It is no secret that romance novels often contain sexual content. Sometimes it's a steaming hot kiss, and sometimes it's a lot more than a kiss, but sexuality is part of the genre.

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It's also a troublesome part of the narrative for me, because sometimes, the sexual intimacy is in the wrong place, and I get yanked out of the story as much as I would if a duke dropped his drawers and was wearing an elephant-trunk G-string on his weenie.

Sometimes, from my perspective, the sex is out of place. Let me give you an example of what I mean. I warn you in advance, I get a little spoilery in this column.

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I started to read Vanessa Kelly's My Favorite Countess (Kensington 2011) because the premise intrigued me like whoa. A former nemesis from a prior book is now the heroine of this book. Former villains have become heroes before certainly. But former villainesses are not as often restored in future books as heroines.

I was so intrigued. I wanted to read the Countess' story. I wanted to read about the hero, who is a Regency Ob/Gyn, in a medical field that was challenging and scary. I wanted to read how their class differences affected their relationship. I was so freaking curious.

The opening scenes are amazing. The Countess snubs the doctor in the rudest way possible, because out of necessity she has to (A) keep her facade intact and (B) use it to secure a rich second husband to keep her family out of debt. There's tension!

Then the heroine gets sick (and, of course, it is a life-threatening cold because that is the only kind of cold you can catch in the Regency) and the hero, seeing as he's a doctor, takes care of her.

And then it went off the rails for me, even with all those amazing possibilities of plot and character. Because, and forgive the bad pun, the sex came too soon.

First, after being bedridden for days, the heroine is weak but up and about, and he visits her. He inadvertently insults her, they fight, she apologizes and … it is the perfect time for punishing kisses, right? Right! When you are weak recovering from life-threatening colds, you want punishing kisses.

That gave me a bit of a pause, but then I kept going. Maybe the Countess was intrigued by the firm treatment of a man who couldn't resist her, seeing as most of the time she probably scares the bollocks off any male in the tri-county area. It is not in her best interests to be interested in Dr. Ruthless Kisses, so of course there is conflict.

Then they go to the village fair. He figures a way she can skip church and avoid the hot, pressing crowds, despite the disapproval of some relatives, and they wander off behind some stones.

And of course, the sexy rumpus begins.

And that is where I got lost and lost interest. I really hate it when the sex arrives too early in the plot for me to accept it. 

They are in a place where they could be discovered—but of course the magic cloak of romance novel nookie descends and obscures them from prying eyes…of the entire village at a fair. No one EVER skips church in this type of village fair apparently!

He's overwhelmed by his own passion and desire. He's methodical and passionate and driven to really clumsy actions, like kissing his patient in public, due to his attraction to the countess. She is attracted to him…and I guess really turned on by stones. I don't know. I didn't fully believe in the fiery disturbance of their respective hornypants for each other.

The sex was too early in their relationship for me to follow along past that point. There wasn't enough chemistry, attraction and experience for them to jump from punishing kisses to getting busy, and I couldn't understand it. I couldn't suspend disbelief that his character would throw caution and his backside to the wind, and that she would get busy on a large rock with someone she just admitted she was attracted to.

Also, sex on a rock? OW.

Bottom line (heh) I didn't think it was the right time for the sexytimes, and I couldn't get back into the book because of it.

The writing, though, was marvelously good, and I'd try another Kelly book in a heartbeat. I am interested in just about any historical romance that crosses class lines, as I think there are few available despite a curious readership.

Just as long as there isn't nookie-too-soon-itis.

Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.