When Brian Thomas and I began a book about the relationship between a succubus and an angel, the chief thing I was adamant about was that sex had to be beautiful and liberating and celebratory. Sex in and of itself could never be the event that tarnished someone’s soul or damned anyone.
I mean, sex in and of itself isn’t even listed as a deadly sin. The Ten Commandments prohibit adultery – consensual sex between a married person and someone other than their lawful spouse – but that leaves succubi pretty much free to do as they like with anyone who is unmarried: from a certain succubus’s point of view, anyway.
My succubus Lorelei was created in Hell for a singular purpose: to lead mortals into lust (which does make the list of Seven Deadly Sins). Lust, as her boss Asmodeus tells her, must drive all hope of Heaven out of Azaziel’s heart. Otherwise, he’ll remain unfallen. The demon tells Lorelei that Aza has had sex before. What he doesn’t tell her was that Aza had even been married before, in the days before the Flood. While Aza and his bride had a healthy sex life, each saw the reflection of the divine in their lover. For Azaziel and Anah, sex was a sacrament. It was holy.
So Aza and Lorelei do have sex once in the course of Lost Angels, the first novel, only to be interrupted by the angel Muriel. Muriel loathes succubi and is no fan of humanity, but she sees herself as an unwavering beacon of morality. Everyone else – angels included – see her as a prude.
One of the characters says in the book that Lorelei uses sex as a way to communicate with people. It’s a physical hunger for her that she feels down deep in her hips. The sex she has in the first book ranges over a spectrum from getting to know someone to thanking them for helping her out, from deepening a friendship to illustrating love. Lorelei is never possessive and doesn’t expect anyone to remain exclusive to her – just as she never promises to be exclusive to anyone else, even “her” angel.
Which is not to say that all the sex Lorelei has in the book in joyous. Asmodeus tries to use sex to remind Lorelei of her place, but in the end, she doesn’t allow herself to be defined by anyone else’s views of her.
It was important to me that Lorelei be able to define the sex she has for herself. When Aza takes her to bed, he puts her into a position where she’s imprisoned in her flesh. The angel envisions it as a kind of erotic bondage, but he doesn’t allow her a safe word or any possibility of escape. He does what he can to pleasure her body, all the while terrorizing her spirit. She defines the experience as rape: erotic for him, but frightening for her. It takes him a while to understand her viewpoint – and when he finally does, it radically alters his understanding of himself.
The second book in the series, Angelus Rose, continue to explore what sex can mean, both inside a relationship and as a way to punish, demean, celebrate, and praise another person. In the novels, sex is – above all else – character development.
Angelus Rose will be available next month!
This essay was originally published on We Read with A Glass of Wine. RIP.