Three Tips for a Sizzling Love Scene by Karen Anders
We're delighted to have Blaze author Karen Anders with us today. Karen and I were long-time critique partners (still are, sometimes) and I vouch for the fact that she can make a Love Scene Sizzle! Karen's TENTH Blaze will be on book shelves March 1. Up Close and Dangerously Sexy receives a Harlequin Series Spotlight for March, in honor of Harlequin's Diamond Anniversary.Listen to this lady. She knows what she's talking about!Diane
Use the five senses Storytelling involves description and it’s an integral part. If we do it well, the reader can place themselves right there in the story: “The surging waves warred with the blackness of the ruby-smudged twilight.” Or simply, “fire-engine red.” But descriptions are only part of the story. Immerse your reader into the story by using the five senses (touch, sound, taste, smell, as well as sight) in your fiction, your story will come alive for the reader.
Don’t Make it About Body Parts Sex is a physical act, but people with emotions, moods, and thoughts are involved. Where he puts his hand and where she puts her lips are important as it gives the reader an intimate view into the couple’s life. But, when writing love scenes, try to keep the emphasis on the relationship and the characters. The characters should go into the love scene in a vulnerable state. They’re risking their heart here and it should be emotional. They may think it’s only sex, but we as authors and readers know that it’s so much more. Use the conflict that you’ve built to generate doubts so that your characters have a richer love scene. Your characters will seem more human if they worry about taking that step or if they take that step too lightly. Show how they feel without just relying on the obvious physical signs, because it's not just their bodies that are involved.
Sex is Part of the Plot Even thought your characters get together because all romance characters get together, you need to use that scene to further your plot. Something can be discovered during it. The scene can show a character something that’s important to the story. Make it meaningful and not gratuitous because that’s part of the genre formula. Before writing a love scene, ask yourself what changes in the story that’s crucial to the plot.
I’d like to thank the fabulous Diane Gaston and the rest of the posse for having me.
Now it's your turn. What do you think makes a love scene sizzle? What POV do you like better in a love scene--hero or heroine?
Up Close and Dangerously Sexy, Book #1, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, Blaze, 3/09 "Surf's Up" in the Endless Summer Anthology w/ Julie Kenner & Jill Monroe, Blaze, 7/09 Dangerous Curves, Blaze, Book #2, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, 10/09 Wanted (wt), Blaze, Book #3, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, 4/10 www.karenanders.com (New Launch Now!)
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In my psychotherapy practice, I often see couples in unhappy long-term relationships who can’t understand how they’ve lost some of the love and most of the happiness they’d experienced when dating. Much marital dissatisfaction happens because, after marriage, people often stop behaving in the way they did during courtship.
In the beginning of a relationship couples present their best behavior, or what I’ll call the best self. This is not a false self (unless lying is involved) because it is a part of the individual.
When you present your best self, you are more considerate, try harder to please your partner, take care to keep yourself in shape and attractive, do special or romantic gestures to express feelings, tend to be more interested in the activities which the other person likes in order to spend time with him or her, and are more eager to be sexually intimate.
By being your best self during courtship, you set up expectations in your partner. She or he believes that this is who you really are, and that this behavior will continue. He or she falls in love with your best self, and you fall in love with your partner’s best self. If you decide to marry, you two assume that you will both remain your best selves for as long as you both shall live.
After a couple has been together a long while, they often don’t have the motivation, time, or energy to continue in their best selves. They allow themselves to relax into their easy selves. They stop making as much of an effort to please each other. Romantic gestures and dates get lost in a busy schedule. Work involvement increases.
They then become disappointed with each other or feel let down. They might argue and feel upset, or they might just let it pass. But they, too, start doing less of their previous courtship behaviors. When this happens, one or both can experience feelings of resignation, “This is what’s supposed to happen in long relationships,” or a hurt response, such as, “You’re not the man/woman you used to be. You don’t love me.”
Much of this problem can be avoided or improved by each of you becoming aware of, and taking responsibility for, your part in setting up your partner’s expectations.
1. If you are in the courtship phase of a relationship, take a good look at what you are promising. Don’t set up expectations you aren’t willing or able to keep.
2. If you are in a long-term relationship, think back to what you inadvertently promised. Resolve to reintroduce those courtship gestures into your relationship.
3. Realize the important difference between willing and wanting. The truth is, that for a man to be willing to do something he doesn’t want to do just because he wants to please you is actually a loving act. And vice versa. How’s that for romance? At times like this, your partner deserves more points, not less.
4. Check your attitude. If you don’t really want to join your partner, but are willling, it’s fine to communicate your feelings, although not in a complaining or long-suffering tone. Say, “I’m not that interested, but if it will make you happy, I’ll be glad to do it.”
5. Check your level of appreciation. If your partner has stopped being his or her best self, perhaps one of the main reasons is because you’ve stopped expressing your appreciation of his or her efforts. You can never express too much appreciation in a relationship.
