Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Curious Case of the Paranormal Penises

I’ve been reading romance for a long time. Really, really long.

I’ve been reading paranormal romance for a good two or three years now – I’ve covered a lot of ground.

I’ve gone through a number of high fantasy, swords-and-sorcery, Arthurian and pseudo-arthurian fantasy phases.

And I’ve read my share of erotica, too.

Still, it seems I’ve led a sheltered reading life, because just in the last few months I’ve come to recognize a rather disturbing phenomenon.

It started out innocently enough. (OK, perhaps innocently is a poor word choice.) Christine Warren’s wolves are eyebrow-raisingly well-endowed in their human forms. OK. JR Ward’s Brothers are also well-endowed --well, that’s just proportionate, right? They’re big guys. Oh, they also have extreme staying power, multiple orgasms, and apparently large volumes of, erm, jizz. Kind of like regular guys only more so.

This makes sense to me. It works for me.

But then there was this, from Ward’s Lover Enshrined: ”Her tongue snaked out and teased the barb at the base of his erection. That barb was the part of him that she liked best, the one that locked into place when he came and kept them linked.” Erm. Barb?

I was assured by Lora Leigh fans that there was precedent for this: He slammed in deep, his body tightening as she felt an additional erection, an extension swelling from beneath the hood of his cock, locking him inside her, caressing a bundle of nerves high inside…" (From short story “The Breed Next Door.”)

More prosaically, according to about.com: "Whole male cats have barbed penises (much like a fishhook), and upon withdrawal, the female cat will often scream (whether from ecstasy or pain is questionable). It is also believed that the barbed penis stimulates ovulation."


Then there's Cheryl Brooks' cat… alien… dude: "…but when I washed it, it blossomed like a rose, the head putting out a wide corona with a scalloped edge…then I noticed something else, which was that he already had plenty of lubrication dripping from the star-like points of the corona.” Said lubrication is later referred to as “orgasmic cock syrup.” I couldn’t bring myself to read much further than that.

Yeah, I’m not so down with that.

Call me old-fashioned, but this kind of stuff is not sexy to me.

Keep the paranormal options package please, I’ll just stick with the basic model.

Though I might go with the, erm, expanded wheelbase.

So to speak.


Lady of the Review said...

Ah, Nic, you crack me up. :)

Yeah, that last one you mentioned, the coronaed penis? Total DNF. That book was just weird.

I don't mind the well-endowed male (in books), but weird things like major barbs and stuff kind of freak me out. Though it can be sexy if done well...maybe. :)

Anonymous said...

The barb reference in "Lover Enshrined" was a total WTF moment for me. As a longtime reader of Lora Leigh's "Breed" series, the trope that penile barbs are associated with felines - with cats - is well-established in my mind, but...all of a sudden Phury, a Brother, a vampire - sports a penile barb? WTF.

Is The Primale a cat? Did I miss something? (Shakes head in puzzlement)

Nicola O. said...

Wasn't Phury, it was Rehv. A symphath thing.

Anonymous said...

I did end up reading the entire Brooks novel and it wasn't too bad once the sex was done. There was actually a plot and that was good. Although, it was obvious that the author focused more on the sex than the plot. The first half of the book was all sex while the second half was the plot/action with really only one sex scene. Very off balance. However, I'm giving the author another chance with this series. I have the third novel, Rogue, sitting on my desk to read. Hopefully, this one will be a little more balanced.

I haven't read Lover Enshrined yet. I started to, but Phury began to annoy me.

Chris said...

I had the same issue with Lover Enshrined! (Well, that was one of the many issues I had with the book, but I'll focus here.) I'd just finished reading some Lora Leigh and so was familiar with the whole barb thing. Plus she has the whole, um, "knot" thing with the Wolf Breeds (which has precedent with canines, who swell up and are "locked" together).

Anyway, Rehv's barb just seemed like a rip off of Leigh.

Sayuri said...


OMG you made me laugh so hard. I soo need to get that Cheryl Brooks Cat Pr0n just for the giggles alone....I mean 'orgasmic cock syrup'. WTF?? LMAO!

Anonymous said...

Aah, thanks for explaining.

Regardless of which Brother had the barb, the concept seemed very derivitive of Leigh.

Nicola O. said...

Yeah, I wouldn't disagree that there might be some conceptual "borrowing" going on. Though purists might be compelled to point out that Leigh's, uhm, special option extends from the TOP, while Ward's is at the BASE. Ward's also seems to be more of a drawback than a bonus, though we don't yet have a lot of detail.

Which might be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Nicola! Check this out - http://io9.com/5125667/there-really-is-such-a-thing-as-too-much-penis-enhancement

Joanna Chambers said...


Um - strange penises don't do anything for me either. In fact I'm not even very keen on the larger-than-life ones.

Great post.

Barry said...

"Orgasmic Cock Syrup" would be a GREAT name for a band...

Anonymous said...

I am just glad I am not alone in my disliking of this particular romance "trope" I have a hard enough time with shapeshifters ... I want them to shift ALL the way back to human -every part fo them -- before the "fun" commences.

