Thursday, May 28, 2009

Welcome Vanessa Kelly to the Manor!

Everyone please welcome author Vanessa Kelly to the Manor! Vanessa's sizzling debut, MASTERING THE MARQUESS, just hit shelves in April and is already getting rave reviews.

One lucky commenter will be selected to win an autographed copy of MASTERING THE MARQUESS, so don't be shy! But those of you who don't win, take heart--check out that price tag! The book is part of Kensington's groundbreaking Debut program (where yours truly got her start!) and you can buy this book for less than you spend on a grande latte at Starbucks! Now, without further ado, here's Vanessa....


Or is it lust?

I’m so happy to be guest-blogging at LUST IN TIME, and I want to thank my hostesses—and Lord Craven-Moore, of course—for letting me play in your delightful corner of the blogosphere.

Now, back to my original question. One of the most popular tropes in romance fiction is that of the hero and heroine clapping eyes on each other and falling instantly in love, usually to the sound of swelling violins and an angel’s over-wrought harp. When I was young—and I’m not going to tell you how young—I used to be ok with that. In fact, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to question whether love at first sight was even possible. Romance was all about the impossible, and not letting commonsense or realism intrude on the story.

But most romance readers today are skeptical of that trope, and rightly so. After all, love—real and enduring love—has to build itself on a solid foundation composed of many things, including mutual respect, honesty, intellectual and moral compatibility, and a desire to share everything life throws your way, good and bad. Still, in most romance novels something electrifying happens when the hero and heroine meet. What happens in that first meet can be so strong and visceral that it seems like love at first sight. In many cases, though, I think what is happening is lust at first sight. To my thinking, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, since lust—or sexual attraction, physical desire, or whatever you want to call it—is a pretty powerful force that can bind the hero and heroine and keep them together through all the ups and downs of the story until they fall in love, surmount their obstacles, and reach their HEA.

It’s also a hell of a lot more realistic than some dewy-eyed encounter that settles everything in the first 30 pages. And, being honest here, I think a healthy dose of lust is a hell of a lot of fun.

In my book, Mastering The Marquess, my hero and heroine have that immediate, visceral reaction to each other. When my hero, Lord Silverton, first sets eyes on Meredith, this is how he describes her:

“Their gazes locked on each other. He felt as if he had been nailed to the floor, so captivated was he by the sight of the feminine whirlwind who had swept into their midst...more than anything, her eyes captured him by surprise. They were extraordinary: large under straight, determined brows and framed by thick black lashes. It was their color, however, that had caught his attention so forcefully. They were gray, but not the insipid, neutral color one associated with the term. No, they reminded him of a winter rainstorm—turbulent, untamed, and full of secret depths.”

Now here’s Meredith’s description of him:

“But then she turned and saw him and thought she had stepped into a fairy tale or an ancient legend. Her overactive imagination had decided on the spot that the golden-haired man looked exactly like a valiant knight of old.”

Fairly poetic descriptions, don’t you think? The reader might even be forgiven for thinking that I was indulging in that age-old trope, love at first sight. But read on a bit more and you’ll find that’s not the case. Both Meredith and Silverton react to each other very strongly, but it’s mostly on the physical level. Just a few short passages after her initial description of Silverton, Meredith notes with irritation that when he smiled at her, her knees actually wobbled. And when Silverton reflects later on his first encounter with Meredith, what he most remembers is how she looks, and that “she exuded a subtle yet powerful sensuality that promised a myriad of delights to the man lucky enough to bed her.”

That’s not love, that’s good, old-fashioned lust—on both their parts. And that’s ok. There are other qualities they recognize in each other, even in that first meet, but there are many obstacles that stand between them. That intense physical attraction—particularly for Silverton—is partly what pulls them together in the initial stages of the story and gives them the opportunity to develop a romantic relationship. And isn’t this often the case in real life, especially for guys? Women may find other, more ephemeral qualities attractive when they first meet a man, but for most guys I know, physical attraction is a very powerful motivator. And to my mind that’s fine, as long as the romance doesn’t begin and end there. Lust is a basis on which relationships can build and develop into real love, one that is both physically, intellectually and emotionally grounded. That’s the kind of story I like to write, and that’s the kind of story I like to read.

But not every reader is comfortable with blatant depictions of lust, and they even express real discomfort with the word itself. They see it as negative, and essentially antithetical to love and romance. For those readers, to be lustful is to be greedy, one of the Seven Sins, rather than a source of delight.

So, what about you, dear reader? Do you like a little (or a lot!) of lust in your romance? Or do you think it hinders rather than helps the love story?


Since the loss of her parents, Meredith Burnley has contented herself with a solitary life looking after her half-sister, Annabel. But Meredith’s peace is shattered when her uncle schemes to marry her off to his son in order to gain her inheritance. Desperate, Meredith has only one choice: to flee with Annabel to their estranged grandparents’ home. But their arrival soon reignites a family scandal—and kindles unexpected romance.

