The Intimate Lives Of Our Detectives

Hi there, Anne here. Welcome to, The Intimate Lives Of Our Detectives, a guest post by the Carpenter and Harding mystery series novelist, and the author of multiple romance books, Barbara Winkes. Actually, Barbara has written some great books in several genres so let me just dispense with trying to run them all down for you and give you her bio:

Barbara Winkes, born in a small town in Germany, has been telling stories from a young age. She has a degree in psychology and worked in the field for several years. One day she decided to go on a vacation to Paris, where she first met her future wife. Two years later, they married in Québec City.

While waiting for her residency application to be reviewed, she had the chance to focus on writing full-time. Eventually, she signed with a small press but decided later to become hybrid-, and then indie-published. She became a Canadian citizen meanwhile. Besides writing, she loves to read, to travel and to explore new cities and restaurants with her wife.

She has written more than twenty titles in different genres. Women loving women always take the lead.

Anne: Her contact and social media links follow this post. Check them out for more about all of her mysteries, romances, thrillers and more.

The Intimate Lives Of Our Detectives:

Anne: I have some older blog posts I post to Twitter from time to time. One is, Mystery with a Little Sex, or Sex with a Little Mystery? The last time it posted, Barb and I got into a discussion about it. She made some interesting points. I asked her to elaborate a little here. So, take it away Barb!

Barbara Winkes: Thank you for having me!

Let’s get right to the question about the intimate lives of our detectives – how much sex is “appropriate” in crime fiction?

For me, there is no one right answer. I have written romantic suspense and thrillers with varying degrees of graphic scenes. It depends on various factors how much ends up on the page. For example, in a serial, the excitement of the main characters meeting for the first time is often tied into a case—both in lesfic and mainstream, and the relationship is told in more detail.

Indiscretions, the first book in my Carpenter/Harding series, deals with a serial killer that targets women he considers leading an “immoral” lifestyle. At the beginning, one of the lead characters is still in an, albeit dysfunctional relationship. I added a little more detail here, because it fits with the theme of the story: Mistakes, paying the price, but also judgment and hypocrisy surrounding the subject of what a person would consider “moral.”

In the later books, the main characters’ relationship continues to mature, and the cases they are confronted with, differ.

Infatuations Carpenter Harding 7Anne: The newest release in the Carpenter/Harding series by Barb is Infatuations. It’s Book 7 in the series, released in June. If you’re not familiar with the series, I suggest you wait to read the latest book and start with Indiscretions.

Barb: In a standalone book, it’s different. There’s simply less room. Do characters even have time for a relationship, and if they make time, what does it mean to them? A desperate moment? A promise of the future?

The main character could be single, by choice or circumstance, or in a platonic relationship, or…any orientation or identity. The possibilities are endless.

I’m also a reader, and I’m open to all of them, as long as the author tells me the “what” and the “why”. I think when dealing with adult characters, it makes sense to talk about their intimate lives, the reasons why they are or aren’t in a relationship. It adds to their persona, and I think it’s important even if the genre is not romance.

As a reader (and as a writer) I’m always curious about that aspect. How much detail? That’s up to the characters. They know best, after all.

Anne: I agree. Sex for the sake of having a sex scene in the book because of an expectation that doesn’t necessarily fit the mystery genre is misplaced. The relationship is more important and, you’re right, the characters know best. Sex scenes are fantastic and they can add so much in terms of character development, but if they aren’t necessary, they can drag your work down. Anybody that’s just looking for an endless stream of sex scenes is better off going online to somewhere like instead of reading a top romance novel.

Let’s switch gears now. You recently released Infatuations and I see you’ve been promoting the new release of the audiobook version of your best selling thriller, The Amnesia Project with T.J. Richards narrating. She’s amazing. I wish you as much success for the audio version as you had with the book.

Barb: Thank you.

Anne: So what’s next? Another Carpenter & Harding? Another romance?

Barb: Actually, I’ve got a dystopian novel coming out soon, Cypher.

Cypher by Barbara WinkesCyphers are assigned a number, a place to live and to work in exchange for giving up rights and freedoms most take for granted. Ami Moore finds herself trapped in what was sold to her as a temporary solution, and her situation gets worse when she is framed and accused of stealing. Ami isn’t certain whether Inspector Katlena Cervantes will be her ally or enemy–but the two women’s fates are tied together from the day they first meet.

Anne: Okay, true confessions time here. I’m a fan of the Leah Remini reality show, ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’. Your description made me think of that and sent a cold shiver down my spine. I can’t wait to read it. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Want to know more about Barb, how she thinks, what makes her tick and what sets her off? She’s out there on social media and she blogs. Check it all out, below.

Thanks for joining me today Barb and thanks to all of you reading this!

