Kayla Jameth : How Much Sex Is Enough? Author Post and Giveaway
Today Kayla Jameth joins On Top Down Under Book Reviews for our 3 year blog anniversary celebrations with a post she’s written – How Much Sex Is Enough? It’s always good to get an author’s take on their writing and their ideas on the process. She also has a giveaway of the very good A Spartan Love and an excerpt from the following book in the series, A Tested Love. We extend a warm welcome to Kayla Jameth.
How Much Sex Is Enough?
Congratulations on On Top Down Under’s third anniversary.
Thank you for hosting me today, Kazza! I’m going to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart…sex! I’ve also included an unedited excerpt from my latest book, A Tested Love. I just signed the contract with Dreamspinner Press and hope to have it available after the New Year.
Kazza: It’s great to have you here, Kayla. Thanks for taking part and for the terrific giveaway.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO JODI.
Up for grabs is a signed paperback copy of A Spartan Love. Comment below for a chance to win. This giveaway closes Sunday October 18th at midnight, USA EST. Good luck. (If you receive a spam message, don’t worry. We will see it and place it in the comments section.)
So how much sex is enough?
When writing a sex scene, one has to decide between fade-to-black and full on contact, and of course, anything in between.
First, you have to determine your comfort level as an author or a reader. Some writers choose not to lift that curtain once their MCs walk through it. I completely respect their decision. Moreover, it is entirely appropriate for young adult books and books where the author doesn’t feel sex is necessary drive the plot or character development.
Now I will admit that pretty much everything I write has at least one rather graphic scene. But are all of my scenes that way? Not really.
My Apollo’s Men series is set in ancient Greece. The first book, Alexios’ Fate has several sex scenes that range from one fade-to-black to several full on scenes. Why write one fade-to-black in a book full of graphic scenes?
Alexios’ Fate is primarily about Alexios and Galen. However, Apollo plays a role and has his own scenes. While Alexios is first becoming aware of his feelings for his slave Galen, Apollo pretty much dismisses this as the typical master-slave “relationship” with no future. Nothing could be further from the case, but culturally Apollo wouldn’t believe love was possible between two men of such different statuses and backgrounds. So enter Halys, a war captive in Apollo’s household.
Halys sets out to seduce Apollo, thus proving a slave can have feelings for his master and Apollo learns that a master can reciprocate. So the seduction by a secondary character is important to the plot. Initially, Apollo x Halys scenes are graphic. But once it is clear the seduction has been effective, their later scene fades to black.
Scenes between Alexios and Galen are moderately to very graphic to highlight the way their relationship grows. Initially, Alexios is very careful with Galen. But their final scene together goes all the way.
The scene between Apollo and Alexios is likewise graphic because it is the only time Alexios will ever be penetrated. Culturally, penetration is only for inferiors. As a prince, only a god outranks him enough to take the active/penetrative role. And it was important for Alexios to experience something his slave has all too often. Call it a learning experience and important to Alexios and Galen’s relationship.
The second book in the Apollo’s Men series, A Spartan Love is less sexy than the first book. Andreas and Theron as men who run considerable risks to be together must be more circumspect. They need to make very sure of one another before they take that first precipitous step.
Book three, A Tested Love, continues this pattern. Andreas and Theron have been apart for a while and need to re-establish their bond, but Andreas is hesitant, leaving Theron to find ways to persuade him.
By this point, Apollo and Halys are an established couple and as secondary characters, their sex scenes fade-to-black. I guess if anyone really wants an Apollo x Halys scene, I could be persuaded to write one. Maybe to celebrate the release of A Tested Love, early next year. <Wink, wink!>
Do I write some good old smut? Of course I do! But I’m told even my smut has an underlying romance/emotional level to it.
At the other end of the spectrum are the books in Stephen Osborne’s Duncan Andrews Thriller series. For those of you who may not be familiar with the series, Duncan’s boyfriend Robbie is a ghost. Duncan loves Robbie even though he has been dead for years. Robbie is still very active in his life and Duncan wants to keep it that way.
Obviously, there won’t be any real sex scenes when one lover is incorporeal. Does this detract from the stories? No! They show a depth of love between the two that goes more than skin deep. I spent my time trying to find a way to get them physically together again without killing off poor Duncan.
