This month’s word is heat. It can’t be a surprise to anyone living in the US why this month’s word would involve high temperatures. Most of the country has been dealing with scorching temperatures for a few weeks now, possibly as punishment for our climate sins. I’m not someone who typically objects to warm weather, but even I’ve been feeling it. (That’s how you know it’s been extreme. Well, that and the text alerts to your phone from government officials on protest days, warning you of heat issues. But I digress.)
Hot weather calls for a few different remedies. Folks who have air conditioning, of course, use it. Some towns offer cooling centers. There are community pools, or the beach, or playing in the sprinkler if you’re not under water restrictions. Ice cream and frozen treats are great options.
For me, of course, the beach is not an option. I inherited my skin from ancestors who believed the sun was a myth and used it to frighten small children into obedience. I once burned through a shirt at Yankee Stadium, so badly it lasted for a month. Yes, I was wearing sunblock. Not under my clothes, of course, but it didn’t matter. There was no difference, in the end.
Of course, there’s something to be said for having someone to rub the sunblock onto your back. Or to bring you nice, cooling gin and tonics, once you’ve re-hydrated after baking yourself on a march.
Hot weather can make some aspects of sensuality seem unappealing. I get that.* But creative lovers, and creative authors, can find ways to make even the muggiest weather swoon-worthy.
To start with, there are the little touches that show the beloved that their partner cares. Iced coffee at the workplace on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon. Grilling dinner outside, rather than heating up the kitchen. A Popsicle after mowing the lawn – and sure, the partner can get creative with how he eats that Popsicle. Applying aloe to a sunburn, or rubbing sunblock in on a day at the beach.**
Of course, your ideas of what’s “hot” probably differ from the person next to you. Everyone’s got their own turn-ons, after all. One person might like the idea of a steamy beach read, thinking about a couple of hot guys and that popsicle on a Cape Cod beach, while someone else is thinking the last thing they want while baking in the sun is to get even more hot and bothered. For that matter, they might not even think something that low-key is even worth getting hot and bothered about, and if the main characters haven’t come up with a way to turn the lifeguard chair into an impromptu St. Andrew’s Cross by the end of Chapter 2 they’re completely over this book.
To each their own. It could be funny, but I wouldn’t be able to get over the sunburn factor.
What, to you, is hot? Not that all books have to drip with sex, but this is a romance website. Some discussion of sensuality and sexuality is appropriate.
The flip side of the coin is, what’s the best way for an author to turn you right off – a literary cold shower?
For me, it can be a little hard to define what’s hot in a book. I don’t have a list of kinks or factors that I absolutely must have. For me, it’s about the character. I’m not particularly into BDSM stories, but The Detective’s Pleasure by Christa Tomlinson is one I can keep turning back to, over and over, and it still gets a rise out of me. It affects me, emotionally and physically, because of what the sexual acts mean for Ryan and his development.
By contrast, I do have a list of turn-offs. This isn’t a list meant to shame people who are into these things, or a “never do these things in writing” list. It’s just personal. Plenty of people get into certain kinds of “dirty talk” in sex scenes that I find kind of demeaning. When I see it, I just get repulsed and just skip through the scene after that. Anything labeled “hate sex” is – for me – like having your mom or your kid walk in right in the middle of things. It just completely kills it. I know it’s a popular factor in a lot of enemies-to-lovers stories, and I actually just got an outline for my ghostwriting business that required it. It’s just a turn-off for me.
Also pregnancy. Lots of people, in all kinds of romance, find pregnancy irresistible. Lots of people in real life find pregnancy amazingly attractive. I’ve been pregnant. For me, there’s nothing hot or attractive about it. It’s just uncomfortable, plus perfect strangers feel compelled to touch you and lecture you about food and vaccines and stuff. That’s not sexy.
Lots of people love those stories, though. They’re incredibly popular, and more power to those authors.
It’s July, and everything is getting hotter. What are you doing to beat the heat, or raise it?
* Especially after a sunburn. Trust me on this one.
** Okay, yes, these last two are personal fantasies of mine. Sue me.