"Romancing the Hop" Blog Hop (Aug 31 to Sep 3)
What is your favorite thing about Romance?
Here’s a little something I learned at the Romance Writers of America convention this past July in Anaheim. It was my first convention and wow, what a mind blowing experience! Anywho, for you writers and readers, did you know there were TWELVE STEPS TO INTIMACY?
The following is derived from Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy by Desmond Morris (originally published in 1971). Linda Howard later applied them to writing romance. I found this deconstruction of what I as a reader probably only picked up subconsciously, fascinating. Here they are with my own mostly unedited attempts to illustrate the types of sentences you might find to illustrate them:
Level 1 — Eye to body –> “Oh my! Tall, dark and handsome just walked in the room. Hubba-hubba.”
Level 2 — Eye to eye –> “That’s right. I’m looking at you, Mister Cute Stuff!”
Level 3 — Voice to voice –> “Hey handsome, buy a girl a drink?”
Level 4 — Hand to hand –> He handed her a beer. Their fingers brushed, and despite the chill of the bottle, a warm current crackled between them.
Level 5 — Arm to shoulder –> He leaned in closer to hear her above the din of the bar, his arm draped lightly over her shoulders. She had no idea what he said after that.
Level 6 — Arm to waist –> He slipped his arm around her waist, telling all the world she was his and he was hers.
Level 7 — Mouth to mouth –> Finally! The goodnight kiss. Dueling puckers of peppermint and wintergreen melded into a minty cocktail of a new sort of anticipation.
Level 8 — Hand to head –> He brushed an unruly lock of hair off her face, lazy fingers slowly tracing the shell of her ear as he tucked it away.
Level 9 — Hand to body –> A pair of brawny arms pulled her into a snug embrace, cutting her off from all but him–his scent, his strength, his love.
Level 10 — Mouth to breast –> He drew her nipple into the wet heat of his mouth and sucked the last vestiges of reason from her brain.
Level 11 — Hand to genital –> She slipped her hand beneath the waistband of his pants to find the proof of his desire, hot and hard against her palm.
Level 12 — Genital to genital –> **censored**
Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it, though I was a little surprised to note hand to head came after mouth to mouth. Thinking about it, though, I can understand this since we are talking about romance and intimacy, not necessarily foreplay to sex. Mouth to mouth can range from a peck on the lips (casual, nonsexual) to a full on lip-lock (very sexual). A hand to the head, however, usually denotes tenderness.
Some romances move in sequence from level to level, igniting a slow and steady burn. Others might zoom from one to seven, then to eleven then twelve–making a relationship sexual before back-tracking to build the romance. There’s no single correct way to tell a story, but the route to romance and emotional intimacy does typically hit all the levels…eventually.
So, next time you read a romance, have a little fun and see how many of these levels you can pick out and how they set the pace of the novel.
Please be sure to leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment for a chance to win a free copy of my latest release, a humorous superhero romance called Prometheus Unstitched PLUS one other book of your choice from my backlist that includes:
- Soul of the Succubus
- Vixen and the Pea
- All’s Fair in Love and War
- Stockings and Suspenders (anthology)
- Midnight Seduction (anthology)
The hop organizers are also offering THREE grand prizes. By commenting on my blog, you are automatically entered for a chance to win one of these grand prizes:
Thanks for posting this! I love the slow progression through the 12 steps but enjoy when a story jumps a few levels too. My favorite touchpoint is the hand to lower back – very sexy.
Have a great hop, Lila!
How interesting!I think eye to eye are my favorite part. They do say eyes are the windows to the soul 😉
elyzabethmvaley at gmail dot com
I love the twelve steps. I will definitely be checking to see how many of the books I read follow these. Scary thing is I think most do.
kesummer69 at gmail dot com
Those 12 steps are very interesting, and it was almost like a little mini story right there 🙂 Love it!
liz at fictional candy dot com
What a great list, Lila – I’ve made a note of all these! I like the eye to eye – and exchange of glances can say so much!
OOH neat.. I really did enjoy reading your All’s Fair in Love and War .. now I have more to add to my list. Thank you for that.
A lot of people don’t think much about the 12 steps to intimacy, they just write what feels right.
Me, I’m all about structure.
Thanks for the chance to win.
Interesting 12 steps. Thanks for the giveaway
fencingromein at hotmail dot com
Now, that’s a 12-step program that sounds FUN! I always remember reading about the “porn progression” in porn movies, too…
Very interesting the 12 steps, I liked the eye to eye step
Thanks for the giveaway.
skpetal at hotmail dot com
cool post. First time here firstname.lastname@example.org
The 12 steps are awesome! Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoyed your post. It made me smile. I love escaping into a book. What a fun hop! delphinareadstoomuch at yahoo
I really like voice to voice as the first step.
bituin76 AT hotmail DOT com
How very interesting. I think I like the Hand to Head part. It just screams romance…
koonie2888 at yahoo dot com
I love your post!
Thanks so much for the chance to win!
Very interesting- the order totally makes sense if you think about.
mcv111 at hotmail dot com
I was able to hear Linda Howard present this subject at RWA Nationals in 2010 in Orlando. I love the list. For me, romance is all about the trust and respect built between the characters. Since I write BDSM, these elements are very important.
