Friday, April 6, 2012

Please Welcome our Guest Naomi Rawlings

The Almost Kiss -- How to Tease and Tempt Your Readers without Lip Service

Hi everyone. First off, I want everyone to know I feel completely, utterly cool for the day, since Mary invited me to be on Seekerville. As my friends will attest, I’m a nerd and I don’t feel cool very often. So thanks for having me, Seekerville, and increasing my level of coolness for the day!

After asking me to guest post, Mary suggested I blog on unusual novel settings, since my debut novel is set in revolutionary France. But as I got closer and closer to writing my big, April 6th, get-to-be-on-Seekerville-and-be-cool-for-the-day post, I started thinking about the best part of a novel: KISSING. So I emailed Julie Lessman for a nice, unbiased opinion about my kissing idea, and of course, since it’s Julie Lessman and it involved the word kiss, she said “sounds great!”

I love romance novels and I will unashamedly admit that my favorite part of romance novels is THE KISS. Actually, my favorite part is the three or four kisses, because I feel rather strongly that every romance novel needs at least three kisses to be considered a romance. When I read a novel that’s supposed to be a romance and there’s only one kiss, I feel let down. I mean, what’s the point of a ROMANCE novel when the hero and heroine only kiss once in 300 pages? One kiss per every 100 pages is a much better kiss per pages ratio, to my thinking at least.

There’s only one problem: as the external and internal conflicts of your story progress, your romantic conflict needs to progress as well. So if you use a really good kiss on page 94, what do you do on page 156, when you have that next romantic scene? You could use another kiss, sure. But it’ll need to be different from the first one, lest you cause your readers to roll their eyes and say, “But they already did this once.”

So you’re faced with three choices:

1. You could write “and they kissed until her head was spinning” or some other kiss easily described, single-sentence kiss. These kisses have their places in novels. After all, you don’t want your readers to feel like they’re reading a detailed tongue-sucking novel in which nothing ever happens except, well, tongue sucking.

2. You could put your brain to work and come up with a second original kiss for your novel. (Good for you, if you’re willing to go through all this work for another kiss!)

3. Or you could use an “almost kiss.”

Now that most of you are scrunching your eyebrows and thinking “what’s an almost kiss?” let me explain. It’s when the characters get really close to kissing, but don’t for one reason or another. They hear the wind rushing in the trees, smell the scent of the wild roses they’re standing by, stare at each other’s lips as they inch closer together, but their lips don’t quite meet.

One of the greatest things about an “almost kiss” is that it doesn’t relieve the romantic tension between the hero and heroine. When you have a moment where the characters almost kiss, it teases your reader, giving her more reason to keep reading. In short, it ramps up the tension, rather than ramps it down.

Let me give you a few examples. The first is from Seekerville’s residential kissing expert, Julie Lessman, and the novel she’s currently writing, Love at Any Cost:

He gave her hand a light squeeze. “Well, then, that’s what friends are for.” Gaze fused to hers, he skimmed her knuckles with the pad of his thumb, wanting more than anything to pull her into his arms and whisper his love in her ear. But if he learned anything in law school, it was that timing was key, and Caitlyn McClare was too important, too special—too critical to his happiness—to risk botching it like before. And so he caressed her face with his eyes instead, stroking her cheek, tracing her lips in his mind, loving her vicariously through his thoughts. Until she finally belonged to him. And it was coming. Oh, yes, it was coming …

How about that “almost kiss”? Doesn’t it make you wish they actually would kiss? It creates a perfect romantic moment but it doesn’t relieve the tension between Logan and Cait. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read more of this novel. Because I’m absolutely certain they do kiss eventually. Several times.

Now let’s move on to an excerpt from Heart’s Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes. If you haven’t read this book yet, I strongly recommend it. The romantic tension is nearly palpable throughout the entire novel.

Docherty crouched before Phoebe and nudged her chin up.

For a moment, their faces hovered mere inches apart, close enough for her to feel his warm breath on her lips. Close enough for her to see her reflection in his gray eyes.

“You’re looking better.” That odd tenderness had crept into his voice again, a compassion that belonged in a pastor or friend, not the captain of a privateer who had allowed her to be abducted.

Her insides quivered like a plain of quicksand. She straightened but didn’t look away.

Don’t you just want him to lean forward another inch and kiss her? I sure do! This is a great moment early on in the novel, and it ramps up that tension between the hero and heroine. Makes me want to bring out a fan, or better yet, climb into the book and trade places with the heroine!

For our next excerpt I chose what has to be the best “almost kiss” moment I’ve seen during the past year. If you’ve read The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz, you’ll know exactly which moment I’m talking about:

She dared look up at him, the lace of her bodice rising and falling in a breathless rhythm a mere three inches from the gilt buttons of his Continental coat. He was entirely too close…so close she caught a hint of cherry bounce on his breath. Wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue in an agony of anticipation, she felt one firm hand rest against the warm hollow of her waist and the other enfold her fingers in his own.

With more grace than a man of his stature should possess, he began moving her over the flickering floorboards, their shadows an intimate silhouette on the rough wood walls. In moments, every taut fiber of her being began to soften. At long last she was indeed dancing…and she’d never felt less lame in all her life . . .

Slowly he skimmed his knuckles along the soft oval of her cheek before twining his fingers in the richness of her hair, dislodging some of Bella’s carefully placed pins. At his touch a woozy rush of pleasure overcame the last remnants of her reason and she did what she’d dreamed of doing since the first day she’d met him.

Reaching up, she skimmed the glossy sheen of his hair, starting at his temple and sliding toward his broad back till her fingers found his black silk queue ribbon. In a whirl of wonder and yearning, she pulled it loose. Her reward was a flash of brilliant red falling free about his wide shoulders, softening his intensity yet kindling his need of her instantly.

Oh, Lord in heaven, what have I done?

Wow! I love that ribbon scene, and after reading that scene again, there’s simply nothing more to say. That’s an AMAZING “almost kiss.” So are you understanding how these near-kissing moments can enhance a story?

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Finally, let me give you an “almost kiss” example from my debut novel, Sanctuary for a Lady. This scene takes place after my hero and heroine’s first kiss, but before their second. I originally put a pretty heavy kiss right here, then went back and yanked it. I think you’ll understand why after reading it:

Being this close to her was a mistake. He couldn’t think, could barely breathe. A longing spread through him until his arms ached to hold her and his chest craved the feel of her slender form pressed against him. He clasped her wrist instead. . .

“Unhand me.”

He would, but she was too near. Her cheeks too flushed, her mouth too soft, her eyes too defenseless.

She stopped tugging on her arm, and like a drowning sailor locking his gaze on shore, his eyes fixed on hers. Rain pounded the ground. Wind whipped through trees and tore at their cloaks. Coldness circled them. But neither moved.

His gaze dipped to her mouth, the taste awaiting him there both explosive and sweet. She shifted subtly forward until her breath tickled his lips.

Father, help me! He dropped her wrist as though her skin singed him and took two steps back.

She shivered. “Why?” she asked, looking up at him through innocent, longing-filled eyes. “Why do you keep trying to kiss me?”

“I’m not trying to kiss you. I’m . . .” What? Trying not to kiss her?

Oh goodness, I sigh every time I read that section. I think it’s one of my favorite moments in Sanctuary for a Lady.

Hopefully after reading several “almost kisses” you understand how to use them to bring tension and variety to the romantic moments in your novel.

So for today, I’m wondering how many “almost kisses” your current novel has in it. If you’re answer is none (and you’re writing a romance novel), then go add one. Or two. Or five. And come back and share your “almost kiss” in the comments below. Three people will be drawn for a giveaway of my debut novel, Sanctuary for a Lady.


A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories containing passionate words and powerful journeys.
You can learn more about Naomi on her website:
Or her blog Making Home Work


  1. What a great topic, Naomi. Congratulations on your debut novel.

    I have one almost-kiss in my manuscript. I think you've convinced me to add more. lol

    I'd love to win your book. I hope I'm the first commenter.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Naomi.

    I have an almost-kiss in my wip.

    I also have the coffee pot ready and the timer set.

  3. And she's serious about the "add some kisses" thing, people. She's made me add a kiss in a story before--actually I think I added an almost kiss.

    I must drive you crazy. I have so few kisses in my books, I'm thinking about this new book, and I think you're going to have to wait a whopping 400+ pages for one. Though I think I've written some things that count as almost kisses, though I'm sure I better ramp them up before you yell at me. Can I just claim that I write historicals, instead of romances then? :)

  4. Hi Naomi! I saw your name and topic and I definitely wanted to check it out. I've kind of been on maternity leave from blogs and writing, but I'm starting to miss it (a lot) and your post is giving me a good jump start! : ) I had written in several kissing scenes on my little WIP and tried to change it up each time, but as I was writing this story I read Jane Eyre. I just love the tension in that book! Then I watched the movie and could visualize the tension even more. So now I want to go back and change my kissing scenes and build the tension a lot more. I don't want to make it too easy for my characters to be attracted to one another. I want that powerful, almost magnetic, attraction between the two people yet make it so hard for them to get to that point of making a connection that it'll drive the reader crazy : ). I know that's kind of vague, but I've got some good ideas swirling around that I just need to figure out how to articulate in writing. It's going to be fun once I get to it ; ). Thanks for your post! I'd love a chance to get your sounds great! And congratulations on publishing!

  5. Hey Naomi! You live in one of my favorite places in the world!

    (Actually, the Lake Superior area was my top favorite until we moved to the Black Hills.)

    I use almost-kisses quite a bit in my stories - I love the way they bring the tension just shy of the breaking point. And then when the actual kiss happens, it's so satisfying.

