Writing Can Be Murder

November 3, 2006

How many partners?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 10:14 am

I just finished a book by a well-known novelist (and a not quite as well-known novelist).  I had never read anything by either of these authors before.  Judging by my reaction to this book, I may never read anything by them again.

The book takes place over four days.  In that time, the “hero” had sex with two different women.  That’s okay.  If the male co-author of this book wanted the reader to believe that a man just can’t help himself if a naked and willing woman shows up in his bed, that was his choice.

The “heroine” knew that this guy had had sex with the other woman.  Two days later, she decided to have sex with him.  By the next morning, which is either day three or day four, she knows that she wants to spend the rest of her life together with him.  What?!

I get that she found him to be sexy, but they did a terrible job of convincing me that he was the love of her life and they belong together.  After all, they had just finished painting him as a man driven completely by his hormones.

How do you feel about characters who have multiple sexual partners within a short time period?  Do you believe they can be each other’s soul mate?



  1. I suppose it depends on what type of book it is… is it a romantic suspense, or something like that? [Of course I’m dying to know the title of the book…]

    I write erotica, and the novel I just finished writing had the reverse of this… it’s the woman who has sex with another guy during the course of the story [which only takes place in the space of less than a week] but still ends up in a HEA relationship with the hero at the end of the book.

    This situation works, I think, in this one particular type of context, with a particular set of circumstances, but *outside* of erotica, no, I don’t think it’s appropriate or realistic. And I probably wouldn’t want to read it…



    Comment by WendyPortia — November 3, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  2. Yeah I have trouble believing it when that kind of thing happens too. There is a natural order to things progressing in a relationship and when it skips steps–goes straight to sex–and the other has ahd multiple partners–there should be a trust issue as well. How can she trust him not to break her heart etc…

    Plus he probably feels it is just sex, there has to be time to have a depth develop to the realtionship or it is just about the sex and if the characters believe it is anything more, that doesn’t mean I believe there is anything more to the relationship, or that I don’t feel like hitting someone over the head with a hammer to make them wake up.

    Comment by missylyons — November 3, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  3. It can work but, and it’s a biggie, it has to be extremely well done to make me suspend belief and root a hea in those cicumstances.

    Comment by Nell Dixon — November 3, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

  4. Wendy — I can see how it would work in erotica, but since this wasn’t that, it didn’t work for me.

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  5. Missy — They tried to address the trust issue (unsuccessfully imho) but how can you trust someone wholeheartedly after they display that kind of behavior?

    Thanks for weighing in!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

  6. Nell

    I guess they didn’t do a good enough job making me suspend disbelief because I kept thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me”.

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  7. I don’t mind multiple partner sex in romance novels, but I don’t view sex and committment as being inexplicably linked. What bothers me, though (and this is true of several romances I’ve read), is the couple deciding after a very short period of time that they’re in love and are going to spend their lives together.

    Um. WTF?

    Maybe I’m too much of a realist, but I almost never buy that. Also, if he’s having sex within a short time of getting with the heroine–outside of plot-based reasons that, y’know, work–I would have a very hard time buying that a monogamous relationship would work.

    Comment by Nonny — November 3, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

  8. I know what book you’re talking about. In fact, this is the one I just put DOWN mid-read and picked up yours, which is way better!

    The hero’s actions are part of what made the book a wallbanger for me. {Well, I put it down gently actually, but I put it down nevertheless}. I felt the hero’s justification for his actions, [which may of course have been realistic as far as most men would argue] was not the way I would want a romance hero to act. Another major problem with this story was that I didn’t become invested in the heroine, nor did I think at any time that she ‘belonged’ with the hero. I could not root for these two to get together and assume that he would change his deep-seated attitudes.

    I’ve read stories where the hero starts out with a girlfriend and breaks up with her or she with him before he becomes involved with the heroine, and that doesn’t bother me, but this particular book, for me at least, had a lot more wrong with it.

