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KISSES, KISSES, KISSES!! 

Since some in the Christian market have dubbed me “The Kissing Queen,” I decided to explore some of the different types of kisses in my books, so here’s a sampling of my various styles. Happy reading!

 

❤️THE CAVEMAN KISS

Okay, I’m pretty sure I always get an eye-roll from my editor every time I write what I call the “caveman kiss,” which is when a hero takes a kiss by force, dominating the heroine to stake his claim. You know, like in those wonderful old-fashioned movies when John Wayne would lay one on Maureen O’Hara in McClintock, or when Rhett drags Scarlett from the wagon to steal a kiss on a sunset hill in Gone with the Wind? Or even like that classic pic of the soldier kissing a nurse in the street—a perfect stranger—following the armistice for WWII?

Sigh. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the stolen kiss, although I do realize it’s not always politically or socially correct in today’s world where things like spousal abuse and date rape are a sad reality. Please note—in no way do I condone either of these types of behavior nor are my scenes meant to be perceived as such. They are written in the old-fashioned “Calgon, take me away” style of romance so prevalent in the old Hollywood movies and in absolutely every case, the dominant hero is called to task for his behavior and eventually learns from it.

In this billiard-room scene from Love at Any Cost, the hero is a pretty-boy rogue bent on turning the head of our heroine who wants nothing to do with him. After she stomps on his pride and trips his temper, he opts for vindication with a stolen kiss, for which he pays dearly with a kick in the ankle, a knee in the thigh, and the heroine’s disdain for the next month.

He grinned, eyes never straying as he chalked his cue. “Up for a game?”

“With you?” She arched a brow. “No, thank you, I don’t play games with men like you.”

Ouch. She was obviously a woman who was honest and forthright, what you see is what you get, and so help him, what he saw, he definitely wanted. But . . . she didn’t want him. Yet. He softened his approach. “Come on, Cassie, one game of eight ball isn’t going to kill you, and then you’ll have the chance to give me the thrashing I so richly deserve.”

She hung her head and huffed out a sigh, finally meeting his gaze with a candid one of her own. “Mr. MacKenna—”

“Jamie—please.”

“Jamie, then . . . ,” she began slowly, as if attempting to ease the blow of what she was about to say. Sympathy radiated from those remarkable green eyes that reminded him so much of a pure mountain stream—unspoiled, refreshing. And icy enough to tingle the skin. Long lashes flickered as if begging him to understand. “Look, no offense, but you just broke my heart.”

He blinked. “Pardon me?”

“Oh, not you exactly,” she said, dismissing him with a wave of her hand, “but a man just like you—you know, handsome, smart, the kind that melts a woman with a smile?”

A ridge popped at the bridge of his nose. “Uh, thank you—I guess?”

She looked up then, head tilted in much the same way a mother might soothe a child, expression kind and tone, parental. “Look, I’m sure you’re a very nice person, Jamie MacKenna, and we may even forge a friendship before summer is through, but you need to understand something right now if that friendship is ever going to see the light of day.”

She took his hand in hers, patting it as if he were five years old, and in all of his twenty-five years, never had a woman given him a more patronizing smile. “You have zero chance . . .” She held up a hand, index finger and thumb circled to create an O, then enunciated slowly as if he were one of the livestock back on her ranch. “Zee-ro chance of ever turning my head because I have no interest in you or any man right now, especially a pretty boy.” She gave him a patient smile edged with just enough pity to get on his nerves. “I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I see no point in hemming and hawing around a pesky hornet when I can just stomp on it before it stings.”

His jaw sagged. “Hornet?” He’d been called a lot of things, but somehow, out of the pursed lips of this Texas beauty, this stung his pride more than the blasted hornet. A nerve pulsed in his cheek as he replaced his cue in the rack, his smile cool. “Is that so? And what makes you think I have any interest in turning your head?”

She folded her arms again and hiked one beautiful brow, daring him to deny it.