Happily reunited with the girls, Annabel’s grandmother resolves to convince her nephew, Stephen Mallory, the Marquess of Silverton, to abandon his rakish lifestyle and wed Annabel. Stephen is clearly captivated—but with the wrong sister. Determined to make Meredith his own, Stephen embarks on a seduction that will leave her with no choice but to surrender to his touch.

For more information about Vanessa, visit her online at


Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

What a great topic, Vanessa! I'm actually a big fan of 'lust at first sight' in romance novels--to me, it's very real. I know plenty of people who talk about how they weren't initially attracted to their significant other, but either gradually began to realize an attraction, or were simply struck by it one day.

But it was never like that for me. Pretty much every significant relationship I've had--including the one with my husband!--began with lust at first sight (or a very strong initial attraction). There have been times in the past I was struck with immediate lust, but then as I got to the know the object of my attention, I realized that I simply wasn't interested for whatever reason--so it's got to be *more* than attraction to actually bloom into anything for me.

But I totally remember the first moment I saw my husband--we were both counselors at summer camp, and he immediately caught my eye. I probably wouldn't have described that initial jolt of lust as poetically as a romance heroine, but the feelings--even down to the wobbly knees!--were the same!

Barbara said...

Hi, Vanessa! Great post.

The initial meeting between the hero and heroine is key for me. Whether they be enemies or childhood friends meeting again, there had to be that moment where they "see" the other as something far greater/more intriguing than any other person within a gazillion mile radius. Whether it be their eyes, their smile, their half naked body sprawled out somewhere. The hero and heroine must be set apart from the rest.

On to the lustiness...

Personally, I love the lust and initial attraction in romance novels. However, the emotions that follow this are key to the author keeping my interest. If it's all about

Now, if the author can pen a smokin' hot, uber sexy, angst filled love scene and make me believe the heroine and heroine are so desperately in love (and in lust) that they would likely die of anguish without each other...I'm golden! UGH, LOVE IT!

Okay, it's not very realistic, lol, but it's what I like to read ;) LOL! It is romance after all.

I really liked this post. Very original.

Nice cover, btw!!

Amanda McIntyre said...

warm welcome, Vanessa. Your book sounds splendid! Must grab this one! After reading the blurb, I found that your introduction to the first meeting all the more enticing!
I think it is human nature in all of us to look at the physical element when meeting another person. I used to think this was a primarily a male thing--but I think women are just as guilty of the same pleasure. Heck, come around the manor on Wicked Wednesday, that point is readily evident! LOL

But I agree with Barb. In my reading, though there may be that lust or first inner thoughts of the H/H assessing one another silently, it has to have a plausible follow-up of developing those first thoughts.

On the other side of the coin, that same journey of first impressions can change or perhaps even do a bit of roller-coaster of emotions before the passion wins out, balanced with all they have learned about the other and themselves.

I guess that is what I love most, the POSSIBILITIES of what might happen after that first lusty look at the prize!

Great post and wonderful to have you here!

Amanda McIntyre

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Kristina - thanks for having me at the Manor! I love your description of your first meet with hubby, even down to the wobbly knees! It's such a rush, isn't it?

Hi Barbara - thanks for stopping by! I absolutely agree that lust has to lead to emotional development between the h/h. Isn't it nice they can have both?

Thanks for having me here, Amanda! I love your idea of possibilities after the first lusty look at the prize. Great way to describe it.

tcw said...

In my humble, you can't really know anything about someone just by looking at them. You can get the clues: do they look after themselves, do they smile, etc. But love at first sight I just don't buy. I feel like it's *always* lust at first sight, and then if it works out, people back-edit that into love at first sight. It's irritating when authors short cut the love story by just saying it's love at first sight and then never explain why the two characters belong together.

Not so with Silverton and Meredith! They are great together!

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Great post, Vanessa! If there's no 'lust at first sight' what else do you have? LOL And if they can't stand each other to begin with, that makes it an even better journey. ;-)

Mastering the Marquess was fantastic, Vanessa! I enjoyed it so much; I can't wait to read the sequel. *G*

Carol Ericson said...

Yep, I've always understood "love at first sight" to mean "lust at first sight." Lust is something immediate and visceral; love takes time and is much deeper - that doesn't happen with one look! Looking forward to reading the book, Vanessa.

Tessa Dare said...

Excellent blog, Vanessa!

In my opinion (and experience!) most relationships begin with that little spark of physical attraction is there from the first meeting. It's not enough to build a lifetime on, but it's an important beginning. A necessary but not sufficient quality, to drag out my LSAT prep course vocab. (Glad I used it for something!)

But I also thin one reason why some writers focus so much on lust at the beginning of book (other than the fact that it's fun!) is because we're building to a realization later in the book: "Wait,this is something different. This is MORE than lust." If an author never addresses the idea of lust (desire, attraction, whatever) in the book, as a reader, I'm going to wonder whether the HEA is truly based on deeper emotions.

