CRACK! Okay, people, sit up straight, hands on the desk, and cell phones off. My name is Sr. Julie Assumpta and your summer of playtime is O-V-E-R. The new semester begins today and you may as well know right off the ruler that this no chump course, you got it?
Good. Because as a die-hard advocate of Kiss-ology, there’s nothing more annoying than a pupil who doesn’t give her all to the major component in a romance novel. I mean, give me a break! Would Gone With the Wind be the same if Rhett gave Scarlett a handshake on top of that dusky hill? Of course not! Would Ryan Gosling give you palpitations if he shoved Rachel McAdams to the wall in The Notebook just to push her out of the path of a falling ceiling? Puh-leez! Oh sure, and I suppose the sigh factor would go through the roof if George Peppard kissed the cat in the rain instead of Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Come on, people, this is romance, not women’s fiction …which means the kiss matters. A lot!
BANG! Miss Logan Herne, spit that chocolate out right now …
So listen up. Ruth Axtell and I taught a workshop at ACFW last year entitled “A Kiss is NOT Just A Kiss: Romantic Passion in Our Writing” and since ACFW is right around the corner once again, I decided it might be fun to do a refresher course utilizing last year’s handout.
Of course, Sister Ruth Axtell and Mother Superior (and, no, I am not talking about Tina this time!) agreed it would be both sinful and sacrilegious NOT to utilize excerpts from our upcoming releases, so what could we do?? I’m already into Father Mac for upwards of 200 Hail Marys as it is for rapping Ruthy Logan Herne’s knuckles, so I dare not disagree. Sheesh, who knew that kid was related to the Pope??? Consequently, we have sneak peeks at excerpts from Sr. Ruth Axtell’s Her Good Name, hot-off-the-presses from Moody Publishers, and her upcoming March 2013 release from Revell, Moonlight Masquerade. In addition, there will be excerpts from moi’s three upcoming releases, A Love Surrendered in October 2012, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story in November 2012 and Love at Any Cost in April 2013.
For those A students who attended our workshop last year at ACFW, rest assured there will be new material with enhanced ideas to keep you from falling asleep. Again. For those D students who did not attend our workshop, consider yourself lucky. All of the material covered today should be fairly new and—praise be to God—you can bone up on Kiss-ology without listening to me sing!
KA-POW! Miss Connealy—two demerits for shooting spit wads and put that pea gun away this instant!
All right, students—shoulders straight, eyes on the board, and Miss Dean, your hair looks lovely, so I suggest you put the mirror and comb away, understood?
SIXTEEN "SUGGESTIONS" TO
WARM UP THE PAGES WITH ROMANTIC TENSION
Okay, students, since there’s so much to cover, we’ll do it in three sessions—today’s blog will cover points 1-8 (Kiss-ology 101); my Seeker blog for September 12 will cover points 9-16 (Kiss-ology 102); and finally just for fun, we’ll feature excerpts of the TOP favorite kisses of the Seeker’s in my October Seeker blog (Kiss-ology 103) PLUS—Miss Harders, gives us a drumroll, please—the favorite kiss of one lucky Seekerville commenter in my October Seeker blog (Kiss-ology 103).
Here’s what we’ll cover:
1. Using Internal Male Dialogue
2. Maximizing Use of Beats
3. Making the Most of Touch and Response
4. Utilizing Dual Point of View
5. Escalate Tension with Anger
6. Using all Five Senses
7. The Non Kiss
8. Cashing in on the Kid Factor
9. Using Emotionally Charged Words and Active Verbs to Enhance Mood
10. Capitalizing on the Element of Surprise
11. Exposing Desire in an Unwilling Character
12. Implementing the Concept of Forbidden Fruit
13. Effectively Using Dialogue to Escalate Tension
14. The Accidental Kiss
15. Reverse Seduction
16. The Caveman Kiss
1.) Make the most of male “internal monologue” or what the hero is thinking during the kiss scene. The male is key—his feelings/reactions generate readers' feelings/reactions even more so than the heroine's because his desire translates into the desire every woman wishes she could elicit. In this scene from Ruth Axtell’s brand-new release Her Good Name, we experience the memory of a kiss from the hero’s perspective, feeling the surge of his pulse as he relives it in his mind. From anger and desire to heated passion and finally shame, we feel the romantic tension simmering beneath the surface in a way we could never achieve in the heroine’s perspective alone.