  6. Just re-watched a great almost-kiss between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice... *sigh* :)

    Almost-kisses really are quite powerful in a frustrating, exciting, suspenseful, wonderful way, LOL! Definitely a good thing to remember to incorporate into our romance stories. :)

    Would love a chance to win your book!



  7. Hi Naomi:

    I love to read debut books. Yours is high on my list to read.

    As a man, however, I don’t like ‘almost’ kisses. I don’t enjoy authors who tease me anymore than dates who teased me. I believe in rewarding the reader and not frustrating the poor soul. My rule is kiss earlier than expected and more often than expected. Give them something to talk about. :)

    I see kisses differently. The physical kiss is not the most important thing. The real thrill in a kiss is in what it means. (I see it as part of the ARC.)

    First kiss: excitement. This could lead to something. Should I take the risk? Could she be someone I could love?

    Second kiss: excitement with hope. This could be the one. Is this love? Could I lose my heart?

    Third kiss: excitement with resolution. This is my soulmate. This is the one God wants me to spend eternity with. (This happens just before the black moment.)

    Final kiss: excitement with transcendence. With this kiss we become one. There is no boundary line where I end and she begins. This is the mystic kiss. This kiss is like becoming one with the universe. (This happens after the black moment is overcome and the HEA becomes a reality).

    I see the kiss as a great way to show character growth in a very rewarding way from the reader’s POV.

    Of course, I'm a man and they don’t write romances for men. So I could be all wrong.:(

    What do you think of this view of kisses?


    vmres (at) Swbell (dot) net

  8. Hi, Naomi! I've only skimmed this post because I'm supposed to be sleeping. However, I couldn't help but comment. I LOVE this subject!!! ;)

    The "almost kisses" are my favorite. :) It makes for GREAT tension between hero and heroine. I've got four of them in my story. :) And I think I'm going to turn one of the kisses that just seemed too early into an "almost kiss" scene. He doesn't have to kiss her for her to know he wants to kiss her. ;)

    Can't wait to read the whole post tomorrow and the comments! Goodnight for now.

  9. Naomi, when I saw your topic, I was thrilled because you did the best job of "almost kisses" in your book.

    Folks, Sanctuary is a truly marvelous tale. Unusual setting. Hey, I studied French for seven years as well as French history and Naomi taught me things I didn't know. Fantastic romance and lovely characters.

    But the ending, ah, the ending! Truly marvelous tale with events I didn't see coming.

    Marvelous. How many more times can I say it.

    No need to put me in the drawing. Naomi, the book is on my keeper shelf.

    Peace, Julie who is off to write some almost kisses.

  10. Well, what a subject and funny that I just read one of your 'almost kisses' last night, Naomi!

    I also agree on your vote for 'best almost-kiss' . the Colonel's Lady. sigh.

    I'm glad you chose kissing over setting, though I'm very happy that revolutionary France has widened the horizons at LIH. Great job. Your writing is beautiful and everyone should hop on out and grab SANCTUARY FOR A LADY asap!

  11. Oh my goodness, I absolutely LOVE almost kisses! They are "almost" better than a real kiss!!! I have one in my first manuscript, and if I have to share it to get entered for a chance at your book (with almost kisses!!!!) then I will share. But I will say that I am definitely going to get my hands on your book, no matter what!

    Here goes...(and it's a medieval),

    “Will you be at supper, my lord?” Jocelyn bit her lip, knowing that she begged. He had not taken supper in the hall the past few days and she wanted him to know she had noticed the slight.

    Lifting her down from the horse, he paused, holding her close, not releasing his grip on her waist. “Do you want me there?”

    She glanced away from his questioning gaze, distracted by the warmth of his hands. “You need not come if you find it tedious.”

    Malcolm caught her face with his hand and turned it toward his own. Her breath caught as he leaned down, his lips hovering over hers. Heart hammering in her chest, Jocelyn struggled for breath, waiting for the warmth of his lips upon hers. His roughened cheek brushed hers as those lips, which should have claimed her own, whispered in her ear instead. “You, my lady, are anything but tedious.”

    Jocelyn swallowed hard, aching for his warm touch when he dropped his hands, stepped back, and gave her a small bow.

    “I thank you for a most enjoyable ride,” he said, leaving her in the hands of his capable guardsman.

    Jocelyn took a deep breath and watched Malcolm’s tall, broad form walk purposefully down the bailey. My, but he muddled her head into confusion. Just days ago she had fought against his kiss and yet today, well, today she was of a mind to be kissed senseless.

    Mmmm, don't we all want to be kissed senseless at some point?

  12. Cathy, as far as I'm concerned, it's hard to have too many kisses or near kisses in a manuscript! And thanks for your enthusiasm over being the first commenter. :-)

  13. Helen, you're like me, setting the timer on the coffee pot and getting up early. I get up at 5:00 am to write. I know it sounds crazy, but with two little boys who wake up at 7:00, the early mornings are my best writing time.

  14. No, Melissa, if the main characters fall in love at the end of your novel, it's a romance. And yes, you do endeavor to write kiss-less romances at times, which is why you keep me around as your crit partner, to balance things out.

    And for the record, that kiss I "made" you add turned out pretty good when all was said and done! :-)

  15. Travelingstacy! It's so great to see you come out of maternity leave for a day and hang out on Seekerville! I understand all about those maternity leaves for writers. I took one a couple years back, and I actually, don't think I could have written two competent sentences together the entire time I was pregnant. Gina Welborn over at Inkwell Inspirations has a theory about pregnancy temporarily frying writers' brain cells, and I have to agree. Of course, we get those brain cells back after our babies are born. We wouldn't want to be walking around completely braincell-less for the rest of our lives!

    Anyway, about kisses, I put a lot of work into mine and change them up every time. I'd rather have two awesome kisses than three or four quick, one sentence ones. But that's ME. Other authors use those one sentence kisses all the time and do a great job with them.

    I also think there needs to be a balance between ramping up that romantic tension with "almost kisses" and that release of tension with a satisfying, fulfilling kiss. So try mixing it up and varying things a bit. Sanctuary for a Lady actually has five kisses in it and two almost kisses, to give you an idea.

    And good luck with those kisses and almost kisses!

  16. Jan, how neat that you're familiar with my little world and love it. I have to admit that while this region is beautiful, it's not toured very heavily. When I tell people where I live, I don't think very many of them actually understand what living near Lake Superior involves.

    I'm glad you enjoy the Black Hills. I've driven through them before, but that was nearly a decade ago. It would be great to go back.

    And good job with all your almost kisses!

  17. Oh Amber, I'm definitely with you in sighing over that near kiss between Darcy and Elizabeth. Got to love that version of P&P!

  18. I'm not writing a romance (though it has romantic elements!) - but you may have convinced me to add one anyway (LOL or switch genres!).
    SUPER post!

  19. Naomi,
    This post was oh so timely!! In fact you may have saved me from a case of writers block. :)

    My characters have kissed once about forty pages back and I think it’s time for an almost kiss, thanks to your great examples.:) I LOVED that scene from Sanctuary for a Lady and of course the scene from Laura’s The Colonel’s Lady.

    Great post! I’m so excited you’re on Seekerville!

  20. Wow Vince! You've obviously put a lot of time and thought into kisses, giving them an ARC and everything. Good for you.

    Personally, I'm a rather emotional writer. I tend to write scenes and kisses and almost kisses in a way that maximizes the emotional tension of the moment, rather than looking at how they fit into minor ARCs of the story. Sometimes this habit gets me into trouble with plotting, so it has it's downsides, to be sure.

    In general, I see the progression your going for and I think it could work very well for some authors. I, personally, could never try to assign arcs to my kisses. I think they'd end up tangled messes rather than meaningful moments if I attempted it.

    But I will say that yes, that romantic tension needs to have it's fulfillment. If a writer did four almost kisses throughout the course of a story and one final kiss at the end, then I'd be frustrated because there wouldn't be enough of an outlet for all that emotional tension, to my way of thinking.

    That almost kiss I shared as an example actually takes place after my characters' first kiss, but before the second. Unlike you, I don't usually put light, tempting kisses into my stories. The first time my characters kiss, their entire world changes, as does their relationship and their views of each other.

    Ultimately, I think every author needs to find what works best for him or her. Your kissing arc is probably perfect for you, and might well be helpful to some of the other writers here. So thanks for sharing it.

    And now that I've talked about kisses vs. almost kisses (which I didn't get into super deep for fear my Seekerville post would go WAY TOO LONG) I've got a hankering to share my first kiss with everyone. Maybe I'll post that as a comment in a couple more hours. ;-)

  21. Sure Natalie, play around with that first kiss some, and change it into an almost kiss if that will work best. I've actually got FIVE kisses in Sanctuary for a Lady, and TWO almost kisses. That's what worked best in the book.

    Just be sure that you actually relieve some of that romantic tension by having the characters kiss. You don't want to frustrate your readers in the opposite direction by never giving any outlet for all those swelling emotions.

    And good luck with it!

  22. Aw, thanks for the shout out, Julie! I'm glad you enjoyed my book, and yes, I did tend to pack a lot into those almost kisses in Sanctuary for a Lady. Gotta love 'em!

  23. Great post today, Naomi--and great examples! I am re-writing my novel, so at the moment, there are no kisses, or almost kisses. But that will change. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas for writing the "almost kiss."

    Rushing today; hoping to come back later and read comments.

  24. Thanks for stopping by, Deb! And I'm so glad you liked my "almost kiss" last night. I'm assuming you read the almost kiss near the beginning of the novel. He he he. Just wait until you get the to the first kiss. That one's a whopper. ;-)

  25. Oh Sherrinda, we definitely all want to be kissed senseless at some point! What a great almost kiss! Someone can lift me down from a horse and let his lips hover over mine anytime. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Oh Joane, I'm a bad person to mention switching genres too. My mind tends to think. "Genres? What do you mean genreS with an S at the end? Isn't romance the only genre out there?"