6. Remain optimistic. Don’t give up your efforts if your partner doesn’t appear to respond positively at first, or says something derogative such as, “I thought you hated when I do _____.” Remember they have months, or maybe years, of negative feelings about their unmet expectations.
By persevering in your goal of being your best self, not only will you increase your own self-esteem, over time you will be rewarded with a happier, more loving relationship.
A good love scene, in my opinion, includes a little banter, a little dialogue, a little teasing, a little temptation…a brush of the fingertips across the face or a light kiss on the neck.
After twenty-two years of marriage, it’s still the little things my husband does that make me love him a little more each day: a meaningful glance, a subtle smile just between the two of us when we’re in a crowded room, a brush of our hands as we pass in the hallway, a kiss goodbye or a hug to say hello. It’s all good. All those little meaningful things can pay off big in the end!
It’s usually the unexpected small things a hero does in a romance book that makes me sigh: the hero bringing the heroine chicken soup when she’s sick, trying to cook for her when he’s never set foot in a kitchen before; helping her take care of her sister’s baby and even going so far as to change a dirty diaper—never mind that babies terrify him.
I’ll never tire of a hero who will carry the heroine over a muddied road or use the jacket right off of his back to cover the puddle in her path to prevent her from ruining her shoes. How about a hero who attempts to sing the heroine’s favorite tune just to cheer her up? I enjoy a beta hero who stands up to the buff and oh-so-handsome lifeguard on the beach after the guy flirts with his girl a little too long. Or the opposite…the tough guy who manages to control his irritation while his girlfriend chats it up with every person in the room; he’s showing control and he’s doing it for her.
What little things does your significant other do that makes you melt?
Or do you remember a scene from a book or a movie where the hero/heroine did something so small, but that left a big impact on you?
pictures: my son Jesse and his girlfriend Andriana making the most of every moment together
Writing Love Scenes from Real Life by Diane Gaston
I'm not going to tell you about MY real life love scenes. Or provide instructions on what-to-do with your real life partner. This blog is not about what happens in the fictional love scene. It is about how it feels.
When reading I often skip love scenes that primarily describe in great detail the physical steps a hero and heroine are taking to achieve bliss. My favorite love scenes are the ones that recreate the feeling of new love or of love restored or love that-looks-like-it-will-be-lost. I want to be inside the character's heads, feeling what they feel. The actual placement of body parts during the scene is less important to me.
This is what you can take from real life--the feelings of the experience.
Think back upon that time of first love or new love. The thrill of seeing your "hero." Think about what it felt like to meet his eyes for the first time or the first touch, the first kiss. Try to bring it all back and think about how your body felt. Was your heart racing? Were you out of breath? Or did you just feel giddy. What was sound like during that experience? Did it muffle or did it become clear and crystaline? Did your skin turn warm at a touch or did you get goosebumps all over? What kind of emotional thoughts went through your mind? This is the man I want to marry perhaps? Or This can't be true? How did your hero smell? Do you remember? Do you remember any time that a smell was associated with your real life love scene? A taste? Think about all your senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) and use as many as you can in the love scene.
Your real life gives you this information. The challenge is, you need to find fresh words to describe the experience and not rely on the hundreds of love scenes you've read in other romance novels. If you call up your own feelings and think about your own experiences, you will start in a unique place. Once there, you can think about how it would be for your characters. Starting with yourself, though, gives your prose a better chance of being unique.
Someone is going to say, "Not all of us who love reading and writing romance have had those kinds of experiences. What are we supposed to do?"
Even if life has not dealt you that deck of cards, you are still in the game. I'm willing to bet that all of us who love reading romance have conjured up those kinds of feelings somewhere. Maybe fantasizing about a TV or movie star (Gerard Butler. Need I say more?) or a boy at school or a man who rides the same bus to work. I'm willing to bet we've conjured up those feelings from fantasizing about somebody.
Someone else is going to say, "But I count on getting those feelings from the romance books I read, but you said don't use other romance novels...."
What I mean is, don't copy or mimic the words of the other writer, start from your reaction to the words, your fantasy about the characters, your feelings, and go from there.
It is entirely permissible to exaggerate your real life experiences. Or to idealize them. Give fantasy a free rein to go beyond your own world of experiences. We all know that our real life experiences rarely look, sound, and act like larger-than-life fictional ones, but they are the place to start.
What do you think makes a good love scene in a romance novel? What are your tips to keep the writing fresh?
This week we’ve shared our favorite first kisses on the big and small screen, we’ve discussed what happens after the ball, unconventional heroes, and real life romance. For Q&A Friday, let’s share our favorite written first kisses. What makes them so appealing?
An all time favorite first kiss for me was the one between Jaime and Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I’d share it with you if I still had my well-worn copy of the book. If only I could remember who borrowed it!