What have I done? His mouth went dry as memory tumbled into place.
Espy, running through the dark woods, his frustration toward her, her teasing tone.
He relived the fiery red light bursting in his mind during the kiss, like the fireworks earlier in the evening.
He hadn’t been able to see her, and yet perhaps that had made her presence all the more palpable, more enticing. . . .
His heartbeat stepped up again, remembering the whole evening. What had possessed him to kiss her like that? Never in his sane mind would he have taken such an unpardonable liberty with a young woman.
The way her body had slammed into his. He’d been so angry one moment, and the next kissing her like a thirsty man gulping water.
But in the unforgiving light of morning, the folly he’d committed quickly doused any resurging passion. He scrubbed his hand across his face, the roughness of his beard disgusting him.
He was no better than any of the men he’d accused Espy of being free with. A girl no better than she ought to be…
In my upcoming release A Love Surrendered, Luke McGee just discovers his wife Katie O’Connor is secretly being tutored by her former fiancé and coerces a confession to learn the truth. After you read it, try to imagine the scene in the heroine’s POV instead and I’ll bet you seven chocolate kisses from the teacher’s candy jar that the romance—and the tension—would not be near as palpable!
He flipped off the light and crawled into bed, pulling her close. She trailed a finger over his bicep and down his arm, slowly circling his palm with her thumb. With a gentle kiss to her head, he exhaled his stress, praying the encounter with Jack was only by chance. “So … what have you and Kit been doing with your evenings?”
Her thumb ceased. “Nothing much, lots of books, games, walks—you know, the usual.”
He paused, fiddling with the strap of her gown. “You just stayed home all week? Didn’t go anywhere else, like your parent’s or Lizzie’s?”
Her chest expanded and released with a heavy draw of air before she responded. “Well, I did go out last night,” she said slowly, voice breathless. “Mother watched Kit while I studied at the law library.”
The air eased from his lungs. “Alone?”
She hesitated a moment too long. “Yes, of course. Meg couldn’t go.”
“Aw, you hate studying alone.” He massaged her arm. “Run into anybody you know?”
He felt the shift of her throat when she swallowed hard. “Uh … yeah.” She rushed to kiss him full on the mouth, swaying her lips against his. “Mmm …”
Heat jolted, and he rolled her over, kissing her thoroughly before trailing his lips to her throat. “Who?” he whispered, the scent of her almost making him forget that he cared.
She moaned softly, ignoring his question while she tunneled fingers into his hair. His lips wandered lower. “Who, Katie?” he asked again, and her body went completely still. He looked up, heart thundering. Tell me the truth, Katie—please. “You all right?” he asked quietly.
Her mouth opened and closed as if she wanted to speak, but nothing came out, blue eyes blinking so fast, he thought she might cry. Please, Katie, don’t lie …
“Luke,” she began with a chew of her lip, “you know how I’ve struggled with Contract Law and you’ve been too busy to help?” She avoided his eyes. “Well, I …” A shaky breath quivered out. “Accepted someone’s offer to tutor.”
He didn’t breathe.
Disappointment stabbed when she lunged to take his mouth with hers, pulling him down. “I love you, Luke,” she whispered, “and I missed you so much, it hurt.”
Yeah, I know the feeling. Tempering his frustration, he gently fondled her lips, taking his time with a languid kiss that made her go soft beneath his hold. In a slow and measured tease, he explored her mouth with his own, eliciting a moan deep in her throat when he gently tugged at her lip. “Who?” he whispered again, mouth straying to the lobe of her ear.
“What?” Her eyes were closed and her breathing shallow.
His mouth meandered the curve of her neck, keeping pace with his hands as they skimmed the curve of her body. “I was wondering who helped you?”