    I know, I know, it's a rather closed-minded way to think, and I keep trying to expand my horizons and read other genres, but it doesn't work. I'll start some suspense book or literary fiction book even a mainstream novel telling myself I need to be aware of other market trends besides romance. But I never end up finishing the book, because a quarter of the way through, I get distracted by the latest romance novel by some best selling author.

    Sad, I know, but true. I recently had to read a Steinbeck novel for my book club. The experience almost killed me. I only made it half way through the novel, and I ran back to a romance novel the second I was done with that wretched non-romance book.

  27. Glad to help with your case of writers block, Amanda. It's hard to infuse a lot of romantic tension into a novel, and keep it varied so that the reader doesn't get bored.

    Good luck with the soon-to-be almost kiss! I think you should come back and share it with us after it's written. :-)

  28. A novel without any kisses or almost kisses? Do those even exist?

    Kidding, and good luck with adding some romantic tension to your novel, Jeanne.

  29. Ah, the almost kiss!!! Love it. Welcome to Seekerville, Naomi!

  30. Oh I LOVE this post and I love those almost kisses too!

    Here's one from my current WIP....

    On impulse, Melena hugged him. “Thank you, Kidd.”
    The moment shifted. He slid his arms around her waist, turned his head to where their lips were a breath apart. His eyes softened, darkened.
    A tremble skittered along her spine. Melena gasped and took a step back before he could kiss her.

    And another from another WIP....

    He risked one touch and ran his hand over her hair in a subtle caress. A shiver vibrated through him at the contact and reminded him of when he was not a preacher, but a mere man.

    Hope you all have a BLESSED weekend!


  31. Love the post, Naomi!! There's a lot I want to comment on here, but as usual, pressed for time to get to the day job!!

    I do know the excerpts you shared were awesome and I'll be hunting down those books. I'm already familiar with Julie's kissing scenes (which are as rewarding and tension filled as the almost-kisses!), and Laura Frantz has been on "my list" for almost a year!

    I wrote this "almost kiss" last week, I think. It's still in rough form!

    Isabelle stepped forward, not more than a foot separating her from the man whose motives she so short a time ago questioned. Cautious in her movement, she moved her hand to grip the rifle locked in Beau’s.

    Slowly, she saw the blood shade his knuckles again before he let go in entirety. The rifle was heavy in Isabelle’s hold but she held it still, unable to move back from this man’s powerful presence. The mussed hair surrounding his ear nipped at her fingertips. His discolored lips summoned her own. An ache of longing and guilt warred within her where she saw the faces of two men materialize. The one before her, and the husband she had lost. A helpless desire washed over her, devoured her, until she almost reached up to—

    The approach of footsteps allowed Isabelle to step back into the interior, the open door a strange barrier now between the two.

    Please enter me in the drawing. I'll be back to comment more tonight! : )


  32. I love almost-kisses!!! My second MS has at least *two* almost-kisses in it (which come after the first kiss), and they definitely increase the tingly tension and push-pull of the romance.

    And their actual first kiss is one of those I-just-did-what? kisses, which was my hands-down favorite scene to write. :D

    Thanks for some great insight! And thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to read your book. Congrats and best wishes. :)

  33. Loved your post.

    I agree at least 3 kisses.

    My WIP is so new I don't have a kiss yet.

    I'm struggling so much with a plot point right now, I even talked to my husband about it last night and he gave me the "deer in the headlights" look. Poor guy.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  34. HI NAOMI!!!!!
    Thanks for being on Seekerville!
    Congratulations on your first release!

  35. I was excited to read your book when I met you at the national ACFW conference last fall-- and now I really can't wait to read it!!! I love reading (and writing) almost kisses. ;)

  36. Oh Pamela, those both look good, girl! Love the one where he runs his hand over her hair. And whats wrong with a preacher kissing someone, anyway? My hubby's a preacher, and he kisses me. :-)

  37. Thanks for sharing, Whitney! Gotta love a kiss over a gun. Though Beau doesn't exactly seem in the best of health, poor man.

    And since the heroine in Sanctuary for a Lady is named Isabelle, you have to know I LOVE the name for your character!

  38. Emily, I love those "I just did what???" kisses. That's the way my first one is too. Maybe those kind of kisses lead more toward the almost kissing follow ups. Like, now that both characters know things will explode if they kiss, they're more leery to do so. Well, it's something to ponder, at least.

  39. Morning Naomi and welcome to Seekerville. And you've come with such a fun topic. Aaahh, that almost kiss.

    I personally love them. Although Vince has a point. I love an almost kiss, but I do want real ones in the plot as well.

    Congratulations on your debut novel. What a treat to celebrate with you.

    Have a fun day.

  40. Ah Jackie, we were all at that stage of writing once. Keep hashing out that plot, get some advice from others (though heaven knows I am NOT the one to give you plotting advice. Maybe you need to talk to Vince?). I can't even recommend a good plotting book for you. Maybe someone else has some suggestions for Jackie?

    As much as I love a good kiss, or almost kiss, a solid plot will sell your novel. And sadly, while a good kiss will help your novel, it won't be a main point in selling it.

  41. Mary, it's fun to be here. You know, I was looking at Genesis stuff last night, and I had fond memories of you. :-)

  42. Thanks for stopping by Dawn! I Remember you from ACFW as well. How's your writing coming?

  43. Thanks for the welcome, Sandra! And don't I know it can be hard to find the balance between almost kiss and too much kiss and not enough of either. But honestly, if there's something to puzzle over when writing a novel, I'd much rather it be kissing than anything else. :-)

  44. I love almost kisses. Here is one I wrote during Speedbo(rough draft)

    The light turned green and her head lolled against the seat. Did God love her enough to answer her prayers? She’d cried countless tears and pleaded for someone to care. She stared at Cole’s profile. Her fingers itched to touch his square jaw. How was that possible? She hated men. Feeding them the poison she cooked was her only chance at revenge. She hated their touch. She hated their crude words, their foul bodies, their wicked thoughts.
    But Cole was different. The corner of his lip lifted and she knew he felt her inspection. One hand left the steering wheel and rested on the seat between them. His tan forearms held power. His fingers spread, then clenched into a fist and finally relaxed. Without looking at his face, she placed her small pale hand beside his. They were almost touching. Her mouth dried and she swallowed against her parched throat. The contrast was startling. His strong; hers weak. His large; hers small. She needed a manicure. The tips of her fingers folded and hid from view.
    His pinkie finger extended toward her, sending her heartbeat into spasms. Her breath quickened as his weakest member traced the outline of her knuckle. Hooking around hers, he finger held her tight, safe. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the warmth of his touch. Her pulse slowed with each passing moment, but her heartbeat echoed in her ears. He rolled his palm under hers. She froze. The hollow cavity in her chest ached. Tingles spread up her arm as his fingers entwined with hers. Her hand became weightless. The shell around her heart shattered with a whisper of his lips as his breath danced across the back of her hand.
    A whimper escaped her and he lowered their clasped hands to the soft leather.
    Cindy opened her eyes and shook off the intimate feeling. “Cole?” Her voice was too low. Raspy.
    “I know. I can’t explain it either.” He turned right on Houston Street. The brief dream shattered. “Which house?”
    She couldn’t look at the censor that was sure to be in his eyes. Shame of her childhood home had her pulling out of his grip. “The green one.”

    Enter me in the drawing for you book. bridgetthenson (at) millry (dot) net

  45. True Naomi! But this preacher is an ex-bull rider so he's gotta be careful not to be lured into the flesh -- besides he just met her the night before LOL!


  46. Bridgett,

    Love that near kiss! Thanks for sharing.

  47. Pamela,

    True, true. You've got to have something keeping your H/H apart, and it sounds live you've got a lot for them to overcome. And I gotta admit I like the idea of a bull-rider turned preacher!

  48. I'm going to have to duck away from you wonderful Seekerville readers for a couple hours. Got to go look at a pole barn for sale. Don't suppose any of you want to come to northern Michigan and help us move it if we decide to buy it?

  49. No more entering the Genesis for you, Naomi. :)

  50. NAOMI!!! Love, love, LOVE this post, my friend!!

    You said: "So I emailed Julie Lessman for a nice, unbiased opinion about my kissing idea ..."
    LOL ... "Unbiased"???? On KISSES???
    Yeah, right. :)

    Although I am more of a full-fledge kiss type of gal (okay, okay, so I didn't get too much love as a kid and having a starving need for affection!!), I will admit that the almost kiss is a nice idea IF used sparingly. :)

    I remember how proud I felt of myself when I wrote A Hope Undaunted and had scene where Luke has to carry Katie home and put her in bed before her parents come home because somebody spiked her drink at a speakeasy. Here he is in her bedroom, helping her undress (with his back turned, I might add), then tucks her in. In natural Julie Lessman instinct, it seemed the perfect place for a kiss, but something told me it would be more powerful without it, so I didn't put one in. And I gotta admit, it was a wonderful feeling ... like I accomplished something huge for that love-starved little girl I used to be! ;)

    Thanks for guest blogging, Naomi! Soooo looking forward to reading your book!!


    As a man, however, I don’t like ‘almost’ kisses. I don’t enjoy authors who tease me anymore than dates who teased me. I believe in rewarding the reader and not frustrating the poor soul. My rule is kiss earlier than expected and more often than expected. Give them something to talk about. :)

    Ah, VINCENT!!! Definitely my kind of guy!! No, men don't like the tease, but women definitely do, so I think you and I would be outvoted on this one, my friend. And, LOL, YES ... I believe in "rewarding"the reader as well, although I'm also pretty high on "frustrating the poor souls" as well ... ;)

    SHERRINDA: WOWZERS, girlfriend, that scene is a true pulse trigger, my friend. Whew! I have it read it before, but could literally read it over and over and over ...

