manHaving had major surgery a few weeks ago, I was a little disconcerted when my next two review books featured protagonists in pain. I was immediately struck by the realization that physical pain is something that many authors don’t portray realistically at all.

We all know the cliché: Hero is shot, stabbed, beaten up, whatever, and his immediate thoughts turn to sex. Sex?! Having just been sliced open under the best sterile surgical conditions, I can say without a doubt that sex was the last thing on my mind. Adding a pain killer like the norco I’m taking doesn’t change my mind at all. General oral pain killers, it seems to me, mask the pain as long as you don’t probe the wound, but don’t totally kill it. You need a shot near the wound site for that.

But Victoria Dahl’s cowboy hero Cole in Close Enough to Touch, recuperating from having a horse fall on him and suffering from a broken tibia and pelvis is ready to roll at the drop of a hat. And does.

The same goes for cowboy hero Cade Gentry in Cindy Holby’s Angel’s End, who’s been gut shot and then rode a stranger’s horse through a blizzard to drop nearly at the feet of the heroine. Unlike Cole, however, he doesn’t get his wish fulfilled right away. But his wish is still there—to jump in the sack with her.

Many of Cheri Adair’s contemporary heroes have the same sexual lust after being beaten up, shot, or stabbed. Some get lucky, and others have to wait a few pages before their intended partner succumbs to their hunky appeal.

But what is the appeal for a woman? Do we really want someone bleeding over us during the act? Do we really ignore the slashes, bullet holes, bruises and scrapes to satisfy our lust? Or do we have more Florence Nightingale in us?

True, fiction is fiction, but still having just been cut open, I felt the pain when I read the last few review books. And my immediate response to a few sex scenes was a heartfelt Ouch!

-Pat Henshaw