And, oh, how he wanted to. His jaw began to grind. But he couldn’t because it would be a bald-faced lie, and they both knew it. He exhaled and pinched the bridge of his nose, finally huffing out a sigh. “Okay, you’re right, Miss McClare—I was trying to turn your head. But I’m not stupid—I can see you obviously have no interest in me whatsoever.”

“None,” she confirmed, brows arched high in agreement.

He nodded, head bowed as he kneaded the back of his neck. “Which means, of course, there’s no attraction whatsoever . . .”

“Oh, heaven forbid.” Her body shivered in revulsion. “Not in a million years . . .”

He stared, a trace of hurt in his tone. “Nothing—not even a glimmer?”

She shook her head, face scrunched as if she tasted something bad. “Good gracious, no.”

He exhaled loudly. “All righty, then,” he said with a stiff smile, his pride effectively trampled. Rubbing his temple, he supposed there was only one thing left to do. He extended his palm with a conciliatory smile. “Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. So . . . friends?”

She stared at his hand as if it were a rattler about to strike, then shifted her gaze to his, lids narrowing the slightest bit. Absently scraping her lip, she tentatively placed her hand in his.

His fingers closed around hers and he smiled. Ah, sweet vindication . . .

In a sharp catch of her breath, he jerked her to him so hard, the cue in her hand literally spiraled across the plush burgundy carpet. Thudding against his chest, she emitted a soft, little grunt, and her outraged protest was lost in his mouth, the sweet taste of her lips shocking him even more than he had shocked her. She tried to squirm away and he cupped her neck with a firm hold and gentle dominance, deepening the kiss.

A grunt broke from his mouth when her foot near broke his ankle. “I’ll tell you what, Miss McClare,” he said, teeth clenched as pain seared his leg, “I’ll give you feisty . . .”

“You . . . haven’t . . . seen . . . feisty,” she rasped, flailing in his arms. With another sharp jolt of pain, she cocked a very unladylike knee into his left thigh, stealing his wind while her words hissed in his face. “Oh . . . why . . . didn’t . . . I wear . . . my boots . . .”

Because it’s my lucky day? Jamie grimaced, determined to prove the lady a liar, at least on the score of attraction. Body and mind steeled to win, he jerked her flush and kissed her hard while she pummeled his shoulders in a flurry of fists. All at once, her scent disarmed him—a hint of lilacs and soap and the barest trace of peppermint, and he stifled a groan while he explored the shape of her mouth, the silk of her skin, the soft flesh of her ear.

Relief flooded when her thrashing slowed and her body listed against his with a weak moan. He gentled his mouth, softly nuzzling before finally pulling away. Satisfaction inched into a smile when she swayed on her feet, eyes closed and open mouth as limp as her body. “Nope, not in a million years,” he said, his breathing as shallow as hers. He planted a kiss to her nose.

Roused from her stupor, her eyes popped open in shock and she suddenly lunged, fury sputtering as she hauled back a fist, clearly hoping to dislocate his jaw. With all the grace and speed of his Oly Club boxing title, he skillfully ducked, chuckling when her tight-knuckled punch bludgeoned the air. Hands in his pockets, he made his way to the door and delivered a gloat of grin over his shoulder. “Well, I guess you have a deal, then, Cassie McClare—friends it is.”

She spun around, eyes flashing. “You are nothing but a yellow-bellied snake of a womanizer, Jamie MacKenna, and if you ever lay a finger on me again, I’ll hogtie you so fast . . .”

He laughed, hand on the knob. “Come on, Your Highness, I did us both a favor—now that we know there’s no attraction, we can be friends, right?”

“When polecats fly,” she screamed, and he grinned, shutting the door with a wink. Something hard crashed against the wood and he winced. “Yes, ma’am,” he whispered to himself on his way down the hall. “Definitely the makings of a beautiful friendship.”


❤️THE ACCIDENTAL KISS

Come on, you know what I’m talking about—the “accidental kiss” is when the attraction is there, but the intent isn’t . . . until something as innocent as a kiss on the cheek sets passion ablaze. In a second-tier love story from Love at Any Cost, an innocent thank-you kiss on the cheek turns into far more between the widowed matriarch and her rogue brother-in-law—the fiancé she was once engaged to before he cheated on her and she married his brother. Bundled in a blanket around an outside fire, Caitlyn McClare rises to thank her brother-in-law Logan with a kiss on the cheek for a tender and noble gift he'd just given her. 