    WHITNEY: WHOA, GIRL, GREAT almost kiss!! Especially love your creativity with such lines as:
    "Slowly, she saw the blood shade his knuckles again before he let go in entirety." WOW, it is SO hard to describe body reactions in a new way, but that was brilliant because that's exactly what happens when a white-knuckled grip loosens ... the blood rushes back. VERY cool!!

    PAM!!! LOVE those almost kisses ... short and sweet, yet SO highly effective!! And, as I recall quite well, you're also PRETTY darn good at the actual thing as well, girlfriend.


  52. This is a great topic Naomi! My story has an almost kiss but after reading your examples I see I need to work on it some more.

    Your book sounds really good!

  53. I needed this so much. For someone who writes romance, I don't put a lot of thought into my kissing scenes.

    I'm going back TODAY and check on the kissing my gals and girls are doing.

    Oh, I LOVE your bookcover. I'll definitely get your book.


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  56. Thanks Julie -- coming from the "kissing queen" this is a great compliment LOL!

    Be Blessed ALL!

  57. Naomi, CONGRATS!!! Love this near-kiss post and all the thought and sighs it brings;) I'm into your wonderful book and can't wait to return as soon as I get these pages off my desk. SOON! Your cover is a favorite and your writing - oh what can I say except we'll be reading your books for years to come!! Thanks so much for including TCL and these other scenes here and making my heart beat a little faster. You're the best!

  58. Welcome to Seekerville, Naomi! Congratulations on the sale of your first book!!!

    Great topic. I'm going to make sure I add the 'almost kiss' to my next story. Maybe several. I never really thought about this before.

  59. One thing I forgot to say in my comment last night - the almost kiss is a wonderful chance to show the hero for the wonderful man he really is.

    No matter what kind of cad he used to be, if he can restrain himself to be content with an almost kiss (for now!), then he's showing that heroic quality women can't help falling for: self-denial when it comes to doing the right thing.

  60. Ahh... I'm on a different computer, but I had to check in on all these NEAR KISSES!! There's a lot of love going on in Seekerville today. ; )

    JULIE, I LOVE that scene in A Hope Undaunted, which remains my favorite book of yours. I was thinking about Luke and Katie's first kiss. I loved it because it was fresh, and emotion-packed, and didn't even make me THINK about rolling my eyes. Thanks for the kind words on my own near-kiss scene. It's a roughy (hey, I like that word!), so hopefully it will get better and better.

    Back later!


  61. What a great topic for a blog!!! I'm loving all the near kiss examples! Naomi, congratulations on your debut novel and guess what? I just ordered it so I should get it in my hot little hands soon and now I can't wait to read it!!!!!!!!!!

    I love almost kisses and actual kisses liberally dotted throughout a book. :-) Just finished reading Arms of Love by Kelly Long and oh-my-goodness but she does the almost kiss supremely well!

    I don't have any examples of near kisses yet as I'm stilling moving forward on a rough draft hanging over from Speedbo, but I'll be sure to include plenty of 'em!

  62. Oh my! I need a fan! All of those kissing scenes in one place!
    Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Naomi! Congrats on your book. It sounds wonderful!
    I've also enjoyed everyone's comments. I really like Vince's idea of kisses having an arc too. So maybe the "near kiss" should be part of that arc too? I guess it would depend on the characters and setting.
    I don't have a kissing scene to share, but I'll be back to read everyone else’s! Come on, let's see the rest of the Seekerville Smooches!

  63. I love the almost-kiss. Makes the real deal kiss in the novel even more explosive when it happens. :)

    Congratulations on your debut novel, Naomi!

  64. Great article, Naomi. I felt sooooo cool the day I was on Seekerville too, so I had to stop by and say hi.

    My latest novel has less kissing than my first two. It's a lost love rekindled kind of book. So there's a steamy kiss in the prologue. A sort of desperate kiss halfway through. And then some very tender kissing toward the end. And now that I think of it, I didn't really use the "almost" kiss in this one. There's a lot touching and tension while they're dancing, which is a big element in the book, but his parents are always looking on, so you know they won't actually kiss. Fun topic.

    In another novel I have an Islamic character, so there's a lot of "almost" kissing in that book.

  65. NAOMI, congrats on your debut! Hope the pole barn is exactly what you want for less than you want to spend =) A fallen tree crashed through the roof of my horses lean-to shed recently because of the drought here in Texas, but thankfully she wasn't in it when it happened!
    WHITNEY, when do I get to read that??? ;-)
    And BRIDGETT? One word. WOW! =)
    DINA, I enjoyed Dance of the Dandelion so much I can't wait to see what's next from you.

    I've already shared a "kiss that isn't a kiss" here in Seekerville, but here's my almost kiss (and the only one in this MS). The hero and heroine have three kisses, and she and her fiance have two (that makes more sense in the context of the story, LOL). I count this as a kiss because they "kiss" in the dialogue when he declares himself. At least I think so. =)

    For context, she is blind, he is her seeing-eye slave, and she's tried to kiss him once before to "learn how", and that didn't go very well for either of them.

    Her grip was firm, too firm and when she released him at her door, the finger marks on his arm went from white to red as the blood returned. She turned and before he could ask if he should send Naomi, she put a hand to her hip and grew an inch taller as he watched.
    “Whatever I lack in your sight that makes me worthy of a single kiss, I possess in quantity for Tiberius. I only tell you so you won’t have to worry I’ll ever turn to you that way again. I’m sure this comes as a great relief for you.”
    “It does.”
    Was the sheen in her eyes the flicker of the lamps or… tears? He swallowed and stared at her trembling lips. He wanted to taste her mouth and summon the passion he knew resided there—more than he wanted his own freedom. One small step backward did nothing to temper his desire.
    They were tears, gathering like a filling fountain to fall any moment. “Then for the sake of my soon to be husband, I’m relieved to know exactly how much you don’t want me.”
    She moved to shut the door in his face, but his hand arrested the swing, his palm bracing the wood.
    Her face turned on his in a second. “How dare you.”
    She tried to shut the door again, but he held fast. “You think I don’t want you?”
    “What? Tell the truth? That I’m in agony. That I want you the way a man dying of thirst adrift on the ocean wants water, surrounded every moment by the very thing he needs and can’t have. Do you think I can watch you day in and day out learn and grow, embrace a resolute strength that runs as deep as your wisdom and compassion, and not want you?”
    Understanding dawned in her expression as clear as the rising moon on a cloudless night. “Then why did I have to force you to kiss me?”
    “Because if I hadn’t resisted, I’d have wanted so much more than that. You would have had to force me to stop.” He rubbed at the ache in his stomach. Only the truth would make her understand. “And I don’t know that I would have.”

  66. Hmmm, seems like I need to add an almost-kiss to my novel. ;-)

    Great post all the way around, makes me more eager to get your book off my shelf, Naomi. :)

    *not an entry*

  67. Hey all. I promise to come back and comment on the almost kiss later, but I need to ask my Seeker buddies just to whisper a little prayer for me.

    Was diagnosed with a severe sinus infection yesterday but half of my face isn't working right. Can't smile. Can't drink or eat right etc. I'm in between docs as mine is moving [her last day was yesterday] and my appt with me new doc isn't until June. So calling the new doc and the urgent care and trying to get someone to help me figure out what's going on.

    Thanks friends. You can't know how much I appreciate it.

  68. Naomi, how fun to have you here and congrats on your debut novel!

    I love almost kisses. And I love kisses. And I love conflict that is deep enough to make the reader realize there's no way out for this couple.

    They shouldn't/couldn't/wouldn't end up together.

    And then they do, but not by flimsy means, but soul-stirring Oh-my-gosh-I-totally-get-this reckoning...

    And I love that beauty is truly in the eye of the reader! That makes room for a wide variety of authors, and what a blessing that is.

    Hey, it's Good Friday... fasting, abstaining.... But I did bring along a tray full of fried fish sandwiches, with lettuce and tartar sauce, on so-soft-you'll-love-them rolls! Catfish for you Southerners!

    Bless us on this sacred remembrance. From the greatest harm rose the greatest good.

    I just love that Jesus!

  69. Oh, Vince. I'm totally with you on this.



    Only another reason to love you, Dude.

  70. Ah, Erica, good point.

    And that's true. Mostly.

    Mary gets 'em kissing a lot quicker than some of us though, and since she's got a gazillion and two fans, she must be doing something right.

    I mean they're generally married and conjugal by page 27....

    So she lets them iron out the wrinkles after the fact. And that's so fun and diverse because most of us don't do that.

    Naomi I agree that one kiss per book causes me to grab the anti-wrinkle cream.

    And that stuff's pricey.

    But I love humor in a book, too, so when books are romantic but dry, I tend to shrug them off.

    If a guy can't make me laugh out loud, he's so not worth it.

    That may or may not be my age showing, LOL!

  71. What a great topic, Naomi, and so much fun to read everyone's examples of the tension-inducing "almost kiss!"

    I have two "almost kisses" in my novel, but it's YA, and not a full-on romance. Since the two MCs are teenagers, I didn't want to amp up the tension TOO much, but their first kiss is definitely worth it. Plus, its the first kiss (as in, ever!) for BOTH of them, so I had to play that up delicately without making it as awkward as teenage first kisses can be.

    In fact, after the characters go on their first date, the guy debates about giving her a kiss goodnight but he's too shy. They have a moment, but he pulls back. The next day, the girl moans to her friends that she wishes he had. Oh, the teenage drama!

