• Riley Murphy

As a writer I wonder if attraction is a choice?





Being a writer of BDSM romance, I’ve given this some thought because I think identifying the draw for attraction between the H/heroine in these kinds of stories is crucial. Certainly between any H/heroine no matter the circumstances, there has to be an instant attraction of some kind. And I’m not talking, “Gee he’s got a nice ass I’d like to sink my teeth into.” That can come later. I’m referring to that inexplicable draw. You all know the one. An immediate thrill that strokes a person on the inside until a shot of pure adrenaline hits the bloodstream and pops out in a flush across your cheekbones.


It’s that feeling, that phenomenon which got me to thinking specifically about plotting the first meeting between my hero, Ethan, and heroine, Colin, in Reluctant Surrender. I wanted it to be less traditional than what I usually write and too, what I usually read. Because as a reader I realized I’d become accustom to the emphasis being placed on physical attributes to justify the draw and instant attraction between characters. But the writer in me wondered if this is really what it is?


Looking at it from a human instinct angle, I decided for the hero, maybe. Men are much more visually stimulated than women. For a woman? What’s the lure? Does she know, or is it that attraction isn’t a choice for her it just is? It’s something indefinable, but present. And if that’s true, how could I as a writer capture it and sell the reality of what boils down to primal instinct to my readers?


*Rubs hands together* I love me a challenge.


So, for Reluctant Surrender I may have let my hero rely heavily on the physical to some extent at first, because I believe males do put more emphasis on the visual. But in Ethan’s case he’s drawn to Colin for all that he can’t see of her. She’s wrapped up tight and he wants to get under her layers and see what she’s got beneath the armor.


On my heroine’s side of things I wanted Colin to have something different that Ethan has which captivates her. You know something other than his six-pack abs and totally gorgeous with a capital “G” features. And that’s when it hit me. The draw for her. It isn’t external (those abs and melt-worthy eyes are just the icing on her slice of heaven pie) because Ethan has an aura of power that Colin responds to before they’ve even said one word to one another. It’s a smoldering level of attraction that isn’t immediately understood by her, but she’s powerless against it, just like a person is when that flush pops out on their cheekbones. It’s there and she has to deal with it.


The one thing I loved best about this story is how swept-off-his-Dom feet Ethan becomes with Colin’s honest and self-deprecating approach to understanding the lifestyle. Ethan wasn’t the only one laughing at her deadpan insights, I found myself chuckling on occasion too. I love that.





Here’s an excerpt:


She shook her head. “Fear is the prison of the heart. At least that’s what I think.” She smiled. “What about you? How do you think a real man loves his woman?”


“Hm. First off, I’d say, with real love there is no happily ever after. There are going to be fights and struggles, triumphs and accolades. A real man knows this. He also knows that it’s not about what he gets from his woman. It’s about what he gives her. His loyalty and protection so she can trust him to see the real her without judgment. His word—”


“In other words, everything.” Colin said. “Good and bad. No holding back.”


“I suppose.” It was his turn to shrug. “I think these days too many marriages end because of an expectation of happiness or lack of. No one should be responsible for another’s happiness. Can a partner be the vehicle to get them there? Absolutely. But not the ride itself.”


“I couldn’t agree more. Happiness comes from inside a person. You can change all the external stuff you want, but if you’re truly unhappy, moving, quitting your job or your marriage, won’t change that.”


There was a comfortable silence between them for a minute. And she was just thinking how great it was to have a normal conversation with a guy when he went and wrecked it.


“What about sex?”


“Sex?” Her voice sounded pitchy. She should have known they’d wind up here.


“Yeah, you know. That thing two people do together to show how much they like one another.”


She smoothed a hand down her pant leg, as if she were smoothing out wrinkles but there weren’t any. And when she spotted him following the line of her hand, she stopped. “It’s fine.”


“Honey, if you think sex is only fine, you haven’t been doing it with the right people.”


“People?”


“Or perso—” His head snapped up. “Don’t tell me that John is the only guy you’ve been with?”


Her face was as red as the strawberries. And if that wasn’t telling enough, her softly whispered, “So, what if he was?” said it all.


Immediately his body responded. He was hard and thinking about all the things he wanted to do with her. What he could show and give her. God, the possibilities were endless.


“Did you have great sex with John?”


“Really, I don’t think—”


“Chicken.” He could see she was exasperated. Great. It was a good time to break out the brandy.


“Really? You’re pouring that? You know, I don’t usually drink.”


“I know you told me that earlier. Are you saying no?” When she shook her head, he pressed a half-filled snifter into her hand and asked again. “So the sex with John was…?”

She took a large sip and swallowed. That had to hurt. Her eyes instantly watered and she winced, but didn’t cough. Impressive. “We had an adequate sexual relationship.”


“Sounds riveting. Adequate?” He leaned back and swirled the brandy around in his glass.


“Did you orgasm?”


“I beg your pardon?”


He laughed. “Honey, I’ve had women beg me before, but not to be pardoned. They like the atonement for the sins part too much. An orgasm. It’s when your pulse races and you breathe real heavy and both legs shake hard until your head caves in.”


She blinked and then stammered, “I-I know w-what an orgasm is.”


“So?” He arched his brow, daring her to answer.


“Yes, I’ve had an orgasm.” That phrase came out like a so there.


“That wasn’t my question, Colin. I asked if you had an orgasm with John.”


“Does it matter?” He nodded and she finally spilled. “No. I never had an orgasm with him.”


“There, was that so hard?” She made a face that said that death would have been preferable and he grinned. “If it makes you feel any better, I never had an orgasm with John either.” She nearly spit out her brandy. Her head fell back, her eyes squeezed shut, and she fought to choke down the mouthful of brandy. “Honestly. Once you have an orgasm during sex, you’ll never want to go it alone again.”


She gave a strangled cough.


“Are you okay?” At her nod he said, “Good. Now, where was I going with this?” He paused just long enough to lull her with the notion that he’d lost his train of thought. But he hadn’t. “So, poor John couldn’t get you hot during sex, what about before or after?”


“B-before or after w-what?”


“Sex.” He took a measured sip of his brandy. “You did do other things in bed besides screw?”


She was adorably mortified, and if not for the warming effects of the brandy, he was confident she would have demanded they stop the car so she could get out. “Sure. We slept.”


“Did he ever spank you?”


“No.” She was back to looking at her hands and fidgeting with the bottom of her glass.


“Tie you up?”


“No.”


“Bite you? Lick you? Ea—”


“No.” She sat up straight.


“Did he have any help at all in that department?”


Finally, she looked at him. “Help?”


“Yes.” He held her stare.


“I don’t understand.”


“Did John have any tools-of-the-trade?”


She blinked. “He was an accountant.”


“I mean toys, Colin. Did John have toys he liked to use on you to try to get you there?”


She downed her brandy and handed him the glass. “Nope.” Her voice sounded gritty as if she’d been chewing on gravel. “John didn’t have any toys.” She adamantly shook her head, repeating, “No toys.”


“Do you?” It was quiet. Too quiet. Damn, the car had stopped. Just when he had her right where he wanted her.

(End of excerpt)



Here are my guys in The Trust In Me Series...




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