Duncan lives for the ghostly impression of fingers clasping his. I don’t think there is anything he wouldn’t do for another kiss or one last embrace. See? The love and longing is there, just morphed by the reality of their situation.
And when Robbie is briefly physical again, we are treated to the lavish exchange of emotions in their simple yet magical touch before the scene fades to black. Did I feel cheated? No. After all these boys had been through, they deserved their privacy to explore and strengthen their love.
Some might point out it was their one love scene. Or was it? The whole book is a love scene interspersed with action and plot. Was a little bow-chicka-wow-wow necessary for this story? I think the story stands on its own as a romance, without needing to be an erotic romance.
So the next time you pick up an m/m romance and there’s no on page sex, just remember it doesn’t always have to be there. If it doesn’t add to the story, it may just get in the way. I’ve actually turned the page on some books, and looked at the beginning of a sex scene and thought, “Can we please get back to the story?” The story was that strong on its own.
Everyone’s interests vary. If you prefer erotic romance, there is plenty of it out there, including my own stories. However, if you prefer a lighter touch, you can certainly find stories to suit you. There’s no way to please everyone, but it’s really about the story, isn’t it?
A Spartan Love Blurb:
Alone, Andreas toils on a remote farmstead for a Spartan overlord. When a kryptes enters his world, Andreas fears for his life. The dread warriors stalk and kill helots—like Andreas’ father—as part of their training. Andreas sees only one way to save himself: he must tame the fearsome warrior. But what began as self-preservation develops into attraction. Yearning for the company of someone other than his ferret Ictis, Andreas decides to trust the Spartan warrior and risk the fate that claimed his father. Born to rule by the sword, Theron sees the world as his and acts accordingly, taking everything Andreas offers and reaching for more. However, love between men in Sparta is considered shameful and requires either exile or suicide to redeem Sparta’s honor. Now, only the gods can save them from the terrible price Sparta extracts from men who desire other men.
A Tested Love Blurb:
Abandoned and once more alone on his homestead, Andreas goes about his life trying to forget the seductive promises Theron made.
Theron is given his first kill list for the annual Krypteia. Part way down the scroll, he finds Andreas’ name. Someone must have seen them together. Now that person wants to punish them both and test Theron’s loyalty to Sparta at the same time.
Sent to kill Andreas, Theron must find some way to come to terms with his former attraction to the man, before it destroys him as well as Andreas.
Unedited excerpt from A Tested Love:
Apollo rose from his dinner and left the rest of the feasters behind. Soft strains of music followed in his wake as his daughter Erato sang of the love between youths.
Torches flickered and picked out the jewel-like pigments enlivening the bas-relief frieze depicting his mother, Leto, taking refuge on the floating isle of Delos. Hera, the jealous queen of the gods, pursued the pregnant goddess, refusing Leto a safe haven to give birth. Apollo trailed his hand down the ample swells of his mother’s gown, mind drawn back to the beautiful island where he and his twin sister Artemis had entered the world.
A stray beam of evening light shone through the open roof of the atrium, cutting the gloom and crashing onto the surface of the pool, strewing glittering shards across the walls. Apollo could almost hear the secrets the scattered brilliance carried.
The tell-tale buzz of momentous tidings filled the air. Apollo smiled.
High time to check on the men he was gathering to protect his new prophet, Cyrus. Last night, Apollo had sought out Alexios. The young prince of Dicaea and his slave were granting Cyrus, Apollo’s Voice, more consideration than anyone else. Apollo intended to reward any friends his new prophet could find. He had gone so far as to offer to train Alexios’ slave, Galen, as a healer. But they were merely the beginning. Apollo intended to draw all the assets he could to Cyrus’ side in Delphi.
He sat on the wall of the reflecting pool, watching the light fade. In the darkening waters, Apollo sought the two Spartan warriors he intended to appropriate for his service. The unnamed youth who had mourned the loss of his lover should have been the more difficult to find since Apollo didn’t know his name. But Apollo had watched him when he left his lover’s pyre to wander aimlessly away from civilization. At least, Apollo had a general direction for his search.
The warrior huddled in one of the many narrow valleys cut into the rocky hills bordering the Taygetos Mountains. His scarlet cloak was dulled with dust and twigs snagged in his hair as well as the cloth.
Apollo recalled the man, covered in blood and dirt, crouching near Hyacinthus’ grave, a ring of grim faced young warriors surrounding the grieving man.
