Le Petit Mort: Describing the Big Moment

I was flipping through my new used copy of Rebecca Brandewyne’s Desire in Disguise and on page 15 I came across the following passage:

Almost simultaneously Noir felt himself burst like a ripe melon within her, spilling his seed.

Excuse me? A RIPE MELON? Well, it’s sticky. And there are seeds. So maybe it’s not that far off in some ways, but still, burst like a ripe melon? That’s kind of gross, like his turgid member split open and ew ew ew.

That might be among the most bizarre descriptions of orgasm I’ve ever read. Now, we’ve talked about bad sex scenes before, and E. D’Trix was even kind enough to tell us all about the love scenes that invoke salmon swimming upstream.

So let’s talk orgasm specifically. What terms and descriptions did you like, and which were just absolutely howling awful?

And, as an aside, how come all the romance heroes and heroines have to orgasm simultaneously? I mean, come ON now, people.

But you’ll have to excuse me – I have to go. I’m craving a slice of cantelope.


Random Musings

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  1. 1

    The H/H in romances have simultaneous orgasms b/c it’s what everyone else does.  It’s like if you don’t do it, you’d better have a damn good reason for it. 

    As a writer, I’ve resigned myself to it.  But I set the limit strictly against virgins orgasming on their first experience of vaginal sex.  🙂


  2. 2

    One of my favorite descriptions is from An Exchange of Hostages by Susan R. Matthews, a SF novel most definitely not a romance and not for the squeamish.  Its hero, Andrej, is a Ship’s Inquisitor—he tortures and executes people as part of his duties when he’s not being a world class military surgeon.  Anyway, in Andrej’s culture his penis is his “fish”, which goes diving in the “ocean”.  So in this encounter, Andrej is having sex with multiple female partners:

    “Their charitable forbearance of his fish’s impertinence, which puffed itself up proudly to be so stroked and petted; and their generous permission to let his fish dive deep where it was certain it belonged, granting the greedy thing such new and delightful seas in which to disport itself that, in the end, it wilted of an excess of exercise and had to be returned with gentle hands to where fish were generally to be found.”

  3. 3
    Carrie Lofty says:

    At least some writers are allowing the heroine to orgasm through oral sex first, before continuing toward the big vaginal event (at which point orgasm may not occur that first time, which is at least plausible).  I would laugh at more realistic descriptions now, being as used to the genre as I am, because realism would simply induce flashbacks to my own silly-ass first experience(s).  WTF was I/he doing??  No bursting melons, thank the gods, but certainly no simultaneous colors exploding like stars behind our eyes either.

    Oddly enough, like our discussion of marriage proposals earlier, the orgasm is the least interesting part of the sex scene, to me.  It’s assumed and can only be described so many ways before veering into ridiculous metaphors.  In standard M/F missionary scenes, the HOT factor has little to do with how they magically cum at the same time, but more to do with that thing that sometimes lacks in reality: foreplay.

    And Darlene, that’s truly awful.  Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4
    Caro says:

    Ewww.  Just.  Eww.  (Goes to check her own love scene to remove all fruit references.)

  5. 5
    Tonda/Kalen says:

    Eww, ewwww, ick! No fish metaphors or similes in love scenes, EVER!!! Don’t even allude to anything from the realm of ichthyology. *SHUDDER* Did we learn nothing from the salmon debacle?

  6. 6
    Sonja says:

    Agree with lovelysalome. It’s definitely the foreplay.

  7. 7

    lovelysalome—I always thought that scene worked, given that we were in Andrej’s POV and he thinks in his own cultural frame of reference.  In his society sex is spoken of metaphorically and he’s an aristocrat who is very precise in his speech, so when he’s describing his encounter with these ladies he’s going to use his language.
    He would never use the exploding melon metaphor.

    Matthews’ SF series about Andrej is fascinating, but definitely not for the faint of heart. Her latest book, Warring States just came out this summer.

  8. 8
    Lorelie says:

    My favorite/horrible sex scene moment was in a Cherry Adair book, Hide and Seek.  They’re going at it hot and heavy and suddenly her vajayjay is referred to as a “hoo-hoo.”  I’m sorry but you remind a four year old to wipe her hoo-hoo after she goes to the bathroom; it simply isn’t a mood inducing term.  I flat out laughed out loud.

  9. 9
    Lorelie says:

    And now I realise that’s not exactly about orgasm, but I missed the bad sex discussion previously.  Sorry

  10. 10
    Carrie Lofty says:

    I get that the Matthews book you referred to, Darlene, isn’t a romance and shouldn’t be held to the same genre expectations, but I am in the middle of reading a Regency at the moment (who isn’t, really – can we say GLUT?).  I just imagined this Darcy wannabe referring to his member with fish metaphors and I giggled.

