Yup, you can keep your minds in the gutter, because this post is about exactly what you think it's about: which characters dominate your sex scenes? As I was chugging along on A Flame Among the Stars, I started thinking about how in most romances, one half of the couple is usually more forward or dominant than the other. Sometimes it's evenly balanced, sometimes it pings back and forth...and sometimes what happens outside the bedroom is different from what happens inside.
For a fun experiment, not only will I be exploring this in terms of gender, but also the point-of-view, as I have a hypothesis.
A Flame Among the Stars: This is a lesbian romance, so both halves of the couple are female. Meg, the POV character, is definitely the more dominant one for most of the book, though Celendra gains confidence and starts taking charge at points. What got me thinking about this whole subject is that it had been a while since I wrote from the POV of the more dominant character, but more on that later.
Hunting Astrid: Another lesbian romance. The book is from Astrid's POV, but Tabitha takes the lead for most of their intimate encounters. Again, though, Astrid has her own moments of being in control by the end.
Blazing Justice: This one's interesting because we have one POV character (Celeste) with three different endings. Without giving two much away, in two out of the three endings, the men are clearly more dominant, but it's more evenly matched in the third.
Fire Beyond the Frost: More lesbians. Catalina (POV) has no problem being in command of an operating room or jumping into action in case of medical emergency, but she's always been far more reserved in her personal relationships. This actually doesn't change much throughout the book, but Sari's there to guide her along nonetheless.
Closing Montage: Hmm. After some consideration, I'll say that Abigail (POV) and Edwin are pretty evenly matched, but I might give a slight edge to Edwin. It's close, though.
Seductive Suspect: Adam calls the shots as soon as he gets Veronica (POV) into his bedroom, hands down. This was one of those instances where I had that scene all planned out in my head for a while, but since I write in order, it took me a while to get there. Even so, I didn't lose any of my enthusiasm for it, and Adam's running this sexy show.
Out of Orbit: This was fun because both Jasmine (POV) and Aras are absolute powerhouses in their roles/careers before they meet, so what happens when they finally get together? The answer - Aras is the one in charge, but Jasmine doesn't mind in the slightest.
Flight of the Dragon Queen: Here's another one where it might be too close to call between Caleb (POV) and Alizeira. If I absolutely had to choose one or the other, I guess I'd say Alizeira is the more dominant of the two, but really, it's by the tiniest of margins.
Elysium: This one might buck the trend in multiple ways - not only does the POV alternate between April and Drew, but they each get their own sex scene where they're the POV character and each one is the more dominant one when we're inside their head. Again, it's a small difference, but that's my analysis.
Second Skin: The POV alternates between Anna and Brendan here, too; however, once they're behind closed doors, it's from Anna's POV, but Brendan is more dominant.
So, what have we learned? For the hetero romances, I thought the men would be more dominant, but while it skews a little in that direction, it's not always the case. What appears to be the bigger predictor? The POV character.
I'm too lazy to go through and tally it up, but it does seem like the POV character is less likely to be taking charge in the sex scenes. In a way, it kind of makes sense - it might be easier to envision yourself in a character's place when something is being done to them, rather than having them being the one doing the...doing. I won't get too far into fantasies and preferences and whatnot here, but if you're reading romance for an escape, letting someone else come in and handle everything can sound appealing. With the POV character, we see, hear, and feel everything they're experiencing; it's not that we, the readers, always want to take on a passive role in our own lives, but I can see how it's logical for the POV character we're reading about to be on the receiving end of all those fun sensations. You could argue the opposite, of course, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. In the future, I'll be paying attention to this when reading romances and trying to determine who's more likely to play what role with regard to POV.
(I'm not going to start unpacking menage romances...yet?)