1. Don’t sleep around.
2. Don’t kiss and tell.
3. Be nice.
4. Don’t text or call.
5. Don’t fall in love.
The rules are simple...until they aren't.
I have everything I ever thought I could want: a nice home, a job I love, two beautiful girls, and my husband, Gabe - my high school sweetheart who still rocks my world. If you ask anyone to describe me they would say, "Oh, Mirella? She's such a nice girl." And I was...until a mysterious, peculiar man and his beautiful wife enter our lives.
Weston and Bridget Hanson are no ordinary couple—they’re stunning, enigmatic, and sexy as hell. During the course of one unexpected evening, my ordinary world is turned upside down. How could it not be when Weston and Bridget propose the unthinkable? And when the unthinkable is so very tempting, giving in becomes inevitable.
It sounds so logical and simple. Just five rules and we can all have what we desire. But the heart doesn't follow rules, and now passion, jealousy, and confusion threaten to tear everything apart.
Two beautiful couples. Five simple rules. One hot mess.
Special Guest Post - Roya Carmen
Romance and Emotion: A few tips to increase character development, emotion and sexual tension.
If I could sum up romance fiction in ONE word, it would be: EMOTION. Emotion is the key element in any romance. The reader needs to be able to relate to the characters, to understand and sympathise with them, if they are going to be drawn into the story and give a damn. Emotion is usually conveyed through dialogue, inner monologue, and actions (which is what I want to focus on in this post).
Back in the fall of 2013, when I had just completed The Ground Rules (Book 1), I contacted many agents. One of these agents was kind enough to read my manuscript; a wonderful lady by the name of Emily Sylvan Kim from the Prospect Agency. She read the manuscript and said she liked it but ultimately didn’t feel there was enough sexual tension.
Of course, I was like, ‘there’s tons of sexual tension… what the hell is she talking about… she wouldn’t know sexual tension if it kicked her in the rear’.
…and so after my not-so-ladylike little fit, I thought about it. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps I needed to revise the book. Being the incurable Googling addict I am, I started furiously researching ‘increasing sexual tension in romance’. I scrolled, I read, I gleaned, I took notes. And when my eyes and fingers were finally worn out, I realized that it basically came down to these elements:
1. Chemistry. Duh!
2. Teasing. The hero and heroine can’t get it on right away… it’s about the foreplay, the game, the pull and push. Will they? Or won’t they? You want to tease the reader. In some books they do get it on right away, but then it’s a question of whether they’ll do it again.
3. Conflict, conflict, conflict… it’s almost better if they hate each other a little. There is a fine line between love and hate, as they say. There should major conflicts which keep them apart – the more, the better. Perhaps they are from two completely different worlds, or they have entirely opposite personalities, or rivals families, a la Romeo and Juliet, or they’re both CEOs at competing companies… you get the picture.
4. And lastly… emotions. These are conveyed through inner monologue, dialogue, and actions. Basically, it comes down to the ‘show don’t tell’ everyone keeps talking about.
You can’t say, “He was nervous because he was about to propose the unthinkable.” Do not SAY it, SHOW it!
The following is a two page excerpt from The Ground Rules when Weston is about to discuss the ‘indecent proposal’ with Mirella – the conversation which sets the whole story in motion. It is from Mirella’s POV.
He rubs the back of his neck as his gaze travels to the two retro, white tufted leather chairs by the large window. “Please take a seat.”
I’ve seen those kinds of chairs in fancy decor magazines, and I’ve always wanted to sit on one. As I make my way there, I walk past his glass desk and slide my fingers along its edge, itching to grab something and mess with it. I reach for one of the black pens and flip it upside down.
He smiles at me. “I see you’ve come to make trouble.”
God, he is beautiful.
I smile back at him as I head to the sitting area and plop my rear on one of the fancy chairs.
I take in the Chicago skyline as I gingerly set my briefcase on the floor and cross one leg over the other, trying to appear sophisticated.
He smiles. “You look very charming today.”
Well, “charming” wasn’t quite what I was going for, but I’ll take it. “You too,” I say with a sly smile.
Okay, this is definitely not a business meeting. At least, it doesn’t feel like one.
He paces back and forth across the room and finally stops at the well-stocked bar and coffee station. “Can I offer you anything to drink?”
“No, thank you.”
I’m not thirsty. I’m not hungry. I’m simply dying of curiosity—I can’t wait to find out what this mysterious meeting is all about.
