‘ANY normal single man says YES in that kind of situation’ haha. So I had to go with it.

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Yeah I’m starting to get that it really comes down to that. Is it relevant to the story then yes do it, if not leave it.
So I’m good then, because it is relevant :smiley:

It’s sex doesn’t actually have to mean anything but cant just happen to happen.

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Yeah I get what they mean though with it being ‘relevant’. Like my girl she obliged to do so because her job is to take care of the Assassins every need. But It’s not like he’s walking around randomly somewhere and I decide like okay now he’s gonna randomly have sex with a random person. haha

Do it xD

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Exactly. It’s not like its an epiphany type thing either just should fit somehow lol

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It sounds very realistic to me. I even wrote a graphic sex scene between my MC and someone who isn’t one of the love interests somewhere in the story. I haven’t got any feedback about how bothersome it is.

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Well the woman who wrote the comment was positive about my book, she just mentioned that it happens sometimes that people don’t like it when the MC shows interest in other people. I never thought about it and it doesn’t bother me either, except this one time in a book where I was rooting for a couple and then eventually the girl ended up with the villain of the book who made a fool out of the other guy. I thought she was a bitch and never wanted to read the book again haha.

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The hopelessly romantic kind :grin:

I think I lost some readers too after my story progresses because of this situation. Only, there is no villain in my story, everyone is simply flawed.
I set up high standards for both love interests, but they’re both assholes, so the competition is tight LOL. Some readers just got frustrated because the LI they’re rooting isn’t winning yet. Oh well :sweat_smile:

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