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by Geoff Smullins
The first two parts of this series on using romance novels to spice up your foreplay, were about how to scan a novel for the good bits -- and find them fast. Then you take these juicy bits into your foreplay by acting them out as you read them out loud. But in addition to the ways a romance novel can add the exotic to your foreplay, a romance novel holds many secrets about a woman's sexual wiring buried in its pages. Here are just a few observations; the attentive partner will find more.
---Notice that the heroine is usually won over by a kiss, a kiss with lots of build-up. Even in the spicy book Naughty or Nice it's not the size of the hero's dick that impresses the heroine -- it's his kiss. "He cupped her face in his hands and made love to her with his mouth, gently coaxing her to accept his tongue, sliding inside, tasting her sweetness, heat rifling through his blood as he felt her respond…He twined a fistful of it [her hair] around his hand and tugged, tipping her head farther back so he could explore the hot, moist depths of her mouth more deeply" (26-27, Naughty or Nice).
--- For a woman, the brain is an erogenous zone. A man reading a romance novel might find it hard to hear beyond words, words, words -- "there's nothing like the real thing" is a man's usual way of looking at it. But a good, hot, sexy paragraph full of sexual tension between the couple, can get a woman wet.
---Women can -- not always and not necessarily, but potentially -- take things very slow. Romance novels are to the book industry what porn is to the video industry -- guaranteed sales. There's a reason for that. Romance novels are popular because romance writers get it: build-up. 125 pages worth on average. So reading a romance novel out loud in foreplay can help a guy re-tune his "pacing," change his rhythm.
--- If you read enough romance novels, you'll start to see that some fantasies keep coming back in many forms. For example, when a woman's sexuality becomes aroused, she "unleashes the beast" in a man. Unleashing the beast is a favorite fantasy, judging from many, many romance novels. But it has a companion fantasy: the woman controls this beast by her sexual power: "That was how a woman like her kept a man enthralled, by being so soft, seductive, and ready to please that a man couldn't help but root his cock deep inside her. Then once she had him by the cock, she led him around by it and he was helpless to escape. Even if he wanted to." (To Pleasure a Prince 306) In another castle/manor book, The Duke's Scandalous Secret by Connie Lane, the lord of the manor (Thomas Ravensfield) starts out distant and cold (not to mention having a reputation as a heartbreaker). But after the couple's love-making scene (and we wait long and hard for that), we're told that the virginal Lynnette "broke down the wall he'd built around his heart and the barriers that made him a part of life and yet held back his emotions" (222). (Sound familiar? It's the erogenous brain of women).
--- The men of romance novels have a dark side. The hero is often seen as a brute in some way, especially by outsiders who don't understand him the way the heroine does. But the heroine sees beyond the brute, sees his potential, and she "can't control her heart." Hey, in a romance novel, everyone loses control one way or another.
---Then she's got to save him, mostly from himself -- and she's the only one who can do this. Women like to be "the only one." The heroine, you will notice, always surpasses all the rest. In The Duke's Scandalous Secret, after they make love, the Duke realizes, "Lynette like any other woman, eh? He had deluded himself into thinking so. Until he realized what he had never realized about any other woman. That he was in love with her" (222). Often the heroine's irreplaceable; the hero needs her in some way. Men who have bumped up against female jealousy have probably seen this "fantasy" at work -- or the reverse fantasy, say when a man compliments another woman's beauty.
CHOOSING YOUR FOREPLAY ROMANCE
If you're still shopping for titles to bring to your romance foreplay session, here are a few more tips.
---It can't hurt to recap the Golden 125 Rule (covered in both earlier parts of this series) which says: open any romance novel to page 125 and look to see how hot the action is there or thereabouts (try going 5 or 10 pages in either direction if you see nothing on 125). The degree of heat you find at this point will tell you just how sexy the book is overall. If the couple have already had their first kiss and maybe some fondling and finger fucking, you're onto a steamy romance novel. Buy it; take it home; read it and ravish.
--- Plots with mysteries at their core tend to have more mystery and less sex (Unmasked, mentioned last time, is a notable exception). Killer Curves by Roxanne St. Claire, set in the NASCAR world, has mystery elements. In some ways it feels like it's faster paced and with a bit more action (because of its contemporary setting) than the manor and castle type romances. But the action is not all erotic and compared to some of our earlier choices, this one is a little limp. On page 125, this book is just getting to the first kiss. "He put his hands on her knees, pressing them down gently. Then he closed the space between them and kissed her. She felt her breath catch. Instantly, he deepened the pressure, locking his hand around her neck. She tasted toothpaste and lemon water and felt his tongue dart over her teeth. A spark shot through her. Oh, God. She was on a bed with him." (127-8). Notice these kiss descriptions; they certainly seem to draw from the adage "as the kiss goes, so does the sex."
---Wherever the first kiss falls, skip forward about 30 pages to find a more erotically charged version of the act. In Killer Curves, by 163, car driver Beau is asking Celeste if she'd like to have an orgasm. "You can't," she says to him, after explaining that in spite of having had sex with a few men, she'd "never crossed the finish line." "I can," he says to her. It's a great scene; they're both fully clothed. And he's giving her something without asking for anything in return.
In terms of women and sex, this point is probably crucial. Beau offers to "give" her an orgasm with no strings attached. How rare. And for that, his heroism is sealed. Not that women want sex to be only about their orgasm -- in fact they'd start to worry about their attractiveness if it only went one way. The heroic act is all in the gesture, another lesson from the romance novel.
