“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:

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:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

SWAG for Grand Prize. Click to enlarge.