There is nothing cute/romantic/sexy about condoms. They’re kind of gross. And they smell (a fact I really don’t need to be reminded of while reading, thank you very much).
I don’t want to wait for the hot, strapping hero to tear into a foil packet and roll it on his swollen manhood any more than his heroine does. But, by God, if he doesn’t stop to put one on, I wonder about him. Not to mention the heroine beneath him, legs spread and morals TBD. For a reader, it’s a total catch 22. And for a romance writer, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
This is further complicated by the book’s tense. If it’s past tense, it doesn’t bother me so much. In my zany brain, past tense equates to a retelling of sorts, and such details aren’t necessarily, well…necessary. But I read present tense as real time (even if it really isn’t), and if a condom isn’t used, it sticks out to me like a sore, throbbing, burgeoning…thumb.
In the first five chapters of my book, condoms play a big enough roll to necessitate their own Wiki page. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I’ve spent debating the damn things. With my betas. With my friends. Even with my husband, who at this point reads the word “condom” and is ready to set my manuscript ablaze. His exact words while reading my latest edits were, “Enough with the condoms already!” Dude. I’m trying. I swear.
It should be simple, right? Just stash one in my hero’s pocket and be done with it.
Except…it’s my heroine who first instigates sex, so shouldn’t she be the one with a condom?
AND THERE IT IS. I give my heroine her very own box of Trojans and the next five scenes topple over like falling dominoes. One little change and Frankie and Darian’s sexual future is altered, thus The Condom Effect.
Suddenly my days become less about writing and more about condom logistics. I worry about who has them and how many they have. Where they’re located at any given time. Is water going to be involved?
Oy vey. Am I overthinking this? Probably. I overthink my breakfast.
In a perfect world, Darian would have a Red Room of Pain and a file cabinet full of lab results at his disposal to offer
Anastasia Frankie, who I should have written as a twenty-something “virgin” on birth control. But alas, it’s not a perfect world. It’s a safe sex world. And we’re all just reading in it.
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