Thank you for participating in the blog hop!
Interesting prespective. I will be watching for these.
Love the post and I’m interested in your books. :0)
Thanks for the giveaway!
Thank you so much for your post and for the chance to win..
Love the steps. Thanks.
Wow, I never realized that before, at least consciously, haha. It makes sense though. 🙂 Thank you for the giveaway and for being part of the hop!
Interesting way to break it down.
Romance is about building relationships 🙂 Fun hop! Love the blog!
Who knew that romance also has a 12 step program. lol My favorite thing about romance is that the little things can mean so much. It isn’t all about the roses & diamonds. Thank you for the giveaway.
That has become one of my fav step programs!!! LOL
thanks for the contest!!
Thanks for being part of the hop
bacchus76 at myself dot com
Loved the list…very insightful! Vixon and the Pea is one of my favorite naughty tales.
Thanks for participating! Really like the hop so far!! I love reading, especially romance. I love the happy ending that is garenteed at the end. My favorite book is Lover Mine by JR Ward! I love John Matthew and Xhex. My favorite romantic moment was when my fiancé asked me to marry him! We meant two years ago right around when summer was ending! I think it is romantic when he brings me flowers because no one else has ever done it! My friend and I went out for our last big night out before classes started again. Thanks so much! Hope everyone else is having a great long weekend!!
great list! LOL
Enjoyed your post! I love escaping into a book, especially a romance! My favorite is Lover Unleashed by J. R. Ward. I love Vishous! He’s my favorite. I love the HEA, the path to it, and a strong alpha hero I can fall in love with.
It was such a fun read! Love the levers you listed 😀
verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com
Great post. Loved the levels. I’ll definitely keep them in mind when reading next.
Oh, I will check out theses steps the next time I read a romance.
booklover0226 at gmail dot com
Thank you for the steps. I love the mask on the top of your website. It’s gorgeous.
doxisrcool at aol dot com
What a great hop! Grand prizes, old friends to visit and new ones to meet… and chances to win at each stop too. I’m in Blog heaven! :-}
I think the “eye to eye” part is my favorite. I love to gaze into his eyes and see his soul.
Thanks for being part of the hop and for the chance to win.
Why I like Romance Novels….The reason I like Romance Novels so much is because it is one place where I can be anywhere like England, Scotland, Rome, Ireland, or anywhere in the US. I can also be in any time like 1200’s Scotland, 1500’s England, 1900’s Chicago. I can be anyone like a princess, a servant, a werewolf, a duchess, a vampire, or a lost soul. But no matter what I get the privilege and the experience to overcome many different obstacles and find love. Let me tell you in this world, and during this time where life can have so many struggles it is great that you can be, have, and do so many things to find love and romance and still be yourself!
Thanks for the awesome hop and giveaways! This is so much fun! Thank you! My favorite thing about romance is the romance. lol I love the characters, the plots, the HEA’s, the love. I love it all!
Love to read romance books because I like to know that at least someone is getting an HEA, even if the characters are only fiction! Thanks for joining the hop and the awesome giveaway!
ehaney578 at aol dot com
Now I’m thinking back on some of the romance books I recently read lol Thanks for being part of the blog hop and for the giveaway!
Thanks tons for the hop! I only read romance. My fav is Lora Leigh! Going to parade Monday with brothers and sisters! Should be FUN!
Clever post! Now you’ve got me asking myself, if I’m skipping stages, is it a deliberate choice? Thanks for being part of the hop…
livrancourt (at)yahoo(dot) com
I dont know if I can be patient enough to go through the 12 steps or allow them to be done, sometimes its best to skip to 12, lol. Thx for giveaway.
blinkysthebest at aol dot com
I loved your post and you are correct about romance novels hitting all 12. Looking forward to getting a chance to read your books.
What a fun posting!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com
12 steps huh? better than wham bam thank you mam!
Thanks for the hop. DebP
Love the 12 steps!
maryjooller [at] yahoo [dot] com
Ha ha from now on I just KNOW I’m going to be looking for the 12 steps in every romance I read! How fun 🙂
Love the 12 steps. I never realized. I will be paying much more attention now during my reading.
bournmelissa at hotmail dot com
I love the 12 steps…much better than just getting down to the nitty gritty!
shermie40 at yahoo dot com
I have never broken out those steps in my mind but looking back, they are there in each book I’ve written. This is a great resource. email@example.com.
Thank you for being part of the blog hop. 🙂
Loved your post and the 12 steps to intimacy!
lindsayavalon (at) gmail (dot) com
Nice post. I like the happily ever after.
Love the levels! Thanks for the great info and giveaway! Haha!
It’s an interesting list – I do wonder how many other authors have applied it to their storylines.
Gack! Email: jochibi AT yahoo DOT com
The twelve steps are very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.
sstrode at scrtc dot com
12 steps huh interesting…
Thanks for being a part of the blog hop and sharing
I love your list of levels. I had to copy and save them. Thanks for being a part of the hop. I hope that you had a great labor day weekend!
jessangil at gmail dot com
Thanks for all the terrific comments. I’m thrilled so many of you found the 12 steps as enlightening as I did.
The winner of my blog hop stop prize, as determined by a random number generator is: Diana Leigh!!
Diana, I will contact you shortly. 🙂