9 Sex Literature Excerpts That Are Actually Hot

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

Sex is notoriously difficult to write about. Even celebrated authors struggle to describe this basic, essential human behavior in ways that are actually sexy. Too often, their best attempts still fall into the realms of the too cheesy, too flowery, too technical, too cold, or too … icky to work. As readers, most of us are only too familiar with the feeling of reading a book, being happily absorbed in the plot, only to be ripped out of that absorption by a terribly written love scene. Bad sex in books is so common that the Literary Review even has an annual competition to award the worst sex scenes in literature. 2014’s nominees ranged from Ben Okri (the eventual “winner”) to Haruki Murakami. One nominated passage from ­Desert God by Wilbur Smith featured this sparkling libido killer:

[Her breasts] were perfect rounds, white as mare's milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them.

Her body was hairless. Her pudenda were also entirely devoid of hair. The tips of her inner lips protruded shyly from the vertical cleft. The sweet dew of feminine arousal glistened upon them.

I know. I'll give you a moment to recover.

This is all a way of saying that, even in great literature, good writing about sex is hard to come by, which is why I have gathered 9 passages from what by most would be described as “literary fiction” that are, in my completely subjective opinion, actually hot. Some of these passages aren’t even actually sex scenes, per se (ahem, Dracula), but they are sexy, and they all avoid the word “pudenda” (Thank goodness).

Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus

Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.
When she closed her eyes she felt he had many hands, which touched her everywhere, and many mouths, which passed so swiftly over her, and with a wolflike sharpness, his teeth sank into her fleshiest parts. Naked now, he lay his full length over her. She enjoyed his weight on her, enjoyed being crushed under his body. She wanted him soldered to her, from mouth to feet. Shivers passed through her body.

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Bram Stoker, Dracula

I lay quiet, looking out under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.

… The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and could feel the hot breath on my neck. … I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.

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James Joyce, Ulysses

I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a woman’s body yes that was one true thing he said in his life … I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

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Kate Chopin, “The Storm

They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world.

The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached.

When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life's mystery.

D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

We fucked a flame into being.
Then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling, rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance, exquisite and melting her all molten inside. It was like bells rippling up and up to a culmination. She lay unconscious of the wild little cries she uttered at the last.

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Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

The way her body existed only where he touched her. The rest of her was smoke.

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Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet

I had refused to love at all, had become – or so I thought – a creature beyond passion … Now, this lady had torn it from me – had laid me bare, as surely as if she had ripped the shrieking flesh from my white bones. She pressed against me still; and even as her breath came warm against my cheek, I felt my lusts rise up to meet her own, and knew myself in thrall.

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Images: Kate Ter Haar/Flickr; Giphy (3); Wikimedia