Another recent favorite is between Trey and Sasha in the paranormal novella Midnight Kiss Goodbye, in the Dead After Dark anthology, written by noodler Dianna Love. The hero and heroine, who both have supernatural powers, have a romantic past. It’s not just about the physical part of the kiss, it’s the emotions that make this kiss memorable.
Trey wrapped her in a hug that sent her thoughts tumbling back to when she’d turned to him for escape from a family plagued with problems, for comfort and . . . for love. He slowly lifted her up against him. When her hip met his, she felt solid proof he was still just as affected by touching her as she was by his hands.
Oh,yes, very affected.
He groaned into her hair. Hot breath raked her skin.
She folded her arms around his neck and kissed his throat, then ran her tongue along the bottom edge of his ear.
He shuddered and turned his face to hers, pausing for a fleeting second before his mouth captured her waiting lips, the kiss powerful and filled with longing that melted her heart.
No one else had ever made her feel anything close to this cared for in all these years. She’d grown out of her tomboy looks in her mid twenties, but Trey had always found her attractive. Where other women had been intimidated by his stature, she’d enjoyed a male that made her feel feminine.
Another first kiss scene I really like is between Randi and Zac in noodler Trish Milburn’s Harlequin American A Firefighter in the Family. The hero and heroine are former firefighters with a romantic past who are trying to solve an arson case. Randi, who is an arson investigator for the state of Florida, has received several threats against her. Zac takes these threats seriously and wants to protect her. I love how Trish nails that lovesick feeling and how humor leads into the kiss.
As they ate, Randi caught Zac watching her lips as she licked her fingers. Or was she imagining things? The jittery feeling that came over her made her feel like a lovesick teenager….
To hide the effect his words had on her pulse, she resorted to teasing. She smiled and brought her clasped hands to her chest. With a theatrical voice, she closed her eyes and said, “Oh, my knights in shining armor. Whatever would I do without you?”
“Not this,” Zac whispered close to her, and then his lips touched hers.
She jumped and opened her eyes wide.
Zac pulled back and looked at her. “Tell me to stop.”
She couldn’t. All the reasons identifying this as a bad idea zipped through her brain. She ignored them and leaned into him, accepted his kiss with an explosion of longing that would have scared her if she’d stopped to think.
So what is one of your favorite kisses in a novel or novella? What do you think makes it so appealing?
As I thought about writing this post, I wondered whether the stories I planned to tell would seem romantic to someone else. I think we all have some similar ideas and some different ideas about what is romantic. I was talking with one of my daughters the other day and asked her what she and her husband did for Valentines' Day. She told me they stayed home and ordered a pizza. Was that romantic? For them, it probably was. She said something else that struck me. She doesn't particularly like Valentines' Day. She wondered what is romantic about buying someone candy, flowers or a card or taking them out to dinner because someone else said this was the right day to do it. She said it is more romantic to do something unexpected when no one has told you to do it. With that in mind, I am going to relate two stories about my daughters and their husbands that spell romance to me.
Just weeks after our older daughter had started to date her husband-to-be, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. That might have been a good reason for many guys to end the relationship, but he stuck around. Crohn's is an autoimmune disease that mostly affects the digestive tract, but as in my daughter's case, also affects her joints. My husband and I knew almost from the beginning of their relationship that this young man was a keeper. We first met him when he accompanied our daughter to her uncle's wedding. She had recently started the regimen involving diet and several medications that would keep her Crohn's disease under control. During the entire weekend, her guy was making sure she took her pills at just the right time and made sure we stopped for meals because she needed to eat at regular times. On the surface, those things may not seem romantic, but what is more romantic than making sure someone you care about has what they need?
The second story involves our younger daughter and her husband-to-be. She lived on the sixth floor of a building on Marlborough Ave. in Boston's Back Bay. There was a small elevator in the building that would hold about three people in very close quarters. It really reminded me of a freight elevator. One afternoon she got into the elevator and punched the button for her floor. The door closed, but the elevator didn't move. She tried punching more buttons, but nothing happened. Nothing she did made the elevator move or the door open. This was not a modern elevator with emergency calling, so she began yelling and banging on the door. Finally, someone who was passing through the lobby heard her, but they had no luck opening the door. Unfortunately, she didn't have her cell phone with her, so she had to rely on the stranger on the other side of the door to relay a message to her boyfriend to let him know where she was. The stranger did call her boyfriend and also building maintenance. Her boyfriend came and sat in the lobby and talked to her through the door as they waited for someone to come and fix the elevator. Finally, after a couple of hours of waiting he called maintenance again and discovered that the stranger had reported the broken elevator but failed to let them know that someone was trapped inside! Finally, maintenance came, and my daughter got out. How sweet that the guy she would eventually marry talked to her through a broken elevator door to keep her from going crazy inside that cubicle.