  11. 11
    E.D'Trix says:

    Well, lord knows I could go on about this all day, but I will try to use restraint. Suffice it to say, I am utterly tired of reading about weeping, clenching, spasming (and lets face it, utterly histrionic) pussies. This image of a desperately clingy, hysterical vagina, is always conflated with a bursting, erupting, exploding penis. The volcano of luuurve, baby!

    The various cracked-out metaphors I have seen for orgasm are really all blurred together now, but the best ones are often flat out insane. A lot of vagina dentitis stuff—one of the best I ever read compared the heroine’s va-jay-jay to a ravenous lion’s mouth, hungrily chewing a steak. It. Was. Heaven.

  12. 12
    Jacqueline says:


    Ick. (Although perhaps my reaction is motivated in part by the fact that I am violently allergic to melons? If anyone’s melon bursts anywhere near me, I’m liable to go into anaphylactic shock!)

    On the simultaneous orgasm thing? I don’t exactly object to it, but I think it’s very much a cliche. The reason I think it’s so common, however, is that it IS fairly rare in real life, which means that it demonstrates just how SPE-SHUL the hero and heroine’s relationship is.

  13. 13
    Wry Hag says:

    I don’t find the exploding melon nearly as long on ick factor as the ways in which I’ve heard people describe their hemorrhoids (which, for some reason, invariably involves fruits and vegetables).  Hell, I was guilt-ridden well into adulthood by my mother’s claim that my fetal self gave her piles the size of apples.  And then there are the cauliflower comparisons, and the bunches-of-grapes comparisons, and the….  Okay, enough.

    Anyway, we might as well resign ourselves to hyperbole in romance fiction.  The Penis Maximus, the Cosmic Fuck, the Perfectly Orchestrated O—everybody expects them, so that’s what they gets. 

    I doubt readers would react well to this kind of description: “Bugsy laid on top of Agnes.  He stuck it in her.  He moved up and down.  Then his weenie wilted.  He pulled it out.  Agnes was pissed but strove to be compassionate.  She made a mental note to upgrade her toys.”  I mean, really, would you ever again buy that writer’s books?

    Believe me, an author can get seriously stressed out trying to dream up evocative, without being silly, new modes of expression for what is often (maybe usually) a pretty freakin’ mechanical act involving stuff EVERY BODY has.  Sometimes I wish we could just say, “They had a good time fucking” and have done with it!

  14. 14
    Ann Aguirre says:

    I’ve read so much bad sex.

    Pleasure exploded through her like fountains of light.

    Slipping her hand to her mound, she felt the moisture pooling and flowing to her hungry flesh. As one who enjoyed a healthful daily orgasm…

    “Yeah, I swear, I only wank because it’s good for me…”

    Shelby Reed writes some of the hottest, most sensual love scenes it’s ever been my pleasure to read. I highly recommend The Fifth Favor and A Fine Work of Art.

  15. 15
    Ann Aguirre says:

    And, as an aside, how come all the romance heroes and heroines have to orgasm simultaneously?

    Mine don’t. In the book my agent is currently shopping around, The Average Girl’s Guide to Getting Laid, the hero always makes sure he gets the heroine off first in some fashion. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that simultaneous thing in real life, but the best lover I’ve had always sees to the woman, sometimes five or six times, before settling down to get his.

  16. 16

    I’d like to interject one more thought for folks to dwell on, and I’m saying this from a writer’s perspective:  If the writer does her job well, you will go with the flow of words without stopping to think about it, and you’ll enjoy the scene. 

    However, almost any sex scene read out of context sounds silly, especially if you only take a line or two.  You haven’t gotten caught up in the moment, the story and the characters.

    OK, I’m stepping off the soapbox now.[g]

  17. 17
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Don’t worry, Darlene, apart from one sugar syrup kiss, you haven’t rung any alarm bells. In fact, I’m reading about Rand and Julia now. Just before bed last night I got to the scene where they do it for the first time and she pukes. That was awesome!

  18. 18
    megan says:

    Okay this isn’t so much about the orgasm, but I am sick of the word “creamy” in reference to the heroine.

    1st, it makes me think of Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes.  Then it makes me think of discharges related to stds and I want to tell the hero to run the other way.

  19. 19

    >>That was awesome!<


    Haha! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I’m glad you’re enjoying

    Smuggler’s Bride and I certainly thought it would be a natural reaction under the circumstances.[g]

  20. 20
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Whew! I read Megan’s post and then went immediately to my current novel to use Find to see how many times I used the word “creamy”. I don’t usually do the stars behind the eyes or the exploding fountains of light, crashing oceans against the shore, but I thought I might’ve been guilty of creaminess.

