My belated SBD:
First let me go on record as being a reader who isn’t offended by reading a love scene (or sex scene, as the case may be) between one of the main characters of a romance and another character who is not going to be the ultimate hero or heroine. If it fits with the plot of the book and the flow of the story, then I’m okay with it. That’s assuming, of course, that there is no pledge of sexual fidelity between h/h; if there is and the nookie occurs anyway, that’s cheating and it’s an entirely different kettle o’ fish.
I purchased Laura Baumbach’s The Lost Temple of Karttikeya [The Collector 9] ; I’d read her earlier m/m book A Bit of Rough and was interested to see what she would do with a romance that included a bit of adventure or paranormal. I knew from the blurb that the heroes of the book would be Brandon and Christian. And I knew from the excerpt that Brandon is seeing someone else or hung up on someone else at the beginning of the book. Fine. The opening chapters (chapters!) consisted of a long, long love/sex scene between Brandon and the other guy. In and of itself, that doesn’t bother me; Brandon’s lovesickness* over this guy plays a role in the book. The details? Graphic and quite titillating. Again, not a problem. Of ~400 e-pages, the first ~60** are the sex between a hero and a non-hero, who in fact turns out to be a slutty user who abandons Brandon, leaving him heartbroken and desperate enough to go on a Quest for a Magickal Artifact which will win him back. Of course, in the process, Brandon has the Hot Monkey Lovin’ with someone else and falls in love all over again, but this time with a Very Nice Guy.
But I digress. The initial scene. After finishing the book, I felt a little perplexed by the length of the first love/sex scene. Okay, I’m all for the hotness and I get that this is erotic romance. But since as a reader I’ve done my research (read the blurb before buying), I know who is going to get the HEA. And I’m not sure how using +10% of the book’s entire word count on a love/sex scene not between the two heroes furthers that goal. I mean, yes, it shows me that the Evil, Slutty Ex is Teh Secks God (which also means that he’s gotten around, which is bad in Romancelandia – is that the same for m/m Romancelandia?) and that he has Our Sweet Hero by the cock and balls. But still…was there any other point to it? Because upon reflection, it reminds of Skanky Villain Sex, thrown in to pad a book and make the reader aware that the villain is a bad, bad dude. Here it just contributed to my general disenchantment with Brandon as a hero. If he’s so needy and desperate that total tool with a good technique can whip him that easily, how/why should I believe that his HEA with Christian is EA? What if the tool reappears or changes his mind?
Plus, that scene is longer (I believe) than any love/sex scene between Brandon and Christian. What’s up with that? Are you telling me that ESE’s technique is better/hotter/more page-worthy than Christian’s? If so, the author is breaking a major Romancelandia rule: True Love Sex is the Best Sex.
I dunno. I kind of had a point and then lost it. But suffice it to say that something about this first scene seems wonky to me in the scheme of things, even if I can’t articulate exactly what.
*After a bit, I was totally irritated with Brandon’s obsession with this guy and his complete lack of self-respect and testicular fortitude. But that’s a separate issue.
** The details of the book indicated that it is 55,887 words long; probably a good 6,000-7,000 of those words were spent on this scene. About half way through the scene, I wanted to tell them both to come already so the actual plot could start.