Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pleasurably intense midbook longing in Your Scandalous Ways

One of my favorite things ever in any historical is when the author has cranked up the longing between the H/H to a feverish and breathless level. And about halfway through the book, the narrative is pinging back and forth and the longing is spiralling like crazy, and the tension for them to get together is nearly unbearable.

Do you know what I'm talking about? Of course you do! I just love that. Now, don't get me wrong, I like the tension to 'get resolved' if you know what I mean, but I so so enjoy when it builds in a super huge way.

A recent outstanding example of this was Scandal by Carolyn Jewel. Whew, that was some great midbook longing! Which reminds me, I have to get Indiscreet. Also, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

Anyway, right now I'm reading Your Scandalous Ways, also by Loretta Chase, and getting that great hit of midbook longing. Actually, the longing starts well before the middle of the book.

One very satisfying thing Chase does is to take a detail from one scene and re-use it. Like, at one point, Francesca Bonnard, our elite Venetian prostitute heroine, is trying to sort of 'seduce' spy James Cordier on a wager. (You don't think I could bring you to your knees,"came her voice, cool and taunting. "Would you care to make a wager?" and he does.)

So they're in this enclosed gondola. And she proceeds to completely ignore him and langorously take off her gloves (and we know Loretta Chase loves gloves!)
She let the second glove drop onto her lap.

She adjusted the bracelets, letting her fingers trail lightly over the pearls and diamond circling her now naked wrists.

She lifted her hand.

He tensed.

She didn't touch him.

She touched herself, bringing her index finger to her right ear. She made a light path along the curve of her ear and behind it, lingering at the place below her ear where she liked to be kissed.

She felt him shift in his seat.

She ignored it. She pretended to be alone, enjoying her treasures, herself.
Then later, he's at her place, trying to do something connected with his spy goal of getting a packet of letters... "But here she was, all creamy smooth and sinfully curved under an mere wisp of cloth."

Cordier often tries to use positive self-talk to stifle his longing. During this later scene (and really through much of the book) he says things like: You've been tortured by experts, laddie. Pretend it's torture. Later, This isn't why you came, the voice reminded, that inner voice that had kept him alive for all these years.

But it doesn't work. Soon this:
He wanted to lose himself in her scent, in her. He wanted to forget everything else, to heed only this siren's call.

He knew there were no forevers and there was always a way out, yet he lost his way, lost his balance. He lost the warning voice, his guide.

Anyway, that bit from the gondola comes back:
He kissed her, but not on the wicked smile. He kissed her temple, and one spot at the top of her cheekbone. Then, remembering what she'd done last night, he followed the path she'd traced with her finger, around the delicate curve of her ear, and down. He pressed a tender, lingering kiss upon the spot where she'd paused.

She trembled.

Then, so did he.
Gulp. But of course, somebody comes, so the longing continues to build.

And of course, the longing of Francesca for James is just as intense. It is just so enjoyable to be in this part of a book! Not every historical is set up this way, but so many are. Maybe I'll be sick of it one day, but I'm not yet.

I know contemporaries, paranormals and other subgenres can contain a lot of longing, too--Nalini Singh totally comes to mind for great paranormal midbook longing, but I generally feel it more keenly with historicals. I think it's all the clothes and rules.

1. So, okay, this is only the second Loretta Chase I have read. Is she just really really good at pulling this off? Should I be going on a Loretta Chase binge?
2. Can you recommend any other books that have intense midbook longing?


Anonymous said...

Yes, go on a Loretta Chase binge. She's AMAZING. LoS is my favorite book ever, and some others that are so good are: The Last Hellion, Mr. Impossible, and Knave's Wager (a bit harder to find)

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, thanks, Anon!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

have you read Caroyn Jewel's Scandal yet? If you like Chase, you will love Carolyn.

Renee said...

You are so right about the longing in LC books.

OK, so I haven't read her entire backlist, but the ones I have read, have been wonderful. She is one of the smartest writers out there, with what she does with the expectations of the romance genre.

And, LoS is my favorite of hers. Her Carsington series (I've read most) is really, really good, too!

Ana said...

YES YES do it dooooooooo it.



Carolyn Crane said...

KB: def agree on Scandal!

Renee: Carsington series! Okay. Thanks.

Ana: Snort. Okay!

Nicola O. said...

I couldn't even review YSW, every time I tried it just came out "OMG SO GOOD." When I posted about it, I just listed a few bits of dialog -- Cordier was *so* funny.

Yes, go on a glom. The only one I call "meh" was the most recent, "Don't Tempt Me." My favorites I think are Captives of the Night (despite the gaggy title) and The Lion's Daughter.

Hilcia said...

Oh well... now you're talking my language, lol! Sexual tension and that secret yearning, yes, yes, yes! Chase does it very well... I've found it in other historicals as well.

Can't say it enough, I guess, but The Secret Pearl by Balogh has an incredible scene I've never forgotten (well, more than one scene really)involving a pinkies and coach ride, one of my favorites.