Peering up, Caitlyn gently braced his jaw with her palm, eyes shimmering with gratitude. “I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more than right this moment, Logan McClare. Thank you!”

His heart seized when she pressed a kiss to his cheek, and almost by accident, he turned into her silky caress, their lips so close he could smell the hint of hot chocolate they’d enjoyed around the fire. They froze in the same split second of time, and his pulse thudded slow and hard as he waited for her to pull away. Only she didn’t, and heat scorched his body when her shallow breathing warmed his skin. 

“Cait,” he whispered, barely believing her lips nearly grazed his. All he could hear was the roar of blood in his ears as he waited, not willing to push for fear she would retreat, but when her eyelids flickered closed, his fate was sealed. “So help me, Cait, I love you,” he rasped, nuzzling her lips before she could retreat. The moment his mouth took hers, he was a man hopelessly lost, bewitched by her spell.

She jolted in his arms as if suddenly realizing her folly, but he refused to relent, his grip at the nape of her neck strong and sure. A delicious dizziness overtook him at the taste of the sweetest lips he’d ever known, a heady tease of chocolate and peppermint and Caitlyn McClare. A groan trapped in his throat, and he devoured her, delving deeper with a passion stoked by almost twenty-six years of denial and longing. “God help me, Cait,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he feathered her ear, “I need you in my life.”

 — 

He felt it the moment the winds shifted, pulse skyrocketing when her blanket dropped to the ground and she melded into his arms. His mouth explored with a vengeance, the frenzied beat of her heart throbbing beneath his lips as he grazed the hollow of her throat. He skimmed up to suckle the lobe of her ear, and his heart swelled with joy when a soft moan escaped her lips. Blood pounding in his veins, he wove fingers into her hair to cradle her face. “Marry me, Cait, please . . .”

Her eyelids fluttered open to reveal a glaze of desire so strong, his mouth descended again, dominant and possessive until her lips surrendered to his. “Marry me,” he repeated, his kiss gentling to playful nips meant to coax and tease. “I need you, Cait . . . and I want you.”

In the space of a heartbeat, she hurled him away, breasts heaving and eyes wild. “You’re a devil, Logan McClare, always lusting after what you can’t have!”

Sleet slithered through his veins. “No, Cait, it’s not true—I want you because I love you.”

He reached for her, and she thrust back, fury welling in her eyes. “You want me because you can’t have me. And once you had me, you would just throw me away again, returning to your old habits of carousing with women all hours of the night.”

“You’re wrong—let me prove it, please. Marry me.”

She shook her head, a scarlet curl quivering against her neck. Her tone trembled with a violence that stunned. “I-don’t-want-you, and I-don’t-need-you, do you hear?”

His anger surged, but he tamped it down with a clamp of his jaw, his words as hard as hers. “Really, Cait? Why don’t you tell that to the woman whose body just responded to mine?”

The lightening force of her slap shifted his jaw clean to the right, the sound of it like a crack of thunder. “How dare you?” she whispered, tears streaming her cheeks.

 

❤️THE COAXING KISS

In this scene from A Hope Undaunted, the hero, Luke McGee, is hoping to coax the heroine, Katie O’Connor, into dating him, unaware she has just accepted an engagement ring from her boyfriend Jack.

Glass in hand, she paused at the sink. “Do you want ice?”

His approach was achingly slow as he strolled toward her. With a casual air, he took the glass from her hand and set it on the counter while his warm gaze welded to hers. He moved in close, wedging her against the sink by just the mere threat of his presence. She swallowed hard and craned her neck up, wishing her voice hadn’t fused to her throat.