--- If there's nothing remotely erotic around 125 and nothing much more thirty pages later, this book could be a dud. All mood and no action.
Connie Lane's book The Duke's Scandalous Secret, doesn't have a kiss until page 146. Bad sign. It's also a bit like a mystery -- worse sign. These two facts don't bode well for the heat rating. All the way to 146, and a kiss is all that happens. So you do the 30 page test. Surely 30 pages after the first kiss, things are getting hotter? "He loosened the bow that was tied at the neckline of her nightdress and inched the fabric open." Promising. Ravensfield kisses Lynnette's cheek. Then, his mouth "nuzzled… against her neck. It was the last thing she remembered before everything went black." Say what? That's it? And she faints? If you're in a book store, scanning rapidly for a book to give and to read to your female sex partner, you're well within method to suspect that when the heroine has to get out of a kiss by fainting (on p. 177 no less!), it's time to toss the book back on the shelf. As it happens, this book finally does cough up a somewhat satisfying sex scene, pages 219 - 22, but an extra hundred pages into the novel. Clearly if you're looking for several hot sex scenes to escalate your foreplay, this book is giving you less bang for your buck. And many books that get this far without a sex scene never do. Take Susan Wilson's Summer Harbor, for example. It has aspects of both warning signs -- first, it's all about a mystery (infuriatingly drawn out and never solved). And the page 125 test? Well, yes, there's a kiss on page 127, a suspect kiss because it's a remembered kiss, for one thing. And you can tell by the language we're talking dud: "Gently, tentatively, he pressed his water-cold lips against hers. Instinctively Kiley's mouth softened in response, a little surprised that his mouth so perfectly suited hers. Mack's lips on hers erased all of the turmoil." And that's pretty much it. Notice no "sliding inside and tasting her sweetness" kind of language. We know what we're looking for, graphic description -- and if the description of the kiss starts getting all abstract on you, you're probably looking at a dud. But let's give Summer Harbor one more chance. We'll advance 30 pages from the page 125 kiss and scout for something a little more steamy. Skipping to page 158, yes, there's a second kiss. But this kiss is more abstract than the last. "At his kiss, the taste of his tongue and the salt of her own tears, she felt as if she were falling away, as if the ocean had opened up and dragged her down -- not in a frightening way, more like the comfort of safe waters…" Oh dear. At this point, it is safe to say that Summer Harbor is a book best left to the devoted romance reader not to the foreplay literati.
So as you're hunting these books and reading them and following their scripts, acting them out with your lover as part of your foreplay, remember you're also using the book to do reconnaissance on the female psyche. Does your partner respond more to the casual race car driver who gives an orgasm as a no-strings gift? Does her breathing quicken when you're enacting the dark, coldhearted lord of the manor, the guy with the painful secrets waiting for someone to air them out? Does she giggle when you read about the sexually aggressive Aurora from Unmasked?
Reading these erotic moments not only lets you get her aroused, it lets you into her fantasy world -- the better to get laid with in the future.
Here's a fun, informative foreplay game. (It works as an icebreaker for swingers parties as well as a warm-up for any couple's intimacy.)
A) If you're a couple, go to the book store together to pick out the book -- the jacket copy gives you a good idea of the elements involved. Do a quick page-125 test, then the 30-pages-later test, then discuss and vote -- until you've got a steamer that you both like.
B) Pick out several selections of the book, then read them out loud together, taking turns and enacting the parts (for a bold twist, act the part that is opposite your sex!).
And alternate plan: If you just can't get the time together for a long foreplay, then you can make arrangements to read the same section of a book ahead of time, each person on their own free time. Let the novel work its magic and psych you up for the day you get together.
Then play a game of twenty questions. Answering questions about your sexual responses to the book. To keep the other person's responses from influencing yours, answer the questions separately.
Here are some possible questions. Use these as a take-off point to come up with your own:
1) Where do you think the man's actions or thoughts are more fantasy than reality? (you'll be surprised to see how you vary on this).
2) To heighten the impact of #1, rate the fantasy/reality quotient on a scale from 1 - 10; 1 being "common practice" and 10 being "in your dreams."
3) Where do you think the woman's actions or thoughts are more fantasy than reality?
4) Rate the fantasy/reality quotient on a scale from 1 - 10.
5) What parts are the most boring? Rate on a scale from 1 - 10 (1 being cum material, 10 being sleep material).
6) What turns you on about the male hero?
7) What turns you off about the male hero?
8) What turns you on about the female hero?
9) What turns you off about the female hero?
10) What parts did you find most distasteful? (And rate on a scale of 1 - 10)
11) What parts would you enjoy enacting in your next foreplay session?
Then get back together and compare answers.
Have a discussion. For example, if you read To Pleasure a Prince, you might discuss the bondage scene -- how much did you like that the guy couldn't see? How much did you like that the woman took control? How much did you like the emotional content? Etc. Notice how your lover's arousal differs from yours. Romance novels are money makers for a reason. Use them for all they're worth, and even the most long-term of lovers might learn some surprising things.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not an extensive reservoir of skills that makes a good lover, it's how much s/he knows about a partner's sexual wiring. This little question and answer game, plus the act of reading and enacting a romance novel together, might help you extract just the intimate information you've been looking for. The more you know, the more bells you'll ring.
So go ring some bells.
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