She tensed beneath his lips and he knew this was it—the moment of reckoning. When Katie would tell him the truth or lie through her teeth. Taut with both passion and anger, Luke coaxed, trailing her collarbone with kisses while toying with the strap of her gown …
She shuddered beneath his lips, voice barely audible and as soft as a guilty thought. “Jack.”
His lips stilled on her skin. The lids of his eyes weighted down with relief before heat surged that had nothing to do with the lure of his wife’s body. “Jack?” he rasped, the word more of a hiss than a name. He jerked to a sitting position, shocked at the venom that flowed in his veins. “You asked Jack to tutor you?”
Wincing, she shot up, hand clutched to his arm. “But you told me to get help …”
His mouth went slack. “From your teachers, Katie Rose,” he ground out, “not your former fiancé.”
2.) Maximizing use of “action beats” (or character action … especially dramatic action). Instead of overuse of speak attributions (i.e. he said, she said), try mixing it up with a healthy dose of action beats and fewer speaker attributions. In scenes that require tension, I have found I prefer using straight action beats alone instead of a combination of speaker attributions and beats because I think it enhances the drama. Here is an excerpt from A Hope Undaunted between hero Luke McGee and heroine Katie O’Connor (gotta love those two ‘cause they’re always butting heads …) that shows it both ways—first with speaker attributions and beats, and the second with beats only, which I prefer because I think it elicits more tension. But … you be the judge!
SPEAKER ATTRIBUTION/BEATS EXAMPLE:
“Is that all this was between us then?” he said, locking her wrist mid-air with a painful grip when she tried to slap him. “A little fun while your rich boyfriend was off limits?”
“I never started any of this,” she said, jerking her hand free, “and you know it. It was you.”
“No,” he said, his fingers digging into her arms as he pressed her to the counter. “But you sure finished it, didn’t you?”
ACTION BEATS ONLY (my preference):
She tried to slap him, but he locked her wrist mid-air with a painful grip. “Is that all this was between us then? A little fun while your rich boyfriend was off limits?”
She jerked her hand free. “I never started any of this, and you know it. It was you.”
His fingers dug into her arms as he pressed her to the counter. “No, but you sure finished it, didn’t you?”
In the following angry love scene between hero Collin McGuire and heroine Faith O’Connor from A Passion Most Pure, I relied heavily on beats instead of speaker attributions because for me, speaker attributions can often slow the flow of a tense scene. I did use two speaker attributions at the end, which are both underlined below, but only because I wanted a strong response, such as Faith “screaming” or Collin speaking “quietly,” two dramatic effects I needed to drive the emotion home.
She jerked her hand from his and stood, quivering as she caved against the chair. “I can’t marry you, Collin.”
He leaned forward. “I know you love me. Can you deny it?”
She didn’t speak, and he jumped up and rounded the table, gripping her arms to lift her to her feet. When she wouldn’t look at him, he grabbed her chin and forced her. “Look at me! Can you deny you love me?”
She stared at him through a mist of tears. “Let me go, you’re hurting my arm.”
“Tell me you don’t love me.”
“I don’t love you.”
“You’re lying, Faith. I would have thought better of you than that.”
“Well don’t!” she screamed, “I’m not better than that. You’ve said your apologies, Collin, now let me go.”
She tried to turn away. He jerked her back. “I know you love me. Don’t you think I can feel it every time I touch you?” He pulled her to him, and she cried out before his lips silenced her with a savage kiss. She struggled to pull free, but he only held her tighter, the blood pounding in his brain. His mouth was everywhere—her throat, her earlobes, her lips—and he could feel the heat coming in waves as she melted against him. She was quivering when he finally let her go.
“You love me, Faith,” he said quietly. “You know that, and I know that. Your heart belongs to me, and nothing can ever change that fact––not Charity, not you and not your god.”
3.) Make the most of touch/response. This is Christian romance. We’re limited in what we can say and do, and understandably so, but make the most of what we can use—the caress of a thumb, a mouth going dry, warm words in an ear, like this scene from Wild Rose by Ruth Axtell.