These stories didn't involve flowers or candy or candlelight dinners, but they said romance to me because they showed that these guys really cared about my girls. Do you have any real life romantic stories to tell? Merrillee
Guest blogger Darlene Gardner's Return to Indigo Springs series begins this month with THE HERO'S SIN from Harlequin Superromance. Darlene is my critique partner and I can vouch for the fact that this book and this series are Not-To-Be-Missed! Darlene knows a thing or two about crafting heroes. Here's her take on Unconventional Romantic Heroes. --Diane
One of the dreamiest men I know is balding, five feet six and might weigh one hundred forty pounds if he takes the scale after a big meal. So what makes him sexy? The simple answer is his big, dark soulful eyes, but that's only part of it. Those eyes never stray from yours when he's talking to you, as though nothing is more important than your conversation and nobody more interesting than you.
I thought of my friend the other day while I was flipping channels and came across Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl. There's a non-traditional romantic lead for you. Although he's gotten better-looking with age, Dreyfuss isn't typical Hollywood leading man material.
That got me to thinking of other actors who break the mold. Patrick Stewart, famous for his role in Star Trek: the Next Generation, immediately springs to mind. Some women swoon over him. Among younger actors, Michael Cera (who impregnated Ellen Page in Juno) played the romantic lead in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
What other actors aren't traditionally handsome yet are sexy enough to be cast as romantic heroes? What makes them sexy?
I should confess that I often use photos of actors to help me with the description of the heroes in my books.
So which actor is Michael Donahue, the hero of my February Superromance THE HERO'S SIN, modeled after? Richard Dreyfuss? Patrick Stewart? Michael Cera?
None of the above. Try Wentworth Miller, the more handsome brother on the television show Prison Break. In my defense, he has big, dark eyes and gazes at the heroine as though nobody's more important than her.
Confession over. I'm still interested in hearing about those actors who shouldn't be sexy but somehow are.
Who are your favorites?
The Hero's Sin is on sale this month in bookstores everywhere and online. Read its 4 1/2 Star Review at Romantic Times. For more information about the other books in the Return To Indigo Springs Superromance series, visit Darlene's website.
We love the ball scenes in our romances. I don't mean necessarily the waltzing-whirling-gorgeous gowns type where the heroes actually seem to know how to be really romancey and romantic. Contemporary novels have such moonlight and roses scenes too. They're wonderful. They're the scenes that arouse our pheromones and make us feel bonded to these really wonderful guys, that makes us feel they are soooo perfect...
Oh, but you know what comes next. We are talking romances here, aren't we? If we haven't reached The End yet, we know something has to go wrong. We know the romance is built on conflict, and at least until the major conflict is resolved, the story can't come to an end.
In a fictional romance, the conflict does reach resolution.. And just as the story can't end before that's resolved, if the writer makes the mistake of resolving the main conflicts before the end, or conducts a major love scene in such a way that the story feels like the love scene has resolved the conflict between the lovers, the story's over, whether she's reached The End or not.
Romance fiction, although it's often maligned as being unrealistic, actually does capture the essence of the male/female bonding pretty accurately. I think it's interesting that some recent studies are showing things romance readers have known all along, and all of them lead to conflict in the bonding process.
It's no big surprise to any romance reader that men and women are hard-wired differently. Men have only 4 to 6 receptors in the brain that home in on facial and body language, and accurately interpret it. Women on the other hand have 14 to 16 to do that job. So it's no wonder women think their partners "should have known" what they were feeling, while the partner missed the signals entirely.
We also know, though, that this doesn't make the guy stupid. He has other hard wires his partner doesn't understand, or in many cases even recognize.
Another study of interest recently showed that when a very attractive single male flirts with an attached woman, she (of course) feels flattered, but that her response toward her mate is to become more attentive. On the other hand, when a single, attractive female flirts with an attached male, he's not only flattered, he acts less positively toward his mate. This is a little harder to interpret, but I think it does point to a less monogamous orientation in a male than a female. And maybe it says something about the basis for female jealousy. Maybe we know it doesn't take much sometimes to set a guy to wandering. Maybe it says there's less alignment between sex and commitment in the male and we instinctively know it. Or maybe it just says guys will let a little flirting go to their heads. Be that what it might be, it still spells conflict. In real life, relationship conflict occurs and recurs throughout life, changing with age and experience, always calling for work on resolution. In fiction, the conflict can be all resolved when the story reaches its end. I think a wise story doesn't give the impression the relation will be solid and without conflict for the remainder of the couple's Happily Ever After life. Rather, it should give the impression that they have achieved the goal for this story, the commitment to a bonded life together. Their story, as made public, spand from the point where the problem began and continues through to the resolution of that problem. But their lives go on. They are changed people because of their experience, but they remain people who will continue to lead lives in which conflict will surface.
So there. See? Romance really is realistic fiction after all. But then, we knew it all along, didn't we?