Massive palms slowly grazed the side of her arms, as if he thought she might be chilled, but the heat they generated made her feel anything but. In fluid motion, they moved to her waist, the gentle caress of his thumbs all but stealing her air. His blue eyes deepened in intensity as he leaned in, and his husky voice made her mouth go dry. “Let’s face it, Katie Rose,” he whispered, “I don’t want ice, I don’t want water, and I definitely don’t want chocolate.”

She caught her breath when his words melted warm in her ear.

“I want you . . .”

And before the air could return to her lungs, his mouth dominated hers with such gentle force, it coaxed a breathless moan from her lips, heating the blood in her veins by several degrees. “Say it, Katie Rose . . . say that you want me as much as I want you.”

She could barely speak for the racing of her pulse, and her breathing was as rapid as his. Powerful arms refused to relent, drawing her close as his lips trailed her throat with an urgency that made her dizzy. “Say it,” he whispered again, “tell me you care for me too.”

“Luke, I—I . . . I do,” she breathed, too disarmed to deny it.

His mouth took hers like a man possessed, deepening the kiss until she was putty in his hands. And then all at once, he pulled away to cup her face with his palms, his eyes so full of love, it took her breath away. “That’s all I needed to know, Katie. And I promise from now on, I’ll be taking it slow. I don’t want to rush this.”

She blinked, her pulse thudding to a stop. “Rush what?”

He bent to give her a warm, unhurried kiss. “Us,” he whispered against her mouth. “I’m in love with you, Katie Rose.”

 

❤️THE KISS-AND-MAKE-UP KISS

There is almost nothing I would rather write than a kiss-and-make-up scene following a horrendous fight. There’s just something about those rollercoaster emotions—from anger, to apology, to love—that makes me want to swoon. A good example is this scene from A Hope Undaunted, where we have the subordinate hero Patrick O’Connor attempting to comfort his wife Marcy after a volatile argument.

He bludgeoned his pillow and edged away once again. Tears spilled as she stared, the muscles of his body as rigid and hard as his words. With a broken sob, she fell on her pillow, forcing violent heaves to shiver their bed.

Painful seconds elapsed before she felt him move beside her. Her body jerked at the touch of his hand, and like a wounded animal, she curled her knees to her chest.

 “Marcy—” The pull of his hand drew her close, and she fought him with flailing arms. His hold became like steel casing, crushing her close, and the chaotic beat of his heart pulsed in her ears. “Marcy,” he whispered into the curve of her neck, “I’m sorry. We’ll talk this through, I promise. But please, darlin’, no more crying—you’re breaking my heart.”

Moments passed before her sobs finally stilled and all energy drained from her body. With soothing whispers, Patrick kissed her brow, her cheek, her lips—gentle brushes all, laden with repentance. He cupped her jaw in the palm of his hand and fondled her lips with a gentle caress, then pulled away to plead with his eyes. “Marcy, I was wrong. Blame it on poor temper from a bad game of chess or the dip in the stock market, but I overreacted badly, and I’m sorry. But we need to come to terms over Gabe, or I worry we may have more than a fight on our hands.”

She sniffed, and he leaned back to retrieve his handkerchief from the nightstand. He handed it to her, and she blew her nose, all anger finally diffused. “I-I know, and I’m s-sorry too. We need to work in tandem, I realize, but sometimes it’s so hard because I just want to love her.”

He gently pushed the hair from her eyes. “You’re a loving woman, darlin’, which comes in handy with a lout like me, but with a strong-willed child like Gabe, it needs to be coupled with discipline.” He lifted her chin with his finger. “We have to present a united front, my love, and you need to learn to say ‘no.’ Or I’m afraid with Gabe, there will be a heavy price to pay.”

She nodded and sniffed again.

With a tight squeeze, he buried his head in her neck before pulling away with a lift of his brow. He stared at her new satin gown, then slowly fanned his hands down the sides of her waist. “And speaking of a price to pay—so you’ve taken to wearing perfume to bed, have you, Mrs. O’Connor?” He bent to caress the curve of her throat while his fingers grazed the strap of her gown. “And a new satin gown, surely not just for sleep.” With a slow sweep of his thumb, the strap slithered from her shoulder. “Oh, I’m afraid this is going to cost you, darlin’.”

