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What’s your Heat Level Comfort Zone?

For readers who follow my work, they know I write in two different genres. I’ve written dystopian demon westerns with fantasy elements. Western historicals with aliens and a paranormal vibe. I also write contemporary romance. They all have heat levels that vary from sweet–meaning closed door–to sensual.

Sensual, at least in my writer vocabulary, means there are love scenes, but in terms of the language I use to describe them, they’re pretty tame. It also means that if the love scenes were removed from the story, both the plot and the romance remain unaffected. The love scenes add another aspect to the characters’ relationship, but they aren’t what the deeper, long-lasting relationship is based on.

I’m currently working on a new contemporary romance series. Since this is one I plan to self-publish, I have more freedom when it comes to choosing the heat level(s). I opted to let the characters dictate the heat level appropriate for each of the stories.

Right now I’m almost finished the second book out of three. The heat level for this one is a little more, um…naughty than I’d normally write.


My characters, however, insisted.

To give you a preview:

“I think we’re both clear on what I’m interested in,” he said. “My concern is that neither of us knows what you really want, although whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing short term.”

Short term was exactly what she wanted from him. The thought of anything else was too ridiculous. And overwhelming. “You think you know me that well after a few phony kisses and a day at the beach?”

“I’m saying you’d never go through with it. You’re too…”

His voice trailed off as if he’d thought better of whatever he’d intended to say. His expression, however, made his point loud and clear.

“Boring?” she suggested.

“I thought we’d cleared up that misconception last night. Boring is the last thing I find you. You aren’t, however, the kind of girl a guy picks up in a bar for one night.”

She crinkled her nose. “I’m judging you right now.”

He laughed. “Let me rephrase that. You’re more the kind of girl a guy takes home to his mother. I haven’t introduced mine to anyone since Sarah Keddy in fifth grade.”

Which brought them right back to boring. “Still judging you. For what it’s worth, I’m more interested in competing with the kind of woman you’d pick up in a bar, not a fifth grader.” She drew air into her lungs and went for brave. She swung her leg over his and straddled his hips, resting her palms on his chest. She leaned in close, her lips suspended above his. “I am very interested in that one night you speak of. Strictly for research purposes, of course. To see how you’d perform against a baseline.”

She read the astonishment in his eyes. Then, the spark of pure lust.

One broad palm cupped the arch of her bottom. Heat scorched through the thin cotton latex blend of her yoga pants. “I confess I’m a little turned on by the dirty research talk.”

“Maybe a discussion on safe sex should come first. I’m clean and I’m on the pill.” She blurted it out on a single breath, the words tripping over each other.

“Same here, Dr. Babe. Except for the pill part. I’m waiting for you science types to perfect one for men. When you do, I’ll be all over it. Until then, I can probably scrounge up a condom or two if you don’t trust me.”

“I trust you.” She wouldn’t be sitting on his lap if she didn’t. The last reservations inside her broke free. “I’m still not sure I like being called Dr. Babe, though.”

“How about if I say it like this?” His hand slid to the small of her back. His fingers eased under the hem of her tank top, caressing the bare flesh of her stomach as they worked their way beneath her bra. She caught her breath, the erotic sensation of his fingertips stroking the sensitive skin beneath the curve of her breast shooting fire to the insides of her thighs. “You are so freaking hot, Dr. Babe. I can’t wait to be inside you.” The evidence of that declaration was apparent, his erection hard and enormous beneath her.  His eyes narrowed to cat-like slits in the darkness, predatory, intent, and a total turn on. “Tell me what you’d like me to do to you to get me there.”



The scene escalates from there. My heroine–a definite good girl who’d like to be bad–tries out her version of dirty talk.


Not going to lie, here. The scene was difficult to write because as a writer, it took me out of my comfort zone. It was also a lot of fun though, because it took my heroine out of hers, too.

As a reader, however, it’s still pretty tame. My question for you other readers out there becomes:

What’s your reading heat level comfort zone?