Isn’t it summer? Then it’s too hot. This is a subject over which I concede no possibility of civil debate!
So let’s move on to a subject far easier to discuss than the weather.
First off, sex is a normal activity of mammals. We are mammals. I doubt a chimpanzee worries about when “hot” is “too hot”. But we are humans, and there’s the rub, as a far more talented writer than I once said. To the best of my knowledge, the average chimp doesn’t read books either, but we do, and although I am sure chimps have opinions, we are the only mammals possessing the undying need to express our opinions and even make laws supporting them.
Enter The Banned Book.
Don’t all raise your hands at once, but how many of you recall Lady Chatterley’s Lover? I read it the moment it dropped off the banned list. No, my innocent little mind wasn’t debauched. After all, I was a teen and what are all those secret whispers in corners often about? Far more scurrilous stuff, I assure you! Did I feel lured into temptation? No. Actually, I was bored. Sons and Lovers was a much better book by Lawrence. From the Terrace and Forever Amber were far more interesting and fun. (My mother and I read the latter together. She thought it was a hoot.) When it comes down to whether a passage or book is too hot, the best response, oddly enough, is that wonderful phrase: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”
My point here (and I do have one) is that sex in books will be greeted with a vast range of responses. There really is no good answer to “when is hot too hot?” I have been told by a few that my books are unrelentingly pornographic. Others hear that and say: “did I miss something?” So the subject of sex in books is highly personal. If you want to include it and the plot is better off for it, include it. If you feel uncomfortable writing about it, or the plot doesn’t need it, don’t write sex scenes. No matter what you do about sex in your book, you will be criticized.
After all, we are all humans, not chimps.