Too Hot to Handle?

Sex is the third rail for a fantasy novel.

Sex is remarkably unpopular per the following four fantasy book reviewers’ stipulations about books they don’t want to critique.

  • ‘Absolutely no erotica’
  • ‘I do NOT review erotica’
  • ‘no erotica/sex scenes’
  • ‘I will not except (sic) erotica’

The last of these quotes is my favorite.

Poor word choice aside, lust in fantasy novels appears to be distained by 18 of 52 fantasy book reviewers in a recent listing of reviewers who accept independently-published books. That’s 1/3. Let me hasten to add that reviewers are entitled to critique whatever they like, and this is a modest sample perhaps more prudish than the broader reviewer community.

Further, it’s not clear whether these reviewers reflect fantasy readers’ tastes. 

However, there’s a lot to unpack here. For starters, it’s not clear how much sex disqualifies a fantasy novel from review. As in everything else in life, definitions are key. To me, ‘erotica’ implies the novel’s focus is sensuality, so possibly these apparently blanket bans aren’t as air-tight as they seem and the reviewers will tolerate modest allusions to love and lust in fantasy novels. Or do the reviewers want no mention of sex whatsoever? Or is chaste kissing OK, but nothing more (and kissing can only start after the romantic partners have completed an epic quest together to prove their worthiness)? And how about vulgarity? Certainly, the reviewers’ stipulations suggest that novels with explicit sex scenes won’t be reviewed.

Evidently, everything is in the eye of the beholder. One reviewer notes that ‘clean romance’ is fine, so probably chaste kissing is OK for this individual.

Sex – or the lack thereof – in fantasy novels is a complicated topic, so future posts will touch on this again.

This subject is of passing interest to me, since my recent modern fantasy includes a couple of mildly (to me) sensual scenes, not to shock or titillate, but because it seemed natural to the plot and characters. Also, the setting was San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’, so a little eroticism seemed true to the times. I’ll include the Amazon link for THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON so you can judge for yourself (link: ).  

Oh, and please ‘like’ this post and/or ‘follow’ this page – I promise not to flood your inbox with daily postings! And I try to keep the writing quality reasonably high.

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