I love TV and movies. I find them very inspirational J So I decided to present some of my favorite on screen kisses. I know I won’t get everyone’s favorites, like Spiderman. I just can’t get into Tobey. And there aer some I couldn’t find YouTube videos for, like Jimmy Smits and Susan Dey on LA Law. YEARS later, I remember that love scene! And A Walk in the Clouds, with Keanu Reeves. I bought the DVD for the kiss after the grape-crushing scene. Guh.
First up, let me say I’m a big Gerard Butler fan. I thought this kiss from Phantom of the Opera was smokin’.
I loved the final kiss of Aragorn and Arwen from Lord of the Rings. He’d thought he’d never see her again, and when he does, with the blessing of her family….sigh. I saw the movie four times in the theater for this bit.
Then there’s Han and Leia, his arrogance and her resistance….
Never Been Kissed does an excellent job of building the anticipation. Plus, I just love Michael Vartan.
And talk about build up….this kiss was a whole SEASON in coming, and Logan started off the season as her enemy, but they learned to respect each other and he came to her rescue more than once, and….oh…..
This kiss was FOUR season in the making. The flirting was delicious, and when he finally got moving….I love how she steps back, then moves into his arms.
This was a fun first kiss, for Alex and Izzy. They’d gone on their first date and he left without kissing her. He made up for it here.
Then there’s Ross and Rachel. This is a hall-of-famer. He’s wanted her for so long, and you can see his adoration ….
Another long anticipated kiss, Jim and Pam from The Office.
So he’s tied to a tree….listen to the sound Sawyer makes when Kate kisses him.
I was raised in a noisy house. Music playing on the radio, baseball games on the tv, kids fighting and making up. We were a military family, so we didn’t have family close by, but we did have tons of friends. Mom and Dad always kept, and still do, an open door policy. If you’re in the area and you want to stop by, go for it.
Later, as a mom with two young daughters who wanted to “play” with mommy even while she studied for college exams, I learned how to concentrate in the midst of little girls playing Barbies while I lay on the floor next to them, Barbie clothes and cars spread out amongst English lit and Education books.
Today, my house is run the same way as my parents’. If the Cubs are on WGN, the television is tuned into the game. Don’t bother asking if you can change the channel. If the TV is off, then music is probably playing, from either one of the girls’ rooms, or from satellite radio. All kinds of music, though I can only take rap in small doses. Usually it’s pop, country, oldies or latino tunes. I say all this to help you understand why music and sound are a part of my life. Even when I’m writing. Music makes me feel good. Or rather, it makes me FEEL.
Now, when I’m writing, my mind has to be engaged with my characters, not singing about how Kenny Chesney’s tractor makes some girl think he’s sexy. Heck, that man’s sexy in a dump truck. But I digress…
I used just listen to movie sound tracks. My copies of Dying Young and A Walk in the Clouds are well used. But lately, I’m a big fan of Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Il Divo and, especially since I’m writing books with latino characters, Luis Miguel (can you say: hunky, romantic, take-me-I’m-yours lyrics and voice?) and Christian Castro. The words in the songs by these artists add to my writing experience. I've even pictured my characters listening to the same song, feeling the same hitch in the chest, or swell of love, whatever it is I'm experiencing.
When the strains of music fill my room, or my ears if I’m listening through headphone/earbuds, it seems to fill my soul, pulling me closer, more in-tuned with my emotions, and that’s a good thing. Because let’s face it, emotion is what makes our books come alive. We want our readers to feel what our characters are feeling. To “be” there with our hero and heroine, through the good and bad.
Yes, it has been said that silence is golden. As a parent of three, though, I can also say that silence, when a toddler isn’t within plain view, can also mean trouble.
But seriously, for me, while there is a time for silence, there is more often than not, a time to turn up the tunes, let your thoughts wander and your imagination take hold. Feel your characters come alive while your senses perk up in reaction to the beat, or the haunting melody. Let the emotion your music evokes envelope you, enticing your muse to join in the fun.
I’ve shared some of my favorite mood-inducing/writing-inducing artists, what about you? What’s on your playlist?
Only three days to Valentine’s and men and women all over America are sweating the big day.
It’s the gift.
I have good news for you sweatees out there. You already know what your significant other wants. They want to know you care. They want you to show you care. That’s where the romantic gesture comes in.
In order for the gesture to count, it has to be about the other person, not about you getting something for yourself (although, if you do it right…). I’m not talking about booking a surprise trip to Paris here—the gesture doesn’t have to be that grand. It just has to come from the heart. Here are some possibilities to ponder.
Ask her to show you how to properly load a dishwasher, then use the skill. Ditto with folding a towel.
Even though it’s his “job” to take out the trash, go ahead and do it yourself (or continue to do it even though it’s his “job”). Do this especially if you nag or argue about it. Ditto his gym bag. Just throw that nasty stuff in the washer and get on with your life. If you’ve ever seen a man change a dirty diaper you know their senses of smell are acute and they can’t handle even the smallest stinky job. Hopefully he’ll be loading the dishwasher and folding the towels, so things should balance out.