    Comment by Jennifer Colgan — November 3, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  9. I think I know which book you’re talking about, but I loved it. I understand what you’re saying about multiple partners, but honestly, I thought it just added to the realisticness of a male POV.

    Of course, I didn’t find it realistic that the woman decided she was totally in love with him right after she slept with him. That part was a little ridiculous, but it was also a suspense story, so with the tension of suspense, feelings crystalize in ways that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

    If it really is the book I’m thinking about, I would read some others of hers. I did happen to love this one, but it’s not my fave of hers.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — November 3, 2006 @ 4:32 pm

  10. Nonny — You’re right, the WTF factor can be really jarring!

    Jennifer — I agree that this book had a lot more wrong with it. (Stop by the blog next week, cuz I’m working up a rant about a couple of things in it!)

    Amanda — Hmmmm, you make an interesting point about reading some of her others to get a better feel. Thanks for suggesting it!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 4:55 pm

  11. Yeah, so I was right as to which book you were talking about. LOL!

    But seriously, any time people decide so quickly that they’re soul mates, kind of ridiculous in my opinion. But like I said, this was suspense, so I dunno…try some of her other stuff. She usually writes VERY different stuff form this one.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — November 3, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

  12. I’m with JAC on this book…that’s just not how I want my hero to act. I really think that the book would be better without that side of things, and would have tied it up neater, but…maybe they included it to be edgy. Who knows.

    Now as to falling in love fast…DH claims he knew week one. No joke. I told him he was crazy when he told me, but now he constantly reminds me that he just knew…and…my neightbors parents got married 3 days after they met and are still going strong 40+ years later. I like quick get-togethers, as long as the emotional connection is well played. Which…it wasn’t in said book.

    If it was a straight romance I would have been disappointed, but I approached it as an experiment, and think I like one co-author’s work better than the other, hence my nin-plussed attitude towards this one. Not bad, just not my cup of tea. I don’t expect him to like my category romances. I don’t blow ANYTHING up!

    Comment by Jenna Bayley-Burke — November 3, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  13. You make some great points Jenna.

    I’m actually blowing something up in my rom.suspense wip so that part didn’t bother me, though the long-winded technical jargon bored me to tears…but I digress….

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  14. I read a book like that recently, so I wonder if it’s the same one. If it is, I felt the same way. I talked to my CP about it even. I didn’t like that he slept with her and had the “well, she was in my bed, what could I do?” attitude. And I understand that in romantic suspense (if we’re talking the same book) then things are more high pressure/high stress so people may fall in love faster. But this one just didn’t work for me. And there’s another book coming out in this line I think. There’s another book of hers that I’ve read and I love it. It’s one of my all time favorite books. So maybe the element throwing this book off was the male contribution.

    Comment by Lisa Pulliam — November 3, 2006 @ 8:45 pm

  15. I haven’t read the book and now I’m not sure I will. I don’t think I would ever respect the hero for jumping into bed with the other woman on day one. Don’t buy it. Two partners isn’t too much if it’s done right, but two partners done wrong just leaves a bad taste.

    Comment by Sara Thacker — November 3, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  16. I think it all depends. Since I don’t know what book it is or the situation in it, I can’t judge. Generally this is a real big turn off for me in a novel…especially romance novels. However, if the hero hadn’t met the heroine yet, and she doesn’t exist for him…I might be willing to go for it…if after he met the heroine he broke it off with the other woman I might be able to forgive it. Also, I might add…how he and woman number one ended up in bed together would be important as well. You mentioned that she just took her clothes off and he’s “well, what was I supposed to do?” See, that doesn’t fly for me. That shows a certain lack of chivilry. — No, I don’t write historicals, but I do believe all heroes should have some kind of moral code. It’s that sense of what’s right that makes him attractive and sets him apart, and shtooping a woman just because she’d there…isn’t very attractive to me.

