Lessons from a Romance Expert

February 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm , by

Who better to know how to heat up your Valentine’s Day than a woman whose business is romance? Romance novelist Robyn Carr (robyncarr.com) has been honored with multiple RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and her Virgin River series (the newest installment is Redwood Bend, coming out next month) landed her on the New York Times bestseller list. Here’s Carr’s advice on how to apply the lessons of romance novels to your own love life.


1) Set the scene. If you’ve ever read a romance, you know that the sex can be pretty steamy. But rarely do the characters just start going at it and rarely do I give them a chance to get away to a quiet lodge. That’s just not how life is. But I do like to set the scene—let them flirt a little to heat things up. So how can you do that in real life? Traditional things like candles and good lighting are nice, but go the extra step and get rid of distractions. Turn off the phone. Turn off the TV. Send the kids to your mom’s house. Turn on some music so you can’t hear the garbage truck doing its weekly pick-up. (And try a faster-paced mix of tunes for a change!) Make the two of you the focus so the “scene” can happen without any interruptions. My characters are at their hottest when they’re concentrating on each other and nothing else.

2) Write your own romance story. Sometimes words are all you need. Take it from someone who spends her whole life creating romantic scenes from words alone. Take advantage of their power by sending a letter detailing your plans for Valentine’s Day (and night) to your partner. You can stick it in the mail a week before Valentine’s Day so he has a few days to imagine what’s coming. For some last minute “story-telling,” a sexy text message will work too. Just be sure no one at his office will get to his phone before he does!

3) Men are visual creatures.  So give him something to visualize. When I’m writing from the male perspective, I use a lot of descriptions and write about what he’s seeing. That’s because that’s how most men are; they think with their eyes. So give your man something to see. It doesn’t have to be traditional sexy lingerie. In fact, be sure it’s something you feel confident in: You might be more of a jeans-and-boots kind of woman than a Victoria’s Secret type. One of my favorite lines in Virgin River when one male character says to another, “What that woman does to a pair of jeans should be against the law.”

4) Read out loud. Okay, this might sound a little cheesy, but I’ve found that reading gets just about anyone in the mood. Case in point: In one of my books, the hero liked to read biographies and the heroine loved her romances so the hero read the romantic scenes out loud her. It was delicious. To make this work for you, find a short scene (ideally one page or so) you think is romantic. Mark the page (so you don’t have to flip through a book in the moment to find it) and tell your partner that you want to read him a scene that inspired you for tonight. The more you can make it about you and him, the better. I promise he’ll be turned on thinking of you reading a book and imagining him in a hunky role.

5) Take charge. I like strong women. My heroines know what they want (even if they have to work to get it). You’d be surprised how hot guys think it is when women say what they want and take charge in bed. Show him what you want. Better yet, tell him.

6) Remember to focus on fun. Do the things you enjoy doing together, whether it’s camping or going to a movie. Laugh together. Hold hands. I swear the biggest reason I’ve been married as long as I have is because my husband can always make me laugh. Humor in marriage is probably one of the most important components. In my last book, Hidden Summit, date night starts out with a lot of joking about the foibles of just learning to date; laughter feels good and couples who have fun together often have more trust and better intimacy.

7) Become a romance heroine. My main characters aren’t all corsets and lace. (Although if that works for you, go for it!) The best part of modern-day romance figures is that the women are real. They have jobs, friends, bills to pay. They’re businesswomen and mothers. But they are still hot and so are you! But in order to be hot, you have to believe it. So take some extra time before you go out for Valentine’s Day. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. Put on your favorite red lipstick. Wear your most flattering outfit. And before you walk out the door, look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am a real life romance heroine.” Just do it. It will be our little secret. And when he shows up for date night in his worst double-knit pants and the sweater with a hole in it, roll your eyes, have a laugh, and love him anyway.

Image via Flickr user Sister72




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