Life is a negotiation, sure, but showing the one you love how much you love them should not take international mediation. If you feel good doing it, great. If it makes your loved one feel loved, better. If it creates peace in the household every day, not just Valentine's Day--that's the best.
I know all you romantics out there want to share your favorite romantic gesture--ones you've made and ones you've received. I can't wait to hear!
Do you save your “good” dishes for special occasions? And then find you never use them at all?
I love my “good” stuff—the crystal candlesticks, bone china and linen napkins—and when I finally decided to bring everything out more often, ordinary dinners seemed so much more special.
When our kids were little, we used to have Sunday dinner by candlelight. They loved to drink their milk from a couple of old pewter wine goblets that gave a resounding thunk during a toast. What they didn’t know was that they were eating the turnip I’d mashed into the potatoes. In addition to creating atmosphere, candlelight will hide a multitude of sins that a lightbulb can’t disguise.
We’ve packed lightweight candlesticks and tapers into the Rocky Mountain backcountry. Not many things are more romantic than dining by candlelight along the shores of a pristine alpine lake.
I often set out candles in our backyard in the evening. Even if we stay indoors, the view through the window is nicer by candlelight.
These days we use our dining room a lot. It’s small but quite formal, with pine paneled walls and a coved ceiling—an easy setting for creating atmosphere. With a nice tablecloth and a couple of candles, even grilled cheese seems special!
I’m not sure what we’ll have for Valentine’s Day dinner, but it’ll be something fancier than sandwiches. Whatever I decide, I’ll share the recipe on my blog on Friday.
Are you planning a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner? If so, here’s my challenge to you. Pull out all those special things you’ve been saving. Whether it's a family dinner, just you and your sweetie, or a solo experience, make your evening something to remember. You deserve it!
PS: I loved that the cover of my first book, The Man for Maggie, showed the hero and heroine sitting by candlelight. I even have an old pair of candle lanterns just like the one on the cover. Perfect!
As my noodler buddies know, I am a new aunt. I was lucky enough to help my sister and her husband at the birth of their son last week. I saw a lot of love in that labor and delivery room—my brother-in-law fanning my sister, taking no offense at her criticism of his lower back massage during back labor, and despite a squeamish nature, he encouraged her to push when she was exhausted—romantic gestures all. He’s definitely got the stuff heroes are made of.
Being in that hospital room brought back memories of my own daughter’s birth and her early months with colic, when I thought I was doing everything wrong. Of course, to my husband and everyone around me, I was superwoman, capable of handling a newborn, a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s, and anything else life threw my way. A romantic gesture then was my husband picking up Chinese take-out on the way home from work or a walk through the neighborhood, baby in snugli or stroller. I so appreciated the little gestures.
At that time, the last thing I wanted was to vent to my husband about how overwhelmed I felt. Didn’t he have enough on his plate? As an only child whose father passed away before I met him, Wes was coming to terms with his mother’s diagnosis and rapid mental deterioration. He was the one who brought her to and from the neurologist. He's the one who calmed her down when she became inconsolable. He's the one who put her back to bed when she wandered the house screaming "Is Anybody Here?" at night.
Needless to say, the first year of our daughter’s life wasn’t the idyllic picture either one of us had imagined. Who ever thinks they’ll be grinding up Halodol and slipping it into their mother-in-law’s food to keep her from becoming violent in between feedings? Another trauma--wandering. I knew toddlers wandered away from their moms, but I hadn’t thought my mother-in-law would. But there I was one day, baby strapped into the grocery cart, searching the aisles of Kroger because I’d leaned down to grab a container or raisins and my mother-in-law was gone. And I might add, strangers had the nerve to look at me like I was negligent—you know, that disapproving glare that makes you feel lower than dirt. When I told my husband about these incidents, I’d leave out the parts that might make him feel guilty. And we both tried to find as much humor in the situation as we could. All romantic gestures in my opinion.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1996. I had survived almost a year and a half providing care and love for my daughter while also caring for my mother-in-law. I was so emotionally exhausted I don’t even think I knew it was Valentine’s Day. So I started my day as I probably always will—making coffee, or as I sometimes think of it—brewing the elixir of the gods. Only on this particular day, there was a piece of paper folded up on the stack of filters. I opened it and saw my husband’s nearly illegible scribble. “I Love You” it said. I know I must have smiled. When we dated, he’d leave me funny romantic notes—once under the windshield of my Dodge Colt. As I was about to place the filter in the cone, I spied another note. It also said, “I love you.” There were several others placed in spots that were part of my routine. The last one said, "Happy Valentine's Day." Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but, to me, Wes’s notes were the most romantic gesture ever. They showed me what we sometimes said as a refrain rather than as an expression of feeling. Those written words also revealed his understanding. He knew some days were beyond hard, that I took on the responsibility because I loved him. He also knew me and my coffee habit so well, there was no question about where he should place the first surprise!
