This post is not merely about one book, but on a specific topic found within many sub- genre: cheating. Recently, the topic arose from my Goodreads group (M/M Romance in Goodreads) and also with the very books I have read.
So, my question: is there a different moral code between genres and does that affect how you enjoy the book?
Let’s look at a few sub-genres:
Vanilla Romance (Historical, Science Fiction, Contemporary):
Vanilla, (for those who do not know, this would be “normal” or “main stream” that typically have only sex with one person, involving briefer descriptions of positions, no toys, and no kink [BDSM]). Some authors to include: Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey (although some of her stuff is really kinky-light), Jayne Ann Krentz, Christine Feehan, and Lori Foster.
The male is typically Alpha male, either a dark or light in personality, but always faithful to their female. Usually the thought of any other female does not even arouse them after meeting the female lead.
In the usual vanilla romances, cheating is a non-issue as no man actually is tempted to cheat. The male lead falls instantly in love/lust with the female lead. While this might be idyllist, I do not think that we could consider this realistic.
In Julie Garwood’s Ransom we find a scene that is humorous in which our main character Gillian is inferred to have “slept” with Brodick’s (our hero) men:
I didn’t sleep with Brodick,” she blurted out. “I have no need for a priest.”
“Yes, you did too.”
“Alec, it isn’t polite to contradict your elders.”
Gillian glared at Brodick. He could easily correct this horrid misunderstanding if he would only offer a quick explanation.
He wasn’t inclined. He winked at her. “I didn’t know a face could get that red,” he remarked.
“Do explain,” she demanded.
“Explain what?” he asked, feigning innocence.
She turned to Judith. “We were camping…and it isn’t what it sounds like…I did sleep, and when I awakened…they were all there…”
“They?” Iain asked.
“You slept with his soldiers too?”
The concept of Gillian having sex with his soldiers is inconceivable and becomes a risqué humorous scene. Now, to play devil’s advocate, this is a historical romance so we would not expect her to jump into a quick orgy. To sum up, there are less sexual deviations and temptations in vanilla romances.
Polyamorous Romance (any of the settings as the vanilla, but include ménage [three people] or more).
This is where we begin to see more “kinky” and “non-mainstream” relationships. Most topics in the vanilla setting are extensively discussed here. Keep in mind that a polyamorous romance does not mean that all romantic relationships are kinky swingers that have tons of sex with random strangers. Yet, because of the taboo topics, they are exclusively considered to be erotica. I think part of the difference is that in the overall erotica genre we have fewer restrictions when it comes to sexual situations. Authors to consider: Shayla Black, Lauren Dane, Sophie Oak, and Tymber Dalton.
Yet, it is unfair to say that all erotica is “Pro-cheating”. For example, in Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare Erin refuses to have sex with Ben without Todd being with them:
She wanted Todd to be there when she was with Ben again. It felt like Ben was theirs—not so much hers, not so much Todd’s, but theirs—and because of that, she wasn’t comfortable sharing all that with him when it was just the two of them.
So, here is an example that just because we have an ménage and erotica, does not mean that all books have rampant random swinging sex. For some ménages or poly relationships that dabble in scenes such as BDSM, sex does not equate to love. This would be inconceivable to some folks who just read a plain romance.
Male/Male Romance (any of the above subjects, but obviously only males):
The final sub-genre under discussion is the male/male romance, which I am new to reading. The level of kink varies, from simple and sweet (really is more like a very vanilla romance) to poly and BDSM. They are automatically made erotica because they are males, but that is a different rant post. Authors in this category: L.A. Witt, Z.A. Maxfield, S.J. Frost, J.L. Langley, Harper Fox, and S.E. Culpepper.
The first thing I noticed when I began reading M/M romances, was more references to promiscuity. It seemed that all M/M relationships lead to random hook-ups. The obvious social restrictions of the heterosexual world are not important here, so I imagine that might explain some of the sexual freedom. No worry about getting the girl pregnant and less religious restrictions to name a few reasons.
Yet, not all male/male romances have men rampantly ramming other men. For example, in Jez Morrow‘s Force of Law, our main character does not search for a hook up:
He thought his kind was supposed to be indiscriminate and bang nine anonymous strangers a night. Tom was too squeamish for this life. He needed something to be there.
So, much like the other sub-genre, we cannot make assumption that all books are the same.
So, back to my original question:
Is there a different moral code between genres and does that affect how you enjoy the book?
There might be similar characteristics between books within each sub-genre, but no book is exactly the same. What we should take away from this comparison is that it is up to the author to create a world to support their lead characters. We might not agree with what the characters do, but there is always something to take away from a book.
Yeah, the formulas might be different between the sub-genres, but these differences give us a change of pace. It might not just be a different moral code between genres, but rather a wider range of possibilities and experiences.
Give the books a chance! You might learn something that you did not know about yourself.