the ask@AAR: What’s the greatest sex scene in romance?

Every year, for almost 20 years, the Literary Review has awarded a Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Here’s the criteria (we will not discuss that this award doesn’t consider romance novels):

Since 1993, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has honoured the year’s most outstandingly awful scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel. Drawing attention to the poorly written, redundant, or downright cringeworthy passages of sexual description in modern fiction, the prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature. The Award was established by Rhoda Koenig, a literary critic, and Auberon Waugh, at that time editor of Literary Review.



This year, sadly (?), the award will not be given.

After weeks of deliberation, the judges of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2020 have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s prize.

The judges felt that the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well. They warned, however, that the cancellation of the 2020 awards should not be taken as a licence to write bad sex. A spokesperson for the judges commented:

“With lockdown regulations giving rise to all manner of novel sexual practices, the judges anticipate a rash of entries next year. Authors are reminded that cybersex and other forms of home entertainment fall within the purview of this award. Scenes set in fields, parks or back yards, or indoors with the windows open and fewer than six people present will not be exempt from scrutiny either.”

According to the spokesperson, the judges reached their decision at an emergency meeting in the Hyde Park rose garden. All are now self-isolating.

Now, this is vastly amusing. But. It’s not very sex-scene positive which–yay!!–romance novels generally are.

Now we know the best sex scenes are in, duh, romance novels! It’s kind of our thing! So, since the Literary Review is stepping down on the job this year, we’re going to step up. Or, rather, you’re going to step up! (We’ll do an ask@AAR on the worst sex scene later.)

What is the best sex scene you’ve ever read in romance? Bonus points if you can actually share the scene. Please cite book title, author, and why you think this particular scene is so sublime.

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