Elements of Romantic Comedy: Sensuality–or not?

To keep the bedroom door open or closed? As the author, it’s your call. Do realize, however, that what you write defines your brand.

Photo: Alex Indigo (Creative Commons Flickr)
If you’ve read my stuff, you know I keep the bedroom door closed and the honeymoon private. But that doesn’t mean falling in love isn’t a fun read. Photo: Alex Indigo (Creative Commons Flickr)

I write romantic comedy–comedy of manners, if you will–not fantasy romance. My stories are light,not literary. It’s tricky, though, showing growing tenderness while sidestepping the bedroom. I’m up for the challenge.

I see sexual intimacy as the culmination of the relationship, not a step along the journey toward happiness. If the couple hops into the sack midway through the book–or worse, in the beginning! –the romantic tension is broken. I must then come up with a (believable) breakup, and then another build toward intimacy, and then another breakup. Lather, rinse, repeat. Keeping that sexual tension taut is anything but easy, but it’s key to reader engagement. See That Romcom Kiss for more on this.

Then too, I’ve lived real life. I’ve counseled too many women to be drawn into the seducer-as-wonderful-husband myth. Granted, a man can change. But in my experience, when a man pressures a girl to hop into bed, it displays his selfishness. And that selfishness will manifest itself all over the place in their relationship/marriage. Just saying. I’ve counseled too many sadder-but-wiser women.

And … my sons read my work. And so do my teen students. I’ve tried to write a steamy bedroom scene, you know, just to see if I could. I ended up embarrassed and laughing. Yes, laughing. This is not good thing for a writer of romance! One is not supposed to laugh at bedroom passion! So, yeah, it’s a good thing that I keep that door closed.

Be aware that by including sex, you set a few things into motion regarding your brand. What a surprise for an author, to discover that if sex is in some of her books, readers expect it in all of her books! Amazon reviews confirm the sad truth of this. Most authors will choose a separate pen name.

Here we go again. I can’t share a romantic scene here; it would quite spoil the book. But I can show Elizabeth’s disdain for Mr. Collins losing serious ground. From Chapter 19 of Darcy By Any Other Name, we have Darcy-as-Collins forgetting to act in character…again. Who knew the man could dance? If Darcy were paying attention, he’d realize that an avalanche of trouble is building. But that’s part of the fun, so of course he must keep slipping up.


Mary began playing, and Darcy’s cousin threw him a dark look. But she performed her part of the Gypsy Half perfectly, and when she and Jane were first couple, they led up and back without mishap.

“You see?” he said. “You are doing splendidly.”

Eyes on her, he put out his hand and smoothly led Elizabeth through a turn.

“And so are you, Mr. Collins,” said Elizabeth. “You know this dance very well.”

He could hear the admiration in her voice. “As a matter of fact, I do,” he confessed. “Not too long ago I taught it to Georg—” He stopped himself just in time.

“To George?” cried Fleming, who had caught this remark. “You taught it to George who?”

“Ah,” said Darcy. “You might not know—him.”

When the dance brought Fleming near again, he said, “I know everyone around Hunsford. I cannot think who you mean. Unless—”

Fleming gave a shout and led Kitty through a turn. “Is George Doleman’s Christian name?”

“Doleman?” said Elizabeth to Darcy.

He had no idea how to reply. Who the devil was Doleman?

“His curate,” called Fleming. “Who is blessed with an apt surname. He’s the most mournful fellow imaginable.”

“First couple, lead down,” called Lydia.

Darcy took Elizabeth’s hand, and down the line they went.

“You taught your curate to dance?” said Elizabeth. “Did the organist play? Did you dance up and down the center aisle?”

Darcy laughed. “Clergyman,” he confessed, “sometimes need watching.”

“The sooner Collins returns to Hunsford,” called Fleming, “the better his parishioners will like it. For Doleman’s preaching is worse than his dancing.”

“Unfortunately for them,” said Elizabeth, smiling, “the roads will not allow travel. But perhaps,” she added, “not so unfortunately for us?”

Did she give his hand a gentle squeeze before she released it?

It was all Darcy could do not to skip and cavort. For he was limed, a ready prisoner to Elizabeth’s blushing admiration. And glory be, the roads were yet impassible.

Tomorrow for T we’ll have Tailspin. Otherwise known as your hero’s bleakest moment.

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Laura Hile (1)

Excerpt is from Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile, copyright 2016

2 thoughts on “Elements of Romantic Comedy: Sensuality–or not?

  1. Hard to imagine Collins as a graceful dancer. And I do understand about keeping MA scenes out of your books due to your audience….but my children are all in their 30’s so I don’t have to hide my historical romances away.

    Liked by 1 person

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