Monday, October 20, 2008

Bathing scenes

I read an excerpt from Kimberly Nee’s novel Eden's Pass which featured the heroine helping the hero with his bath. I enjoyed it, even though I hadn’t read anything else about the story or the characters, and that made me stop to think. In romance novels, the sex scenes can blend together after a while (especially if you’ve read too many of them). Bathing scenes are a good way to vary the pattern, and I like reading them in both romances and fantasy novels (Daughter of the Blood, Kushiel’s Dart).

Sexual tension can run high in bathing scenes if the focus isn’t on the characters having sex. Instead, it could be on one character actually bathing, while someone else watches, reluctantly assists or pretends to help while trying to seduce him or her. A man washing a woman’s hair (as long as she isn’t moaning as though she’s in a shampoo commercial) can be more erotic than the man going straight for the erogenous zones.

The sexual tension is always heightened if the characters are attracted to each other but don’t have sex, and bathing is a great way to skirt the edge of that without falling off. Even the props in such a scene could contribute to this. If the bathee is tensely waiting to feel skin against skin, feeling a pumice stone instead – moving slowly across his or her back – could be very arousing.

A tub or shower is also more conducive to seduction/sex than a lot of other places I’ve seen in romances – such beside a glacier and on horseback. The only bathing scene I’ve read that did not work at all was from an X-Files fanfic where Mulder and Scully decided to take a shower together on their honeymoon. Scully turned out to be obsessed with preserving her virginity and used the shower as a way to satisfy Mulder without having to endure the consummation. It was… strange, to say the least.

Other than that, though, I enjoy these scenes. Bathe on.


Mary B said...

Her virginity?

:mind boggles: Oh my. I'm so glad I missed all the fanfic.

I think a great sex scene is all about the foreplay and tension. The actual culmination isn't nearly as entertaining to read as the anticipation.

Marian Perera said...

I rarely watched the X-Files before reading that fanfic, but I could tell something was a little... off... when Scully said, "It's not dirty if it's between a husband and wife".

Or thinking, as she washed Mulder down, "What a perfect beautiful way for a husband and wife to get to know each other without sex... though that could be held off only so long."

The reviewer said, "SCULLY IS NOT A VIRGIN." Here's the fanfic. Abandon hope all ye who click on that link.

JH said...

All fanfics are abominable.

Marian Perera said...

Hey, I wrote a few Star Trek fanfics when I was your age. You young whipper-snapper, you.

Those fics made me realize that I really preferred having my own universes to play in.

Kim said...

I've never written fanfic, but I have read some - about 50/50 good vs bad.

I had more fun writing the bathing scene than I did writing the first sex scene, because it was different. After a while, love scenes are a pain - there are only so many ways to write out "insert tab A into slot B." and make it interesting! =)

Marian Perera said...

Thanks, Kim, you made me want to do another blog post. :)

I've read too many romances (and non-romances, like Jean Auel's prehistoric series) where repeated sex scenes get really flat. The first time the couple make love, it's great. The fourth or fifth time, unless there's some new source of tension, it gets a bit stale.

I think that's when the writers resort to the exotic stuff - sex in a hot-air balloon or on horseback and so on.

colbymarshall said...

the cully moulder thing cracked me up, I must say!