#WriteTip - Wetting the Lips: The Importance of Sexual Tension by Amber Lea Easton (@MtnMoxieGirl), a #Romance #Author

Amber Lea Easton just finished off a brand new romantic suspense. In addition to snagging an excerpt from White Out, I also convinced her to give me a writing tip. I never thought I'd say this but, *fans face*, this piece of advice is rather hot.

Wetting the Lips: The Importance of Sexual Tension

by Amber Lea Easton

Anticipation...the breath before the kiss...the sizzle of an accidental touch....eye contact that strips you naked even though you're across the room surrounded by a crowd...it's all a part of the dance of sexual tension.

As an author who writes contemporary romantic suspense, writing believable sexual tension is as important to the story as the suspense plot. Sure, I let them fool around here and there, but there's always a twist that delays their satisfaction—like a murder, psychological torture, dangerous secret, nutty ex, general mayhem—you get the idea.  Just like with the suspense plot that needs to keep the pages turning with one twist after another, it's my purpose as an author to make the characters squirm for as long as possible.  

If the characters are squirming...then so is the reader.

Sexual tension is underrated, both in life and in writing.  There needs to be a realistic build up that doesn't cross the line into frigidity or hostility. After all, both in reality and in fiction, the point is to fuel interest not kill it in its tracks. When writing sexual tension, it's important to treat it like you do the natural progression of the plot. Keep it real, don't force it, let it flow.  (That works with real life, too.) 

But how does a writer convey physical chemistry? Nonverbal cues and internal thoughts are key here. Heartbeat racing, sweaty palms, fidgeting, dry mouth, stuttering, salivating, trembling thighs, forgetting to breathe, swaying forward, biting a bottom lip, goosebumps rising at the slightest touch, fisting hands to control the urge to lunge—anything like this that shows the reader that desire is present yet restrained creates sexual tension. Internal thoughts that betray outward aloofness also build up the tension because they communicate the "I want to but know I shouldn't" that gives the reader insider knowledge.

Once the time comes for consummation--KaBoom! Light that baby on fire. Don't hold back. The point of the build up is satisfaction.  Can the tension remain after the big bang?  You bet, but it requires a bit more effort.  Just be aware of that.  

Flirting is good for the soul—in real life and in writing—yet seems to be forgotten after the botta-bing of an orgasm.  Seduction is a sensuous game that should be savored, no matter what stage of the relationship. That's what romance is all about--wetting the lips with a teasing kiss, whispering a promise of what's to come and keeping up with the twists and turns that drive us all toward our happy ending.

White Out

by Amber Lea Easton

She's been erased.

As a protected witness, Brandi Simms has given up everything that made her unique to start over in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Blending into the background isn't easy, but it's vital for survival. When her handsome yet incorrigible neighbor—former Olympic skier turned cowboy—decides her aloof attitude is a challenge rather than a deterrent, she knows the only right thing to do is resist.

The secrets she hides are deadly.

Ryan Landry isn't accustomed to rejection. Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, he's the local hero who came home to run a ranch and be near his family. The mysterious neighbor who seems content to hang out with dogs rather than humans haunts his fantasies and ignites that competitive drive that led him to the world stage.

He's not one to give up.

When her dangerous past catches up to Brandi, Ryan is determined to break through her secrets to find the truth no matter what the cost. Trapped in a whiteout blizzard with unseen threats lurking in the snow, will they get a chance to create a new beginning or will Brandi's past be the death of them?

Buy links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Int. | B&NAllRomance

Excerpt

Fog hovered over the river and clung to the staggered pools of hot springs lining the mountainside. Snow-covered banks were lined with giant boulders and spruce trees. The après ski crowd filled the pools of natural spring water, their laughter and low voices carrying across stone paths shrouded with steam from the cold air colliding with heat of the water. Ryan had already settled into one of the upper, more private pools with her flask tucked near him beneath the towels.

Lyle would hate that she was exposing so much of herself—because of the tattoos she'd refused to laser off—but, at the moment, she didn't care for rules or limitations.

