Thursday, April 6, 2017

How to Write Romantic Scenes - Part 2

by Elva Cobb Martin

Today we continue with some thoughts about writing romantic scenes for Christian novels. In Part 1 last week we looked at an example of a "first kiss" scene with its important "prep" scene, followed by a "reaction" scene. You can find it in the archives.

But romantic scenes can be full of romantic tension even without a kiss. What do you think of this one from my romantic suspense, Summer of DeceptionWatch for the tension played out in thoughts and physical descriptions in this early scene between my nanny heroine Rachel York and hero plantation owner Luke Barrett.

Romantic Tension Scene

On impulse, Rachel stepped off the porch onto the
winding garden path. A familiar floral fragrance
enticed her steps down the narrow walkway bordered
by azalea bushes.

Near the base of a tall oak, she discovered the
gardenia bush whose fragrant white blossoms drew her. She stepped off the path, plucked a snowy
blossom, and brought it to her nose. The intense, sweet scent almost dizzied her. Her hair brushed against the cords of gray moss hanging from the tree limbs, and a
curl caught. When she reached to untangle it, the tough
dryness of the plant surprised her. It appeared soft and
flowing. A movement on the path behind startled her.
She whirled around, entangling her curls further.

Luke came out of the evening shadows and gently pulled
her hair free. "There’s a legend about this moss."

Rachel’s heart pounded against her ribs so hard
she dared not speak.

Luke stepped back, fingering a piece of the plant,
and gazed at her.

She cleared her throat, glad he probably couldn’t
read her face in the twilight. "A legend?"

"It’s called Spanish moss. The legend says an enemy killed a Spanish prince and princess on their wedding day. The two families buried them beneath a tall oak, but not before they cut the bride’s long hair and hung it in the branches of the tree. The hair turned
gray in grief and continued to grow and spread to other oaks." Luke tossed the twig to the side and crossed his arms over his broad chest.

Aware of the descending darkness, along with his
presence, Rachel found it hard to breathe. She
shouldn’t have come into the garden so late. 

"Of course, it’s only a legend. The stuff’s neither
Spanish nor moss. It’s an air plant." His eyes still
searched her face.

She took a deep, shaky breath and turned toward
the house. "Interesting. I wondered about the plant
that drapes so many trees here." She started to move
past him.

He shifted his stance and blocked her way.

Her eyes rounded, and her mouth fell open. He
was so close she was sure he could discern her ragged
breathing, her pounding heart. What on earth did he
think he was doing?

"I saw a look like that once before in a doe’s eyes
when I walked up on her in a clearing while hunting."

"And what did you do?" Rachel couldn’t move or
take her eyes from his face. His glance moved across
her face and hesitated on her lips. Her breath stopped.

"Nothing. It wasn’t doe season." He unfolded his
arms and stepped aside.

Rachel ducked her head and hurried past him.

"Rachel." His authoritative voice halted her, but she did not
turn back to face him. "Yes?"

"It may not be wise for you to walk around the
place after nightfall. We hope we are safe. But we
employ many workers who come and go on the
plantation, some of whom might care less about doe
season or anything else."

She turned in time to see him disappear down the
path. He must think her a child. She shook her head and
darted up the walkway to the front door and upstairs
to her room. Perhaps the laborers weren’t the only ones
she should take warning about.

This scene is also followed by a reaction scene from both the heroine and hero's POV. Let's take a look at my widower hero's reaction scene. It begins Chapter Six. In this scene I also lay the foundation for Luke's bitterness toward God.

Reaction Scene in Hero's POV

Luke walked from the garden into the house to
the Game Room. He slumped into his chair without
turning on a light. Moonlight cascaded from the
windows across his desk. He sat there silent, a
hollowness in his chest. Suddenly he slammed his fist
down on the desktop and dropped his head into his

What was happening to him? Was he losing his
mind? He’d almost taken Rachel York into his arms.
But there could be no other woman for him. And what
woman would want a one-eyed jack? He jerked the
patch from his forehead and threw it across the room.

He left the house and entered the barn. Stopping at Haidez’s stable door, he fumbled the key into the lock. The stallion gave a welcome nicker and stamped to him. Luke’s mind cleared as he threw the blanket and saddle on the silky black back. The night breeze cooled his hot brow as he galloped to a far pasture and the family cemetery. For weeks, he’d not even driven by the grave. He needed a good reminder of what he and Georgina had enjoyed and could never have again. His inner eye traced back through happy memories. The day Kristina was born with his black hair but Georgina’s sweet lips and heart-shaped face. Georgina with her golden 
hair blowing in the wind, riding her white mare on the beach.
His "Annabelle Lee" an angry God let die.

He spurred the stallion forward and stopped beneath the pecan trees surrounding the cemetery, close to the newest stone monument. The song of crickets filled the humid air. He sat there a few moments. Haidez swung his head and pawed the ground, snorting. The horse desired to fly across the fields as they often did. It did help, flying like the wind, until they reached the ocean’s foaming barrier and a measure of peace. But tonight, a strange stillness
flowed over Luke without racing to the ocean. Finally, he reined the tossing head toward the plantation house and rest for them both.

I'm so glad you stopped by. Do you see how you can build romantic tension early in your novel? Please join this romantic scene chat and share this link.

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