He pulled at the ribbon that held her hair. The heavy, silken strands fell at once, surrounding her face. He stuck the ribbon in his pocket and burrowed his nose in her hair, wanting to absorb the very essence of her. He grew still when he felt her hands begin to explore his own face. Timidly at first, her fingers touched the sensitive lobes of his ears, then swept downward more boldly, exploring the contours in his jaws and cheeks. Caleb moved his head, giving her better access and closed his eyes. Her slim fingers touched his lips softly, and he kissed them in response.
4.) Write a love scene utilizing both the hero and heroine point of view: For me, getting inside the male head during “the kiss” intensifies the “desire” factor. You can show his strength, his dominance, his angst at falling in love with a woman he wants but can’t have, which always enhances the “WOW” factor. Like Rhett with Scarlett in Gone With the Wind or … ahem … Collin with Faith in A Passion Most Pure.
But … I personally believe you can ramp up romantic tension when you show both points of view in a love scene, the hero’s and the heroine’s. Here is a scene from A Hope Undaunted that looks at a first kiss through the eyes of the hero, Luke McGee, via his POV utilizing both internal monologue and dialogue. At a crucial point in the scene, I then flip to the heroine’s POV, Katie O’Connor, for her reaction.
A word of warning: some publishers frown on more than one POV in a scene because they believe it’s too confusing. I, on the other hand, think it hikes the tension and sigh factor when you incorporate both. However, you MUST follow some basic rules if you plan to switch POVs mid-scene:
1.) Always double-space to indicate a change of POV.
2.) Always begin the next POV with an action by the character whose POV is beginning.
3.) Keep POV switches to a minimum in a scene and always flesh out each POV with several paragraphs or pages (i.e. NEVER switch POVs every sentence or paragraph).
2.) Always begin the next POV with an action by the character whose POV is beginning.
3.) Keep POV switches to a minimum in a scene and always flesh out each POV with several paragraphs or pages (i.e. NEVER switch POVs every sentence or paragraph).
He plunged his hands in his pockets and softened his tone. “Katie … is it me? Did I say or do something to upset you?”
She shook her head, gaze bonded to the floor. “No, Luke, really, please, I just need to—”
He nudged her chin up with his thumb, and her lips parted with a sharp intake of breath. And then he saw it. The gentle rise and fall of her chest, the soft rose in her cheeks, the skittish look in her eyes, flitting to his lips and then quickly away. Comprehension suddenly oozed through him like heated honey purling through his veins. Could it be? Was it possible that cold, callous Katie O’Connor was beginning to warm up? To him, of all people—Cluny McGee, the leper from her past? The thought sent warm ripples of shock through his body, thinning the air in his lungs. His gaze gentled, taking in the vulnerability in her eyes, the fear in her face, and all he wanted to do was hold her, reassure her.
As if under a spell, his gaze was drawn to her lips, parted and full, and the sound of her shallow breathing filled him with a fierce longing. “Oh, Katie,” he whispered, no power over the pull he was suddenly feeling. In slow motion, he bent toward her, closing his eyes to caress her mouth with his own. A weak gasp escaped her as she stiffened, but he couldn’t relent. The taste of her lips was far more than he bargained for, and he drew her close with a raspy groan. With a fierce hold, he cupped the back of her neck and kissed her deeply, gently, possessive in his touch. His fingers twined in her hair, desperate to explore.
And then all at once, beyond his comprehension, her body melded to his with an answering groan, and he was shocked when her mouth rivaled his with equal demand. Desire licked through him, searing his body and then his conscience. With a heated shudder, he gripped her arms and pushed her back, his breathing ragged as he held her at bay. “We can’t do this,” he whispered. He dropped his hold and exhaled, gouging shaky fingers through disheveled hair. His gaze returned, capturing hers and riddled with regret. “Believe me, Katie, as much as I want to, I’ve learned the hard way to take things slow. I should have never started this, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Forgive him? She stared at him through glazed eyes, her pulse still pumping in her veins at a ridiculous rate. She never wanted this, couldn’t stand the sight of him, and now here she was, tingling from his touch and desperate for more. Addicted to the “King of Misery.” The very thought inflamed both fury and desire at the same time, muddling her mind. Dear Lord, she was torn between welding her lips to his or slapping him silly. With a tight press of her mouth, she opted for the second and smacked him clean across the face.