Shivering with the bite of the cool air and thankful for the dim light of twilight that stretched across the sky, she shuffled barefoot over the stone steps and slid into the soaking pool. Hot water eased her weary bones, steam slid across her face, and reckless energy snapped through her veins. It had literally been years since she'd spent time alone like this with a man who wasn't carrying a badge of some type. An untamed beat hammered in her heart, reminding her of what it felt like to be free.

Sighing, she closed her eyes, floated her legs in front of her, stretched her arms across the wall at her back, and slid her foot against Ryan's thigh. She liked the way his hard body felt against hers.

"You've got tattoos, I see." He cleared his throat and shifted away from the contact. "Is that a shark? It's a beautiful blue...nice craftsmanship with the flowers."

"The shark is the sign of the warrior for some Pacific Island tribes," she answered without opening her eyes.

"You confuse the hell out of me."

Smiling, she opened her eyes, lifted her foot from the water, and held it close to his face. "Stardust."

He shook his head, grabbed her heel, and looked at the gold stars tattooed on her foot. He met her gaze without releasing her foot and smiled. "Careful, Brandi...you're flirting with someone who isn't afraid to go for it."

She pulled her foot free and narrowed her gaze. "Know what I want to do?"

"Me?" He grabbed the flask, opened it, and took a long sip without breaking eye contact.

She pushed away from her side of the pool, waded toward him, staying submerged up to her chin in warmth, used her hands to push his thighs apart, and slipped between them. If he wanted to have his mind blown, she could do that.

Without looking away from his gaze, she took the flask from his fingers and took a long sip without flinching. His focus dropped to the curve of her breasts that floated above the surface and pressed against his chest.

"And here I thought you were shy." He dropped his hands to her hips and grinned.

"Why? Because I didn't drop to my knees the first time you said hello?" She slid a wet finger down this face, lingered over his mouth.

"I've enjoyed my fair share of après ski soaks," his fingers trailed up her spine before untying the strings of her bikini, "but this isn't a hook-up. I want more than one night with you."

"Why?" She tilted her head to the side so she could see his eyes more clearly in the twilight and steam.

"Because it's taken me months to get to this point and I'm not going back to square one." He rubbed his knuckles along the shark tattoo on her left ribcage. "I like you and your special brand of crazy."

Her smiled faded. He liked her in a way that no one had in a very long time. Fame had found her at sixteen and she'd spent half her life in a glittery bubble filled with beautiful people saying all the right things to feed her ego. But this—being here with Ryan in the half-light with moisture beading their faces and large snow flakes falling against solar lights while his fingers caressed her skin and his eyes looked into hers—this felt like a dream.

"I had you all wrong, Ryan." She didn't move when her bikini top floated up, connected only by the strings around her neck and his hands covered them while he looked at her with a dare in his eyes.

"Yeah? I thought you checked me out on the internet and knew all about my bad boy ways?" His smile turned wicked in an instant. "All you need to do is tell me to back off—something I know you're not afraid to do—and I will."

"You're a choir boy compared to my old crowd." She liked teasing him, but the reality is they probably missed each other at a few of the same parties back in their glory days. They'd both lived fast and hard, wearing their notoriety with ease.

"I'm older now," he kissed her chin, "tamer."

"How disappointing." She held his face between the palms of her hands and kissed him with a slow intensity that had him moaning into the deep recesses of her mouth.

He squeezed her breast with one hand while the other moved to her ass. His legs wrapped around the back of hers, pulling her closer. Water sloshed between their bodies, fog wrapped them in privacy.

She curled one arm around his neck while sliding her other hand down his chest. Their mouths clung to each other while their hands explored. Animalistic need pulsated through her veins. It had been so long since she'd been touched...or done any touching.

His thumb moved over her nipple. He dragged his mouth from hers and kissed her neck.

She reached between their bodies and found his erection. "Damn, you're full of surprises."

"You like?" He sucked on her bottom lip.

"Oh, yeah, I like a lot."  She ground her hips against his hard-on while her fingers teased the tip.

"We're going to get arrested." He smiled, not looking too worried.

"I've got connections you don't know about...I'm sure they'll bail us out." She laughed at the audacity of the moment, trapped in their little world of steam, snow, and spring water. 