    (Wow, that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?)

    I was quite relieved to discover I only used it in reference to her skin and just once.

  21. 21
    SB Sarah says:

    “My name is Ana. I am not guilty of creaminess.”

    This whole thread is making me giggle.

  22. 22
    sazzat says:

    The melon thing is ick to me not so much because of the bursting part (though that is nasty) but because I just can’t fit a melon up there.  Ouch.

  23. 23
    Susan says:

    Some things should never burst.  I’m amused that you are reading _Desire in Disguise_, because I am waiting for it to come in at the library even as we speak. 

    I think the oddest metaphor I’ve ever read was odd because it SOUNDED like it should be a metaphor for orgasm, but in context was actually used as a euphemism for penis: “the pinnacle of his manly desire.”

  24. 24
    Susan says:

    my biggest peeve is when the hero stops oral or manual stimulation just before she is about to come.

    Some of these heros should be told about multiple orgasms.
    In real life she most likely wont get one.

  25. 25
    Carrie Lofty says:

    I know!  Let the girl have her fun when she can.  Sometime a dick just doesn’t do it, no matter how unimaginably grand the fictional phallus.

  26. 26
    Robyn says:

    Melon bursting. Oh jeez, that’s gross.

    Besides the One With The Cosmos moments where they fly with the stars before settling gently back to Earth, the sound descriptions get to me. Shrieking, crying, screaming…well, maybe, but EVERY SINGLE TIME? And why does the hero always end his orgasm with a triumphant ROAR?

  27. 27

    >>Shrieking, crying, screaming…well, maybe, but EVERY SINGLE TIME?<<

    You mean…it’s not like that for you?

    Oh.  Sorry ‘bout that.

  28. 28
    Jennie says:

    Right now the books I’m reading seem to have the heroine hissing a lot.  Sort of like sex with a Cobra.

    I can’t believe the number of heroines who are “dripping wet” even before the hero goes near her.  Seems like everyone has dewy moisture, rivers that flow & the like—a veritable fountain of love so to speak. 

    Obviously KY in all it’s various forms has no product placement agreement with romance novel writers. 🙂

    The only time I ever read about anything resembling a lubricant being used was in a really old western romance where the hero used bear grease because he wanted to, the heroine didn’t & there was no forplay whatsoever & he needed to “ease his way”.  Blech!

  29. 29
    Rosie says:

    Wry Hag wrote: 

    I doubt readers would react well to this kind of description: “Bugsy laid on top of Agnes.  He stuck it in her.  He moved up and down.  Then his weenie wilted.  He pulled it out.  Agnes was pissed but strove to be compassionate.  She made a mental note to upgrade her toys.” I mean, really, would you ever again buy that writer’s books?

    I haven’t laughed so much reading comments in a single thread in ages. 

    I have to ditto the comments on “creamy” it’s every where.  And I can’t tell you why it bugs me, but it does. 

    As for simultaneous O…in my early days of reading I wondered if sex was like that for “other” people.

      Many conversations and lots of experimentation later I figured out the right of it. But the young and impressionable (I was once) it was very misleading.

  30. 30
    Madd says:

    I have a very serious dislike of any melon not watermelon. That aside, the visual of bursting penises and vjays full of cantaloupe seeds is definitely gag inducing. Gack!

    The ones that kind of annoy me are the ones where one or both parties seem actually to pass out during the orgasm … it’s that good. I’ve had some good experiences in my time, I’ve been incoherent and incapable of movement now and then, but my man has yet to have a need to bust out the smelling salts. Oh, no! What are we doing wrong?!

    I’ve read a few, can’t remember the names right now, where the heroine didn’t get hers during intercourse, but in most of those the hero took care of her first. I kind of appreciate the touch of realism in those. My man and I have pulled off a few simultaneous Os, but most romances would have you believe it happens every time. o_0

    It’s kind of funny, though, when you read those and, like Rosie said, wonder if it’s like that for other people. Honestly, it wasn’t until a long while after my first experience that I got to talking to other women that I started seeing the differences between what you read and what is. I think that if you start reading some of these romances before you have much experience, it could give you false expectations.

  31. 31
    Kiku says:

    Madd et al:
    Yeah the whole ‘simultaneous-every-time-shows-what-a-great-lover-he-is’ thing pisses me off no end. never managed it, still trying, but don’t feel like I’m a c**t-stunted ball of sexual frustration because of it.
    Also – you get the feeling in a lot of novels that nothing but vaginal sex is ‘real’ – that everything else is just leading up to it or a pale imitation. There are other things just as enjoyable (if not more so, for some of us).
    But absolute worst description? From a paperback I picked up many years ago – a squicky secretary/international tycoon deal: (semi-remembered adaptation)

    “Oh! Oh!”
    They lay wrapped in each other’s arms, the cool night air chilling their skin against the sopping bedclothes.


