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(originally posted at Romancing The Blog)
You’re alone in your bedroom sleeping soundly when you’re awakened by the sound of glass breaking. You jump out of bed and you immediately…
What did you say? Call the police? Pick up something to defend yourself with? Close the door?
I don’t think you can predict how you’re going to react in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation. Women who claim they’d freeze when the chips are down might be the very ones to kick some ass and vice-versa. Because danger and adrenaline are two of the most unpredictable elements that play with our bodies and our emotions.
It’s why I love writing about the two together and why romantic adventure and suspense makes for some of my favorite reading material. Because for me, the best part of a romantic adventure is its unpredictability in the face of a necessary predictability – namely, the HEA in whatever form that might be in today’s ever changing romantic landscape. Because, in those moments of danger, anything at all could happen.
Romantic Action/Adventure takes the window break-in scenario one step further, puts the hero and heroine in breathtaking danger together and usually on the run to or from something. And yet, one of the more common complaints I see from readers is the fact that the hero and heroine have plenty of time for lust and for sex while on the run in a dangerous situation.
A killer’s after you and you’re going to slow down and have sex? You’re running for your life from a terrorist, and you’re suddenly all hot and heavy for the hero?
For me, as a reader and a writer, those scenarios often work. Because sex and danger go hand in hand, much in the same way lust and love are two sides to the same coin. And research shows that this combination of sex and danger and lust and love might be more than a romance staple, and in fact a lesson in biology, as evidenced by the article, How To Tell Love From Lust.
Lust obviously can lead to procreation, which ensures the survival of a species, but the scientists believe love is better for humans in the long-term.
“Simple lust may be necessary in extremely difficult survival circumstances when there is no time for romance,” Brown says.
“It is known that people in very dangerous and threatening situations can suddenly find themselves lusty for each other, even though they are strangers.
However, under safe circumstances within a stable society, romantic love and attachment may be the best and more efficient way to continue species survival.”
Brown and her team believe that “love at first sight” is a real phenomenon, but they say other non-visual aspects of a person, such as mannerisms, voice, personality and social status, usually must come into play if lust is to evolve into love.
The researchers suggest “love at first sight” and the obsessive goal-driven aspects of early love are both evolved behaviors that speed up mating and provide a better chance for successful reproduction.”
So the danger aspect can bring a hero and heroine closer together, faster than might happen in a plain old night out at the local bar scenario. And yet, many, many readers find the sex and danger scenario a deal breaker, a throw the book against the wall, kind of scene, when they can easily accept a man and woman meeting and feeling a deep seated lust for one another after a glance across the room or a few minutes of conversation. Is it because, more often than not (and thankfully so) this is how our lust to love evolves?
So what is it? Are the books you’re reading not letting you feel the danger enough that you say, oh yeah, I can totally see how she’d react like that?
Is it because, in safe times, our mind doesn’t want to replay a past and potentially dangerous situation we’ve encountered, no matter how small it may be?
Is it because the heroine resists help? Because we want to believe that we’re strong enough and rational enough and capable enough to help ourselves, that sex shouldn’t enter into the equation where danger is close at hand?
Is the lust and danger aspect believable, but the actual taking time out for the sex act what gets you?
Remember – the goal of fiction is not to write people exactly as they would act, but more like the way you would want to, or wish you could act.