The once strong Spartan youth who had watched his lover, another warrior, cremated on one of Apollo’s altars had been replaced by this lost creature. The dead man had taken his own life as his only course after being exposed as a lover of men. Something the Spartans reviled.
Apollo clenched his hands and ground his teeth, allowing his anger to surface. Not solely at what had been done to these young men, but at a polis that thought to deny what the gods themselves practiced.
Once again, Apollo sent the disconsolate warrior a dream of Delphi and glory in his name. Maybe this time the man would listen and make his way to Apollo’s sacred precinct to join the other warriors Apollo sought for his service.
The shush of bare feet approaching drew his attention away from the sleeping Spartan. Halys padded toward him, kylix in hand, careful not to spill any of the ambrosia from the vessel’s shallow bowl.
Apollo smiled in appreciation as the ebon godling knelt at his side. Night-dark eyes shone with mischief under unruly curls of deepest, darkest black. Apollo had no doubt the daemon meant to ply him with the heady brew and then coax him back to his bedchamber.
Accepting the kylix, Apollo glanced back at the reflecting pool to find its surface once more dark. He wet his lips with ambrosia and set the drinking bowl on the low masonry wall he rested on.
Next Apollo needed to check on the man who had pledged himself to Apollo’s service in exchange for saving the kryptes’ life. Apollo was somewhat unsure of how best to utilize a man who couldn’t travel, but even if Andreas never proved more than a devotee in seclusion, he wasn’t one to throw away any advantage. As the god of prophecy, Apollo knew how often the future could change unexpectedly for mortals.
Extending his hand over the water, he murmured, “Andreas the helot.”
Halys glanced at him sharply. “A slave, Lord? How could a slave possibly interest you?”
Instead of answering, Apollo ran his fingers into the godling’s thick ebony curls. Halys’ eyes closed and he moaned as Apollo sought out and caressed the sharp, little horn buds. A rich musk edged with the sharp tang of wild places surrounded them. Apollo inhaled deeply, but resisted the seduction and the hint of wantonness in the scent.
Apollo kept his hand on the exquisite pan’s head, grazing the sensitive nubs, as he sipped from the kylix. A bright spot of light grew in the pool’s depths, showing a common hut and a man flinging his arms about and shouting, “I can’t believe I asked the Lord of Light to watch over a kryptes, of all people!”
Unsurprised at the angry outburst, Apollo was still displeased at the slave’s reaction to those who were his betters. He had noticed the helot’s mood deteriorating ever since the kryptes left him. Now the helot no longer respected the warrior as he should.
Apollo would teach the slave respect. He flicked his fingers and a shower of sparks leapt out at the man. Andreas cursed and brushed at his legs.
Too bad the pair was no longer together. Apollo had plans for both of them. He still had a place for the warriors, but even though Andreas was sworn to him, he would never be able to leave his klēros without the protection Theron had offered.
Halys’ deep onyx eyes opened to their fullest. “A helot asked you to guard a kryptes? Was he insane?”
Apollo chuckled. “No, I think he was in love.”
“With…a kryptes?” The disbelief on Halys’ face would have been insulting if Apollo hadn’t wondered the same thing initially. “He must have taken leave of his senses,” the demi-god muttered.
“I think the kryptes, Theron, must have felt the same.”
“Theron—Hunter—aptly named for a kryptes.” But Apollo noted Halys wasn’t going to give him anything more than that.
In the pool, the helot flung himself down on his bed.
“What is he angry about? He had to know nothing would come of it.”
“He is bitter because the warrior claimed him as his own and then abandoned him. Andreas has not seen the kryptes in months, not since Theron penetrated him.”
Halys’ sudden intake of breath let Apollo know how shocked he was. “Even slaves do not care to be trifled with.”
Penetration was for inferiors—women, chattel slaves, whores. Andreas was a helot, not chattel. He wasn’t a free man, but he wasn’t a possession, either. If he had permitted himself to be taken in such a fashion, he hadn’t done it lightly.
Apollo studied Halys carefully. “Do you think I trifle with you, slave of mine?”
“No, Lord.” Halys rubbed his face on Apollo’s thigh, nudging the chiton higher. His lips brushed Apollo’s leg. “I wish you would trifle with me,” the scoundrel whispered thickly.