I still have those slips of paper, as well as all the cards and notes he’s given me over the years of dating and marriage, which includes a homemade pink construction paper valentine I received three years ago.
How about you? What was the most romantic gesture ever extended toward you or from you?
Maureen Hardegree's humorous short stories are included in BelleBooks' Southern Story collections and Mossy Creek series. You can download a free Valentine's Day story,Be Mime, written by Maureen from the BelleBooks' website.http://www.bellebooks.com/bonus/freeValentinesStory.htm
Noodlers devote our second week of Isn't It Romantic? month with the following blogs:
Monday, February 9th: Maureen Hardegree The Most Romantic Gesture Ever Tuesday, February 10th: Lee McKenzie Dinner by Candlelight Wednesday, February 11th: Karen Potter Making the Most of the Romantic Gesture Thursday, February 12th: Priscilla Kissinger Mood Music Friday, February 13th: Q&A
Noodlers kicked off our month with blogs devoted to romantic films and romantic couples on TV. We also offered a few suggestions for Valentine's Day. Feel free to pass those along to your husband!
Our question for today:
What are some romantic movies we should add to our watch list? Why do you find these movies so appealing? And do you prefer popcorn with or without butter?
When you're finished posting, you may want to pre-order Noodler MJ Fredrick's February 24th release by Samhain titled Hot Shot. If you think firemen are sexy, this book's for you!
Their passion rivals the fires they battle. Peyton Michaels expected her assignment to be simple-write an article about everyday heroes. Heroes like Hot Shot firefighter Gabe Cooper. She never expected to find herself running up a mountain, a wildfire nipping at her heels, her life in his hands. And she never expected to be drawn to Gabe. After the loss of her husband in the line of duty, the last thing she wants is to fall in love with yet another man who routinely puts his life at risk. Gabe has had enough of women who want to make him into someone he's not. Women like his ex, who couldn't handle the heat of his job. Like Peyton, who sees him as a hero when he's just a man doing a job. Except time after time, the pesky reporter proves her mettle. And gets deeper under his skin. But there's an arsonist at work, and danger is closing in with the speed of a raging brush fire. Peyton and Gabe have to dig deep for what it takes to be a real hero-to find the courage to reach out and grab a forever kind of love. Before it's too late. Warning: sexy
Three Things Not to Do on Valentine’s Day (For Clueless Husbands)
1. Buy your wife sexy lingeré unless you know for certain what her size and taste is. If the teddy is too big, she’ll take it as a message that you think she’s fat. If the gown and peignoir are too small, you’re also in trouble. She’ll have to return it, and most likely they won’t have the item in her size. She will become frustrated, especially after trying on other items the store did have in her size in fluorescent light that saps her self-esteem and makes her feel ugly. Chances are you won’t get the benefit you expected.
2. Gift her with a domestic appliance. You may think that a new handvac will make her life easier, which to you translates as love. To your wife, a vacuum cleaner means that you see her as a housekeeper, which isn’t very romantic, unless you buy into the whole French maid fantasy.
3. Bring home a box of chocolates IF she’s on a diet. That’s called diet sabotage. If, however, she’s not worried about the calories or she, like me, believes a person can consume as much chocolate as she wants on Valentine’s Day without recrimination, then you’re golden.
What you should do is think about what makes your wife happy. If she likes silky lingeré or flannel pajamas, know her size before you buy. Check with her best friend or sister, or look at something she currently wears. Unless she’s one of those women we all hate, who can still fit into her wedding dress, do not use the size of the chemise she wore on your honeymoon fifteen years ago!
You could also show your love by making dinner or ordering her favorite take-out, or procure her some romantic reading. Why not remind her of what it feels like to fall in love? To go about doing so the right way, you should check her “To Be Read” pile to see what subgenre she likes—historical, paranormal, suspense. Read the back cover copy so that you get a feel for time periods, what level of sensuality she prefers, whether or not she likes her romance with a sense of humor, and what authors and titles she already has. Once you’ve done your homework, go to the romance section of your local bookstore and spend some time reading the back cover copy of books she hasn’t yet read until you find the perfect story for your wife. She will be impressed by the time and care you’ve spent in picking the perfect way to say “I love you.”
One last tip—tell her why you love her. You’ll probably get the reward you were hoping for when you bought that lingeré that didn’t go over so well last year.
We're all about the romance here at the Wet Noodle Posse blog this month, and I thought I'd explore one of my favorite topics -- TV couples. I've been a TV fan from way back, and I'm sure if there had been YouTube when I was a teen I would have created some of those fan videos for favorite TV couples such as Lou and The Kid from The Young Riders.