  72. Naomi, welcome! I'm so glad you're hanging out with us today! Great post. I LOVE near kisses!! Love to torture the reader. :)

    One of my books (can't remember which right now) had a few near kisses. I had a reader write to me and tell me she was about to scream each time because she thought they'd NEVER kiss! LOL I loved that reader letter. :)

  73. Nancy, thanks so much. I recognized your face right away from goodreads :)

  74. Hi, Naomi! Welcome to Seekerville. I totally understand about the being cool for a day!

    Here's my sample, though I may have cheated a little. There is an almost kiss followed by a kiss that's not A KISS! Finding Beth... Here goes:

    He smiled down at her after he started the truck, sending her heart into a happy dance. He put his arm across the back seat as he craned his neck to back out of the parking spot. Disappointment nipped at her when he pulled his arm away to put the truck in drive. Unease crept through her. What was wrong with her?

    Lord, You and I know I'm going to break up with Kyle, but until I do so, I still have a certain obligation to him. Don’t I? She glanced at her bare hand. Guilt niggled at her, weighting her heart. She sighed. Where had that wonderful peace she felt at the end of the sermon vanish to?

    "Hey. Where’s that pretty smile of yours? Are you upset with me for dragging you out of there?"

    She turned to face him. His close proximity unsettled her and she swallowed hard. "No. Not at all. It… it's just… I'm fine."

    "Alright. If you're sure." He reached over and took her hand for a moment, giving it a comforting squeeze. "I’m a good listener if you need to talk."

    Smiling up at him, her heart unknotted and warmth spread through her like honey. Her gaze traced every inch of his handsome face before returning to his deep blue eyes. The heat simmering in them startled her. It was a good thing the traffic light was red or they might have ended up in the ditch.

    "Thank you." She spoke just above a whisper.

    As his gaze caressed her face, her heart rate increased - especially when it stopped at her lips. When a horn blared from behind, heat crept up his neck and he cleared his throat.
    "Guess I'd better get back to driving."

    The huskiness of his voice sent shivers through her, leaving a longing for things she couldn't define. She never experienced such a myriad of emotions with Kyle - or anybody for that matter. It confused her.

    She really should put some space between them, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She wanted… needed to be close to him. The reason escaped her, but the need remained...

    Adam shut off the engine and sat a moment lost in thought. Tension mounted. What could he be thinking? Taking in his serious expression, she didn't move. She held her breath and waited.

    Finally, he turned to face her and laid his arm across the back of the seat. His gaze swept over her face.

    A sudden raging desire to be kissed expanded in her chest. Never in her life had she experienced such a thing. Not even with Kyle. But now… with Adam… it was different. Boy, was it different. Dizziness swept over her and she forced her lungs to breath.

    As if he read her mind, the simmering in his eyes flickered to a blaze. As he raised his other hand, a thrill swept through her settling in the pit of her stomach. He trailed her jaw with his fingertips and everything around her spun out of existence.
    Still, he didn't kiss her.
    Longing climbed to a consuming force. What is wrong with me?

    His voice filtered low and tender through her brain. "We better get inside. Mom and Pastor Jack will be here soon." Yet, he didn't move. Neither did she.

    "Beth… I…" Sighing, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her into a gentle hug. He planted a quick chaste kiss on her temple, then opened the door to step out. "Come on." Reaching for her waist, he gently lifted her out and set her feet on the ground.

    Her legs like rubber would have collapse under her, but she forced them to hold. In fact, she couldn't move at all. She stood there like an idiot, staring into his face.

    A knowing smile lifted one corner of his mouth. His eyes danced. Taking her hand, he pulled her away from the cab and shut the door.

  75. PS - Please include me in the drawing! :D

  76. PSS - LOVED this post, BTW! You are totally cool! :D

  77. Vince, I'm with you! My "almost kiss" is there for good reason, though. They're practically strangers still and it wouldn't be believable. However, I did compromise with the kiss that isn't A KISS.

  78. Congratulations on your debut, Naomi.

    I love this! The almost-kiss. Nice way to build and maintain tension. Always drives me crazy.

  79. Sherrinda, LOVE IT!!! And, yes, I'd like to be kissed senseless. :)

  80. Oh, Bridgett! I want to read this story!!! Wow!

  81. Congratulations on your debut novel. How exciting. And how great to read the examples of almost kisses. Without that buildup of awareness and tension, kisses don't come off as meaningful. So, I love to see writers postpone the actual kiss as long as possible. :-)

    I just wish Hollywood would use more almost kisses.


  82. Oh my goodness!!! You all had quite the party while I was out pole-barn scrounging. Sadly, my husband and I decided not to purchase the pole barn. One of those situations where the amount of work involved in moving it and making it look nice would be so great that it would completely offset the price. Better to just pay for a kit from Menards or the like, which means we'll probably wait until next summer to do it.

    Sigh . . . Maybe one day we'll have a building where we can store all the stuff laying around our yard. I keep hoping, at least.

  83. Julie, I so remember that scene in A Hope Undaunted, and honestly, it's probably my favorite scene of the book. Definitely more powerful without the kiss. :-)

  84. You know, Vince, when I first emailed Julie and asked if she would give me an almost kiss excerpt, she said something like, "An almost kiss? You mean like a scene where my characters want to kiss but DON'T? I don't think I have any of those."

    And Julie, I just want to say that I appreciate that little romantic heart of yours!

  85. Jamie and Connie, I'm so glad my post was helpful! Keep up the hard work!

  86. Laura, I feel like we should be thanking you for writing that excellent scene in Colonel's Lady! I really appreciate your sharing it with us. And I'm so glad you're enjoying my book. It's always encouraging to hear that!

  87. Thanks for the support Cara. And you know, I don't think a person can think too much about kisses and near kisses. Just my opinion, of course. :-)

  88. Oh Jan! Brilliant point about an almost kiss showing another dimension of the hero, and making him seem like more of a gentleman than a rake. :-) (Of course, those rakes are fun to write about too!)

  89. Kav!!!!! You ordered my book? Really???? A debut author can't hear those words enough. I hope you enjoy every word, and I think I already mentioned that there are FIVE kisses in that story. :-)

    I'll have to check out Arms of Love. I haven't read it yet.

  90. Hi Naomi,
    I like when the actual kiss is postponed. It keeps me turning the pages.
    Best wishes on your debut novel. You are a wonderful writer.

  91. Rebecca, I think you could probably put kisses and near kisses into an arc as Vince suggested. But I think the most important thing is to find what works best for you and then use it. Good luck!

  92. She's stuck in a tree trying to rescue her kitten when Wyatt walks by.

    Surprised by Sarah:

    "I’m not really concerned about the ferocious little beast. Are you ok, Sarah? Did you get hurt?"

    She continued peering into the tree where Muffin disappeared. "He's not ferocious. He's usually very gentle. He's just scared. It's been a very upsetting day for him. But, yes, I'm fine."

    "Well at least one of us is." His anxiety eased, but he still wanted to help her up and see for himself. Not to mention his tailbone was screaming.

    She swung her gaze to his face, concern and panic evident in her puckered brow. "I'm so sorry! Oh, Wyatt… you're hurt! How stupid of me to be more concerned about Muffin than you! What can I do to help? Is it your head?" She started examining his head for injuries.

    His heart rate doubled and his eyes slid shut at the gentle exploration of her delicate hands. He forced his eyes open to tell her he was okay. Finding her face only inches from his mesmerized him. You could start by kissing me. He cleared his throat. "Uh… well… maybe you could start by getting off me."

    Her satiny white cheeks bloomed in a gorgeous fiery rose. "O-of course. I'm so sorry. What must you think of me?"

    Sarah rolled off him before he could blink and he itched to tug her back and hold her close. He shook his head. What was wrong with him? He watched as she struggle to her feet and held out a hand to help him up.

    Waving her away, he gingerly pulled himself to his feet. "That's alright… thanks anyway." His tail bone still screamed from landing on a root, but he wasn't about to tell her that. "I'm more concerned about you. Did you hurt your leg?"

    Peering into her liquid pools of sky, his breath hitched in his chest. Why had he never noticed Sarah Parker’s beauty? Her lily white complexion was flawless. Her blush natural. Her blond hair hung in silken strands around her pixie face. But it wasn’t just outward beauty. Her beauty went soul deep. She was so different from the women he met in the corporate world. Or so she seemed.

    As is sensing his scrutiny, the rose of her cheeks grew deeper. "I'm fine, thanks. Um… would you like t-to sit and have a glass of sweet tea?"

    "There's nothing I'd like better, Sarah, but I was just on my way to meet with a client."

    Sarah's eyes grew large. "Oh, Wyatt!" Covering her face with her hands, she said, "I'm so sorry. Just look what I've done to you. You can't meet a client looking like that."

    Dread crept up his spine as he looked himself over and saw stains of mud and grass all over his suit. Plastering on his most convincing smile, he plucked a leaf off his leg and said, "That's okay. I left some of my papers at home. I was on my way to pick them up when I heard you calling. I'll just change while I’m there."

    A giggle erupted from her as she stepped closer and reached to pull a leaf from his hair. "You may need a shower, while you're at it. I'm sorry to cause you so much trouble."

    She stood so close he caught a whiff of her powdery fresh scent, nearly undoing him. Without thinking he reached to brush a strand of hair out of her face. His voice grew low and husky. "Yes… well, I'm not. It was worth the trouble."

    Heat crept up the back of his neck. He hadn't meant to speak his thoughts. But rather than stepping away, Sarah froze and stared wide-eyed into his. Feeling an overwhelming desire to wrap his arms around her and kiss her until her toes curled, he cleared his throat and tapped her on the nose.
    "Guess I'd better go or I'll be late for that appointment." His voice still husky, he cleared his throat. Backing away slowly, he sent her a wobbly wave. "I'll see you later, okay." He turned and strode down the side walk.