Also, Kleypas' classic Dreaming of You has lots of that from the hero, Derek Craven... yummy, yummy! You might have read them already, though. :)

Hilcia said...

Ugh, sorry I always post too fast. Correction: I meant to say "slightly touching pinkies and a coach ride"...

pattepoilue said...

*sigh* i haven't read any Loretta Chase but they sound temptalicious! You should read more =)
Historicals are amazing, i just love being transported in another time.

AnimeJune said...

Hilcia - You are my new best friend - The Secret Pearl CHANGED MY LIFE. Still my favourite historical of all time. I was going to suggest that very scene.

Balogh does good longing - particularly in "Slightly Married" - the hero/heroine are both in love with each other even though they started out as a marriage of convenience. Both, however, are too aware of what the other had to give up to get married and are afraid to reveal their feelings.

My first Loretta Chase was "Not Quite a Lady" - WOW longing in that one.

Simone said...

Loretta Chase glom: absolutely. Mr. Impossible is my favorite. Not for longing, just for - everything. Just everything.

Longing: Sherry Thomas does it really well, though often the longing is also painful because they've hurt each other. Meredith Duran does great longing.

And I'm reading Scandal now, and I wouldn't call it midbook longing - it starts a page 1 and goes straight through!

RfP said...

I do love that "longing", so it's funny that I don't click with Chase. I was impressed by a number of things in Your Scandalous Ways, though.

Carolyn Crane said...

Nicola: Oh, funny! Gosh, she has SO many books. Okay, I'm starting a list here.

Hilcia: Okay, the Secret Pearl is officially on the longing list! I'm psyhed. And of course, Dreaming of you. I've always meant to read that one!

Pattepoilue: Most temptalicious! LOL

AJ: Okay, that Pearl is SO on the list!!! And Not quite. Thanks!

Simone: Okay, Mr. I! On the list. Yes, Sherry Thomas! I really did love the one of hers I read! And I have the new Duran in my hot little hands. Pant.

RFP. Well, not everybody can like her. Who are your faves for the longing then?

RfP said...

I don't know!! You reminded me how much I love that, and I've been trying to think of a great longing book to re-read, but I'm drawing a blank. I'll have to look through my collection this weekend.

orannia said...

I'm so with Anonymous - Knave's Wager is my all-time favourite Loretta Chase...the scheming that went on in that book :)

Lea said...

I can't compare Carolyn Jewel's Scandal to Loretta Chase's books CJ because I have read any of hers yet. However, I know exactly what you mean about 'Scandal'. You described it perfectly.

Funny you should mention because I was going to e-mail you Renee about Indiscreet, I was just talking to Christine about it yesterday. So watch for a note from me... lol

Have a great weekend.


Ladytink_534 said...

Oh you've convinced me. I simply have to pick this up! I haven't read Loretta Chase before. Several of Brenda Joyce's stories has a lot of that midbook longing in them.

Lori said...

OK, unless I missed it, I'm not sure what your 1st Chase was. I'd recommend Lord Perfect. The longing between Benedict and Bathsheba is awesome. Mostly on Benedict's part, because he is also overcoming all the rules he's got in place for himself. Great book. Sophisticated, witty, adult. (even with the storyline of the kids in there)

And nobody does longing like Sebastian Ballister. You do need to read LoS, of course.

Heloise said...

I normally call it sexual tension but mid book longing is so much more delicate, like the curve of a woman's ear. :)

What's the one where the hero is a Bow Street Runner and the heroine is a Earl's daughter and she's totally hot for him but he doesn't think he's good enough for her. He gets hired as her bodyguard....Ah yes, Seduced at Midnight by D'Alessandro.

Carolyn Crane said...

Orannia: Oooh, cool! Another vote for Knave's Wager! It's on my list.

Lea: Yay!

LT: Hey you! Yes, Loretta Chase is apparently the master of MBL.

Lori: I just put Lord Perfect on the list. Yes, I read and LOVED LoS.

Heloise: Oh, Thanks! So sweet. And thanks for the rec - I do so love Bow street runners.

Tumperkin said...

I've spent too long pondering and now this isn't top of the bar anymore. Oh well, never mind.

Chase doesn't really work for me. I mean, I love LOS, I really do but - as I think you know - I think it's flawed. And I've read a few other Chases none of which have really gripped me, so I suppose I would have to go with RfP on that one.

I agree that Scandal does have a wonderful sense of longing, at least from the hero's side. Overall it was a very good B for me.

I would count certain Heyers as being top of the stakes for longing. In A Civil Contract, the heroine longs to be loved by the hero who has married her out of duty but believes he loves another - and actually sort of does in a boyish way. He comes to love the heroine but it's in a mature sensible way rather than the heady way he felt about his first love so the sense of longing never really dissipates - I adore that book.

Megan Frampton said...


Coming in late, but yes, Loretta Chase is amazing at the midbook longing. My favorites are Mr. Impossible and Lord of Scoundrels; least favorite is Not Quite A Lady, but even that was pretty good.