One of my absolute favorite couples from recent years is Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know there are Spike/Buffy fans out there, but I'm an Angel girl all the way. I still think these two will find their happily ever after, and no one is going to convince me otherwise. :) They're soul mates, people!
Also from Buffy, I was a fan of the Willow and Oz pairing. I never did quite buy the Tara thing. And let's not even talk about Kennedy.
Liz and Max and Michael and Maria from Roswell -- Talk about star-crossed lovers. The girls are from Earth, the boys aren't.
Michael and Sara from Prison Break -- Though the first season was, in my opinion, the best in the development of this relationship, I'm still rooting for them to get a happy ending. I mean, seriously, these two have been put through the ringer.
Scully and Mulder from The X-Files -- One is a believer in all manner of conspiracies regarding, among other things, life on other planets. One is a skeptic. Build-in tension, but it was fun to watch them gradually move toward each other.
Veronica and Logan on the also canceled-too-soon Veronica Mars.
Felicity and Ben on Felicity. They had a lot of ups and downs, but I'm glad they worked it out in the end. Plus, Scott Speedman -- yum! (He also plays one half of one of my favorite movie couples, Michael and Selene in the Underworld movies.)
Kahlen and Richard from The Seeker -- They're not technically a couple, but they sure want to be. Too bad it's forbidden and there will be dire consequences if they give into their mutual desire. I haven't read the books on which this series is based, but I'm hoping somehow they'll find a way to be together in the end.
Mick and Beth on the canceled-way-too-soon Moonlight. Why oh why do they cancel good shows and leave on drivel? Sigh. I would have loved to see how this relationship would have progressed. Alas, it was not to be.
David Boreanaz (Angel) figures in one of my current favorite pairings as Agent Seeley Booth on Bones. Even though he and Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan haven't gotten together yet, the sexual tension between them is awesome. And what's even better -- they don't realize it! :) This is one of those situations where fans love watching them grow closer together, but we don't need to see them actually get together until the last season of the show. It would be the beginning of the end, as it has been for shows in the past (such as Moonlighting).
If Omar Khayyam had lived in the age of the video rental, he might have phrased his famous lines differently: a bag of popcorn, a can of soda, and thou beside me on the sofa...watching An Affair to Remember for the tenth time.
There are few things that put me in a romantic mood--or inspire my storytelling--as effectively as a good romantic film. The Philadelphia Story, Moonstruck, Sabrina, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Baby Boom, American Dreamer, Roxanne, Something's Gotta Give...I have too many favorites to list here and not enough space for the oohs and ahhs and happy sighs. If you want more recommendations, you may enjoy browsing the lists at sites such as The Romance Reader or the American Film Institute.
Two of my favorites are older films that generally aren't well known, and it's these I'd like to share with you.
Set during World War II, Father Goose takes place in the South Pacific. Cary Grant plays a curmudgeonly bum who's marooned on an island, given the code name "Mother Goose," and bribed with whiskey to watch for Japanese planes. His situation worsens when he rescues a French schoolmistress, played by Leslie Caron, and seven of her young charges--all girls. The females quickly "borrow" Grant out of his food, his clothes, his hut, and his peace of mind.
Grant and Caron engage in a battle of wills and wit that's a delight to watch (the film won an Academy Award for its clever screenplay). However, since this is a romance, the inevitable ensues:
British sailor: Sir! Mother Goose is requesting a chaplain! British officer: A chaplain? Good heavens, he's killed her! Sailor: No sir, they want to get married! Officer: Married? Goody Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast?
A Little Romance offers an Academy Award-winning score and settings in Paris, Verona, and Venice. This bittersweet film about first love features Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane (in her film debut). Olivier plays an elderly con man who tells a young couple about a legend: if two lovers kiss in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, as the bells of the campanile ring, they'll be together forever. With Olivier in tow--to get them across the border--the couple set out to make the legend true.
One of the things I like best about this film is the way the intelligent young people at the heart of the story engage in an achingly real, thought-provoking discussion about love and commitment--and about how very, very lucky they are to have found each other. I dare you to watch the magical kiss scene near the end of the movie without tearing up--just a little.
I've shared a couple of my favorites with you. Now it's your turn to share--what are your favorite romantic films?
With February, thoughts of romance bloom like the early daffodils raising their frilly yellow heads. Stores fill aisles with heart-shaped boxes of candy, ads feature pink and red lingeré, roses are sold by the dozen everywhere--from the grocery store to the gas station. However, some of the most romantic gestures don’t require an expenditure of cash. They cost nothing but time, thought, and a little love.
Join the Wet Noodle Posse this month for blogs with topics ranging from romantic dinners to movies that celebrate love, from mood music to tips for writing a romantic scene.
Even if Punxsutawney Phil or General Beauregard Lee (Phil’s southern cousin residing at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Georgia) see their shadows and herald six more weeks of winter, think of February as a time to renew your romantic spirit.
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