  93. Thanks for stopping by, Dina. Being on Seekerville definitely makes a person feel cool, and if I'm not mistaking, a LOT of our commenters have been on here at one point or another (like Erica and Amanda and Laura, etc.) and probably know the feeling. :-)

    You know I'm currently finishing up a Gilded Age novel, and it's a lot harder to finagle a kiss out of my hero and heroine with all those societal restrictions and the need for chaperones and what not. The amount of social freedom that I was allowed with my French Revolution setting really let me create a lot of romantic moments. I can't wait to get back to that setting in my next novel.

  94. Nancy, what a great near kiss! And to have a blind heroine? You're pretty brave attempting that. I hope it works well for you. If I'm not mistaking, Mary Moore has a novel with a blind heroine as well.

    Thanks for sharing the almost kiss! I'm enjoying reading the whole lot of these. :-)

  95. Casey, DEFINITELY add that almost kiss! Then come back and share it with us. :-)

  96. We'll keep you in our prayers, Carol. I certainly hope the problem gets resolved quickly.

  97. Thanks for taking a moment to remind us about Good Friday, Ruth! You know, I've had this post scheduled since last fall and had no idea I was scheduled on Good Friday. Then, when things got closer and Mary asked for my post and I sent her one, did I realize I was posting on Good Friday? NOPE! Never even occurred to me, in fact, it was so far from my mind that I didn't realize it until last night as I was getting ready for dinner.

    I thought to myself "Good Friday and Kissing? How did I manage that one?"

    I did try to somewhat make up for it by posting about Easter on my own blog today, if that counts for anything.

  98. You know, Ruth, you really bring up a good point, in that what works for one author doesn't always work well for another.

    Mary does usually have everyone married and conjugal pretty early, but it works so totally well for her. And she can do those little quick kisses, and they're awesome.

    As for me, I don't think I could ever do a quick kiss. It just wouldn't be me.

    Now I just have to tell you all a little story about last fall. I ordered three books from Amazon, and of course they all arrived together. One of them was Out of Control. So I flipped through the others and was faced with the terrible dilemma of which to read first. I went with Mary's and do you know why???

    Yep you guessed it. She's got a killer kiss on page 7. So how could I NOT read the book with the kiss on page 7?

  99. Stephanie, you're definitely treading on new territory for me. Yes, I completely understand that you wouldn't want a full out kiss with a ton of romantic tension in a YA novel. Definitely a good thing.

    I really don't think I could ever write a YA novel for that very reason. I can pretty much guarantee my characters would get way to carried away and go for an all out kiss.

  100. Missy, super cute about your reader wanting to scream. The characters did eventually kiss, right??????

  101. Linnette! What a wonderful almost kiss. Gotta love that stoplight moment, only to have them pulled apart by a blaring horn. Wow! You better make that kiss all out wonderful one your hero and heroine get around to having it. :-)

  102. Thanks Patricia! I'm glad you like the post, and all these near kisses are fun to read, aren't they?

  103. CaraG, what interesting thoughts you have. :-) Now while I readily admit to loving those almost kisses, I more of a fan of having early kisses too. And middle kisses, and kisses spread out. I did mention in my post that I think every romance novel should have at least three kisses. And I totally stand by that! But I'm glad to hear your thoughts as well, Cara. That's one wonderful thing about how diverse the inspirational fiction world has become. There seems to be something for everybody these days!

  104. Ah Josie, another one who likes those kisses postponed. Well, good luck to you!

  105. Wow Linnette! Sharing TWO almost kisses. And you gotta love it when the hero and heroine end up colliding into each other. Those are always fun.

    Great work, my friend!

  106. Well, now that we've seen countless examples of almost kisses, I didn't want to prove to Julie and Vince at the least that I actually can write a kiss, not just an almost kiss. So here we go, the first kiss in Sanctuary for a Lady. For those helpless romantics like myself, I wanted to point out that this takes place BEFORE the halfway mark of the book, and also before the almost kiss in my post:

    Her chin quivered. He was going to make her cry. Right here. In front of him. She pressed her eyes shut.

    Then his lips were on hers, hushing her words.

    She should pull back, but his arms slid around her, drawing her against the solidness of his chest. She’d been kissed once, but she’d never before felt so swept away by the patient caress of a man’s lips against a woman’s, the delightful way his tongue snuck inside her mouth, ran over her teeth, her tongue.

    His arms tightened around her. How strong they were, those arms forged into muscle by days spent working under the hot sun. His hands crept up her back, the same hands that could turn a scrap of wood into a masterpiece.

    She melted into him and sighed against his mouth, still warm and strong on her own. In his arms she had no worries of being discovered, no fear of being dragged to the guillotine. In his arms, she felt something she hadn’t felt in over five years.

    She felt safe.


    Kissing her was like drinking the woman’s personality. Explosive. Passionate. Enchanting. As Michel covered Isabelle’s mouth with his own, the sensations nearly knocked him backwards. Aye, he’d kissed women before, but never like this.

    He’d feared it would be this way, not a simple kiss stolen out of flirtation, but a deep, passionate meeting of lips and hearts and minds. Isabelle had been so helpless, so vulnerable, comforting him when he hadn’t endured near the trials she had. And then she nearly cried. How could he do anything except kiss her?

    Oh, but he could stay like this, steeped in the whirlwind of Isabelle all afternoon.
    And she’d probably slap him for doing so.

    He slowed the kiss until he could manage enough self-control to pull back. Then he looked into her face, prepared to be backhanded. But her eyes were closed as though locked in a dream, her face tilted up like she expected, almost wished, for more. Her tiny hand was curled into the front of his shirt like a kitten curved into its mother’s belly. A fresh flood of warmth swamped his body.

    “Isabelle,” he whispered. Her eyes half opened, and for the first time since he met her, he didn’t know what say. He wasn’t sorry for the kiss, and he could do little but stare into her heavily lidded eyes begging for another.

    It wasn’t wise to kiss her again. Ever. She was an aristocrat—sentenced to death. She was leaving the country—gone as soon as her arm healed. And she’d not even been awake a fortnight—not long enough for him to know whether he could trust her. But drawn by a force he’d no desire to resist, he lowered his head and touched his lips to hers again.

    The door to his workshop flew open, bringing with it a burst of rain and frigid wind.

  107. Wonderful post, Naomi! You handled your kisses with the ease of a seasoned master. Much like Julie!

    I'm at 30,000 words in my current WIP and they've already kissed twice. Both in her POV. Next one will probably be an almost in his POV.

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  109. Wow! All these almost kisses are so WONDERFULLY done. I'm a little afraid to share mine now. lol

    And, Naomi! Whew! I had to go get a gulp of iced tea to save myself from swooning! Sweet heavenly angels, what a kiss! Sold. I just bought your book. Literally couldn't wait for snail mail, so I downloaded it on Kindle. :D

    *Saved you the trouble of putting my name in the hat. LOL.*

  110. Awesome post, Naomi! I'm in the middle of the your book right now, and lovin' it!!!

  111. Hi Naomi:

    I read your real kiss scene that you just posted and that was enough to send me to Amazon and download your book. (I didn’t know Christian fiction allowed for a wet kiss!) I’ll be reading it tonight. (So don’t put me in the drawing! : )

    I couldn’t agree more with your comment below:

    “I love romance novels and I will unashamedly admit that my favorite part of romance novels is THE KISS.”

    I also believe the kiss is absolutely essential to a romance. The kiss is like the reader’s emotional geiger counter indicating how ‘radioactive’ the attraction between hero and heroine really is.

    I have kisses on the brain right now. I’ve been trying to write the central kiss scene in my WIP (Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer) all week. It is in the center of the book. It is kiss number two. (Kiss one was just to seal a bargain.) The heroine is a romance writer and the hero is a Special Forces Captain who edits his sister’s Military Romances.

    The heroine is going to write the ‘perfect kiss’ for her WIP which is deadline due in a few days. The hero is going to read the kiss copy and give her that exact same kiss. She will then observe how she feels and reacts to this kiss and when it ends immediately write down how it felt.

    This kiss is an earthquake that changes both the hero and heroine’s ARC. They are different people after the kiss.

    I’m having real trouble writing this. I’m going to need Julie’s help! (For real.)

    My favorite kiss, and what I believe is the most memorable kiss, I’ve ever read is from Julie Lessman’s “A Hope Undaunted”

    (Note: the hero and heroine here are grandparents. They are almost my age!)

    "She nodded and sniffed again.

    With a tight squeeze, he buried his head in her neck before pulling away with a lift of his brow. He stared at her new satin gown, then slowly fanned his hands down the sides of her waist. “And speaking of a price to pay – so you’ve taken to wearing perfume to bed, have you, Mrs. O’Connor?” He bent to caress the curve of her throat while his fingers grazed the strap of her gown. “And a new satin gown, surely not just for sleep.” With a slow sweep of his thumb, the strap slithered from her shoulder. “Oh, I’m afraid this is going to cost you, darlin’.”

    He kissed her full on the mouth, and heat shivered through her. “I suppose this isn’t one of those times when I need to say no,” she whispered, her breathing ragged against his jaw.

    “No, darlin’, it’s not.” And clutching her close, he fisted the satin gown and moved in to deepen the kiss, his husky words melting in her mouth. “For all the good it would do.”

    While on the topic of kisses, I just reviewed a book today that had a wonderful 5-sensed kiss which I will post below:

    “The noises of the countryside drifted in through the open doorway.
    A chainsaw whining as it cut through a branch somewhere, a thrush declaring territorial rights, a tractor…
    She heard none of them as his lips touched her. All her senses were concentrated on Hal. On the touch of his fingers, entangled in her hair, on the taste of toothpaste, fresh and sharp against her mouth, the scent of his skin…He’d come to her fresh from the shower after his early walk.”

    From page 198 of Liz Fielding’s, “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”. This is a RIVA book. Try UK Amazon.

