GENRE: Romantic Suspense
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A.B. Michael will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Award-winning jewelry designer Regina Firestone is proud to exhibit her famous grandmother’s multi-million dollar “bauble” collection at the grand re-opening of The Grove Center for American Art, known among the locals as “Sinner’s Grove.”
The fact that she’s considering modeling the jewels in the nude like her grandmother did infuriates photographer Walker Banks, a co-owner of The Grove who’s in charge of the exhibit. Neither is willing to admit the real reason for the sparks between them.
Their argument takes a back seat when Reggie discovers that one of the most compelling pieces in the collection is not at all what it seems. Tracking down the truth will take the couple into the dark heart of a quest that’s lasted more than a century, one in which destroying human lives—including Reggie’s and Walker’s—means nothing in the pursuit of a twisted sense of justice.
The Jade Hunters is Book Three of Michaels’ contemporary series, “Sinner’s Grove Suspense.” The series follows the descendants of characters introduced in Michaels’ historical fiction series, “The Golden City.”
By the time he made it to the room, Regina was standing at the opening of what looked like a submarine hatch. Of course. They were near the water. She was catching her breath and waiting for him.
“Come on,” she said. “She’s getting away.”
“Where does that lead?”
“To a cave,” she said. “It’s got to be an exit; otherwise they would have boarded it up.” She held out her hand. “Please, we can’t lose her. Let’s go.”
“I can’t,” he said.
“You can. Come on. We’re losing time!”
The panic that was never far away at times like this reared its ugly head. “I can’t do it. I told you I can’t handle small spaces. I can’t …”
Regina placed her hands firmly on the sides of his face as she looked deep within him. “This is not a long cave; it can’t be, because it’s very close to the water and is subject to the tides.” She pointed to the other side of the hatch. “You can see the tide is coming in. We must go and I need your help. You have always been there for me and I know you’ll be there for me now. Just as I’m going to be there for you, every step of the way. I will not let you go, I promise.”
Walker stared at Regina’s beautiful, earnest face. It had all come down to this. It was too important for her to stop, and too dangerous to let her go on her own. She needed him, and he wasn’t going to let a crippling phobia stand in his way.
What Makes a Good Love Scene Great?
by A. B. Michaels
For most of us, reading about two people having sex is, well sexy; it can really get our motors running. So, at first glance the answer to the question above is simple: “It’s when you open the bedroom door and let us see what your characters are up to.”
But avid readers of romance (not erotica, which is a different matter) know it’s more complicated than that. No doubt you’ve read some novels in which nothing is left to the imagination: all body parts and sexual positions are on display, “early and often.” And some of those stories are incredible. But others are ho-hum, and some are downright distasteful. And yes, much of it is subjective. My opinion about a truly sexy scene is going to be different than yours, or your best friend’s, or the woman down the street who feels that any mention of “nether regions” is a complete turnoff.
But I think three elements make any love scene stand apart—and body parts aren’t even part of the equation.
- The best scenes of intimacy (remember, we’re talking romance, not erotica) start with two characters who are drawn together way before any clothes start coming off. They are individuals that we’ve gotten to know to some degree. Maybe we’ve learned what baggage they’re carrying from their past, or what dreams they have for the future. Maybe one of the participants has body issues (“I’m too fat” or “My breasts are too small”) or perhaps something happened that makes them skittish about getting physical or afraid of emotional intimacy. Assuming we like the characters, we know enough to care what happens to them. We’re either rooting for them to get together, or we’re yelling at them to “Get out of that toxic relationship right now!” Knowing those things builds tension, and that’s what we want going into the intimate scene.
- The second element of a great love scene is well-done foreplay—not the physical kind (although that’s important!), but the visual and verbal “sparks” that tell us, “Okay, these two people really want each other, but they can’t have each other … yet.” I have fun with this element in my latest novel The Jade Hunters. The two main characters, jewelry designer Regina Firestone and photographer Walker Banks, are both stubborn—their relationship begins with them arguing; they each think the other is flawed. Yet they’re also extremely attracted to one another and annoyed with themselves that they have these feelings. Later in the story, they become the only two participants in a photo shoot in which Walker takes pictures of Reggie while she’s naked. I can just feel the tension they’re both experiencing; they want to jump each other’s bones but they can’t because it just wouldn’t be professional. That delayed gratification builds even more tension, which makes the payoff in the actual love scene even sexier.
- Finally, once the characters begin making love, it’s not just a “play by play” description of who’s doing what to whom. The best scenes show how the characters are responding—physically, emotionally and mentally—to what’s going on. This is the case even if the payoff is just a kiss. No doubt many of you have seen the classic BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Personally, that’s my favorite production of P&P, and I refer to the last scene where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy kiss in the carriage after being married. That’s a very sexy scene (to me) because it’s the culmination of all that’s gone on between them for so long: all the attraction, the conflict, the character growth. We can see how happy they both are to have finally found each other. The same satisfaction would result from a scene where, say, one of the characters has a scar he’s self-conscious about, and during the love scene, his partner indicates that the scar doesn’t matter at all. Being in the head of the guy at that point, to feel the relief, and probably the love he feels, would make that scene exceptional.
So, whether or not the characters have sex “on screen;” whether or not they try every position of the Kama Sutra or just snuggle chastely, the scene will leap from good to great if we already know them individually, understand the chemistry between them beforehand, and experience the full range of their emotions once they get together. When those three elements are part of the story, the love scene truly pays off and I respond with “Yessssss!” every time.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she’s ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by kayaking, playing bocce, and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards.
Reading and travel figure into the mix, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day. Her historical fiction series, “The Golden City,” explores America’s Gilded Age and its effect on characters, both actual and fictional, while her contemporary series, “Sinner’s Grove Suspense,” follows descendants of The Golden City as they navigate today’s equally treacherous waters. She is currently expanding both series.
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A.B. Michael will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.