At a Barnes & Noble in the small California town...
by JULIE ANNE LONG

My sister found a copy of THE PERILS OF PLEASURE on the shelves and brought it over to the bookseller behind the counter.

“This is my sister!” she told him excitedly.

He stared at it a moment. “On the…cover?”

He finally guessed. Somewhat hopefully.

Oh, man. I cracked up. I told her she should have run with it, but since she's known me all her life, I imagine she found it impossible to lie through all the laughing she was doing.

It's not like I don't have my moments of relative sexiness, of course. It's just that none of them occur anywhere near the end of a deadline, which is about where I am now.

Let's talk about sexy for a moment. THE PERILS OF PLEASURE is a big, exciting book for me: the first book in a new series that just feels juicy and rich in possibility for me (read a little more about Pennyroyal Green at my website); my first book for Avon, and my first green book.

I've been humbled and dazzled by the reviews: a Top Pick from RT, a Desert Isle Keeper from AAR--these are terms lovers of romance and romance authors recognize and appreciate, and I'm beyond thrilled that readers are responding enthusiastically to the story so far. And, it's a beautiful cover, isn't it?? It's perhaps my favorite, and most sensual cover, to date.

But thinking of sexiness got me thinking...

What's genuinely sexy to me? What makes me lose myself, invest myself, in a story, and remember it long after I've read that last page?

For me, what makes sex sexy in a book is intimacy and connection. I love actual love stories. This means watching the hero and heroine, regardless of their personal circumstances--aristocrat or working class?--or the circumstances under which they meet--a gallows rescue and a manhunt?--a house party and all its fraught and hilarious undercurrents and warring motivations?--discover each other and experience falling in love in all its glorious, funny, unique, sexy little intricacies: those moments of awkwardness and hilarity; the sparks and breathlessness; the mutual revelation of vulnerabilities.

We always look forward to the grand moments (e.g., that first kiss), but sometimes the homely details of discovery are more profound and therefore excruciatingly sexy--e.g., the hero discovers this astonishing woman has a tiny scar near her chin; it becomes fascinating and precious to him--and that's when he realizes he's a goner.

These are the ingredients of intimacy. They wrap us in the uniqueness of a particular love story and, once we're wrapped, it becomes our story.

Holy cow, for that reason, it's that much more marvelous when our hero and heroine make love--whenever and however often that happens--and when they end up together.

Remember sometime back when poor Jude Law was photographed fully, frontally nude as he changed back into a bathing suit? And it was splashed all over the internet? He probably wouldn't thank me for bringing that up again, but in an essay a writer at Salon.com posited this: the appeal of that photo wasn't about the nudity--it wasn't exactly his most flattering photo--it was about the intimacy of the moment. Our guys might be hotter than pistols and alpha as all get out, but it's the dorky, ordinary little moments that only we get to see that make them ours, make them even hotter, in a way, and make us love them.

Anyhow: when I'm writing, I'm aiming for heat, and I'm aiming for intimacy. I hope you'll find both in THE PERILS OF PLEASURE, and in every other romance I write!

8 Comments:

Blogger Rikki the Romantic said:

Oh, Julie! I just finished the Perils of Pleasure and I have to say...thank you! You just get better and better with each book. I love, love, love your unconventional heroines. I totally love that they aren't all highborn ladies used to wearing satins and silks. I love Madeline and the fact that she had a life BEFORE she met Colin! I sometimes feel like other romance writers think that all women want to be swept of their feet by a hero, but that isn't my fantasy at all.(maybe I'm weird) When I finally meet my Mr. Right, I want to be on equal footing with him, I don't want to be something his has to "take care of". I think you get that because your heroines are never wimps :) They always show that they can stand on their own. Anyway, I am a big fan and I think you deserve all the fantastic reviews you are getting for The Perils of Pleasure. I wish you lots of happiness and success and I look forward to your next book!

7:10 PM  

Anonymous Julie Anne Long said:

Rikki -- aren't you a doll! I'm so delighted you love POP, and I loved what you said about my heroines. Because you know -- I like to write heroines that feel like...well, that feel like US! I love to disappear into fantasies of satins and silks sometimes and nobility, too. But that just isn't the reality of MY life. And most of us have had whole lives, loves, heartbreaks, struggles and triumphs, ambitions, embarrassments, reversals of fortune. You get the picture. :) And the big romantic fantasy of mine -- of all the strong, heroic women I know, in fact -- is to be truly seen, understood, known and admired for who they really are -- warts and all, strength and flaws -- by men just as strong as they are, just as unique. Men worthy of them, you know? I feel like if we can identify closely with our heroes and heroines, if their stories feel more real, then the fantasy and the romance is that much more potent, if that makes sense. It's somehow more satisfying when they get together. :) I love to explore different relationship dynamics, too, and unconventional matches, and I have sooo many ideas. LOL. We'll see what the future brings. Thanks for the good wishes, and thanks so much sharing how much you enjoyed POP!! take care for now.

9:39 PM  

Blogger Bethany said:

Oh my goodness. Thank you for sharing that anecdote about the cashier. "On the...cover?" hahaha. That had me cracking up!

You know, you should actually pose for your own cover. You're a gorgeous girl. You got cheekbones, lady! Use em!!

POP was such a good book. So many great lines in it!!! You saw my numbered list. :) I can't wait for the next book.

11:06 AM  

Anonymous Julie Anne Long said:

Ah, Bethany, you're so funny. I'll cop to not exactly being a troll, but the camera generally has nothing but contempt for me. LOL. I'm often captured with my mouth wide open lauging or mid-chew, or one eye shut, or you name it. You won't be seeing me on a book cover, soon!! Plus, I think you need a special kind of yoga to prepare your body for gettinginto some of those poses. LOL. Romance Yoga!!! You know it's only a matter of time before that's a class. So glad you enjoyed POP!! And no, I'll never forget your numbered list of things you liked -- thanks for that!! LOL. I love lists!!

12:01 PM  

Blogger flchen1 said:

Julie Anne, I just wanted to say GORGEOUS cover--and everyone I've talked to who's already read it raves. I've got to get it!! :)

12:07 PM  

Anonymous Julie Anne Long said:

Hey Flchen1 -- I was beside myself when I first saw that cover. LOL. And I'm so glad your friends are raving to you about POP!! :) Truthfully, nearly every author I've glommed onto in my life was recommended by a trusted friend who knows my taste in reading. I've stumbled across a few serendipitously, but reading is a pretty communal thing, isn't it? We pass books back and forth to each other. I think word of mouth is powerful! So listen to your friends! LOL. You'll have to let me know what you think of POP if you *do* get a chance to read it -- stop by my blog, the Julie Chronicles, over at http://www.julieannelong.typepad.com if you fee like it! Take care for now!

1:45 PM  

Anonymous Daisy said:

Oh you gals make every women writer out there envious! Erm, like me! Ha!

1:53 PM  

Anonymous TripTheLady said:

Now I have to read this book - thanks for posting it!

3:44 PM  

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