Restraint - It's Totally HOT

If you've been reading any of my blog posts, it's not so much a surprise that my opinions can be idiosyncratic, strange and sometimes just downright odd. Considering the climate of the romance publishing industry right now, this is going to seem maybe even weirder. I really love restraint.  And no, I don't mean being restrained, though that's definitely hot right now. No, I mean, like, actual restraint. Like the love interests don't jump each others bones on the first page (with a caveat I will admit that sometimes this works, though not often for me, personally), but instead their journey is this crazy long slow burn. I love that. I love when a kiss on a hand is sometimes sexier than a kiss someplace else.

I was re-reading some of my favorite Eloisa James' historicals this weekend, and in A Duke of Her Own (the entire Desperate Duchesses series is pretty much amazing, but I've got special love for Villiers and his novel, the last of the series), Villiers greets Eleanor with pretty much the steamiest hand kiss in the history of hand kisses.

He took her hand. Then, without smiling at her, without saying a word, without doing anything other than meeting her eyes, he slowly peeled off her glove. It was utterly surprising--and scandalous. She heard her mother make a small huff of disapproval as he drew it off.

But Villiers didn't look away from her eyes, just lifted her bare fingers to his lips as if they were entirely alone. His gesture was the antithesis of Gideon's polite greeting. Villiers's kiss was slow and deliberate, giving everyone in the tent more than enough time to enjoy the spectacle.

For Eleanor, the world titled--and changed. She suddenly saw the man before her in focus: his thick lashes, his deep bottom lip, the hard line of his chin, the thick hair tied back and defiantly unpowdered. The maleness of his shoulders. The coiled strength of his body.

A sultry warmth spread from her cheeks and flooded down her body. Yet it wasn't the kiss that did it. It was something in those black eyes that made heat rise in her cheeks. . .and in her body.

No, he's not slobbering all over her hand. No, he's not licking or sucking or anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with those things.

Watching The Originals last night also got me thinking about restraint. Pretty much my favorite character on this show or Vampire Diaries is Elijah, played by the incomparable and insanely handsome Daniel Gillies. Yes, of course, Klaus is smoking hot too, and I love it when he growls and throws people around, but when it comes down to it, I just prefer the subtlety of Elijah to Klaus' theatrics.

Right now, the writers on The Originals have got this amazing slow burn pre-relationship/friendship between Elijah and Hayley, Klaus' baby mamma (don't even ask, I don't watch these shows for the plot).

They haven't actually kissed yet, but their almost kiss is probably sexier than any other kiss I've seen on TV this year.

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I love the message of honor and love.

Plus, the music is awesome. "Hard to Find" by the National.

And in this clip, Elijah desperately tries to save Hayley's baby by cooling her fever.

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What is it about water that makes everything automatically sexier? An age old question we may never answer.

In The Lucky Charm, Izzy is way too rational and fearful for her job to just jump into a relationship with Jack, even if he could probably charm her pants off, so theirs is a slow burn as well. Circumstances demanded it, but since it's also my natural preference, it's not much of a surprise that the characters don't immediately jump into bed in TLC.

So much about Izzy's journey is about finding the courage to be okay with wanting what she wants. In this excerpt, she hasn't found it yet, and Jack's there to show her all that she's missing out on.

Izzy whirled around, heart in her throat. Toby couldn’t have come back and heard the one uncharitable thing she’d ever said about him out loud. That would be too unfair.

But it wasn’t Toby. It was Jack, leaning against the doorjamb, grinning at her.

“Not nice,” she panted in relief. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“I seem to have a pretty strong effect on you,” he said, taking a few steps into the trailer and letting the much-abused screen door slam behind him.

“Don’t remind me,” Izzy said, slumping down to one chair. Her knees wobbled a little from the shock of almost telling her boss to his face that he treated her like shit and a little from the shock of the fact that Jack was here. She’d almost gotten used to seeing him first thing in the morning. There was a safeness in their morning routine; he’d never come to see her in the trailer before, or after a game, and the uncertainty of the situation set nerves fluttering in her stomach.

Then his gaze swung to her, like a magnet drawn to its opposite, the interest in his expression completely naked, and Izzy froze.

Don’t think about him naked, she had to remind herself. Somehow, along the line she’d begun to find him more attractive than Noah, and suddenly the trailer felt about half its normally claustrophobic size as he leaned against the corner of the desk and gazed at her.

He’d showered and changed after the media session, and she could smell his soap on the air—something tangy and fresh, like just-cut grass. His close-cropped light brown hair was still wet on the temples, and had just begun to curl in the Florida heat. He was so close to her chair that she wanted to reach up and smooth it down, so she could feel the damp strands against her skin.

She had to do something to break this spell, before he did anything they couldn’t take back; before he did anything to compromised her career even more than it was already compromised.

“What can I do for you?” she stuttered out, hating the way he effortlessly seemed to unsettle her.

“Do I need an excuse to see you?” he asked softly, the words hanging in the air. Izzy supposed it was inevitable that matters would come to this; he’d flirted with her from almost the first moment they’d met, but she’d hoped that maybe flirting was all it would ever turn out to be.