He kissed her full on the mouth, and heat shivered through her. “I suppose this isn’t one of those times when I need to say no,” she whispered, her breathing ragged against his jaw.

“No, darlin’, it’s not.” And clutching her close, he fisted the satin gown and moved in to deepen the kiss, his husky words melting into her mouth. “For all the good it would do.”

 

❤️THE KISS OF DESPERATION

In A Passion Most Pure, it’s Good Friday and war on Germany has just been declared by the U.S. The subordinate heroine, Marcy O’Connor, begs her husband to stay and comfort her rather than go into work, but when he tries to put her off, she resorts to a kiss of desperation. 

Patrick smiled, a rush of love welling his heart. “Marcy, what if I took an extended lunch hour today? You know, between noon and 3:00 p.m.?”

She lunged, almost tipping the chair with her embrace, kissing him with such passion, a soft moan escaped his lips. “Mmmm . . . maybe I won’t go in at all!” he teased, returning her kiss with equal fervor. He paused and drew back, a brow shifting high. “You do realize, of course, I’ll have to work a bit later tonight, don’t you?” 

She nodded and kissed him again, and he chuckled at her little-girl enthusiasm. Patting her on the leg, he resumed an air of responsibility. “I’d best be going, then; I’ll need every minute I have at work.”

Instead of getting up, Marcy pressed closer, her lips swaying against his.

Patrick groaned and nudged her away. “Marcy, you’re a wicked woman," he said with a tight grin. "Darlin', there’s no time—” He stopped, his heart flinching at the desperation on her face while her eyes pooled with dread.

“Patrick,” she pleaded, “please . . . the world’s being torn apart at the seams. I need to be close to you . . . to hold you. God help us, we’re at war! And we don't know what tomorrow might bring . . .”

The reality of her words stung, and he felt his perspective shift. He picked her up in his arms and kissed her again before letting her go. Pulling his suit coat off the back of the chair, he slung it over his shoulder and took her hand in his, quietly leading the way to their room.

 

❤️THE MENTAL KISS

To me, one of the most effective ways to add romantic tension is by starting out with an innocent scene that escalates into fun or frenzy. Then, in a single throb of a pulse, it culminates in the moment when both parties suddenly realize an attraction. An attraction so strong, the mental desire for a kiss creates a spark of romantic tension without one lip ever touching the other.

This is what I was striving for in this scene from A Light in the Window: An Irish Love Story (the prequel love story of a much younger Marcy and Patrick from the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series). The hero and heroine experience that taut moment where a mental kiss teeters on the threshold of action. It all happens during a water fight between two “friends” doing the dishes at the church soup kitchen where they both volunteer.

Her laughter turned to squeals when she tried to get away, but he clamped a steel arm to her waist while he held the rag dangerously close to her neck. “Repeat after me, Marceline,” he whispered, eyes issuing a challenge. “Patrick, I’m a brat, I’m sorry, and I will never do this again.”

Pulse sprinting, she giggled, eyes flicking from him to the rag in his hand, weighing her options. “And if I don’t?”

One dark brow jutted high as his smile eased into a grin. “You won’t have to bathe tonight, darlin’.”

His words warmed both her cheeks and her temper. “You wouldn’t,” she dared.

“Only one way to find out.” There was a bit of the devil in his eye, the rag dangling precariously close to her neck.

Marcy sucked in a deep breath. “All right, Patrick,” she said, skin tingling with mischief and eye on the rag, “I’m a brat, I’m sorry, and I . . . won’t promise . . .” Lunging, she whipped the rag from his hands so fast, he never saw it coming, christening him with dirty dishwater like Father Fitz christened babies in the back of the church.

He hooked her waist before she could escape, and her high-pitch giggles merged with his husky laughter as she flailed in his arms, a death grip on the soppy rag thrashing over their heads. Dishwater flew every which way while he tried to reclaim it, but Marcy hid it behind her back with squeals of laughter. Locking her to his chest with one arm, he circled her waist with his other, his breath warm on her cheek as he grappled to claim the win.