    I’d like to end with this:

    A kiss that’s just a kiss is not a kiss.”


  112. NAOMI SAID: "
    You know, Vince, when I first emailed Julie and asked if she would give me an almost kiss excerpt, she said something like, "An almost kiss? You mean like a scene where my characters want to kiss but DON'T? I don't think I have any of those."

    LOL ... GOD'S TRUTH!! ;)

    She’d been kissed once, but she’d never before felt so swept away by the patient caress of a man’s lips against a woman’s, the delightful way his tongue snuck inside her mouth, ran over her teeth, her tongue.

    SWEET MOTHER OF JOB, Naomi, I STILL cannot believe LI left the tongue-sneaking in there!!! HOLY SMOKE, I doubt even my editor wouldn't allow that!! But then as I recall, Carla Capshaw had a line in her LI that literally blew me out of the water. I was convinced the editor missed it, so LI is definitely ramping up the passion ... :)

    BRIDGETT ... WHOA, GIRL ... sexiest hand-holding scene on the planet ... :)

    WHITNEY ... Aw, thanks, girl, but I gotta tell you -- your excerpt didn't read "roughy" to me!!

    NANCY: HOLY FREAKIN' COW, girl -- that is one hot scene!!!

    LINNETTE: YOWZA, girl -- the romance going on in your scenes and this blog today are really priming the pump for my own writing today, so WAY TO GO!!!


  113. Well, Vince, glad my "real kiss" got you interested in the book. Maybe I should have posted that first thing this morning. :-)

    And your novel with a Special Forces Captain and a romance writer has me thoroughly intrigued. I'd LOVE to see how that kiss play out in the end. But alas, writing them can be hard. I often find myself getting a brilliant idea for a first kiss sometime long before I'm actually writing that kissing scene. I'll jot down my few lines of inspiration and save them for later. That way I don't have the panicked feeling of "Oh no! How do I make their kiss good?"

    And yeah, that kiss from Hope Undaunted is pretty hot. Fortunately the characters are good and married. :-)

  114. You know, Julie, I fully expected my editor to ax the tongue line, but when she said nothing about it, I wasn't going be like "Hey, Elizabeth, are you sure you don't want to pull that baby out?"

    Then after the book was printed, my husband read that kiss and hit the roof. Needless to say, his protective, pastor tendencies took over. I think we concluded that conversation with something like "No, honey, I can't take it out. But I can give you one of them." :-)

  115. Natalie! So glad my kiss convinced you to buy the book!!!

    I hardly ever wait for snail mail these days. That automatic download thing is addicting . . . so much so that I usually cry when my credit card bill comes at the end of each month. I always find myself thinking, "No way did I spend that much $$ on ebooks, did I?"

  116. Rachel and Faye, Two of my influencers!!! How are you ladies? I'm glad you both enjoyed my novel.

    And Rachel, two kisses by 30k words? Put me down as a Beta reader for that one!

  117. Interesting topic. I have no almost kisses in my one completed manuscript and just two kisses in it overall. The first one is from the hero's perspective. The second one is from the heroine's perspective.

    I have another manuscript that is half-finished, however, and it has several almost kisses, starting with Chapter 1. However, I didn't realize that I was creating almost kisses when I did it.

  118. Too funny Walt. At least now you have a name for those "almost kisses." :-)

  119. You know, since Rachel and Walt have both mentioned POVs for kisses, let me tell you what I do for that first kiss. I almost always change POVs in the middle of the kiss. I don't necessarily do this for later kisses, but for the big number one, I have to know what both characters are thinking and feeling during the kiss. And ending the kiss then putting in a reaction section later on where the other character thinks about the kiss just doesn't cut it for me. I have to feel both his lips on hers and her lips on his.

  120. NANCY, I’ll send you what I’ve got whenever you’re ready. ; )
    I like your almost-kiss! Almost as the good as the earlier REAL kiss. ; )

    Thanks, JULIE! That means a lot to me. : )

    It’s funny to me that so many people here didn’t know about almost kisses. I wonder how I knew about them? LOL.


  121. Great post, Naomi, about my favorite subject!

    You're right - the almost kiss is so much fun. I have one in my wip but I think I need some more.

    Gotta go for now. I have your book on my TBR pile - now I really want to read it!


  122. Well, Whitney, I can definitely see why Nancy wants to read some more of that. Excellent work, girl!

    And I think these almost kisses come more naturally to some writers than others.

  123. Sue! Thanks for stopping by. And yep, you might well need more almost kisses in your WIP. Either that or some real kisses. :-)

  124. The one way to make a reaction scene interesting is to change it up. For example, in my manuscript, the first kiss is from the hero's point-of-view. However, the reaction scene in the heroine's POV focuses not on the kiss but instead on the emotion of "OMG, my father caught us."

    Of course, Julie Lessman is the expert on heroines getting caught by the fathers.

  125. Thanks Julie! (I aspire to Luke and Katy hot ;-)
    Naomi, a blind heroine is rough. Being deprived of the sense of sight in her POV makes for more dialogue tags than action beats, but other than that she was so fun to write. Especially her first kiss, which is the one Whitney mentioned.
    I was tempted to post it here, but it's long, so I put it on my blog and will leave it for a few days.
    JULIE Drusus's peppermint scented breath is an homage to you my friend (and Luke from A Hope Undaunted). I gave my hero a stomach problem that the treatment for in Ancient Rome was sucking on peppermint leaves. It worked brilliantly and is one of the ways my heroine can always identify my hero, even before he speaks. I actually tried it though, bought peppermint leaves and sucked on them for like, ten minutes, but I don't think it actually does anything. Except feel weird, LOL.


  127. Hi Naomi, congrats again on you debut book. like your post also.

  128. NANCY, I love that you tried out the peppermint leaves! LOL! And I think the idea of giving your hero a stomach problem to allow the heroine to recognize him by his peppermint breath is brilliant!

    LINNETTE, your almost kiss was a wonderful read. I want to know what happens to them!

    I see "Isabelle" is a popular name among the great minds of Seekerville. :p

  129. Hi Naomi,
    First, Congrats on the debut! Your excerpt is so great. Can't wait to read the book.

    I believe in almost-kisses, too, but thanks for the reinforcement!

  130. *Grinning*

    Thanks, Naomi! :D

    Julie! Wow! Thanks! :D

    Whitney, thank you! I need an agent!!! LOL

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Ladies! You made my night! :D

  131. NAOMI SAID:"No, honey, I can't take it out. But I can give you one of them." :-)

    LOL!!! You are one HOT P.W., girl (Pastor's Wife) ... you and our Missy Tippens ... oh, and Pepper too!!

    VINCE!! Thanks for the shout-out, my friend, and to show you how much I appreciate it, I'm sending you a copy of the VERY DETAILED handout from the ACFW workshop Ruth Axtell Morren and I did last year called "A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss." I've had more people tell me they pull that sucker out when they need help writing a love scene, so we'll see if that gives you any ideas for yours, okay?

    WALT SAID: "Of course, Julie Lessman is the expert on heroines getting caught by the fathers."

    ... and the fiance and the sister and the girlfriend ... :)

    NANCE!!! LOL ... you're my kind of gal, girlfriend, and the peppermint idea is BRILLIANT!! You are SO smart!! HOLY COW ... just read Dru and Leah's first kiss and hubba, hubba, girl -- get published, will you???


  132. Naomi, here's the first kiss. What do you think?

    “Adam. Thank you.”

    Her voice came out whispery thin, but he must have heard her. He lifted his gaze to hers and slowly brought his hands up to cup her face. His eyes, so full of questions, searched hers.

    He swallowed hard and shook his head. “He… God help me if he ever puts his hands on you again.”
    The strain in his voice and anguish in his eyes tore at her heart. Reaching up, she covered his hands with hers, closed her eyes and absorbed their strength. These were hands that would protect her at all costs. A single tear slipped out unbidden. He wiped at it with the pad of his thumb. She opened her eyes longing for the comfort of his kiss.

    He pulled her into his arms. “Thank God you didn’t come home alone. Thank God I was here instead of your poor mother.” He held her close, gently rocking her side to side for several minutes when the doorbell pealed...

    “Come on, little lady. Time to get you off to bed.” Adam stood and pulled Beth to her feet.

    “Actually, I’m still too shaken up to sleep. Would you mind if we just went into the den and sat for a while? After I take care of the dishes? I… I’m not ready to be alone after…” Beth closed her eyes for a moment and shivered. She’d never seen that side of Kyle before. Her body prickled all over and her chest ached.

    She opened her eyes to his sad smile. “Of course.”

    They loaded the dishwasher and cleared the table, then Beth led him into the den. She sat on the couch and curled her feet beneath her. Adam retrieved a throw and, laying it across her lap, sat next to her and pulled her close. Sighing, she rested her head against his chest, but couldn’t relax. The scene in the kitchen replayed over and over in her head.

    As if sensing her turmoil, he tilted her head back and caressed her cheek. Searching her eyes, he probed her heart. Something in his gaze reassured her and little by little the fear bound up inside her released.

    Finally, she smiled. “Thank you.”

    “You’re welcome.” His voice rumbled gentle and low.

    He lowered his face to hers, stopping a breath away as if asking her permission.

    She grazed his cheek with her fingertips, then closed the distance between them. Adam pulled her closer, returning her shy kiss. She would regret this tomorrow. But when the comfort of his kiss enveloped her, she allowed him to deepen it. His tenderness wrapped her in an aura of bliss unlike anything she had ever experienced.

    If only she could live in this moment forever.

  133. Naomi ~ Cool for a day for the author to be on Seekerville also = cool for your readers! Glad you're here and have left us such fun comments to read. 9And I cannot wait to read your book!)