  32. 32
    Ann Aguirre says:

    I went out shopping and to the movies this afternoon, but as I was driving back home, a great idea occurred to me. It’d be awesome if everyone contributed to a list of works that bugs them in sex scenes.

    2) hoo-hoo
    3) any euphemism like “velvet manhood” or “pulsing honeypot”

    I forget what Stephanie Plum calls her pussy; it’s not hoo-hoo, but it’s something like that, which annoys the shit out of me. Bet we could make a comprehensive list and then I’d do a search on every novel after I finish it. Sweet!

  33. 33
    Ann Aguirre says:


    I think she calls it her doo-dah. It makes me wanna hurl the book, every time.

  34. 34
    AnimeJune says:

    Madd: I’ve yet to read a strictly romance novel (although my ‘first’ strictly romance novel, “Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie” is now waiting expectantly on my to-be-read pile), but I did read of a sex scene where the guy passes out afterwards.

    Of course, it was Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”, and it wasn’t because doing the little lady was so darn good, it was because she forgot to take out her rape-deterring “dentata” – a hidden needle filled with super sleepy drugs. Knocked him out cold. BUT – for a few seconds, SHE thought it was because the sex was so good. *giggle*

  35. 35
    Lia says:

    reading a Regency at the moment (who isn’t, really – can we say GLUT?).  I just imagined this Darcy wannabe referring to his member with fish metaphors

    In England, you could have eels… You could have all of them, including my share!

    Bursting melons…?  What kind of thrust velocity are we talking about?

    My all-time least favorite metaphor-erotic expression, male?  The infamous “weeping cock.”  (There, there, it may be dark and scary in that tunnel, but you’re perfectly safe, little guy.)  Team it with the “burning pussy” and you have a couple who really need a visit to an STD clinic.

  36. 36
    susanw says:


    As in, “Camptown ladies sing this song”?  Oy vey.

    Also not a fan of weeping genitalia—any body part other than an eye weeping, and I assume icky infection.

  37. 37
    Ann Aguirre says:


    I’m quoting from memory here:

    “He kissed me, and it shot straight to my doodah.”

    An interesting way to say that his kisses turn her on, I guess. I know it’s supposed to be funny and a lot of stuff about the Stephanie Plum books are hilarious, but that doesn’t quite work for me. She’s supposed to be 30 years old, for Christ’s sake. She should be calling her cunt something besides doodah by now. It’s cute when Grandma Mazur says it, not so much for the granddaughter.

  38. 38
    AnimeJune says:

    Of course, my favourite ‘ick-WEIRD’ male orgasm scene is ALSO from a Neal Stephenson novel – “Quicksilver”. Very, very weird – the procedure, that is. Lots of weird metaphors (“resevoirs”?), spots of light, all that, although to be fair, there’s no simultaneous orgasm between Jack and Eliza. The description is quite funny:

    “Suspended between Eliza’s two hands, like a scale in a market-place, Jack could feel his balance-point shifting as quantities of fluids were pumped between internal reservoirs, all in preparation for some Event. Finally, the crisis – Jack’s legs thrashed in the hot water as if his body were trying to flee, but he was staked, impaled. A bubble of numenous light, as if the sun were mistakenly attempting to rise inside his head. Some kind of Hindoo apocalypse played out. He died, went to Hell, ascended into Heaven, was reincarnated as various braying, screeching, and howling beasts, and repeated this cycle many times over. In the end he was reincarnated, just barely, as a Man.”

    Funniest thing about this set-up? Jack is a vagabond in the 17th century known as Jack Half-Cocked, for the very reason that a hot poker fell on his during a failed attempt to cure the pox. So, he cannot ‘get happy’ in the usual way. Eliza, with her ‘secret knowledge of Indian sexual arts’ etc. etc., is relying on his prostate.

  39. 39
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    I read one a couple of weeks ago where she was “leaking cream”. Seriously. “Leaking Cream”.

    Darlin’, you need to have that looked at.

    And by the way, cream is for my coffee and honey is for my tea. Neither should refer to any around the coochie.

    Hell, I’d rather they call it coochie-juice.

  40. 40
    Ann Aguirre says:

    I think Neal Stephenson has some Sex Issues. I love the man’s writing, but… holy crap! That’s one of the worst (and most horrifying!) descriptions of an orgasm I’ve ever read.

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