I’m so pleased to host pub sister DawnMarie Richards today, not only because she has a hot new release, but because she’s discussing one of my favorite topics…sexual tension in romance. Oh, how it’s changed! Take it away, DawnMarie.
Thanks so much for having me, Rosanna, and helping me celebrate the release of the second novel in my Legacies series, Gilding Lillian, published by Liquid Silver Books.
I’ve been reading romance for close to forty years, and I have to chuckle when I think about those early books. I’m sure some of you remember them. Two hundred or more pages filled with sexual tension minus any actual sex, or even much physical contact for that matter. Go away! Come here! I couldn’t possibly! I must! I mustn’t! But then at the very end of the book, just prior to a proper marriage proposal, the hero and heroine would kiss. I swear I can still feel the tingle—straight through to my toes.
How things have changed! Heat levels one through four (or even five), protect readers from being exposed to more than they might have bargained for when downloading. Perversely, I think they may also tempt authors to push the envelope, seeking higher ratings and a potentially larger audience. I know I struggle with it.
I’m pretty sure my first novel, Aaron’s Will, not only would have been rejected, but returned with a stern scolding (and perhaps a suggestion to seek professional help for nymphomania) if I’d submitted it back then. But in the context of Sensual Romance and Erotica, Aaron’s Will is rated a two—Spicy—one level above Sweet. My second book, Gilding Lillian, received the same rating despite a spanking scene. Leaving me wondering, what’s a girl gotta do to get a three?
Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. Yes, the genre is evolving, as it should. But one important thing remains the same. Chaste kisses, hot sex, Doms and subs, whips and chains, in the end it all comes down to the tingle—straight through to your toes!
Griffin Bennett returns to his childhood home unprepared. Despite his long absence, he learns he has been named the sole heir to the fortunes of two venerated Bostonian families. Possibly even more disturbing is his reaction to his father’s widow, a stunning woman whose mere presence provokes vivid images of sex in wildflower meadows.
Lillian Gustave Milton Bennett has always enjoyed men, even marrying a select few. But when circumstances conspire to keep her in the family home with her deceased husband’s estranged son, a mutual sexual attraction becomes an unwelcome complication. She resists, but it becomes clear the most efficient way to exorcise the man, and his odd effect, from her psyche is to sleep with him.
Griffin is well aware Lillian wants nothing more than to work him out of her system, but in a few short weeks his feelings for her have grown from the primitive to the sublime. Realizing her next husband awaits, Griffin struggles to make her understand. But for Lillian, love is an excess, an unnecessary construct, and Griffin’s heartfelt declarations are not enough to make her stay.
Sexual attraction marked their beginning, but l – o – v – e could spell their end.
Content Notes: Spicy, Contemporary, Spanking
She started up the back stairs to the bedrooms. A glance at her watch told her she had just under an hour to get ready. She increased her pace before lifting her gaze. When she did look up, she was confronted by a wall of white. Startled, she caught the toe of her shoe under the lip of a tread and pitched forward. Her hands shot out instinctually and she braced for an unpleasant impact, but instead of unforgiving hardwood, her palms met with the springing mass of a well-muscled body.
“What the…Lillian!” Griffin halted her lurching forward motion with firm hands on her ribcage, lifting her off her feet and pulling her tight.
He twisted with the force of their combined movements, grunting as his back collided with the stairwell wall. She felt the convulsive flex of his muscles as he fought for balance on the narrow step. For a few moments, the only sound was his ragged breathing.
“Jesus. Are you all right?”
The thrum of her pulse in her ears made it difficult to hear him. Her heart pounded in her chest. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath. And none of it had anything to do with her near-tumble up the stairs.
“Yes.” The breathy affirmation mortified her.
“Look at me.”
She tried to push away, regain her own footing before she faced him, but his arms constricted around her. Left with no other choice, she schooled her features into the cool mask she had perfected over the years and lifted her head. His intent scrutiny set her on edge, tension building in her shoulders.
Long seconds passed as they considered one another. The twitch of his lips drew her gaze. At his warning smile, she braced herself, but his kiss never came. Instead, he skated his hands over her back. Lillian froze.
His pupils dilated the instant his fingers bumped over the clasp of her bra, leaving only thin silvery blue bands around the two black discs. She closed her eyes against the obvious sign of his arousal. Relentless, he continued his examination, smoothing his hands down her body. He explored, teasing at the valley between her cheeks and running his palms over the swells of her bottom. She knew full well what he sought, but doubted he would be able to discern the outline of the barely there thong she wore despite the fine silk of her dress. You’re not going to find what you want that way.
As if reading her thoughts, he tugged her closer until his fingertips met her hem and then, with a deft twist of his wrist, his hands were on her bare skin. He tortured her sensitive outer thighs with his warm touch as he made his way up her legs toward his goal. He hooked his thumbs under the gossamer band hugging her hips, trailing its length until his hands met at the apex at the base of her spine. Rotating his palms, he retraced the path until his fingers fanned her navel. His thumbs crossed beneath the front triangle of her panties, breathtakingly close to the upper edge of the finely trimmed hair it cloaked.
“Open your eyes.” She did as she was told, defiance impossible.
His smug satisfaction made her want to strike out at him, but she could not so easily disregard the fact she had indulged his ridiculous mandate. It had never been her intention. When he’d left her in the study, she’d dismissed the entire incident as an anomaly. A strange spell had overcome them, likely wrought from the unrelenting sexual tension which had plagued them since the moment they’d met.
More difficult to explain had been her foray into a lingerie boutique on Newbury Street the next day. Harder still, the numerous purchases she’d made. And what became practically impossible to justify was she had selected and worn a set of the fine panties and bras she’d brought home with her—every day since.
She rationalized her “choice” as a rebuke. It turned out dressing appropriately, as he’d so haughtily termed it, allowed for the unexpected slip of silk between the cheeks of her bottom or the tantalizing rasp of lace over her breasts, and proved far more provocative than going bare. Unfortunately, it also brought to mind the man who had made wearing them a reckless act beyond her control.
She never meant for him to know and stared at him, exposed and vulnerable, as he slid his hands out from under her dress. He tugged the material into place, smoothing it over her before territorially cupping her bottom.
“Good girl,” he told her quietly.
DawnMarie Richards’ grandmother introduced her to the romance novel, providing an endless, ever-changing supply of dog-eared Harlequins from a stash kept in a paper grocery bag. As a romance author, DawnMarie writes what she most enjoys reading— passionate love stories spiked with sensual heat in all the right places. She delights in doing that very thing from her home in southern Arizona, which she shares with her husband and their crazy dog, Rand. Want more? Visit www.dawnmarierichards.com.
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