On making erotic romance sexy and REAL…

Oh, we love fantasy in romance novels. I don’t mean fantasy as in the specific genre involving magical elements, but in the romantic and/or sexual sense where we let our imagination run wild. Heroines are swept away (even kidnapped) by strong, macho, dominant, sexually-skilled, rich, well-endowed, (add your adjective here) men who fall madly in love with them. And even though the men are wounded, bitter, angry, tormented, promiscuous, unable to commit (add negative trait here) that ceases to be a problem. Love is all they need. Once they overcome that first bump in the road, the couple lives blissfully, happily, and faithfully ever after.

I’ve written my share of fantasy into my erotic romances. This time I wanted to do something different. I wanted to write a real romance, a story that was hot and sexy, yet true-to-life. To create a relationship that one would actually wish for–the best possible kind of real, where he is heroic in the ways that matter and he makes your heart and stomach flutter.

In Reasonable Doubts, I tried to create a spanking romance to mirror real life issues:

  • The daunting prospect of dating after being married for a long time
  • Having sex with somebody new for the first time in decades
  • A relationship in which one person has a kink (spanking) but the other does not
  • The nerve-wracking prospect of raising the subject of that kink with one’s new partner.
  • Having an older heroine (45) and hero (39) because not everyone is 20-something
  • Having a nice guy as a hero instead of arrogant, a-hole of a lothario
  • Having a woman who had a happy, loving marriage and wants to find that again

I hope readers will relate to Liz and Grant and their story.

CaraBristol_RandCSociety_ReasonableDoubts_400x600An excerpt from Reasonable Doubts:

“Let’s go.” Grant swatted her ass. A wave of longing rolled through her like thunder traveling across an open plain. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and swayed. More. Please more.

But there wouldn’t be more, because Grant wasn’t that way.

Why couldn’t he be a gentleman and a spanker? Was she foolish to start a relationship with a man who could give only half of what she needed? She’d never settled before. But at the idea of walking away from Grant, a little pang shot through her.

But maybe that ache afforded reason enough to call it quits—get out now before she became more attracted, more attached. She needed a man with the confidence to take her in hand and provide what she needed without her having to ask. A head of household who provided stability, structure, and discipline. A mother-may-I guy would not fit the bill.

Grant was a nice man. A good man. They had no commitments, but eventually she would meet someone who could provide everything she needed, and she would move on. It wasn’t right to use him to stave off the loneliness or to scratch an itch. He deserved better.

“Hey…are you okay?” Grant settled a gentle hand on her shoulder, and she realized a long moment had passed since she’d agreed to leave.

Dating did not get easier when you got older. If anything, it got more complicated. She took a deep breath and turned. She didn’t want to disappoint him, to hurt him. She liked him. Enjoyed his company, his conversation, his laugh.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t do this.”

“If you’re not ready, we don’t have to. I understand,” he said.

He didn’t understand. She would not be ready, ever. Not with him. But the words to mark paid to their fledgling relationship refused to leave her lips. Why did he have to be so nice? Attractive. Sexy. Damn him!

“Why don’t we go have some tea and dessert?” he suggested.

“All right,” she agreed, because she couldn’t bring herself to ask him to take her home.

She slipped out of his sports coat and felt an instant loss of warmth. “Thank you.” She returned it, giving back more than his jacket.

“Are you sure? It’s still chilly in here.”

The only thing she was sure about was how confused she was. “I’m good. Thank you.”

Grant shrugged into his jacket, and they exited the gallery. Misery thickened Liz’s throat, but she held her head high as they strolled down the corridor. They avoided the crowded elevator for the empty stairwell. Liz started to descend the steps, but Grant stopped her on the landing. He lightly gripped her upper arms.

“Listen,” he said. “I’m attracted to you, and I want to sleep with you. But it has to be right. You were married a long time, and this is a big step. We’ll take it at your pace. I’m sorry if I came on too strong.”

He brushed his thumb over her face, and Liz realized she was crying. Her face heated with mortification.

“Hey….” He wrapped his arms around her in a hug, and she hid her face against his neck. He chuckled, a sound of such tenderness, Liz cried harder. “Sweetheart?” Grant rocked her. “Tell me why you’re so upset.”