Tessa Dare said...

Gah. Sorry for all the typos there. It's early here in Cali!

Cecile said...

Thanks ladies for having Ms. Vanessa here today!! Hope all is going well with everyone!!

I like my stories to have it all. There has to be an element of lust (it kinda doesnt matter on the level... just not overboard with it), because that is just how the human body is built to react. Our bodies response to one another. As it should in the story too. The sweaty hands, some place else reacting to the sight of each other, the butterflies, weak knees, heart beat quicking; all those things. The anticpation of getting together (in whatever way)... but it has to build and there has to be foundation. If is just about sex... then it's not a story.
It does not matter if it is paranormal, historical, or just a random romance... the lust/love/sparkes have to be there.

And Kistina.. I love the description you gave when you met your hubby! Wobbly knees =)

Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

tcw, I think you hit the nail on the head with the phrase 'people back-edit that into love at first sight.' I totally and entirely agree. Lust at first sight, but then later when you finally fall in love with the person, you rewrite history, claiming that it was, indeed, love at first sight. As if there's something "wrong" with admitting it was really lust at first sight that developed into love!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Teresa! I love the idea of back-editing. Exactly!

Hi Donna - thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad you enjoyed MTM. I'll start posting updates soon on my wesbsite about my next book - Sex And The Single Earl.

Carol, I totally agree that lust is the visceral and immediate reaction. Love takes a little longer to build.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Tessa! Thanks for stopping by - and make as many typos as you want. I swear, my fingers have a life of their own. I absolutely agree that the writer has to address the issue of lust. If that component isn't there at some point, what makes the relationship between the h/h more than just an abiding friendship? And I do love that moment when the hero, especially, realizes that what he feels is more than lust.

Cant' wait for Goddess Of The Hunt to come out!

Hi Cecile - One of the great things when writing about lust, is that you can use all those wonderful and creative physical descriptions. And the anticipation is delicious!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Vanessa, Lust is the appetizer to the meal. The prologue to the first chapter, the first rapid beat of what will become a pulsing word, I should really pick up quill and ink, shouldn't I?

Welcome to the manor. Have you been shown around? Might I suggest a tour? I'm a most gracious host. Ask anyone who has visited, I am most attentive!

Perhaps we might begin in my chambers with an apt discussion of lust, of which, I am a firm believer, and follower!
Hugs and kisses,
Lord CM

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Vanessa, I love lust.Thos first exhiliarint moments and the feelings they invoke.

Congrats on your release, and for coming ont he blog and bringing your novel to everyone's attention. It's just gone on my TBB list!!!

Love the title, too! Good luck with it.

Mari said...

Lust is a good thing! I love it when authors create characters that immediately are drawn to each, but cannot understand or fight the attracrion, before they finally succumb to it.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Oh, dear Lord CM, I am so there! I love tours that start in the "heart" of the house. Hugs and kisses right back!

Hi Charlotte - thanks for having me here! Aren't those first moments of lust wonderful?

Mari, thanks for stopping by. I love how you describe the push/pull attraction.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Vanessa. Great post. I like a lot of lust in my romances. That initial attraction that draws the hero and heroine together is what draws me into the story.

Cecile said...

Lord Craven, You have such a way with words **evil smile lurking upon my face*

I do have to say, it is a key moment for me when I can feel the feelings of the characters as my own when the lust hits them... the anticipation... the heat... the heartbeat... the pulse quicken... the look in the eyes... those things have to be tangible to me... to feel it. And when it is felt... wow what a story!

Beppie Harrison said...

Great book, great blog, Vanessa. Yes, that first intense reaction is wonderful, although I think most of us agree that the solid love that comes after lasts better. I think a lot of people who run through relationship after relationship get hooked on the initial high. Poor souls, they don't get through to the richness that comes later!

Jane said...

I do agree that it's usually lust at first sight rather than love at first sight. There's nothing wrong with lust and I think it's part of a healthy relationship.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Crystal - thanks for stopping by! Lust is a lot of fun, isn't it?

Beppie, thanks for stopping by! As Lord C-M said, lust is the appetizer. It's what comes after that keeps us at the table.

I agree, Jane. Lust is a healthy part of a realtionship.

Amy S. said...

Mastering the Marquess sounds great! The hotter, the better. lol.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Thanks, Amy! I like my romances hot, too.

Caffey said...

Hi Vanessa! I so love these debut books with Zebra! I have been following so many with more books they write! Looking forward to that with yours! You have more to come too?

I love the romance that the love intensifies as the story goes on. It builds up the relationship and their story and so much more. I think its the characters that will tell if thats alot of lust or not :)

Love to be in for this! Thanks and great to meet you Vanessa!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Caffey! Yes, my next book will be out in 2010. It's called Sex And The Single Earl. Thanks for stopping by!