Someone linked me the following post (HERE!) and I was going to respond but I don’t think the author will like my comment so I’ll stick it here. The author was (very gently) complaining about a recent review and wasn’t satisfied that the explanation matched the star rating. Now in this I totally agree because the reviewer didn’t really explain why the book got 3.5 stars as the review was brief and mostly positive. The reviewer did however mention a warning due to some het erotica scenes (masturbation and brief BDSM bondage). Now the author found this to be unnecessary warning since their view of sexuality is more of a continuous spectrum than one or the other.
One reason for this is a lot of m/m romance readers came from m/f romance. They’ve read the entire genre and the tropes and the classic themes to death and frankly most are sick of weak, stupid, ineffectual females. The female lead in m/f romances tends to be so stereotypical, so bland, and infuriating that a lot of readers cringe and run whenever a female is introduced in m/m. Even the classic fag hag has some reader hate.
Sure there are any number of authors that write fabulous females but there are many, many more that can’t and readers tend to cringe first, ask questions second. So throwing in random het sex will create some reader backlash. Why is it there? Especially an erotic sex scene in a predominantly m/m erotic romance book. What is being accomplished with this scene? Readers can be more lenient with gratuitous m/m sex since that is the focus, but one het sex scene will come under considerable scrutiny.
Just think of it as if the book was an m/f erotic romance and there was a single m/m sex scene. You think THOSE readers wouldn’t blink and wonder “WTF” this was doing in their book? It’s really no different with m/m readers, except those readers are supposed to be more forgiving and accepting. I’m not sure why but that tends to be the response. It’s ok for m/f to not expect any dick-dick touching but in m/m, the random vagina is ok.
That more than anything is what books lack, the reason why these random chicks and het sex are thrown in. In this particular author’s case, she claims the scenes are needed to show the real evil nature of the villain. My first instinct is to question this. You really need a female erotic masturbation scene to show your villain is evil? You can’t do this any other way without a graphic depiction? If the scene is not meant to titillate, why is it a graphic sex scene? Perhaps I’m wrong and I fully admit I could be as I haven’t read the book but really even questioning this doesn’t make me want to pick it up.
Furthermore when books throw in random het scenes to show bisexuality or other reasons, as a reader I wonder why. All too often these scenes don’t show bisexuality so much as just more sex, this time with a woman. Having a graphic m/f sex scene does not equal bisexuality to me. It just means more sex.
So in short, readers do want pure m/m sex in their m/m erotic romance genre. There are good reasons for it and some not so good reasons. That doesn’t mean every book with a mention of a chick or a vagina is destined to fail, but I’d say – know the audience. Some audiences are more inviting of that and some aren’t. You can’t really blame anyone for their reading preferences. Some like Laurel K Hamilton porn and some like actual well-written work. There’s nothing really wrong with that, even if their sanity could be questioned.