Because she wanted to sleep with him, but she needed him to spank her. Because her emotions were stronger than she’d thought. She craved discipline, but she desired it from him. Grant had wrapped himself around her heart the way his arms fit so snuggly around her shoulders. “B-because…I don’t know. Because I’m crazy.”

“I like crazy women.”

“Nobody likes crazy women.”

“I like you.”

“Then you’re crazy.”

“See? We’re perfect for each other.”

She smiled through her tears. A measure of heartache receded, but confusion still reigned. “I’m a basket case.”

“I like baskets.”

Laughter snorted out her nose. She thumped his chest with her fist. “You’re too nice to me.” You don’t make it easy.

Or maybe she complicated the situation. She and Grant had connected. Perhaps she should get out of her own way and let nature run its course. Stop analyzing and go with the flow. Counselor, counsel thyself. Many friends had sought her advice, used her as a sounding board to work through relationship woes. She could read people and had an instinct for who would be good together. How many couples had she matched up over the years? Dozens, probably. But her life was a mess. A turmoil of conflicted emotion.

Fix me a spanking, won’t you, darling?

Some people drank to calm their nerves. Others exercised or meditated. She’d been spanked. So many times, after a grueling day at work, Otis had taken one glance at her and taken her in hand.

Spank me, Grant.

“Can I reconsider?” she asked.

“Reconsider?” he raised his eyebrows.

“I’d like to sleep with you. Tonight,” she said.

“You don’t have to do that. I can wait,” he said, but a lopsided, hopeful smile slid across his face.

She shook her head. “I don’t want to wait.”

As if he feared she might change her mind again, he hustled her down the stairs.

Reasonable Doubts blurb

Widow Liz Davenport assumes when she begins to date, her new man will be like her late husband–a member of the Rod and Cane Society and an experienced disciplinarian who can provide her with loving guidance she requires to feel grounded and secure. So why is she attracted to Grant Davis, an ex-Naval  JAG officer who works for her nemesis and has never spanked a woman in his life?

Events in his recent past have forced Grant to take stock of his life and try some new things. But spank a woman? He’s never considered that before, but with Liz’s coaching he’s willing to try.

But when the past collides with the present, will he be able to step up and become the disciplinarian Liz needs?

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 ARe | Barnes & Noble

rc mug Reasonable Doubts is on virtual tour!

Visit and comment on one of my guest blogs and you can receive a Rod and Cane Society membership card AND enter a drawing for Rod and Cane Society coffee mug. Today, I’m with Renee Rose. There are fifteen stops in all. Each blog you comment on, gives you one more chance to win a mug. You can find the complete tour stop list here.

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15 Responses to On making erotic romance sexy and REAL…

  1. Lisa Medley says:

    You accomplished all of that and more! I loved Liz and Grant’s story. Best one yet!

  2. I think you kept it real but it still felt like reading a romance should – kind of takes you away and just leaves you going ahhh…..at the end of it. And it was hot and sexy!

  3. Sandra says:

    Well done Ms. Cara, well done. Those seven points you listed about real life issues, perfect. I wish more authors would be as thoughtful as you are.

    You managed to balance every so well..and still make it sigh worthy.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, Sandra. I’ve been married for almost 22 years, and I’ve thought about what I would do if something happened to my husband. Dating? Yikes!

      • Sandra says:

        I don’t envy my single friends at all. Dating… it was fun when I was younger (not that that I’m old, but life happens) and I’ve been married/committed for way too long to think about going through the process of weeding through all of the maybes to find the one/ones…

  4. Cara, you absolutely succeeded on all counts and even before reading this great blog, I had realized some of the goals you list above were exactly why I loved this book so much. I just loved how real their story felt and I found myself wondering exactly how I would react were I in Liz’s shoes. Thanks for sharing her flip-flopping thoughts along her path and you have one of my favorite lines from the book in this excerpt: Because she wanted to sleep with him, but she needed him to spank her. That’s great stuff!
    ~Livia

  5. I agree w/everyone else. You did an excellent job w/all those issues and I think readers appreciate a story that seems a bit more relatable.

  6. Liz Castillo says:

    I love that these two were older. It’s a great story, and I really enjoyed it!

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