5.) ESCALATE ROMANTIC TENSION WITH ANGER. I gotta be honest—I am not a violent person, but anger has to be one of my favorite ways to up the romantic tension in a story, I suppose because I’m a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) who likes lots of angst and drama. So, much to my husband’s relief, I channel all of that churning drama into my books instead of my marriage, which is good for my hubby, yes, but not so good for my characters!
In my upcoming release, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story, the hero and heroine’s first kiss is prompted by anger. For me, this not only immediately ups the romantic tension between these two right off the bat, but sets the tone for the rest of the book where the Southie heartthrob is forced to slowly changes his ways to win the heart of the woman who despises him. And, yes, that really is my daughter on the cover—didn't my artist hubby do a GREAT job? WAY better than my picture above as a nun ...
Seconds passed like eons before she finally shook her head. “I’m sorry, Patrick, really I am. I like you as a person, truly, but in the romantic sense. I have no desire to be involved with a man like you, a rogue who so casually equates lust with love.”
A man like you.
A failure. A sinner. Someone not worthy of love. To his parents, and now, apparently, to Marceline Murphy. Her pious judgment detonated his temper. Fists clenched, he leaned in, eyes itching hot. “So you’re judge and jury then, are you, Marceline? Condemning me without knowing me?”
Her jaw notched up, his tone apparently sparking her anger as well. “I may not know you, Mr. O’Connor, but I do know this neighborhood is littered with broken hearts and tarnished reputations at your hand, so if you’ll kindly unhand my portfolio, you can be on your way.”
She might as well have spit in his face. He stood paralyzed except for the white-hot fury that scorched through him, stunned at her blatant rejection. Once again, Christian piety at its very best—judging him, condemning him, telling him he would never measure up. Deemed imperfect by imperfect people. The leather portfolio burned in his palm like the angst burned in his gut, and he could hardly fathom that the one woman he longed to know condemned him just like his father. The very notion caused the blood to pound in his brain, and his response was swift, defiant and rash. “Yes, I’ll unhand your portfolio, Miss Murphy,” he said with a strained whisper, fingers taut as they fisted the leather. “But first … you revile me as a rogue? I’ll give you a rogue …”
He hurled it to the ground and jerked her close, temple throbbing as he silenced her with his mouth. Stilling the lash of her arms with a dominant hold, he took his fill of a beauty who had cut him to the core, wounded his pride and spurned him as cruelly as his own blood. The stolen kiss of a rogue—just punishment for a woman who had stolen his heart, crushing it beneath the heel of faith in a so-called loving God.
His trigger reaction had been prompted by revenge, making her pay, but she tasted of roses and peppermint and a summer so warm, his anger flamed into desire, filling him with a savage possession. Palm braced to the back of her neck, he devoured her with a low groan, totally undone by the woman in his arms. “Marceline,” he rasped, voice hoarse as he cupped her face in his hands. “This is not how I meant it to be …”
Chest heaving, she lurched away, the stinging jolt of her slap vibrating his jaw till his teeth rattled in his skull. “How dare you!”
He blinked, the strike of her anger diffusing his own and breaking the spell the kiss had cast. “How dare I?” he whispered. A gloom darker than the blackest of nights crawled into his soul. “How dare I do anything else, Marceline, but be all you’ve proclaimed me to be?”
