Since it’s Valentines, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about kisses. An important part of any romance. I write Historical Romance and will be using some examples from my Hearts at War series. (Which is on sale right now!)
So, what do we look for in a kiss…um, a book kiss, that is?
- The physical: Readers want to be able to picture the kiss, to see it play out in their imaginations.
“Please be careful.” Rachel’s chest hurt as he gave her a half smile and moved to mount. “Andrew?”
He glanced back, his expression tender, his gaze moving from her eyes to her mouth and back again.
Rachel wasn’t certain who called, and it didn’t matter. How could she let him go again, not knowing if she would see him again, and with his kiss—his almost kisses—burning in her mind? “Wait.”
Andrew looked down as she rushed to his side. Pushing his boot out of the stirrup, she replaced it with her own, grabbed the pommel and leaned into the horse to pull herself up. Half sitting in the saddle in front of him, she touched his face. “I love you, Andrew Wyndham. Never doubt th…”
The warmth of his lips silenced her. She closed her eyes as the horse shifted under them. His mouth drew her in, his arm strong around her. His taste, the cascade of scents, the coarse brush of whiskers on her chin—everything intoxicating.
“I love you.” Rachel sank back to the ground.
~excerpt from The Scarlet Coat
- Another aspect of the kiss in writing is the senses. How do you bring their senses alive and put them in the moment?
Lydia tipped her chin up at Daniel’s touch, her lips parting as they met his. Her eyes closed, but not to darkness. A strange sort of light filled her, along with the scent of moss and earth, and something distinctly and wonderfully him. She deepened her breath as Daniel deepened the kiss, his fingers traveling across her back, drawing her against him. Slow and needy, his mouth moved against hers. An ache welled within her, as though she were being ripped in half…and then a sudden release. Her defenses crumbled. Her hands slid with a will of their own to his face and the hair at the nape of his neck. She answered his silent plea with an equally silent yes.
Daniel’s withdrawal was gradual, as though weaning her from his touch. He never completely let go, but gave a boyish grin that broke dimples in both cheeks and melted her reserves as surely as his kiss had.
~excerpt from The Patriot and the Loyalis
How many senses were used in this excerpt? Sight. Smell. Touch. Don’t cram all the senses in there, but add a couple to bring it to life.
- With all that, there is still the mental. What is the character thinking and why? How does that change the kiss?
Joseph ducked his head and touched her mouth. First with his finger. Then with his lips. No movement, just their mouths touching, lingering on the brink of something more.
A shiver moved through her. She’d never wanted anything so much, and feared it so greatly. The moment seemed to balance on one question that remained unanswered. Did he love her?
Pressure built upon her mouth, and she realized he was kissing her. Soft at first, but then with an increasing neediness. Or longing? She couldn’t be sure which, but a huge chasm divided the two. What if she were only a memory of Fannie? Joseph, please…
How could she fight against something she craved so dearly? One of his hands slipped to the bow she had just tied and he pulled the ends free. His kiss paused as he looked at her face. He froze, his gaze never wavering though the light of moments earlier faded away. He cleared his throat and stepped back.
“We should go down to dinner.” Without another word, he collected his hat and moved to the door. Hannah gasped for a breath, but it wouldn’t come. All her attempts to emulate Fannie, and to what end? So that Joseph could lose himself in a memory? Reality was not so kind to him. She’d seen it in his eyes when he’d looked at her and saw her as she was. No, she could never be Fannie. And what good was his love if it wasn’t for her?
~excerpt from The Tory’s Daughter
Here, she spent the whole kiss analyzing their relationship? It might have been very different moment if she had been contemplating something else. Like how much she loved him… or what they were going to have for dinner.
- And finally, at least in this list since I’m running out of books, the emotional. If your characters aren’t feeling anything, neither will the reader.
Myles traced the tips of his fingers down Nora’s sleeve, a simple muslin gown.
She stepped nearer.
What could he tell her that wouldn’t drive her away? Better to remain silent and forget who either of them were. Forget the war—pretend it really had ended. He closed the distance and found her mouth. He needed her strength. Her acceptance. Her.
Myles’s hands felt full as he held her head in place and allowed his heart to bleed. Her lips moved against his, reminding him that he had, indeed, survived and would continue to. Life coursed through him, pushing back the shadows, breathing hope into him.
He’d forgotten what that felt like, tasted like. His eyes burned as her hands smoothed across his back. She pulled away and stared up at him with wide eyes and rosy cheeks. Concern marked her brow. “What happened to your back?”
“What?” He blinked, not ready to let go of her or the feelings she’d given life to.
~excerpt from The Return of the King’s Ranger
So, these are just a few examples of kisses and different focuses to bring out during them. Which do find moves you most as a reader? Do you have a favorite kiss or a scene you’ve written and want to share?