Connect with Barbara Winkes:



Twitter: @Barbara Winkes




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6 Responses to The Intimate Lives Of Our Detectives

  1. Adan Ramie says:

    Interesting questions, Anne. I like Barbara’s response. It really does depend on the story, the characters, and what the genre expectations are. I’ve heard of authors who always include sex scenes, no matter what kind of story it is, while others never do. Do you think it matters if it’s explicit, fade-to-black, or somewhere in between?

    • Anne Hagan says:

      It doesn’t matter to me Adan but it does matter to some readers. There are readers who do want you to close the bedroom door (fade to black), but they’re rare in lesfic/WLW fiction. I was taken to task by several readers for having only a fade to black sex scene in my first mystery and for having no lesbian sex scenes in the second book in the series, even though there was a developing romantic relationship. That’s what prompted my original article and Barb’s reaction to it.

      The subject comes up in Facebook groups all the time and it came up at this year’s GCLS Con. There are readers who say the sex is what makes it lesfic and it must be on the page (explicit). Some readers agree with that, some do not. It may need to be a given in most WLW romance novels but I contend it isn’t needed in puzzle type stories like mysteries where romantic and/or sexual relationships aren’t integral to plot.

      I’d like to point out that I wrote a sweet romance that released last Christmas. I call it lesfic, some do not. There was a developing relationship between two young adult women. There were a couple of brief kissing scenes between them but nothing more. Readers loved it and it did pretty well. I contend, it was far too soon for those two characters to get into a sexual relationship given the situations they found themselves in, in the story. I believe it would have felt forced. In this case, the readers seemed to agree.

      • Janice Best says:

        Hi, Anne!
        I know the sweet story you’re talking about – I loved it and I agree, it would have been much too soon.

        I was a little surprised, maybe disappointed, when there was so little sex/affection in the early Mel and Dana books, mostly because they seemed to be holding themselves back because Mel’s sister (and parents) would have issues with it. But I also realize that just because I don’t like that some of us are overly solicitous of homophobia doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. (My apologies if I read that wrong, of course.)

        I enjoy your books because they are so different from others.

        And I am less concerned with “does this book or that book have too much or too little sex?” and more interested in having a balance in the entirety of the books I’m reading. So I might follow a super sexed-up book with a more virginal one. Or vice versa. Or, sometimes, just read a bunch of sexed-up books in a row, if I want.

        But… actually answer the question – I don’t understand the idea that it’s not a WLW book if there’s no WLW sex in it. If the main character(s) is/are lesbian or.bisexual women, then it’s clearly a WLW book.

        I suppose one could include a disclaimer: “There is not much sex in this book.”. Sort of like what Harper Bliss did worth her newest book, co-written with her wife, who didn’t want sex scenes. I figured, if I really missed it, I could always jump from that book to one of the (many) really good sex scenes in one of her other books, read that (changing the names) and then go back to the book. 🙂

      • Anne Hagan says:

        Girl, I like the way you think!

        I agree, Mel and Dana did hold back. The stories are mysteries yes but, as all writers are instructed to do, I write what I know. That holding back is authentic and part of my own experience, as is the whole interconnected family feel to most of my books. We expect certain tropes from stories that are pure romance and, in lesbian-themed fiction, one of those is that there will be sex. Not so with mysteries where the puzzle comes first and romance, if there is romance, is a secondary storyline.

        There are lesfic/WLW readers who argue that the sex is what makes a book lesbian. Are they a majority? I don’t believe so, but they’re quite vocal. Perhaps in that disclaimer you’re suggesting, we could recommend a good sex scene to jump to when a reader is feeling like she’s missing that aspect, eh? LOL. Love it. Love the way you think!

  2. SR Silcox says:

    Sex scenes in WLW books is a bit of a conundrum to me. I currently write YA, so I fade to black in those books, but I’m working on a mystery series that has a lesbian detective as the main character. I don’t intend on writing sex scenes in those books, although she will get a love interest.
    I actually got taken to task in a review for one of my YA sweet romances (advertised and blurbed as such) for no sex! You can’t please everyone I suppose.
    On the one hand, I feel readers will want what they want and there are plenty of writers who can give that to them. On the other hand, readers requiring sex scenes in order for the book to be deemed lesbian fiction sort of plays into the ‘lesbian/gay is all about sex’ stereotype. That frustrates me as a YA author because as soon as I mention ‘lesbian’ along with YA, the person I’m talking to often jumps straight to ‘lesbian stories mean sex’.
    My final comment is that I’d much rather no sex scenes than badly written ones. I don’t write good ones so I don’t write them at all.

    • Anne Hagan says:

      We’re in complete agreement. My advice? You do you. Some readers are not going to like it. I’ve learned the hard way that they are the old guard lesfic purists and not the new queerfic/strong female character readers. They feel every book must contain romance, whether it’s a romance or not and romance naturally means sex. They’re slowly becoming the minority. Now, I have nothing against these readers. I love all readers. I’ve decided to write what I want to write though and I’ll call it lesfic or WLW fiction no matter what they think it is or is not.

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