He put both of his hands on her breasts, lifted them high in the water, and dipped his head to the curve of her neck. He lightly bit her shoulder while she rubbed herself against his erection. His ankles linked behind her knees, holding her in a tight circle.

Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her bones. She wrapped both arms around his neck and held still, knowing that they were dangerously close to crossing a line.

He gasped against her mouth, hands flat against her back, and eyes open. "You taste like whiskey and feel like heaven."

"Such a poet." She grinned, chest heaving against him while she struggled to regain control of her libido.

"Such a smartass." He nipped her chin.

Sounds of the river bubbled inches away from their heads. They kissed—slowly—eyes wide open.

An abrupt sound of music slashed through the quiet. The après ski crowd laughed somewhere further down in the mist.

Her song, her music.

"Laurel..." a man's voice from somewhere in the mist called. "Laurel!"

She broke away from him and twisted in the water looking for the source. Heartbeat slammed in her throat.

The music grew louder.

She bit her lip and sunk to her chin. Having a panic attack could get her killed, how many times had she been coached about how to act?

"What's the matter?" Ryan asked.

"That song..." She shook her head when it turned off as abruptly as it had begun.

"What song?" He pulled her back against him.

She stared at the swirling mist that competed with the flurries wafting down through the darkness. Night encroached fast this time of year. It wasn't even five o'clock, yet the twilight glow had become black sky. Solar lights around the property showed an increasing amount of people in the lower pools, all half-hidden in shadow.

"Didn't you hear that song?" she whispered against his ear. "Or hear that voice?"

"I was a little preoccupied." He retied the strings of her bikini and adjusted the fabric over her breasts. "Do you have a thing against music?"

"It startled me." Damn it, for a rebel I'm acting like a scared little mouse.

"Maybe we should eat. It's getting crowded and I did promise you a decent meal. I believe you gave me a curfew, too, so I had better keep the evening rolling." He shifted his weight so that her butt sat on the low bench in the water, grabbed her knees to open her legs, and slipped his body between her thighs. Hands pressed against the stones above her shoulders, he grinned before kissing her again.

"We could stay here...I don't mind."

"If we stay here," he whispered against her ear, "we're going to have sex, which would be good, I have no doubt, but I'm trying very hard to be a gentleman."

"Did I say I wanted a gentleman?"

"You're one dangerous woman, aren't you, Brandi Simms?" He nibbled her ear before sliding free of her grasp and fading into the steam. "We're going to move on to phase two of our date...after that, anything goes."

"Anything?"

"Ask and you shall receive." He stepped from the pool, his silhouette illuminated by the solar lights, giving her enough of a glimpse of the wet swim trunks molding his hard ass and long thighs to make her moan with longing. She wanted nothing more than to peel those trunks off of him with her teeth and let the night play out like a scene from a porn film. "I'll meet you at the jeep. You okay with that?"

"Yes," she managed to say from a throat swollen with longing.

"Sexiest voice I've ever heard," he said before wrapping himself in a towel.

She smiled and grabbed her own towel before stepping toward the bag she'd left on the table just out of view. Humming to herself out of habit, she maneuvered over the stone steps to the changing area. Inside, she ignored a few twenty-something's and a mother struggling with young kids and walked into the shower to erase the strong smell of sulfur.

Music. She heard it again. Her song—one of her songs—that she'd won a Grammy Award for several years ago called Bittersweet. Shutting off the shower, she listened hard over the sound of her drumming heartbeat and the chattering of the other women. As if in a trance, she walked into the room, toweling herself dry as she moved. The sound came from outside.

Tucking the towel securely around her body, she stepped out and looked around at the soft glow of lights illuminating a beautiful landscape.

Silence.

"I'm driving myself insane," she whispered before stepping back inside to change. She reached for her bra and panties only to stop at the sight of the magazine article that had been dropped inside the bag.

Laurel Lassiter, rock diva, dead at 31.

A large question mark had been scrawled over the headline in red.

She sank to the bench, rested her elbows on her knees, and struggled to catch her breath.

"Are you okay, ma'am?" One of the twenty-something's asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

Get yourself together, someone is probably watching for your reaction. Stand up. Get dressed. Act as if nothing has happened. Tell Lyle about it later when no one is studying your every move.

