With the recent surge in popularity of erotica, there’s a lot of discussion these days about love scenes in books. How much is too much? What words can be used? Which words go too far?
I haven’t really been paying attention. My books don’t have sex scenes in them. Though I like to think I do have a good many love scenes.
I suppose it’s a difference in definition, but when my hero realizes in MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE that his ex-wife volunteers her precious little free time to a charitable organization that helps abused women find a safe place to live, and his heart turns over in his chest…Well, I sort of think that’s a love scene.
A real love scene. Sex scenes can absolutely involve love. But I don’t they are the only love scenes in town.
There are several great ones in MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE as the hero tries to deny his love for his ex-wife. She’s back in his life, working as his once-a-week housekeeper. Technically, they shouldn’t even see each other. But he loves her. He always has. He can’t admit it because she left him and he’s one of those alpha males who doesn’t like people leaving him. But having her in his house tempts him beyond belief. He simply can’t stay away.
Not because he wants to sleep with her, though they do have amazing chemistry. But because they have an unresolved past. And part of what needs to be resolved is the love that he just can’t seem to get rid of.
Liz, the heroine, has some real love scenes too. When Cain pitches in and helps out with the charity as a way to get close to her, Liz sees his kindness to kids who’ve been forced to leave their abusive dads. She sees him take them under his wing, provide a male role model, show them how men are supposed to behave.
They’re strangers, people Cain doesn’t have to help or love or even like. Yet he can’t resist that either. And as Liz watches, her heart expands, the way a heart should expand to accommodate real love.
MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, the August release in The Housekeepers Says I Do duet for Harlequin romance, is a tad different. Mac Carmichael is divorced with two kids and needs a nanny. The first thing Ellie Swanson notices is that his kids are love starved. Not that Mac has tried to fill the void of the missing mom, but it’s hard for a dad to be a mom. Ellie, a former foster child who had run away when she was in her teens and has been without family since, is as in need of someone to love as the kids are in need of someone to love them.
When Mac arrives home unexpectedly and finds Ellie playing tea party with his daughter, Lacy, under a tree, dressed in bed linens knotted into a party gown, his heart turns over. As Ellie tells Lacy the story of Cinderella, Mac realizes his little girl’s own mother never told her fairytales, but this virtual stranger is so good she’s willing wrap a sheet around her and fill in the blanks.
Real love scenes frequently sneak up on readers. They happen in those normal moments that somehow turn extraordinary when a hero forgets himself and steps out of his comfort zone to make someone else feel special. They happen when a heroine forgets her own troubles and steps up to be a mother of sorts for a little girl starved for affection.
They happen when a heroine sees her hero really acting like a hero and her heart unlocks a bit.
I have no problem with sex in books. In fact, I sometimes read erotica, but to me there’s nothing that takes the place of a real love scene. A scene where real love blossoms. Sometimes from sacrifice. Sometimes from someone simply going the extra mile.
To me that’s where real heroes and heroines are made.