Ana peeks under and through intimacy from a writer's perspective.
My Webster's Dictionary defines intimacy as "The state of being intimate."
Intimate is defined as "marked by close acquaintance;" "relating to one's deepest nature;" "very personal;" "sexual."
Romance writers strive for intimacy in their novels because romance readers crave a close, personal, vivid experience when reading. We write deep POV to show our characters' natures and reveal their innermost, secret desires and fears.
We also write with a narrative intimacy to convey a wide range of emotions. We strive to show our heroine's moods, the hero's reaction to a turn of events.
To be able to wring pathos from our heroine's certainty that she'll never be united with the hero, we have to know our heroine intimately--and then write in her POV the scenes where she accepts love's gifts and defeats. Likewise, we get to know our hero (as intimately as one can know the opposite sex), get in his head and stay there in scenes where his prowess / honor is challenged and his passions are enflamed.
It's the emotional connection we're after. The intimate. And nothing is more intimate than love scenes. The duet that builds up to the climax (literally) and then lets the reader savor the afterglow. An author has to already be on an intimate level with his/her characters to write a satisfying sex scene.
Erotic romances usually stage the first sexual encounter early in the story, before deep character development. But the intent of an erotic romance is panty-wetting. Love can blossom after the "best sex" the hero has ever had. The dive into the intimate recesses of emotion might be revealed until after the mind blowing f**k, but it will have to be portrayed on the page, or IMO, the story will not deliver satisfaction to most readers.
Sexual intimacy has to be justified by emotional intimacy. By the characters' recognition that their lover is the only one who can make them feel complete, who fills the emptiness that has been stalking them, who heals undeserved or long festering emotional wounds, and who loves them with conditions that free them to love themselves.