With a shake of her head, she changed into her clothes, brushed out her hair, fixed her make-up, and coached herself to breathe.

Images of that last day flashed in her mind...laughing in the dressing room, joking with her band mates...The brush fell from her trembling hands. When she bent to pick it up, more memories assaulted her...the roar of the crowd chanting her name, their signature pump-me-up song playing while they waited backstage, the sight of her sister giving her the thumbs up.

"Fuck it, not now," she whispered to herself and forced herself to stand on trembling legs. Some memories were meant to never surface. She jammed the brush into her bag, gritted her teeth at the sight of the article, and reminded herself to stay in control because this could all be a test of some kind.

And Lyle had suggested the trespassers were a coincidence? Moron.

She walked from the changing area and through the night with her head held high. If someone watched, she wanted them to think she really was Brandi Simms.

And Brandi Simms wouldn't care one bit about a two-year old article about a dead rock star.

Seeing Ryan lounging against his jeep and talking on his cell phone, she fought the urge to sprint the rest of the way.  Snowflakes dotted his black hair like sprinkles. He wore his lined leather coat and Levis with an ease that would make any male model green with envy. His laugh carried to her across the parking lot and made her long for simplicity.

I need to walk away from him before he's sucked into this chaos I call my life. If she had truly been found, then she was putting a target on his back. The knowledge burned a hole in her heart.

About Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has seven contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels out in the world: Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide, Reckless Endangerment, Anonymity, In Between, Dancing Barefoot, and White Out. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.

In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself simply to be "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

New Release Spotlight - Dancing Barefoot by Amber Lea Easton

I'm delighted to welcome author Amber Lea Easton over to my blog today. We're both part of an awesome author Facebook group, so I feel like we're old friends. Despite being an introvert, I like social media because it allows newbie authors such as myself to bump shoulders with veterans. Amber Lea currently has six contemporary romances out. She also works as an editor, Freelance journalist, and professional speaker. As if all that weren't enough, she writes erotic romances under the pen name Dakota Skye. 

Today, she's here to showcase her brand new contemporary romance, Dancing Barefoot. It has already gotten rave reviews, and the prequel, In Between: an Italian love story, is a permanent free read over on her blog. I'll let Amber take it from here. 


When I think of living an extraordinary life, I think about breaking free of ties that bind me and traveling the world. For each of us, we have our own definition of 'extraordinary.' That word carries a lot of weight with it. It means venturing into the unknown, taking a risk, and perhaps failing. Those are scary concepts.

Our culture—be it family or society as a whole—places expectations on us about how we should live our lives, what is acceptable, and what is outlandish. Quieting the outside voices in order to listen to our true nature is the most significant thing we can do to take a step toward the extraordinary vision we have for ourselves. But that's not always easy and it can sometimes feel selfish, depending on the support system surrounding us.

Breaking free of expectations that are not our own, however, is true freedom. It allows us to embrace our dreams, our innate talents, and truly live a life filled with possibility and joy. Following your bliss makes a great bumper sticker, but truly committing to it involves a lot of courage.  In my most recent contemporary romance novel, Dancing Barefoot, the lead character faces these challenges as she stands at a crossroads in her life and must choose between the status quo or the unknown. 

Dancing Barefoot

Jessica Moriarty appears to have it all—a successful career as an architect, a loyal group of friends, a gorgeous apartment, and an on-again-off-again affair with Boston's most eligible bachelor. Behind this “perfect life” façade, Jessica hides the loss she feels over giving up her dream career as an artist, copes with a destructive relationship with her alcoholic mother, and struggles with heartbreak over a lost love.

Jacques Sinclair only needs his cameras, a backpack, and a good pair of walking shoes. A world-renowned photographer, he is a man without boundaries. Despite fame and fortune, he still yearns for the woman who shattered his heart when she vanished from his life five years ago.