Near breathless, she tried to wrestle free. “Give . . . it . . . up . . . Patrick,” she said, her words punctuated by shrieks and shallow rasps. “You will . . . never, ever win . . .”

Her words seemed to paralyze him, and in a single heave of her breath, his body stilled against hers. She could feel the ragged rise and fall of his chest, the hot press of his arm at the small of her back, the wild hammering of her pulse in her ears. All at once, she was painfully aware of his nearness, bare inches away from the dark stubble that peppered his jaw. His hard-muscled chest was so close she could almost feel the dampness of his shirt while the familiar scent of spices and pine whirled her senses. His breathing was ragged like hers, warm and sweet with the faint scent of chocolate from his chocolate cream pie, and when his gaze lowered to her lips, heat coiled through her so strong, it sapped all moisture from her throat.

The silence roared like the blood in her ears as he stared, a battle waging in his eyes that eclipsed to a dark fervor, shocking her when it quivered her belly. “I will never give up, Marceline,” he whispered, his lips parted to emit shallow breaths. Fire singed when his glance flickered to her mouth.

“T-take it . . . ,” she whispered, alarm curling in her stomach. Dear Lord, had he meant to kiss me? Prodding the rag to his chest, she pushed him away while heat throbbed in her cheeks. She took an awkward step back, gaze on the floor as she buffed at her arms with brisk motion. “Goodness, Miss Clara will have our heads,” she said with nervous chuckle, unable to look at him even yet. “You win, Patrick—I surrender.” She forced a casual tone and attempted to sidestep him on her way to the broom closet.

Her heart seized when he halted her with a gentle hand. “Marcy . . .” His voice was somber and steeped with regret. “I'm sorry . . .”

“For what?” A deep voice sounded from the door, shattering what was left of Marcy’s calm.

 

❤️THE MISTAKEN-IDENTITY KISS

The element of surprise is always fun in a mistaken-identity kiss, such as in this scene from A Passion Most Pure where the hero Collin McGuire mistakes the heroine Faith O’Connor for her sister. 

"Stay, Barney," she whispered, silently opening the door to slip outside. The chill of the night air shivered through her, and she pulled her robe tighter about her, bracing herself for more than the cold. She stared out at the oak, and her heart skipped a beat when he wasn't there.

Stepping forward on the porch, she strained her eyes to catch sight of him. And then, like a thief in the night, he was behind her, his strong arms encircling her waist and his lips lost in her hair. He was kissing her, whispering things that caused her cheeks to flame in the glow of the moonlight. The heat of his touch felt like fire. Oh God, I need your help!

And then, somewhere deep inside, beneath the passion he stirred, she could see things clearly once again. Yes, she wanted this—and she wanted it with him. But it had to be God's way, not hers and certainly not his. 

With a calm not experienced in his presence before, Faith pried his arms from her waist and slowly turned, hands propped on his chest to push him away. The startled look on his face almost made her smile as she stepped back.

"It's you!" he muttered, clearly taken by surprise, and she noticed his reflexes were a bit slower than usual. The easy smile was conspicuously absent, and he seemed shaken. 

"Did you think I was going to send my sister down? Are you crazy . . . or just not very bright?" This was fun. It felt wonderful getting the best of Collin McGuire. 

 

Collin blinked, and then instinct kicked in with the slow smile. His eyes traveled from her face, down her body, and back up again. Even in the moonlight, he could see her blush.

"No," he drawled, "I just thought you wanted me for yourself."

She caught her breath and jerked her robe around her shivering frame. "You are the most egotistical, low, selfish human being ..."

"Well, you might have me on egotistical and low, but lady, on the selfish, I'm afraid you got it all over me."

He heard the soft catch of her breath as her lips parted, the whites of her eyes expanding in shock. "Me? Over you? You must be drunk!"

