I write in a room lined with beloved books – it’s like being with old friends. I know chunks of some of these keepers by heart. For some reason it’s usually dialogue I remember, some favorite exchange between the characters.
I love the banter that takes place between a hero and heroine, particularly where they’re talking about one thing, but there’s a delicious sexual undercurrent underlying the whole conversation.
I’m not talking about suggestiveness, but banter as a sexy duel, a form of courtship, a dance, a game that neither can lose. Good banter always makes me smile.
Some books, some heroes, lend themselves to it more than others. For me, it’s usually the hero who starts it. For instance, here’s an example from my current book, THE STOLEN PRINCESS, where the Regency hero gets the heroine all hot and bothered with just a few teasing words.
She gave him a severe look. “I told you, I have no desire to put myself under the thumb of any man, ever again.”
“But it wasn’t my thumb I was thinking of.” He said it with such a— such a wicked, laughing look she was hard put to know what to say. So she turned on her heel and walked off.
It took her several minutes of marching along as fast as her legs could carry her before she was able to think at all, let alone think of an appropriately crushing, yet dignified response. His words, along with that laughing smile in his eyes, were a pure invitation to sin. She snorted. Nothing pure about it!
Later she tells him:
“You know perfectly well what I meant by not wanting to be under the thumb. My entire life has been spent under the rule of two extremely autocratic men — first my father and then my husband. Now I have had my first ever taste of freedom, and nothing — no man —could ever taste sweeter than that.”
“Is that a challenge?” he said softly.
“No! Do not be so frivolous.”
“I wasn’t,” he said in a meek voice, but his eyes were dancing.
It was the color, she thought irrelevantly. She’d never seen such blue, blue eyes. Like sunlight sparkling on the sea. Another thing that wasn’t fair. Men shouldn’t be allowed to have eyes like that.
They walked on and, as they turned a corner, the house came into view. Thank goodness, Callie thought. She might have been walking on a firm graveled path, but it had felt in some ways like she’d been negotiating a marsh, full of traps for the unwary.
He was a very dangerous man! She glanced at him and found him watching her.
“I’m so relieved,” he told her.
Callie could not imagine what he was talking about. “Relieved?”
“That you’re not afraid of my thumbs. I think they’re quite nice thumbs — for thumbs, that is. Don’t you think?” He spread his hands out for her to inspect, and though it was clearly ridiculous, she couldn’t help glancing at his hands.
“What do you think?” he asked.
She gave them a second critical look and sniffed. “All I can see is that your thumbs are rather large,” she said in a quelling voice.
He gave her a slow smile. “Exactly.”
Callie had no idea why she should blush, but she did. “I think our breakfast will be ready now,” she said and marched briskly back to the breakfast room.
He strolled along beside her. “Yes, I’m ravenous.” The way he said it, he didn’t just mean for food.
Callie walked faster.
On one level it’s a conversation about nothing much, really, but on another, the sexy duel has begun; we can see he’s all out to seduce her — starting with nothing but words. And thumbs. LOL.