A critical element to great chemistry is respect. Your hero and heroine should see each other as equals, and not out of some politically correct we-all-have-the-spark-of-divinity worldview, but because they forcibly strike each other as so.
A perfect example below, from the Loretta Chase classic Lord of Scoundrels:
“Perhaps I had better demonstrate how the thing operates,” said Dain, yanking her attention to him.
In his low voice, Jessica recognized the too innocent tones that inevitably preceded a male’s typically idiotic idea of a joke. She could have explained that, not having been born yesterday, she knew very well how the timepiece operated. But the glint in his black eyes told her he was mightily amused, and she didn’t want to spoil his fun. Yet.
“How kind,” she murmured.
“When you turn this knob,” he said, demonstrating, “as you see, her skirts divide and there, between her legs, is a-” He pretended to look more closely. “Good heavens, how shocking. I do believe there’s a fellow kneeling there.” He held the watch closer to her face.
“I’m not shortsighted, my lord,” she said, taking the watch from him. “You are quite right. It is a fellow-her lover apparently, for he seems to be performing a lover’s service for her.”
She opened her reticule, took out a small magnifying glass, and subjected the watch to very narrow study, all the while aware that she was undergoing a similar scrutiny.
“A bit of enamel has worn off the gentleman’s wig and there is a minute scratch on the left side of the lady’s skirt,” she said. “Apart from that, I would say the watch is in excellent condition, considering its age,though I strongly doubt it will keep precise time. It is not a Breguet, after all.”
She put away the magnifying glass and looked up to meet his heavy-lidded gaze. “What do you think Champtois will ask for it?”
“You want to buy it, Miss Trent?” he asked. “I strongly doubt your elders will approve of such a purchase. Or have English notions of propriety undergone a revolution while I’ve been away?”
“Oh, it isn’t for me,” she said. “It’s for my grandmother.”
She had to give him credit. He never turned a hair.
“Ah, well, then,” he said. “That’s different.”
See what I mean? With her poise and her presence of mind, Jessica Trent forcibly strikes Lord Dain as an equal–or at least as someone he could not easily dismiss. Tremendous chemistry in that book and little wonder.
Another excellent example would be the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith–and if you haven’t seen it, please do so at your earliest convenience. The whole of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a metaphor for the modern marriage. At the beginning of the movie the titular couple have fallen into a complete familiarity-breeds-contempt rut. Then, as they discover each other’s secret identity, things heat up–they have to consider the person they thought they knew in a whole different light. And during one of the movie’s pivotal scenes, when they are fighting mano-a-mano, that mutual respect is literally pounded, kicked, and whacked into them. And the old fire roars back to life because there is now something much stronger to feed it.
6 thoughts on “Chemistry 101–Mini Lesson 2”
This is so right on! The beauty of romance novels and films is we see the hero and heroine fall in love and head towards lasting love and HEA through mutual communication, respect and trust.
In real life, however, I see more and more couples where one person totally dominates the other and the other person in the relationship is aware of this but — I assume primarily out of fear — has accepted his/her role and is totally fine and even comfortable with being miserable and tip toeing around the other person on everything.
Love and relationships certainly cannot succeed and thrive in a situation like this… but they survive on this kind of chemistry.
Isn’t that sad about real life couples not being equal enough? One would think that by now we should see more and more couples being equals in their relationships.
Oh, well, romance novels to the rescue! (Although I must say, there is a rather disturbing amount of inequality in our beloved genre too.)
This is one of my favorite parts of sexual tension/chemistry/whatever– the way that two powerful personalities run up against each other again and again. That’s how you get sparks! Great examples, Sherry!
It was so good seeing you the other day. Can’t wait to get together again.
I LOVE that scene between Dain and Jessica! Also the one in the cafe when she refuses to sell him the icon and he thinks to outsmart her with the glove removal and turns around to bite him in the nether unmentionable regions. And later when her agreement with everything he says and not fighting him on anything as a form of protest leaves him ‘wretched’ and ‘frantic’.
I think I should go read that whole book again…
BTW: currently, am in the middle of the Swat valley uprising at sunrise. Unbearable suspense!
And I love the part, at the cafe, how he’s talking about drainage and whatnot in Italian, but she smoothly points out that people will think he’s ardently wooing her just because he’s speaking in Italian. LOL!
Hope you enjoy the rest of NQAH.
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