Apollo traced one of the black stripes covering the exposed mahogany shoulder with a fingertip, just to watch Halys shudder. “Yes, my lord, like that…”
“A moment. I am not done here.”
Apollo dashed his hand over the surface of his pool, shattering the image of an angry young helot. He had hoped the other Spartan warrior would be with Andreas. But the kryptes he intended to claim for his service was proving difficult to find.
“You’re not going to escape your fate so easily,” Apollo informed the unsuspecting helot. “I have plans for you that require you to learn to respect warriors. My warriors.”
But warriors who despised the love between men? Apollo would demand no respect for them.
He nearly drained the kylix, exposing the red figure painting of Daphne transforming into a laurel tree on the bottom of the bowl. A drop of ambrosia hung, trembling on the lip of the drinking vessel. With a flick of his wrist, Apollo dislodged the golden bead and watched it strike the surface of the water, spreading rings of light across the pool.
“Theron the kryptes.”
This time, Apollo had no trouble finding the man he sought. Like all other Spartans with the exception of the exiled warrior, Theron had returned to Sparta to attend Apollo’s festival, the Karneia. He strode through the Eurotas River valley, nearing one of the Spartan villages. Another young Spartan was approaching from behind. Apollo leaned forward, waiting to see how Theron would respond.
The warrior twitched and visibly drew a breath. Clutching his knife hilt and exhaling slowly, Theron turned. His posture relaxed minutely as recognition kindled in his eyes and he released his weapon.
“It is you! I wasn’t expecting you to return for another day or two,” a young man in a scarlet cloak said. Glancing behind Theron, the new warrior wore a grim expression. “You’re alone?”
“I’ve searched everywhere, over and over, but haven’t found Coridan. Hopefully he’s escaped beyond the ephors’ reach.” The frustration was clear in the tension in Theron’s voice and stance. “I had to come back. I couldn’t stand not knowing any longer.”
“No one has seen him since….” The young warrior glanced away. “He shouldn’t be in exile! We can’t allow the ephors to demand his death as well.”
“No,” Theron replied, “we will preserve him for Lysander’s sake.”
“Maybe Nisus has found him,” the other man insisted.
“I hope so. If you see Nisus, tell him Leonidas sent for me. I’ll find him after I talk to my mentor.”
Patting the other warrior on the shoulder, Theron entered the nighttime streets of Limnai.
Apollo settled back, resting his chin in his hand as the vision faded.
Coridan? The bereaved warrior was called Coridan? Then Lysander must have been his lover, the youth who committed suicide.
At last, Apollo had a name. Tracking the grieving youth would be easier.
The two Spartan warriors, Theron and Coridan, would be an asset to the select group he was summoning to his sacred precinct at Delphi. Apollo expected his warriors to protect his prophet, Cyrus, from the Persians the Athenians had stirred up like a hornets’ nest when they aided the Ionians in their revolt and attack on Sardis. He knew Darius intended to pressure the Pythia to bend her prophecies to Persia’s advantage. But the Great King was unaware of the return of the Voice of Apollo. How long that might continue to be the case, Apollo couldn’t say. Doubtless, once Cyrus reached Delphi, Darius’ spies would convey that unexpected piece of intelligence to the Persian king.
Fortunately, with an entire empire to cross, the Persian king wouldn’t be able to take immediate action against Cyrus in an attempt to influence the Hellenes through Apollo’s prophet. And by the time he did, Apollo would have assembled his men quietly without the king’s knowledge.
Apollo smiled. He had no doubt his warriors would be more than capable of protecting his Voice from harm.
Apollo stood and reached down to Halys. “Come, slave. We have our own business to see to.”
Halys sprang to his feet, a wicked glint in his eyes, and wound their fingers together. “With pleasure, master.” Sinuous and supple as a cat, the daemon wrapped himself around Apollo, making the short distance to his bedchamber seem as far away as distant Hyperborea.
“Behave,” Apollo tried to sound strict, apparently to no avail.
“You wouldn’t like me, if I behaved.”
Apollo laughed, unable to prevent himself. “Fine, you rascal! Behave until I have you in my bed, then you may do as you please.”
Halys’ grin bode well for the rest of the evening.
Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay, raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school. She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots. But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title “Sir” and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies. After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can’t turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys. She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a dog, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, as well as her husband, son, and daughter.
Find me at:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KaylaJameth
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