A chance meeting brings Jacques and Jessica back together. Reunions aren't always planned or welcomed, but chemistry has a way of revealing what is denied. Ensnared in a web of sabotage and conspiracy—carefully constructed by people who want to control their lives—Jacques and Jessica struggle to trust each other, break free from the status quo, reclaim their love, and build a life of extraordinary possibility. 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | AllRomance | Smashwords

Excerpt

She stood on the threshold of the bookstore dodging patrons and pedestrians. Ten past seven. Regret sagged her knees. For the second time in her life, she labeled herself the Queen of Self-Sabotage. As if leaning against a fierce wind of remorse, she pushed the door open, and forced one foot in front of the other. 

“I’m looking for Jacques Sinclair.” She forced the words from a too-dry throat.   

“I’m sorry, you just missed him.” The employee didn’t look up from the stack of books she arranged on a table.  

Missed him.  She nodded without truly understanding how she could have undermined herself like this. Again. “He’s really gone then?”

The girl worked as if she hadn’t spoken, head down, oblivious.  

Her gaze connected with the cover of Jacques’s book.  Legs heavy and unsteady, she maneuvered toward the display until she touched the cover with her fingertips.

Rome.

Closing her eyes, she smelled the overpowering scent of the roses, felt the early morning breeze against bare skin, sensed him moving behind her, tasted him on her lips, heard the low sound of his voice saying her name. 

“Excuse me, do you know if Mr. Sinclair is staying in Boston tonight?”  she asked.  

The woman looked at her as if she were a stalker. “He probably went back to New York. His gallery exhibit isn't until next weekend.”

“Back to New York?” Information overload crashed her system. So close. The same side of the Atlantic.  She braced herself against the counter.  

“He lives in New York,” she answered as if speaking to a small, slow child.

“Right.  He has an exhibit next Saturday. I saw that in the article...what gallery?”  She handed over her credit card and blinked at the cover again.

"The Bliss Institute."

Breathing ceased again and she silently cursed Fate. Her friend Miranda owned the Bliss Institute. What was happening? Did Jacques know that? Of course not, how could he? She felt like an insane woman on the precipice of a major nervous breakdown.

“Are you all right?”  The woman grabbed the book and slipped it into a bag. 

“Perfect, never better.”  She needed a martini…she’d give her life for a martini. Oblivion sounded like heaven right now.

The girl handed her the receipt before stepping away as if afraid of catching the insanity bug. 

Six weeks. Jacques planned on being in Boston for six weeks.

Laughter from upstairs halted her retreat. As if dragging her legs through mud, she walked toward the stairs. With every step, memories overpowered her. Laughing in bed with rain falling outside open windows, whispered secrets in the dark, sharing wine directly from the bottle, feeding each other bread with their fingertips.  

Him asking her to marry him, her saying yes.

Her throwing it all away for reasons that now seemed meaningless.

 “We should go, Jacques. We’re running late. Miranda's already at the restaurant.”  A stick-like man with shaggy brown hair and black-framed eye glasses appeared at the top of the stairs. 

She stood on the bottom step, one foot poised to ascend, her hand on the railing and blocking the way.  She clutched the bag to her side and turned to flee.

“Jess?” The quiet question stopped her descent. “Jessica Moriarty?”

She gripped the railing and looked up at him. 

Jacques stood at the top of the stairs, blond hair falling across his forehead and skimming his ears, different from the picture on display, more like it had been when they'd known one another, shaggy and disheveled. Emerald eyes snapped with fire as his gaze raked over her from head to foot. A cobalt blue shirt had been stuffed into black jeans, half in the waistband and half out as if he simply didn’t give a damn.  He’d rolled the sleeves to his elbows, exposing tanned forearms, and a leather bracelet twisted around his left wrist. He walked toward her like a predator who’d cornered his prey. Slowly...surely. Sexuality oozed from his pores with every step he took. 

She stepped back and swallowed the rush of saliva that flooded her mouth.

He stopped two stairs above her. “Running away from me again?”

About Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has six contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels out in the world: Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide, Reckless Endangerment, Anonymity, In Between, and Dancing Barefoot. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.

In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website, http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself simply to be "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

Easton also publishes under the name Dakota Skye who has one paranormal erotic romance, Blurred Lines, currently available and another, Deadly Decadence, due out in the fall of 2014.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | AmazonAuthor

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Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at www.taraquan.com

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