    As for the readers that have commented on Jane Eyre... I agree! All-time favorite novel, hands-down with kisses included. ; )

  134. Great post, Naomi! In my WIP I have two "almost kisses" but might need to add another---hmmm, your post has given me lots to think about. ~ I've never visited the area where you live, but it sounds beautiful. Cannot imagine having all that snow! (I live in the "deep south"). ~ You probably don't remember me, but we sat beside each other at one of the lunches during the ACFW conference last Sept.--later I was so happy for you when I heard you'd received your first contract! Congratulations on your debut book (LIH are my faves). ~ Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

  135. I know it's late, but I wanted to post earlier and my phone was acting up.

    I loved everyone's excerpts. A kiss (or almost kiss) holds so many different emotions.

    This was such fun. I kept checking the blog to see if anyone else had posted.

    BTW Naomi, I forget to say congratulations on your debut. :)

  136. Okay, I have just decided to add romance to my suspense so no kisses yet!
    I would be interested in reading your book!

  137. Wow, I'm late to this party!! Naomi, I think you sent me an e-mail a while ago and we talked about historicals. At least, this sounds like the same story, and the same fun writer! Great to 'see' you in 'person' on Seekerville!!!

  138. Oh my goodness, Nancy - Those were AWESOME kisses. I can't wait to pick up your blind heroine book!

  139. Thank you, Julie. I'm working on it ;-)

  140. Thank you, Melissa. =) And Whitney, who keeps me from doing stupid things and from second guessing myself like no one else. *HUGS* my friend =)

  141. “Wh-what just happened?” Lydia raised a shaking hand to her mouth. Blinking, she tried to focus her vision. Tried to think straight.
    Running his hands through his hair, Beau sighed. He looked at her and then focused on the wall opposite them. “I grew a conscience that’s what.”
    Lydia frowned. “What?”
    “Remember this afternoon I said I’m letting you set the pace. Well, I just remembered saying that, and with what happened just now…well I don’t want you thinking I’m taking advantage of you.”
    “Oh.” Lydia struggled to a sitting position against her pillows. She pushed her hair out of her face. Searching for her hairpins, she gave up on finding them, and tucked her errant curls behind her ears. Blowing out a breath, she tried to collect her scattered thoughts. “I ah, I wanted to ask you about that. What do you mean by me ‘setting the pace’?”
    Beau turned to her. “It means Lydia darlin’, that if you want to kiss me.” He angled his face close to hers, and then moved away as her eyelids drifted closed.
    She caught his low murmur. “Lord! This women is a temptation.”
    She waited, her lips tingling in anticipation. Beau lowered his voice to a whisper. “Then you’ll have to initiate it… Although, you make it powerful hard when you look at me the way you do.”
    Disappointed, Lydia’s eyes popped open when she realized he wasn’t going to kiss her.
    Then what he said sunk in. Her mouth made an O, and a blush painted her cheeks. “Oh!”
    He continued, “And if you want to touch me, then…” His eyebrow quirked upwards. “Go right ahead. But, I don’t want to scare you, or make you feel like you haven’t any control. You’ve had enough choices taken away from you in the past and I’m giving you the freedom to choose as to how fast, or far you want our relationship to progress.” He scooted to the edge of the bed. He looked over his bare shoulder with an unrepentant grin. “As I said earlier today though, I won’t need asking twice! Now are you clear on ‘setting the pace’?”
    At her wide-eyed stare, and slow nod he continued. “Seeing as you fell asleep earlier on the sofa, I carried you up here. I’m guessing you’d be more comfortable in your nightgown. I’m going to take a walk and cool down.” With a wry grin he exited the bed. “And Lydia, those pillows might be a good idea after all.”

  142. A great post, and some excellent writing happening here :) I have 2 kisses and 1 almost kiss so far in my wip. Almost kisses have so much more tension and reveal the motivations of the character much better than real kisses. Plus they're fun to write.

    Please enter me!

    dingo4mum (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au

  143. The all important kiss. Loved this post. There should be more kissing in the world.

  144. Walt, having someone get caught is a definite way to spice up the reaction scene to a kiss. Always fun to keep things interesting.

    You'll have to tell me whether you think my kissing in Sanctuary for a Lady fits into an arc or not. I'm curious to know. :-)

  145. Thanks for that link, Nancy! And yes, it's rather brilliant adding the peppermint thing to his breath. :-)Gotta love the creativity that goes into a romance novel!

  146. Wow Linnette! You do a really great job of setting the mood for that perfect kiss. Way to go, girl! And I must admit, I'm a sucker for those single tears slipping down cheeks. :-)

  147. Now for Kristy and all those other Jane Eyre fans out there, I think I already said I've never read the book. Probably something I should rectify soon! Glad you enjoyed the post and the comments, though. :-)

  148. CatMom, thanks for stopping by! Sadly no, I don't remember sitting by you at conference last year. But maybe next year, as in 2013??? (I'm afraid I won't be making it to the 2012 one.)

  149. Glad you enjoyed all the kisses, Bridgett. You know, I'm just starting a sequel to Sanctuary for a Lady, and I've named the character Brigitte. Gotta love those French names!

  150. Oh Janet, you can NEVER go wrong by adding romance (at least not in my opinion, and probably not in Julie's either)!

  151. LOL, Virginia! I remember you. We have the same agent and you have an LI releasing later this year, right? So good to catch up!

  152. Dingo4mum, that's an awesome almost kiss. Gotta love it when the guy is so close and then decided to behave and pull back. And the clueless heroine was so cute. Makes me want to read an actual kiss, though. :-)

  153. Oh have mercy, Naomi! After all those 'almost kiss' examples you could have at least given us one 'real thing'. I'm on the edge of my seat here. Okay - I'm probably lost for the day now. All I can think about is Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sanctuary for a Lady...

  154. Naomi, thanks so much for your insight into this subject. It was a great help to me. Here's my first "Almost Kiss" from my manuscript. And there will definately be more.

    “Thank you for coming so quickly,” said Jess, her eyes on the child’s face. “I know it wasn’t an emergency, but it’s cold out, and I didn’t know how long he had been out there. My first thought was to have you check him.”

    “Me and not my father?” asked Garth in a husky voice.

    Jess, refusing to look at him, busily arranged the blanket around the baby. “You came to mind first,” she said with forced casualness.

    “I see,” said Garth, a slight smile lifting the corners of his mouth. He watched her for a moment. “You look very natural with a baby in your arms. Ever thought of having a family of your own?” He tried to sound as casual as she had.

    “Once or twice,” she replied and then stood up. She had to get some distance between them. He was still sitting on his heels next to the ottoman she had occupied. “Maybe someday,” she added evasively.

    Rising, he came to where she stood. “You’ll make a wonderful mother. It’s quite obvious from the way you care for the orphans here.”

    He gently stroked the baby’s head, and then before he could stop himself he reached up, intending to push a lock of Jess’s hair away from her temple, but instead found her check. He stroked it tenderly, in awe of the warmth and softness against his fingers. His gaze dropped to her parted lips. He wanted more than anything to pull her into his arms and crush her lips beneath his own. Slowly sliding his hand behind her neck, he gently tugged her toward him. Lifting his gaze he found her watching him uncertainly. The rapid rise and fall of her chest told him that she was as aware of him as he was of her. She caught her lip between her teeth as he had seen her do when she was unsure of something.

    Garth slowly dropped his hand from behind her neck and reluctantly stepped back. The vulnerable look in Jess’s eyes told him she wasn’t ready for this. As much as he wanted to kiss her, he didn’t want to scare her away. He jammed his hands into his pants pockets. They’re safer there, he thought.
    Walking to the fireplace, Garth leaned against the mantle. “Was there a note or anything in the basket?”

    Jess gasped. “Oh, my goodness! I was so concerned with the baby, I never thought to look for a note.” She reached into the basket and with one hand rummaged through the rags. “Look at this,” she said, holding up a scrap of paper.

    Garth turned from the fire, and reaching for it, read it aloud:
    “Can’t take care of me baby. Please feed him and care fer him. I have to go away. We ain’t got nobody else.”

    Jess hugged the baby gently and said softly, “Well, now he has us.”

    Grandmother returned with a bottle of warm milk. “I thought I still had some of these old baby bottles somewhere. I rummaged around until I found one. I boiled it before putting in the milk. I’ve already checked to make sure it isn’t too hot for the little one. Here, luv. Why don’t you sit over here and feed him?”

    Jess sat down in the overstuffed armchair, and put the bottle to the baby’s lips. Latching on, he suckled hungrily. Jess looked at Garth with a smile. “You were right. He is hungry. Although I don’t think he realized it until now.”

    Garth nodded with a slight smile before turning to Grandmother. “If you don’t need anything more, I’ll be going.” He picked up his bag. “My day off is just about over, and I’m on duty in the morning.”

    Jess looked up quickly. “You mean your father is on duty tonight?”

    At his nod, she paled. “Oh, Garth, I’m sorry. I forgot it was your day off. If I had remembered I would have called your father.”

    Garth knelt next to her chair. He watched as the baby drank hungrily from the bottle. Then he looked into Jess's eyes, glanced at her lips and then back into her eyes. “I’m not sorry in the least. I’m glad you called me. Call me anytime you need me. And I mean that. Anytime.”

  155. Great post, Naomi.

    Almost kisses can heighten the romantic tension nicely. I sprinkled some of them in my debut novel that is releasing in July. The near kisses frustrate the hero of my story, and I suspect they'll do the same for the reader. But I like to think they make the first kiss worth the wait. =)

  156. Wow, Carol N! What a great near kiss. Gotta love when the guy runs his hand through the girl's hair. :-) Thanks for sharing!

  157. Looks like you were on to something with those almost kisses, Keli. I can't wait to read the story to find out how it all turns out in the end. :-)