The range of heat in today’s romance is so wide, it is enough to make your head spin. If your books don’t fall at either of the two extremes, it is also enough to drive an author crazy. I’ve discovered that one person’s tender emotional scene, is another person’s smut. Sigh.

I write romance, and I like it to be realistic. Like in real life, sex happens. I don’t know about you, but I think romance without heat is not believable. Romance without passionate kissing is ridiculous. On the other had today’s erotic fantasies, in which every desire is satiated—repeatedly—doesn’t line up with real life either. I write to provoke emotion, not to titillate.

When sex occurs on the page in my books it is the culmination of a growing relationship. Description focuses on emotion, bonding, and relationship, not creative gymnastics. It usually also reflects bonding and commitment. I can think of only one exception to that last one.

When asked to provide a heat level for my books, I usually say “3 on a scale of 1-5.” What do you look for when you read romance? I’ll give a copy of THE RENEGADE WIFE: Book One of the newest series, to one person who comments today on any of my posts today.

Here’s an excerpt from The Renegade Wife:

Letting Meggy lead had been a curse and a trial for six weeks. Now it gave him nothing but pleasure. She finished removing his cravat and began to tug at his shirt, her nimble fingers going to the buttons of the fall on the front of his nankeen trousers when she couldn’t pull his shirt loose. He enjoyed a moment of gratitude for the narrow three-button fall when his trousers quickly dropped to his boot tops and his shirt unfurled half way to his knees.

She cast him a naughty look. “You don’t wear under-linen,” she said under arched brows.

“More convenient,” he murmured, capturing her mouth for a long kiss until she moaned against his lips and he released her.

“Let me finish,” she said, batting his hands away.

“Boots first,” he said, dropping to her chair. He raised an eyebrow and waited for her reaction.

She stood with arms akimbo and laughed at him. “That you may do yourself. I’ll wait.”

He leaned over, loosened one boot, and pulled it off. He had the other one half off before she lost patience and went to her knees in front of him to yank it loose and ease his trousers the rest of the way off. He thought he might expire from pleasure when she ran a hand up his calf and took away first one stocking and then the other. When her dainty hand slid up his leg to his thigh, he was sure of it.

When she ran both hands under his shirt, slipped them along his belly, and caressed lower yet, his head fell back, and he gripped the chair, determined to let her have her way and not tear at her clothes and ravage her as his every instinct cried out to do.

“The shirt,” she ordered, leaving him bereft when she stood and made short work of the three buttons at his neck.

“Ah, better,” she sighed when he surged to his feet and pulled the offending garment over his head. She took one step back, moving her head from side to side to study him, before walking all the way around. She came back in front and gave him a cat-like smile. He leaned forward and reached for her, but she stepped away, pointing to the bed.

He lay back and watched the woman he loved remove her clothing one article at a time. She didn’t hurry, but neither did she hesitate. She moved with precise and orderly care, folding each and putting it on the chair until he wanted to howl. He would have, but her eyes never left his, and he knew she needed the care.

When she bent over to untie the last garter and slip out of the last stocking, she rose slowly and blushed deeply, but didn’t try to cover herself.

“Every bit as beautiful as I dreamed,” he said. She hesitated then, uncertain.

He opened his arms. “Arise my beloved, my beautiful one and come . . .”

She knelt on the bed and straddled him. Her black hair fell forward, sheltering her face and flowing down to tickle his chest. “How can I resist a man who quotes scripture naked?” she asked with a smile and leaned forward to kiss softly, then with heat, and finally entering his mouth to taste deeply. He felt her breasts against his chest and lost himself in her passion, knowing from the moans deep inside her that she rode the same wave.