Secret Sins

by | April 12, 2020 | General | 1 comment

At a recent writer’s group coffee klatch, the discussion turned to taboo topics, and which ones we might consider using when writing erotic romance. Such goings on! My peers regaled me with everything from BDSM to same-sex attraction, along with some things I never would have considered lust-worthy. I had a high school English teacher who referred to these as “secret sins,” the taboo things you might think about but never share with anyone. I think it’s interesting how many erotic romance writers are willing to share their innermost turn-on points, no matter how odd someone else may find them. It also strikes me that many of the things people consider taboo depend on when and where you grew up.

I came of age in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, during the sexual revolution. Look at all the taboos that were broken during that period. Magazines like Penthouse and Playboy broke the ban on featuring full-frontal nudity, and it opened the floodgates for other publications that continued to push boundaries. Prior to that, if you wanted to see The Full Monty in a photo spread, you had to buy one of the under-the-counter skin mags that came in a plain brown wrapper. Secret sin number one.

Then came the dismantling of the movie rating system, allowing filmmakers to feature nudity and sexual content with a parental guidance warning. It coincided with the so-called porno chic era of films like “Deep Throat” and “Behind the Green Door.” This was followed by celebrities baring it all for magazine spreads and movies, thus removing another taboo barrier. The main purpose this served was to answer the question on the minds of many warm-blooded males, the one that went “I wonder what she looks like naked?” Secret sin number two.

And how about the taboos in mainstream literature? During this same era, popular writers like Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann were considered “dirty” because they took off the gloves when it came to sex. Their stuff is tame by today’s standards, but at the time, you couldn’t purchase their books unless you were an adult. This was during the same era when we saw the increase in erotic writing known as one-hand books, also purchased on the sly. These were the books we’d sneak peeks at when the grown-ups weren’t around to see what all the fuss was about. Secret sin number three.

Which brings us to secret sin number four, the big one. The town where I spent my formative years was what they used to call a suburban white-bread community. Translation: not many minorities. It wasn’t until I went to a liberal college in the ‘70s that I had my first full-on exposure to women of color. They were considered forbidden fruit where I came from. This might explain why I write so many interracial romances, featuring Caucasian males involved with African-American and Hispanic women. In my home town, dating someone who was of a different ethnic background was considered taboo. If you did, more often than not you kept it a secret. For the record, I was never shy about who I was seen with in public, and I’m still not.

With regards to writing interracial romances, the only time I heard a slight concern was when my first romantic spy thriller, “Memories Die Last,” originally came out in 2002. The main characters are a Caucasian male and his love interest, who hails from Barbados. The attraction between them is very strong, and the sex is hot. It’s become my most popular series, but I was actually cautioned that it might hurt potential sales in parts of the world where interracial coupling was still a sensitive topic.

And I didn’t really care.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.

1 Comment

  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Most of the secret sins you cite seem pretty tame by erotica/erotic romance standards, Tim!

    However, I found your comments about interracial relationships interesting. I’ve written quite a number of interracial stories, but I feel a bit uncomfortable labeling them that way. I don’t want people to think I’m making a fetish out of the racial aspect. However, I know for some people, that’s the big kick.

    I do find Black and Hispanic women incredibly attractive – but not BECAUSE of their race or ethnicity.

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