Desperation: The Scent of Romance (Post by Anna)
When we think of romantic scents, perfume comes to mind—or maybe the aroma of roses. For me, though, the true scent of a great romance novel is the indefinable smell of desperation and fear. I love a desperate hero, a guy with a tortured past or an obstacle in his present that keeps him from getting what he wants most. And in a romance, what the hero wants most is the heroine. Of course, my heroines also must suffer for their happily ever after, but somehow desperation smells the sexiest on men!
Case in point: Tempted by a Kiss, my erotic romance short story, and the upcoming novel version, Fired Up.
Our hero, Adam Caras, has been a womanizer for his entire adult life. He treats women with respect, but he can’t make a real, emotional connection with them—so he settles for hot sex. He’s nicknamed the Arsonist, for his scorching seduction skills. When he finally realizes he’s in love with his lifelong best friend, Mel Thompson, she has no clue how he feels and wants nothing to do with romance, thanks to a terrible experience with her last boyfriend. Adam loves Mel with an overwhelming passion and he’s determined to win her heart. His desperation colors everything he does concerning her. It reshapes Adam, the consummate lady-killer, into a one-woman man.
We can root for Adam because of his desperation. We yearn for him to win Mel’s heart just as much as he does, because his trademark confidence with women has been torn to shreds by his anguish over the thought of losing his best friend if he screws up with her. He’s laying everything on the line. Whenever he’s with Mel, though, he keeps saying the wrong thing or behaving in the wrong way. Mel is his kryptonite. We love him all the more because of his weakness, and though we understand Mel’s reluctance, we want them to get together in the end as badly as Adam does.
In another of my books, Intuition, our hero David Ransom is desperate for a different reason. He’s holding back a dark secret he fears will cost him his fiancée, Grace Powell. His inadvertent betrayal of her drives him to many reckless acts, which get him into a lot of trouble. We feel for him because this stoic man has, like Adam, been knocked off balance by his intense passion for the woman he loves. David would do anything to protect Grace, even at the cost of losing her.
Desperation truly is the scent of romance, at least in fiction. Torturing my heroes makes them human and grants them even greater sex appeal. We ladies love our strong, confident men. But in secret we also long for our guys to show a little softness, a little weakness, and let us into their hearts completely.