6.) Use all five senses. As Ruth Axtell said in our workshop, a kiss is not just about two sets of lips puckering up and touching. Put yourself inside the head of both the hero and heroine when their lips first meet. Try to remember your first time. It’s not just about one point of contact, it’s about tasting, touching, seeing, hearing and smelling and all the jumbled emotions going on inside. Usually you won’t use all 5 senses, but Ruth utilizes an average of 4 in most of her kissing scenes. Here’s an unedited sneak preview from Ruth’s upcoming March 2013 regency Moonlight Masquerade, so see how many senses you can find!
“Here comes your shadow.” A sudden thought occurred to him. “Perhaps you could fool him by pretending you are here on an assignation—”
Before he could finish the thought, she took a step closer to him until she was inches from him, her neck craned upward. “What a perfect ruse,” she breathed.
The blood thundering in his ears, he bent lower.
She placed her hands upon his shoulders. “But we must make it look convincing.”
His mind was swimming with the scent of her, the feel of her. Whoever was following her would see her in an embrace. All he needed was to stand still, hold himself in check and pray for control.
He was unprepared for her whisper. “You may kiss me.”
Kiss her? Had he heard aright? He stood paralyzed, the feel of her hands on his shoulders already rendering him immobilized. She must hear the pounding of his heart.
Doubts assailed him. Kiss her? How? Where? A peck on the cheek, or bend down just enough to make it look as if he was kissing her on the lips? No one would be able to tell in the dark.
He lowered his head farther until his face was almost touching hers. The sound of roses filled his nostrils. At once her hands left his shoulders and her fingertips touched his face, drawing it down to hers. Too late, before he could decide how to proceed, her lips met his full on.
No longer acting by rational thought, but by pure reaction, his lips responded to hers tentatively, expecting her to pull away at any moment.
Instead her lips parted beneath his.
He lost all reason.
His fingers dug into her shoulders, drawing her closer. Her mouth was more than he had ever dared dream—soft, pliant, warm, sweet. He couldn't help himself. He wrapped his arms around her, until her body was flush against his.
Instead of pulling away in shock, she only clasped him more tightly about the neck, deepening the kiss.
For the next few minutes, all thought was drowned out by the roar of his own blood. Nothing mattered to him but the warmth of her lips, eagerly searching his.
He touched her cheek, soft as down, and trailed his fingers over its curve, down her slim neck arched toward him, feeling the pulse at its base. He rubbed her chin with his thumb as his fingertips caressed her earlobe, as if to memorize every bit of her.
His hands moved downward, the length of her back, feeling her contours through the thin silk of her costume. He forgot his purpose for being there, forgot the war, his position at the Foreign Office, all his ambitions and goals…all he wanted was Céline. He wanted to shout out her name.
7.) THE NON-KISS OR ALMOST KISS. Okay, I don’t claim to be real good at scenes without kisses, but I gave it the old college try in Love at Any Cost, which I hope shows that romantic tension can be achieved without a lip lock. Gosh, who knew??!! This scene takes place at the heroine’s uncle’s Napa estate during a game of Midnight (Hide and Seek at night).
Jamie ducked behind a massive rhododendron into Cassie’s secret crevice, a narrow corridor created by a deep sun porch on the south side of Logan’s estate. Lips easing into a grin, he inched several feet back to where she hid in the shadows with her back to the brick wall.
Even in the dark, he saw the whites of her eyes expand. “What are you doing here?” she whispered, shooing him away. “This is my hiding place, MacKenna—go!”
“Ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, midnight!” Liddy called.
Jamie chuckled. “Too late,” he whispered, sandwiching himself behind her with his back to the wall. He looped an arm to her waist, tightening his hold to quiet her when a flicker of lamplight indicated someone just passed. Heady scents rose to taunt him—lilac water and Pear’s soap mingling with the loamy scent of moss that never saw the light of day—delicious perfumes all, tingling his skin. His smile tipped at the soft absence of a corset that allowed him to feel the tension in her body along with the race of her pulse, evident in the rapid rise and fall of her chest.
Footsteps faded away, and she tried to whirl around, luring a grin to his lips when she got stuck half way. “Jamie MacKenna,” she hissed in the dark, “what in tarnation are you doing?”