    I guess for me, if he already knew the heroine…no, I don’t buy that they’re soulmates. If he meets her after his encounter with the first woman, I could be convinced if the rest of the plot supported that.


    Comment by Kat Mancos — November 3, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

  17. Lisa

    It’s probably the book you read! I’m not sure if it was the male contribution that can be blamed for the situation because I would think the female author had to okay the content (though I certainly have no idea how their collaboration actually works).

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

  18. Sara
    “a bad taste” is a great way to describe it!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

  19. Kat

    Nope, he knew both women at the same time. I could see how it could work if he hadn’t met the second woman yet. Good point!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 3, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

  20. I haven’t read the book nor am I even sure which one it is, but…any storyline portraying the heroine as doing something TSTL bugs me to no end. And if a woman declaring a manwhore her “soul mate” (after knowing him only four days) isn’t TSTL, what is?

    Comment by aries75 — November 3, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  21. You see, I love Tom Clancy books, so the technical jargon and blowing stuff up was part of what I loved about this book. *shrugs*

    I swear, I’m part guy. It’s weird.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — November 3, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  22. And honestly, there wasn’t much techno jargon in this book. Really, there wasn’t. It was actually quite mild wrt techno jargon.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — November 3, 2006 @ 11:58 pm

  23. >

    Interesting…and see, to me, the male contribution was what I found so interesting and unique about this one. It’s a real, honest male reaction. I can’t stand male characters who don’t actually act like guys, but rather some idealized view of what women think guys should be.

    I think what I really liked about this book (and like I said, it’s not my fave book by her) is that it’s a romance novel that could easily pass for an action adventure novel favored by our husbands. In fact, my hubby read portions of it and liked it. He HATES romance.

    Of course, some of my fave movies are those that make great date movies because they have somehtinhg for both the guy and the girl, like “True Lies.”

    Comment by Amanda Brice — November 4, 2006 @ 12:05 am

  24. I don’t know if this is a really dumb thing to say but here goes. To know if someone is your soul mate I think you should take sex out of the equation. Sex is something you can get from anyone. Can anyone be there when you need them, stand to be around you when your sick and let you cry just because you feel like it. Sometimes I think everyone is too concerned with sex in realtionships ad forget the other stuff.

    Comment by thepocket — November 4, 2006 @ 2:52 am

  25. I think my initial reaction to this happening in a romance would be “eh???” — but then again, I suppose it’s all in the execution. I think I know what book you mean, and I haven’t read it, so I’ll try and get hold of it.

    Jess x

    Comment by Jessica Raymond — November 4, 2006 @ 7:51 am

  26. aries — yes TSTL is annoying and in fact I kept wondering why the author kept telling the reader how smart the character was but showing how dumb she could be

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 4, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  27. Amanda — I like thrillers with no romance. I think the problem with this book was that it couldn’t decide which it wanted to be (at least for me) The book jacket looks like a chick lit romance but if you take it off the hardcover version looks like a thriller/adventure novel

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 4, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

  28. Pocket — here! here!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 4, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  29. Jessica — — if you do read the book, please let me know what you think of it!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — November 4, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

  30. Considering you were vague about the book, I’m guessing that was all there was to it. Considering what you have just said, I would have to say it’s believable. You never said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, only that she felt he was her soul mate. When a guy is that good in bed we have a tendency to be temporarly blinded by the facts. Or maybe what he has done on the side when the two of them were not exclusive is not worth her thinking about.

    That being said, I understand what you’re saying. The hero showed no personal growth, at least in your opinion and the heroine just seems dimwitted even after knowing the facts. Bottom line is, the author probably was going somewhere with this but couldn’t figure out where and opted for a hea when there was no need for one. Or, and this happens alot, she chose a more complicated plot line than what her word count alotted. Either way, it blows when you aren’t given what you’re looking for. 🙂

    Comment by Miranda Heart — November 5, 2006 @ 1:48 am

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