Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Surprise :: Condoms?

Surprise, surprise! We’re actually going to talk about something that usually stays in the drawer…CONDOMS! Specifically, how protection is worked into contemporary romance novels, and if that is working for you…

Nothing pulls me faster from a story than a couple who don’t pause to consider protection. I know some authors don’t like to have to break the flow of their scene to include this necessary step, some even say it’s like talking about bathroom happenings, but really, how had is it to say ‘he protected them’?

Actually, I know as a genre we need some level of unprotected sex, otherwise all those secret babies wouldn’t be. But I think it is an element of realism we need to role model to women. Yes, it can break the mood, but not as much as a STD or screaming newborn.

I don’t think authors should make sure condoms are in their story to be politically correct, instead it is a level of realism. It’s okay for your story to be a romantic fantasy, but not to leave the reality of your characters all together.

And why would you want to leave condoms out, anyway? Make it part of the action of your scene, a topic of conversation before and after. Have fun with it, just like your heroine would in reality. After all, if we can describe orgasms, condoms are no big deal, and they can be great fun!

Fun with condoms? Yes! I’ve thought of a condom eating drawer (explained by a greedy roommate), the multi-pack has a lot of potential, so do some of the specialty brands...

What are your thoughts on condoms in your contemporary romance novels? Who is working safe sex into their story in a fresh, new way?

XOXO - Jenna

Jenna wants to point out that if you don't care to read about condoms, read stories that close the bedroom door, don't include sex, or historicals!
To find out more, you can visit her website, blog, or reading group, We Call It Research!


  1. This is quite an interesting topic . I recall one character 'reaching for a foil packet' which dealt with it quite nicely but later on they got a bit carried away and forgot to use one in the heat of passion and hey presto, a pregnancy! I don't think it's an issue that can be totally ignored in a modern/presents novel or you risk the heroine (at least) appearing reckless and a bit dim. But then it is supposed to be a fantasy as well isn't it?
    I'd be really interested to hear some ideas from our published ladies as I am going to have to tackle this problem myself within the next 2K of my own fledgling. My couple have thus far held off full sex because neither of them has a condom but he's going to get hold of one soon!

  2. Jenna, I have books where condoms and condom use are mentioned in love scenes, and other times they're not. I've had one book where the h/H get carried away, and she wonders if she's pregnant for the rest of the book -- this was necessary to her character development, and his. Also if we're talking about realism, well, people get carried away in real life, and they take risks -- this is more real than people being ultra responsible all the time, IMO.

    I also have a scene in the upcoming Blaze where they are in a spot where they have no protection with them -- they think of it, and she convinces him that it's okay to go ahead. She's always used "natural" birth control, knows her body, and they are both "clean," so we have a nice condomless sex scene, which is very sexy, IMO. It becomes a conscious decision on their part.

    Condoms should not be included in romance novels for PC reasons -- that's just not what we should be doing.

    So I think realism has to be the key, yes, and character development, but I also think realism doesn't *always* mean condoms. Realism can mean decided to risk not using one, or forgetting them, or getting carried away, and all of these have been important to romance plots over the years for various reasons.


  3. I love the condom bouquet in the mug! It is one, isn't it?

  4. Jenna, what a great topic! I do agree that the characters come across "smarter" when they think about protection.

    So far none of my books include sex, but I do have one on the back burner where the characters will make love. I've rough-drafted the scene, but it's not super-explicit. I cut from them giving in to the desire to go to bed (after a long, sexy embrace). Then there's a chapter break, so when we see them again, they're already in the middle of the deed. I don't think that was a conscious decision on my part to avoid the condoms -- I just wanted to get to the height of the emotion in the scene, which is the point for me.

    As to condoms and humor -- I thought one of the funniest scenes in MUST LOVE DOGS was when John Cusack and Diane Lane go screeching through the streets in the middle of the night, driving in a desperate search for an open store that has condoms.

  5. In contemporaries I really do want to see safer sex practises unless there is a strong reason not to.

  6. Yes, that's a condom mug. Like I said, have fun with it! Put a multi-pack in the bedside table drawer!

    I didn't mean that they should be in ever scene, just that they shuld be considered. At least if your character is younger. That's just what we've grown up with.

  7. I've written eight books and only one hasn't mentioned the condom. In that book, I simply didn't want to.

    If the statistics of young people are to be trusted, then oral sex vs intercourse is the trend. This means that you'd also have to mention protection for the more sensual/graphic scenes. Even kissing can be dangerous with herpes. I do remember several girls with Mono back in my day (80s).

    I don't plan on taking on the role as spokesperson for responsible behavior. I do my part when I can, but family, government, and other social/community efforts play significant roles.