Finally, he takes a seat—not on the sofa, but rather on the coffee table, right in front of me. He rubs his hands on his fitted charcoal pants, and his right knee bounces up and down—I can’t help but notice. His leg stills when he catches my wide-eyed stare. Whatever this meeting is about…it has turned him into a bundle of nerves.
He’s so close…I can see the gold speckles in his eyes.
Yes, this is so definitely not a business meeting.
I have a tiny momentary lapse of judgment and itch to kiss him. But still having my wits about me, I tilt my head away.
He closes his eyes for a second and clears his throat. “First, I feel I must warn you…” he starts as he rests his hand lightly on my knee.
My heart unexpectedly hammers in my chest, and I stop breathing for a second. His touch feels wonderful. I don’t think he’s ever touched me before.
He jolts his hand away, as quickly as he’s put it there. “You’ll probably be shocked,” he starts, the pitch of his voice uncharacteristically high, “by what I’m about to say.”
I’m insane with curiosity, and my stomach is completely tied up in knots.
He rakes a hand through his hair. “Feel free to ask me any questions,” he tells me. “I’ll try to answer as efficiently as I can.”
“Yes.” I say, completely attentive. Heck, if I had been this attentive in school, I could have become a doctor.
He bites his bottom lip. “First, I want to tell you how much Bridget and I enjoyed meeting you and your husband.”
You have no idea.
“The truth is,” he carries on, not quite making eye contact, “we were truly amazed,” he adds, pausing for a second, perhaps searching for the right words, “by this connection we seem to all have.”
He’s felt it too. It wasn’t just me.
My heart beats at rocket speed, and I wonder, for a fraction of a second, if a heart can beat too fast. “Yes…I agree. We just clicked, didn’t we?”
“Very much so.”
I find myself staring at his mouth, aching to run my fingers along his five o’clock shadow. I could never. And I shouldn’t.
I definitely shouldn’t.
“First…first off,” he says, scratching his brow. I can sense whatever he’s about to tell me is not easy. “As you know, Bridget and I have been in a committed relationship for many years. And we love each other.”
My heart sinks.
He’s brought me here to let me down gently, to tell me to back off—complete with car service. How classy.
“I feel I must tell you before I go on,” he says, looking out the window. I wish he could just settle his eyes on me and say whatever it is he wants to say. He stares down at a copy of Architectural Digest on the table and presses a finger against the cover.
There is no way in hell he’s looking at pictures of crown molding and marble floors right now.
Thankfully, he isn’t—he just can’t seem to make eye contact.
“Look at me,” I whisper. “Whatever it is, I’ll understand.”
He gazes up at me and smiles. There’s such vulnerability about him, I just want to reach out and hug him.
“Well actually, this might be hard for you to understand,” he finally manages. “I know from our conversations that you were raised in a Catholic family.”
I have absolutely no idea where he’s going with this.
He stares off into the distance, yet again. “Well, the truth is,” he trails off, his knee still bouncing up and down frantically. “Hell, I’ll simply get right to it,” he blurts out. “No sense in beating around the bush…”
He takes a long breath and doesn’t utter a word for the longest time, and I sit on the edge of my seat, barely able to contain myself, waiting for him to tell me.
Tell me what, I’m not sure.
But I want to know.
As you can see from this excerpt, Weston is incredibly nervous – you can almost feel his pain. You can sense his anxiety through his actions; from the pacing, bouncing knee, to the lack of eye contact, hesitant speech, brow scratching, etc… This makes him relatable, makes him seem vulnerable… more likeable. Mirella, on the other hand, is very curious, excited and aroused. With her, it’s easy to tell how she’s feeling because the story is told from her POV. But with Weston, his emotions can only be conveyed through dialogue and actions. To be able to sense a character’s emotions only heightens the tension in a scene. This particular scene was one of the many scenes I revised following Mrs. Kim’s comments.
And I think it worked because one of my wonderful readers recently told me, “OMG… you can write the sexual tension like a boss. I was on edge from start to finish.” Lol!
But how exactly did I revise the scenes, you ask? Basically it came down to ONE book I highly recommend (so good and cheap too!)… it’s a reference book I used extensively when revamping my scenes… now I’m spilling all my secrets. :)
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. I do not know these ladies and I am not trying to pimp their book – it’s just a great resource!
So there it is. I hope you enjoyed my post. You can contact me at www.royacarmen.com and if you enjoy sensual erotic romance, please check out my book The Ground Rules.
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