Writing Sweet and Sensual Romance - Lindsay Townsend

I’ve written sweet and sensual historical romances and have really enjoyed writing them. To me, each kind of heat level has its own charm and challenges. What does not change for me is that whatever heat level I choose, the love and development of a committed relationship between my hero and heroine are what matters.

‘Sweet’ does not mean sexless. Awareness and chemistry are as present in a sweet novel as in an erotic novel. The whole sublime ‘chase’ sequence between man and woman: the first locked glances, the significant notice of the other as being different this time and special; the anticipation by each of their every meeting; the glorious ‘getting to know you’; the deepening commitment and attraction - all these are fully and subtlety explored in a sweet romance.

I write sweet where I feel it is appropriate to the characters, the time period, the culture and setting and what is appropriate to the rest of the storyline. In my 1930s romantic suspense, ‘A Secret Treasure,’ I kept in mind that during that period ‘courting’ was meant to be chaste. Eve and Julio are embroiled in heavy emotional issues - the fact they are falling in love but possible enemies in a tense, pre-war setting; the fact that her brother is missing; the whole significance of the treasure itself. It seemed enough for me, given the length of the story, that their own relationship ‘arc’ should be that of discovery of mutual love. In a sequel I might write of their joyous discovery of each other in a more sexual way, when they have time to savour the whole journey.

For ’sweet’ to be realistic to me, I often put my people through many external threats and interruptions, so there is a good reason why they do not act on their attraction.

I use the same devices in my more sensual novels such as ‘Flavia’s Secret,’ ‘A Knight’s Vow’ and ‘A Knight’s Captive’: the trick of interrupting, external threats, misunderstandings and delayed gratification. This allows me to show the development of the lovers’ relationships on all levels as well as the physical. The deferment hopefully adds to a growing tension, so that when the couples do come together in sexual union, I hope it is a fully integrated emotional and physical experience for my people and for readers. (I aim at satisfaction!)

Often in historical romances there are strong practical reasons why a young woman will not rush into a physical relationship. Pregnancy and being shunned by society were very real fears. I am considering writing a novel about an ancient Roman tumbler who works in the Flavian amphitheatre (the Colosseum). She will be virgin, because for her, it would be too great a risk to have a sexual relationship and become pregnant. She and her baby might starve as she would not be able to work for months.

Working in mainstream romance there is a wide heat range, to suit all comfort levels. My novels tend to be naturally sensual because I am a tactile person myself and I like to show tenderness and first moments - first kiss, first cuddle, first love-making. I also enjoy showing a greater, deepening relationship, as expressed through their love-making and their own growing confidence in each other as revealed by their willingness to sexually experiment. Issues of trust can be shown and explored in these scenes - something I had great fun with in my recent mainstream romance,  ’A Knight’s Captive’. Often in my mainstreams I have a couple making love by surrendering to their passion in the midst of a dispute, or as a question is left hanging between them. After love they trust each other, but how far? The question may still be there, and the added sensuality now between the couple can both clarify or fog the issues.
This is all wonderful conflict to write and hopefully to read.
In all romance, mood is everything, and the mood I wish to create in my mainstream is delicious soft-focus.

I think the heat level I will most naturally gravitate to is mainstream. I enjoy writing adventure in my novels, and putting my heroine and hero in dangerous situations where they are fighting literally for their lives. I like to hint that later, after the danger has died away and my hero takes his heroine into his arms, they will have their own banquet.

Best wishes, Lindsay Townsend
http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com

Tags: historical romance, Lindsay Townsend

11 Responses to “Writing Sweet and Sensual Romance - Lindsay Townsend”

  1. LK Hunsaker Says:

    Lindsay, “sweet does not mean sexless” - love that. I think there’s a lot more actual sensuality in many romances that don’t include sex scenes. It’s the feel of it, the thoughts and emotions, that make a scene truly sensual.

  2. Lynda Coker Says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    Enjoyed your blog. “Sweet’ does not mean sexless.” I also like this thought. In fact, “Sweet” often heightens the sensuality of a relationship because the sexuality has not been overdone.

  3. Lindsay Townsend Says:

    Hi LK and Lynda. Thanks! Best wishes, Lindsay

  4. Judy Nickles Says:

    I enjoyed the way you described relationship-building here, and I agree wholeheartedly that “sweet does not mean sexless”. I’m of the “fade to black” school myself and find those types of scenes much more romantic (to me) than a graphic description.

  5. Lindsay Townsend Says:

    Hi Judy! Thank you - I’m glad you enjoyed my article. I admit that relationship building is my very fav part of any romance.

  6. Steph Burkhart Says:

    Lindsay, what a nice intro to your writing. I got a real sense of what you write and why you write it. I enjoy the first kiss, the first cuddle, and the first love making act as much as you do, I think. I think relationship building is important. Romance is much more rewarding if it is character driven as opposed to plot/action driven. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    Smiles
    Steph

  7. Linda Banche Says:

    Love becomes stronger through levels of sensuality until it culminates in sex. That’s the way I think it should be.

  8. Lindsay Townsend Says:

    Hi Steph, and thank you! I agree with all you say, especially about romance being character drive. And those first kisses….

    Hi Linda - I agree. I like the emotion first.

  9. Hywela Lyn Says:

    Coming in late here, Lindsay, but like most people who’ve commented, I completely agree that ’sweet is not sexless’. It’s the chemistry, the longing, the ‘romance’ that draws me into a story, just as it draws the two characters together. The final intimacy is what all the romantic glances, touches and expressions of love have been leading up to, but it does not have to be described in graphic detail. Give me ’sensual and subtle’!

  10. Lindsay Townsend Says:

    Thanks, Hywela! The chemisty and longing and romance - yes!

  11. Zequeatta Jaques Says:

    Hi, Lindsay. I just now found the time to read and respond to your blog. As usual it was very interesting, as I think your books are. Love the rose picture.

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