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(Guest Post) Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons by Denise Grover Swank

Sometimes Less is More

A funny thing happened this past spring. Fifty Shades of Grey became a household phrase and erotica suddenly became mainstream. Some erotica readers would drag me to a screeching halt and disagree with multiple points of that statement. They say the series is poorly written and isn’t true erotica.  They point to a lengthy list of much better examples of the genre. I have no doubt they are right, but that isn’t the point of this post. 

With the loosening of reader’s corsets and the avalanche of eReader sales, the once popular genre is selling better than ever. No matter where your tastes lie, there’s something for everyone. I won’t even touch the explosion of BSDM except to say I think it’s a result of women’s need to give up control over something in their overburdened, harried lives. If you have to give up control over something, turning over your orgasm to someone else is definitely at the top of many women’s list.  Where do I sign up?

I’m no prude. I have a difficult time writing sex scenes, but I have no trouble reading them. For the last year, I’ve read erotica.  (Before the Fifty Shades phenomenon so I feel a bit ahead of the latest erotica curve.)  But something unexpected happened with the last few I’ve read: They started to become monotonous.

Let’s not mistake the sole purpose of erotica: To describe sex in all its glorious, nitty gritty details and start the naughty detailing right out of the starting gate. But how many ways can two (or more) people have sex? Okay… more than I ever imagined a year ago. Sure, I’ve learned a lot of things during my erotica foray, some of which I’d really like to forget, but sex is sex. (an Amazon “look inside” sample included a man, a woman and a tree stump. Umm…oww?)  To me the turn on is sex with feeling and emotions.  Otherwise it really is just porn. Not that there’s anything wrong with porn. To each her, or his, own. But I suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

I’ve never had a one night stand, although I had the opportunity once. (I realize that’s really not that unusual, but if you knew how little I get out, you’d realize that was a BFD for me.) I’m single, but I wasn’t even tempted. Although it had been some time since my last sexual encounter and he was an attractive man, I realized that I have to feel something for the man I’m with, even if it’s respect. What turns me on is the connection. 

I write three different series in three different genres. I write my YA paranormal romance series specifically for my teenage daughter and her friends. There’s kissing in the first book, but no petting. No sex.  My urban fantasy series is more detailed, with sex described through to the end of the act, but there is no “Part P is inserted into Part V.” You’ll find no mention of nipples, or clits or dicks, except to describe a male character’s douche-baggery personality, not his anatomy. 

And then there’s the Rose Gardner Mysteries. 

Rose is inexperienced sexually and in many other ways in the beginning of Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. By the end of the book, she’s experienced many things, sex included. She had several unresolved sexual encounters with Joe, her mysterious next door neighbor, and while there is some description of what’s happening, most is centered on what she’s feeling. I’ll be honest. The front porch scene when Joe gives Rose her first kiss is one of the hottest scenes I’ve written. But Rose is telling the story first person and she’s never going to use any erotica “go” words.  She’s too modest to even describe the act. When she finally has sex, it’s behind closed doors.

In Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, Rose has grown and matured. She’s still shy, but her experience makes her bolder and a bit more confident. Still she doesn’t give intimate details. Rose has a moment with Joe in her kitchen which ends up with them both naked from the waist up, and Rose straddling Joe’s lap. This could have been a full on hot scene, but there is no mention of body parts except for chest, waist, chin, lips and neck. That scene isn’t about the sex. That scene is the moment the two characters look into one another’s eyes and experience a connection they’ve never felt with anyone else before. In this book, with these characters, anything more would have cheapened the scene.

The fact is, the story needs to dictate the sex. To try to insert sex into scenes, or in other cases, remove it, where they don’t belong can weaken the story.  My book Hunted, the second book in The Chosen series, has many more sex scenes than any of my other books, but each scene was integral to the emotional development of the characters.  To remove them would have affected the story. The reader would have lost important insight to the characters.

I’m planning a new urban fantasy series and I have a feeling it will be a sexually hotter than my other books. Why? The main character, Ellie, is more worldly and much more comfortable with her body and who she sleeps with. For Ellie to close the doors to what happens in her bedroom, or on her kitchen table, wouldn’t be true to her character or to the story. So in the meantime, I plan on reading more hot romance books. All in the name of research. ;)

When Rose reports for Fenton County jury duty she figures she’s lucky to get out of a morning working at the DMV. Instead, despite a disastrous encounter with the new assistant district attorney, Mason Deveraux, she’s picked as a juror on a murder case.  As the case progresses, she realizes an ominous vision she had in the men’s restroom proves the defendant is innocent. And there’s not a cotton picking thing she can do about it.

Or is there? 

As if things weren’t bad enough, Rose’s older sister Violet is going through a mid-life crisis. Violet insists that Rose stop seeing her sexy new boyfriend, Arkansas state detective Joe Simmons, and date other men. Rose is done letting people boss her around, but she can’t commit to Joe either. Still, Rose isn’t about to let the best thing in her life slip away. 

Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning.
Denise is the author of the bestselling urban fantasy series, The Chosen. You can find out more about Denise and her other books at or email her at


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