Collin chuckled to himself and ambled over to the porch swing to sit, his long legs sprawled out before him. "Yeah, I've had a few, no question about that. But I'm not drunk––at least not too drunk to see things the way they are." He watched her from the shadows of the swing, taking in the way her hair glinted in the moonlight, spilling over her shoulders. Her slight form shivered in her thin robe, which she clutched tightly with pinched fingers.

"And what way are they, exactly?" Her tone was curt. 

Collin took his time answering. Never had he derived so much pleasure from rattling a woman before. She was this sweet, demure, little thing whose temper could be tripped faster than flipping a switch. A pretty powder keg, to be sure, righteous and noble until you lit the spark that made her blow. And then the fun began. He cocked his head sideways to look up, his lips easing into a knowing smile. 

"Well, I'm not the one who's keeping her sister from spending time with the man she loves …” He paused for effect, then continued. “Nor am I the one telling Bree Muldoon she's on the path to hell if she, shall we say, spends time with me?" His smile flattened, replaced by intense scrutiny as his eyes pierced hers. "I'm not sure, but it looks to me like one of two things. You either are the most selfish thing around or … "

Her eyelids flickered and her mouth opened slightly, as if she couldn’t breathe.

"You want me for yourself. So which is it? Tell me, Faith O’Connor, have I gotten to ya?" It grated how his heart hammered in his chest whenever she was near, but he truly relished the effect he obviously had on her. He was glad he could get a bit of his own back. She had possessed his thoughts too much of late, and he wanted her to pay. She had no right to interfere—in his relationship with Charity––or in his thoughts. He watched her now, a frail thing shuddering in the wind, all defenses stripped, and fought the urge to jump up and grab her in his arms. He swore softly under his breath. Why did she make him feel this way?

She looked sick standing there, the frigid wind whipping at her hair. Without a word, she moved to the door, then turned to confront him, her back stiff and her face set. "You know, Collin, I feel sorry for you. You think every woman will collapse under your spell. The charming Collin McGuire, so irresistible to women. Well, you're wrong. Not every woman chooses to do so, at least not this one. I'm looking for someone I can give my heart to and know it will be safe. Someone strong and good and moral. You––you're just bent on your own quest of misguided lust, and I doubt if you will ever be satisfied."

She turned the knob, and in a split second he was there, his face inches from her own. She turned away as if she could smell the liquor on his breath. "Pretty high and mighty, aren't we, Faith O'Connor? I think you're lying. I think I have gotten to you, only ya don't want me to know it. Why don't we just see?"

He pressed her back against the door, his lips muffling her response. He kissed her long and hard until the fight faded away. Only then did his lips leave her mouth to stray the curve of her chin and nip at her earlobe. She moaned, her passion igniting him like no other woman had ever done. He was breathing hard and fast as his lips smothered her neck, and the ecstasy of it all was so staggering, he thought he would lose his mind. What was he doing? 

 

❤️THE NON-KISS

Okay, I don’t claim to be real good at scenes without kisses, but I gave it the old college try in Love at Any Cost, which I hope shows that romantic tension can be achieved without a lip lock. Gosh, who knew?! This scene takes place at the heroine’s uncle’s Napa estate during a game of Midnight (nighttime hide and seek).

Jamie ducked behind a massive rhododendron into Cassie’s secret crevice, a narrow corridor created by a deep sun porch on the south side of Logan’s estate. Lips easing into a grin, he inched several feet back to where she hid in the shadows with her back to the brick wall.

Even in the dark, he saw the whites of her eyes expand. “What are you doing here?” she whispered, shooing him away. “This is my hiding place, MacKenna—go!”

“Ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, midnight!” Liddy called.

Jamie chuckled. “Too late,” he whispered, sandwiching himself behind her with his back to the wall. He looped an arm to her waist, tightening his hold to quiet her when a flicker of lamplight indicated someone just passed. Heady scents rose to taunt him—lilac water and Pear’s soap mingling with the loamy scent of moss that never saw the light of day—delicious perfumes all, tingling his skin. His smile tipped at the soft absence of a corset that allowed him to feel the tension in her body along with the race of her pulse, evident in the rapid rise and fall of her chest.