Book Maniac said...

Hi! I wanted you to know I am giving you an award. Stop by this evening to pick it up!


Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, hilarious! I heard about that barb. What is the deal? I think it if were soft and fleshy, okay, maybe. but like, I think thorn.

I would take a thorn in my side way before I want a thorn *there*

Nicola O. said...

CJ, it was quite an interesting scene - the description/discussion of the barb was really pretty brief but there were indications that it *could* be pretty painful for his partner. Not clear on whether matters could be arranged so as NOT to be painful.

Stay tuned for Lover Avenged, April 28th....

Anonymous said...

I can actually handle, um, weird animal appendages, shall we say, without too many qualms. Okay, within reason. The one that had me almost standing on my head trying to figure out what the heck was going on, though, was by Camille Anthony where they were somehow plant-related, called Light On Her Toes. (http://www.ebookwise.com/servlet/mw?t=book&bi=37020&si=43)

Odd doesn't even begin to describe the love scenes - and yet I enjoyed the story immensely. Not sure what that says about me. ;p

You just never know, do you? ;)

Anonymous said...

I say, down with barbs! A penis with a barb is fish hook to me, or a thorn, or a cactus. Sexy? Not.

And I'm thinking they should put disclaimers on some books. Like: If you are offended by animal penis penetration, this book is not for you.

Nicola O. said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that my universe would revolve along unperturbed if there were never any more romances printed with barbs, extensions, etc.

I also wanted to mention, this post has been linked over at IO9 -- see Jackie's link above -- and has a pretty funny discussion going on, complete with illustrations that I am too chicken to include here.

Kristie (J) said...

OK - getting a bit graphic here - but I was thinking the same kind of thing and being as it's an in and out kind of motion - with a barb attached all I can think is:


And I read the first Cheryl Brooks book and Katie and I had QUITE a laugh over the whole snard thing!

FD said...

Heh. Lora Leigh is like crack. She disappoints me deeply with pretty much every book and yet I still read them. I mean, there she has a golden opportunity to explore issues of consent, love vs lust, the biology of love, forced relationship evolution, adaptation to different mindsets, PSTD, sexual politics, you name it, you could basically pick an issue for each book and never run out of topics but no, she rehashes the same thing over and over with slightly different characters.

Also: Her cod science, it annoys me. So near and yet SO FAR from plausibility. I actually think I prefer fantasy. Did you read the Breed book with the psychic winged men yet? If you haven't, don't. *cringes*

I will be interested to see what J.R. Ward does with Rhev - I read his excerpt at the back of the companion book thing, and I have to say, I was looking forward to her exploring the more alien aspects. Not the barb! Although having said that I may throw the book at the wall if it turns out to be a 'good' thing. I mean, the Princess was pretty whacked out and creepy, and we've seen evidence before from Rhev's pov that he doesn't see / think the way the 'normal' Brothers do.

I think in general these extra bits and pieces could be a cool writing device... but sadly ain't being um, used to their full potential. *snicker*

Nicola O. said...

FD, I have a Lora Leigh post percolating. I've been reading the SEAL novels and as you've seen, a couple of the Breed shorts. Haven't picked up any of the full-length Breed books and I'm not sure I will.

But yeah, for books that are riddled with technical problems, they are amazingly addictive.

Anonymous said...

My new punk band is called "orgasmic cock syrup", we're available for birthday and tea parties and can be seen on occasional Tuesday nights at the Red Barn in Peoria.

Nicola O. said...

Heh, Daz, you might run into copyright issues with Ms. Brooks.

Anonymous said...

I really like Ward so when I was reading Lover Enshrined, I was just waiting for the moment I got pissed and put the book down but, she kept me. The cock syrup thing is just......*sigh*. Anyway, barbs and big ones don't turn me on but I can read through it if it is written well.

des said...

Mmmm....cock syrup. Gives coffee an extra kick.

Anonymous said...

Hi, everyone. One of you used the term "barb thing". I´m portuguese and i´m not familiar with this expression. A friend asked me to translate a sentence from one of Lora Leigh´s novels. I never read her novels, and my english is not excelent. So, could you please explain to me what does "barb thing" means in this sentence? Thanks in advance.

"Tell me, Jonas, do you think if we ever get around to having sex that you'll do the barb thing, or do you think you can convince it to stay hidden a time or two, just until I decide if I want to actually experience it?"


Nicola O. said...

Hi Carla,

Since you asked so nicely, I'll do my best to explain, hee hee. Although when you explain it to your friend, I'm going to hope that you are either really really good friends or that you are not easily embarrassed, LOL.

Lora Leigh's novels are paranormals, which means they have a fantasy component. In this case, the hero's penis has a "thumb-like" protrusion that extends once he has penetrated his partner. In Lora Leigh's world, this makes intercourse extra-pleasurable for the hero's partner.

Anonymous said...

Nicola. Thank you VERY MUCH!



Nicola O. said...

You're very welcome!


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