Sex and romance go together, right?

Right?

I think so. And so did one woman I know who read Palm Springs Heat and told me there should have been more sex to go with the romance. Another was of a less-is-more state of mind, saying “that guy sure thinks a lot about his you-know-what.” I didn’t ask if she was referring to the book’s hero, Clay—or to me.

No one should be surprised by the contrasting views. Our whole society wrestles with questions about how sex, love and romance interact.

“Most people think romantic love and sexual desire go hand in hand, and that you can’t have one without the other,” says Monitor on Psychology, an American Psychological Association journal. But in the same article, University of Utah psychology professor Lisa Diamond says sexual desire and romantic love are “functionally independent.”

Yet a third source is quoted as saying, “Sexual desire is driven by the gonadal hormones of estrogens and androgens. Animal research indicates that attachment is mediated by the neuropeptide oxytocin, with a more robust oxytocin-receptor network present in the female brain.”

I believe that source would be Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

Suffice it to say that there’s no scientific consensus on the connections between love and lust, romance and ribaldry.

“People use the word ‘love’ for, like… everything, and it confuses most people pretty badly,” success coach Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca writes in his blog, Ryze Online. “Love doesn’t have to have anything to do with sex. Romance is the part of the relationship that makes it feel ‘special.’ Sexual attraction is that electricity which draws us toward a lover.”

Relationships based on romance alone are doomed, he argues, because they indicate “a hunger for acceptance, fulfillment, love from the outside, (while) acceptance, fulfillment, and love come from inside. You need self-acceptance and self-fulfillment before you can truly create a sustainable, joyful, intimate relationship.”

That leads us back to Monitor on Psychology and Pamela Regan, PhD (the actual source of that Sheldonian quote above), who says that “most people view sexual attraction as an essential ingredient in the development of romantic love, the spark needed to set passion burning.”

And that brings us back to Palm Springs Heat—and its sequel, Malibu Bride—which adhere to the school that says sex should be true to the characters and used to further the story. If the hero and heroine do it on page 150 of a 300-page novel, things between them should be very different in the second half of the book. The liaison should bring the couple closer—or push them apart. At least temporarily.

This school also recognizes points made by health writer Ann Roberts at I Love to Know.com: Sex is “an important act of bonding and an expression of meaningful love,” regardless of whether a couple’s been together for thirty years or thirty days.

Is there too much sex in Palm Springs Heat? Too little? Everyone’s gonna think what they’re gonna think. But if the goal is to create characters that think and act like real-life adult humans as they establish long-term love relationships, I’m gonna have to say that romance and love and meaningful sex do go together.

They’re all part of the story.

Malibu Bride will be available as an ebook and in paperback in late May.

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