"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's talk about sex, baby

Or perhaps, let's talk about romantic suspense and how much sex is needed for it. I confess, I'm not used to writing sex scenes. In my first really bad novel, I wrote a sex scene. I had no problem writing it and believe me, I did not hold anything back. After I had written it, edited it, and recognized the entire novel as the worst thing ever written by human hand, a funny thing happened.

I was over the whole sex-scene thing. Oh, I don't mind reading them, especially well-written ones. I just didn't want to write one, ever again.

Now I'm writing romantic suspense. I know I need to have romance, and in addition to the suspense of solving the murder, I need to have suspense about the romance. My protagonist/amateur sleuth has two potential suitors - I hope that's allowable in this formula - and I already have plenty of suspense surrounding which one she will choose.

To be honest, I don't even know. I've made two strong male leads, dammit.

But do I HAVE to have sex scenes? Even as I write about each character discovering the other, liking each other, even desiring each other against their better instincts, I confess I am not looking forward to describing Willie's passionate coital encounter with either of these men.

Can't anyone have their privacy anymore? Does everything have to be paraded around on YouTube?

In the meantime, I shall share a very rough draft of what is happening with Willie. It's all still rather raw, so try not to pick too much at the wordsmith duties I have yet to perform.

* * * * *

“May I see?” Detective Macy moved closer and held out his hands.

Willie stared at his enormous paws and saw her own tiny hands float up, surrendering to him. He held her hands up to the sunlight streaming in and examined the bruises on both wrists, taking pictures of each.

He then put his hand up to brush her shirt collar aside, but his sudden invasion of her personal space frightened her. She reacted by ducking back and away. He stopped, so she looked up at his face. A small lift of his eyebrows, a softening of the lines around his mouth, calmed her fear. With her right hand, she lowered her shirt collar and stretched her neck to show him the extent of Bobby’s assault.

I-I assume you got away before he did… anything more.” It was the small stutter, again, with the soft British lilt that made her want to trust him.

“You’ll find a bite mark on his left hand. It matches my teeth. I kneed him, too, but I don’t know if that left a mark.”

She kept her head tilted while he took pictures. His fingertips lay against her skin, holding her shirt back as he trained his camera on her bruise. She could feel his breath, and glanced sideways at him. He stood up, dropping his camera and clearing his throat.

“This incident with Mr. Fermino in the arena. Could you discuss that?”

“We were practicing and he almost ran into me.”

“Is bumping into one another a supreme offense?”

She smiled. “It is when you’re both on thousand-pound animals.”

“Ah, yes, of course. You were riding.” He nodded and looked around the room. “And this canister you were holding. Is it still here?”

Willie looked around and under the table. She thought about what she had found earlier in the morning and felt her jaw clamp to keep from saying anything. “I don’t see it anywhere.” She pointed behind the table leg. “I found it there. When Bobby burst in, I don’t remember if he took it or I dropped it. I was so startled.”

“Can you describe it?”

She held her hands out to approximate the size and shape. “It was about so big, reminded me of a tin you get cookies in at Christmas. Plain. I didn’t open it.” Her eyes widened. “If you find it, though, my prints will be on it.”

The detective looked at her.

“That’s probably not a good thing is it?” she asked.

Detective Macy’s lip twitched in a smile. “It’s a complete picture, Ms. Adams. That can only be helpful.”

They stood for a moment. Willie could barely breathe in the heat. She watched the swirls of dust dancing around in the beams of sunlight, and tried not to think about the way the detective watched her. After everything that had happened, this place felt creepy.

Detective Gimple re-entered. “Ms. Adams, Ms. Jungers wanted me to tell you she had gone to see about her other clients and will return.” He gestured around the room. “While we’re here, perhaps you could tell us what all this is.”

“I can try.” She reached for a bridle, but Macy stopped her and handed her a pair of gloves. After slipping them onto her hands, she spent the next half hour using her two-year-old knowledge base of saddles, bits, and spurs. Detective Gimple took extensive notes, while Macy just watched and listened.

She was standing with a longe line in one hand and a stud chain in the other when a cell phone began to ring. It belonged to the older detective, who stepped outside to take the call.

“It sounds like lunging, but it’s spelled differently.” She looked over at Macy. His gaze seemed intense on each object. At last he gave a small nod.

“Eidetic memory?” she asked.

His lip twitched upward again, making her smile. He’s kind of attractive, even if he is larger than my SUV, she thought. Those green eyes and dark hair, and I could listen to his accent all day. Too bad he wants to throw me in jail.

She put the line and chain back on their hooks and faced him. “What made you become a police detective?”

His eyes had a sudden shyness, meeting her gaze for an instant before looking away. It reminded her of the way she looked at Ty. “I-I was a beat copper, then I took the test.”

“No, I mean to begin with. Why police work?”

He blinked again. “Robbery. When, when I was first here, I worked at a diner. Young man pulled a gun and shot my co-worker.”

“Oh dear. Did they die?”

“No, she lived. But the investigation, the chance to help the police, it was all interesting. I was fascinated with the police procedures.”

“I guess it doesn’t hurt to be armed and trained if someone tries it again,” Willie told him.

“No, I suppose not.” He looked down at his shoes. She thought perhaps he was remembering something.

He had moved closer to her. The tack room was stifling, hot and still, and she could feel waves of heat from his body. His shirt clung to him. Willie was stricken with fear again, not about the assault or the murder, but because if she looked up at his face, in his eyes, she would not be able to resist throwing herself at him and begging for his help and mercy, burying herself in the safety of his arms.

That would be awkward.

She tried to hold her voice steady and loud, but only managed a hoarse whisper. “Detective.”

He leaned down, his ear close to her mouth.

“I didn’t murder Bobby.” She allowed herself a glance upward, to try to convince him she wasn’t lying. He felt too close and not close enough. “I didn’t kill him.”

“I believe you,” he whispered in return. Each word gave her hope, and with each word, his breath prickled her neck and made her tremble. “But you have to tell me all.”

“Macy,” Detective Gimple called from outside.

Willie looked up at Macy. His gaze lingered on her for a moment more, then broke away as his eyebrows creased in a frown. He turned and strode from the room, leaving her feeling woozy, almost to the point of drunkenness.

What the hell just happened, she thought.

* * * * *
Is this suspenseful enough?


Tameri Etherton said...

Arrgh! Google ate my comment!

Let's try this again...

First, I love the excerpt! You're so mean to tease us. When will the book be out?

Second, you don't have to have any sex in your romantic suspense, but it helps. You know me, I'm all about sex scenes, but if you're not comfortable writing them, then don't. It'll come across on the page and no one wants that.

Or, you could just write straight suspense and not have to worry about it at all.

As for the love triangle, I'm not a fan, but that's just me. When there's three, that means someone won't get their happy ever after and I'm all about a HEA. They do make a great plot element in the story, though.

Have fun writing your smut! Embrace your inner vixen and give that sex scene a go. You might discover you like it. :)

Gayle Carline said...

Oh, girlie, I'm loving this new book but it's driving me crazy. I thought I didn't want to have just one love interest because that would be predictable, so in addition to the cowboy, I added the detective. But then I didn't want one of them to be obviously right for Willie, so I made them both strong contenders. And now...

Holy carp, what have I wrought?!?!?

As far as the sex, I'm hoping the characters will let me know how much to describe.

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