Nudging her back around, he hooked her from behind once again, grazing her ear with a low chuckle. “This is my hiding place, Cowgirl. Can I help it if you stole it first?”
“Yours?!” she whispered loudly, her voice a near-squeak. “This has been my hiding place since I was knee-high to a grape, you pickle-brained polecat.”
“I know,” he said with a grin in his voice. “Blake told me.”
She grunted and wrestled to get free. “Let-me-go! Have you forgotten our agreement?”
“No, ma’am.” He firmed his grip, careful to brush his nose to the soft flesh of her lobe before he breathed warm in her ear. “No kisses are involved, Miss McClare,” he said softly, taking her hand in his. His thumb teased the inside of her palm. “Hugs and hands only, I believe the fine print said.” His fingers skimmed to her wrist, eyes closed to lose himself in the silky touch of her skin, the chaotic sprint of a pulse racing along with his own.
Her shuddery breaths filled the darkened space between them, matched by his own jagged breathing as he buried his face in her hair. “Cass,” he whispered, unable to stop the heat that shimmered his skin. “I’m in love with you …”
8.) CASHING IN ON THE KID FACTOR. Dogs, cats, kids, babies—doesn’t matter—put one in the arms of a good-looking hero, and you have instant attraction for most women. Put a kiss in the middle of that hero and that dog, cat, kid or baby and look out—you got yourself a tender kiss that can warm the page with romantic innocence so sweet, it will illicit a sigh. Hopefully I succeeded in doing that in this scene from my upcoming release A Love Surrendered where the heroine’s five-year-old sister has just given the hero a sweet kiss on the lips after he was bamboozled by his matchmaking sister into driving her and the heroine home.
“G’night, Glory.” He tapped her nose before Annie managed to pry her away.
“Thanks again,” Annie said, inching through the door with Glory in her arms.
“Wait! Aren’t you going to kiss her too?” Glory spun around, eyes wide with the innocence of a little girl who had no earthly idea what she was asking him to do.
He blinked, noting the expanse of Annie’s eyes.
“Glory, no—” she whispered, turning ten kinds of pale.
“Please?” The little troublemaker stared at him with those wide eyes of an angel.
Heart thudding, he did the only thing he knew to do—he kissed Annie right on the tip of her nose. Clearing his throat, he stepped back. “Well, good-night, ladies.”
“No, silly,” Glory said, “like this …” She demonstrated with a sweet little peck on her sister’s lips as if he were too stupid to understand, then tilted her head. “See? It’s easy.”
Too easy, he thought with a trip of his pulse. Way, way too easy …
“Stop it, Glory, Steven doesn’t want to—”
“Sure I do,” he whispered, his words shocking him as much as Annie. Gaze holding hers, he slowly leaned in, close enough to see the long sweep of her lashes, the pale gold in eyes so green, he felt like he was in Oz, about to be granted a wish. He heard the soft hitch of her breath when she stopped breathing because it coincided with the halt of air in his own lungs. Cupping her face in his hand, his eyelids sheathed closed at the touch of her lips—soft, supple and just a hint of peppermint from the candy she’d offered him in the car. It was meant to be no more than a peck like Glory had given him, but somehow his mouth wanted to linger and explore … He stepped in close, body grazing hers and Glory’s till they were one. A little-girl giggle broke the trance, and Annie’s lips curved beneath his.
“His whiskers are itchy, aren’t they, Annie?” Glory asked, patting his face once again. “Kinda makes you wiggly all over, doesn’t it?”
Annie’s eyes glowed as she caressed her own cheek. “Very wiggly,” she whispered.
Okay, that’s class for today, so your homework is to leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books. Anyone who wants extra credit, if you post a short sample of a kiss you’ve written, I will toss your name into the pot for a chance to be included in Kiss-ology 103 in October when I post a favorite kissing scene from each of the Seekers and YOU!!
So … on your mark, get set ... PUCKER UP!
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.” Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top Ten Inspirational Fiction for 2010 and is followed by A Heart Revealed and A Love Surrendered. You can contact Julie through her website at www.julielessman.com.