Footsteps faded away, and she tried to whirl around, luring a grin to his lips when she got stuck halfway. “Jamie MacKenna,” she hissed in the dark, “what in tarnation are you doing?”

Nudging her back around, he hooked her from behind once again, grazing her ear with a low chuckle. “This is my hiding place, Cowgirl. Can I help it if you stole it first?”

“Yours?!” she whispered loudly, her voice a near-squeak. “This has been my hiding place since I was knee-high to a grape, you pickle-brained polecat.”

“I know,” he said with a grin in his voice. “Blake told me.”

She grunted and wrestled to get free. “Let-me-go! Have you forgotten our agreement?”

“No, ma’am.” He firmed his grip, careful to brush his nose to the soft flesh of her lobe before he breathed warm in her ear. “No kisses are involved, Miss McClare,” he said softly, taking her hand in his. His thumb teased the inside of her palm. “Hugs and hands only, I believe the fine print said.” His fingers skimmed to her wrist, eyes closed to lose himself in the silky touch of her skin, the chaotic sprint of a pulse racing along with his own.

Her shuddery breaths filled the darkened space between them, matched by his own jagged breathing as he buried his face in her hair. “Cass,” he whispered, unable to stop the heat that shimmered his skin. “I’m in love with you . . .”

 

❤️THE STAKE-A-CLAIM KISS

In A Passion Most Pure, the second hero, Mitch Dennehy, has been a perfect gentleman with the heroine, Faith O’Connor, until he discovers she still has feelings for another man, which he attempts to dispel with a heated kiss.

When he took her home that night, he had given her his usual gentle kiss. 

“I’ll see you Monday,” she whispered, pushing the door ajar.

Something inside had compelled him to pull her close. “No, you’ll see me tonight, in your dreams, and that’s an order. But just to make sure . . . ” 

Never would he forget the look—eyes blinking wide as he dragged her to him, her soft lips parting in surprise when his mouth took hers with a hunger long suppressed. His hands wandered her back, urging her close while his lips roamed the curve of her neck, returning to reclaim her mouth with a fervor. For one brief, glorious moment, the terms were his, and by thunder, she would feel the heat of his kiss in her bones.

In a raspy gulp of air, she lunged back. “I can’t believe you did that!” she gasped.

“Believe it,” he quipped, his tone nonchalant.

“But, why? After what I told you tonight, why would you do that?”

“Why? Let’s just call it a bit of insurance.”

“What?”

“Insurance. If the woman I love is going to have memories of passion, it’s going to be with me, not him.”

“I don’t entertain memories of passion.” Her voice was edged with anger. 

“You will tonight,” he said. And turning on his heel, he left her—hopefully with a warmth that defied the coolness of the night.

 

❤️THE SURROGATE KISS

In A Passion Most Pure, the hero, Collin McGuire, has feelings for the heroine, Faith O’Connor, that scare and upset him so much, he tries to drive her from her thoughts by kissing her sister.

“Charity, I made a promise to your parents. I need to win their trust . . ."

She tossed her hair over her shoulder with the degree of defiance he'd always found so attractive. The look in her eyes was hard to miss. “What about my trust, Collin? Win mine!”

He hesitated and then slowly wrapped his arms around her waist. Her lips were warm and moist as he caressed them with his own, and their soft touch should have ignited a fire in him. Instead, a cold wave of fear crawled in his belly as he found himself aching for her sister. He could hear Charity’s breathing, rapid and intense, the way his should have been, and the fear exploded into anger.

No! This was not happening! She was not going to do this to him. He was in control of his destiny. He would choose whom he'd love, not some make-believe god, and certainly not the woman who blindly gave her soul to him. Roughly he drew Charity in, kissing her with enough force to take her breath away. He felt a fire stir deep inside, and he kissed her again, pressing her close until his thoughts were consumed only with her.

Breathless, she leaned against his chest and gazed up at him. “I love you, Collin,” she said, her eyes aglow with passion.

“I love you, too, Charity,” he lied and kissed her again, putting to rest for the moment any doubts she might have had.

  

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Julie