Oct 24 2011 12:00pm

“This Changes Everything”: The Morning After

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne BrockmannThe “moment after,” when the hero and heroine have finally done it, is one of the most pivotal moments in a romance. There has typically been a lot of buildup and tension before they get to this point, so it’s expected things will change dramatically once they leap into intimacy.

After all, now the characters know nearly everything about each other physically, but there’s a ton of new emotions to consider, including a re-evaluation of beliefs they’ve clung to for the previous couple hundred pages.

Sometimes there are regrets and recriminations to deal with, especially when a couple has a history and/or trust issues. Izzy Zanella, in Suzanne Brockmann’s Breaking the Rules, describes this situation as “[when] the passion segment of their insanity ended and the messy cleanup part began.“

But sometimes this life-changing situation is tender, or funny, or just plain entertaining, as demonstrated by some of my recent favorites:

Loose and Easy by Tara JanzenLoose and Easy by Tara Janzen:

Bad boy Johnny has wanted good-girl Esmee ever since they made out in his car back in high school. Now, many lifetimes later, he’s helping her solve a case, and struggling to keep from getting involved, but once they’ve been together:

He was doomed. Johnny had never felt it more surely in his life. When a woman felt this good, a guy was doomed. He’d do anything. He’d seen it before, when his friends had fallen in love, and yes, that was the “L” word. It made men crazy.
But what was a guy going to do? There was no walking away from this, and that meant he wasn’t in charge anymore. This little slip of a female with the soft voice, and the soft skin, and the divinely soft piece of heaven between her legs was in charge. It scared the hell out of him. This was more danger than he’d signed on for tonight.
Curiosity had gotten him into this. He’d been as curious as a goddamn tomcat about her, and look where it had led him—straight into Doomsville. Suddenly, he needed her.

Trace of Fever by Lori FosterTrace of Fever by Lori Foster—Trace is a special ops guy working undercover, and Priscilla’s got her own personal operation going on, so there’s lots of reason for them to avoid emotional involvement. There’s no escaping the morning-after awkwardness, but this guy has an irresistible secret weapon

“Thank you.” But she hesitated. She was naked. He was naked. And now, with morning sunlight slanting through a break in the curtains. . .well, it was different.

One brow lifted and he rose up to an elbow. “Feeling shy?”

His grin warned her seconds before he whipped away the covers. She smacked at him, but that only got her kissed again. “Come on.” He left the bed and pulled her up with him. “Do what you have to do, then come back to bed. We’ll drink our coffee there.”

“I think I need a shower. The excesses of the night had left her a little sweaty.

Trace hesitated, then nodded. “Okay.”

She didn’t understand his quick agreement until she was in the shower, hot water easing the aches of her body. The curtain pulled back and Trace, still naked, handed her a cup of coffee.

She’d touched his body everywhere, tasted him all over and yet, seeing him again, even without the kick of caffeine, left her taut with renewed interest. She reached for the coffee cup, got about half of it gulped down, then stepped back. “Care to join me?”

Already stepping in, he said, “I was going to insist.”

Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley ColeDark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole: Conrad is a virgin vampire hero given an unexpected chance to consummate his union with Neomi, a ghost who becomes mortal for a short while:

“How could I have lived without that?” he grated. “I never knew.” He’d demanded. . . everything from her. She’d seen it in his eyes as he came. He’d wanted her to yield to him, to desire him, to love him.

And she did love this vampire, with all her heart.

When he raised himself up, he gave her a sexy, cocky grin that made her breath hitch. “I was good, wasn’t I?”

Any Man of Mine by Rachel GibsonAny Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson—The first time Sam and Autumn are together, it’s a lust-filled fling in Vegas, and they impulsively marry in a quickie ceremony. She ends up pregnant, and they divorce soon after. A few years later, they manage to quit sparring long enough to indulge their lust, but issues remain:

Autumn stood in the kitchen and raised a glass of red wine to her lips. Several emotions churned and collided in her stomach. Shock and shame battled for the top spot, but more than anything, she was embarrassed by her total lack of control. She expected that sort of shameful behavior from Sam. Sam was. . . .Sam. She didn’t roll around on the floor having sex. Not these days.

He poured the Cabernet into his own glass. “Do you want me to apologize?”

If he had to ask that, he wouldn’t mean it anyway. And besides, an apology from Sam would be so unexpected, she just might pass out.

“No. I’m not mad.”

“Then what are you?” He set the bottle on the counter and took a drink.

“Mostly, I’m embarrassed by my spectacular lack of control.”

He lowered the glass and smiled. “It was spectacular.”

She shook her head and fought the urge to smack him. “Do you know how many times I’ve told myself that you were the last person on the face of the earth that I would ever have sex with?”

One corner of his mouth turned downward. “I’m guessing a few.”

“More than a few. Do you know how many times I told myself I would never have sex with you again, even if it meant saving my own life?” She took a drink. “Just a month ago, if given the choice between having sex with you and getting hit by a truck, I would have taken the truck.”

“Yeah, I think you mentioned something like that a few times in the past five years.” He spread his arms wide. “And yet you chose me and spectacular sex.”

“I meant my loss of control was spectacular.”

“The sex was spectacular.”

So now it’s your turn. Tell me your favorite “moment after” scenes. My TBR pile is down to the thousands now. I need some more recommendations!


Donna Cummings writes lighthearted contemporary and historical romance. She can be found at, or talking incessantly about coffee on Twitter @BookEmDonna.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. JacquiC
I just read "The Man Behind the Cop" by Janice Kay Johnson (one of my favourite category authors). It has a great scene involving a "spectacular loss of control" and some struggling afterwards to figure out what the lead characters think about this.
2. Leigh Michaels
Those are good ones, Donna! Makes me add all the books to my TBR list...
3. hal
Loving these excertps! The Rachel Gibson one, espeically, makes me want to read the whole thing :)
Donna Cummings
4. Donna Cummings
@JacquiC -- Oooh, that sounds like a good one! I love when there is a spectacular loss of control. LOL

@Leigh Michaels -- I always end up with a lot of TBR suggestions here. I'm glad I got to add to someone else's list. :)

@hal -- I'm a big fan of Rachel Gibson's stories. Always lots of humor and the heroes are yummy!
5. willaful
from The Reluctant Nude. The hero leaves a note for the sleeping heroine:

"Running. See you at 9:45 for coffee and awkward, post-coital niceities."
Donna Cummings
6. Donna Cummings
@willaful -- I love it! Everyone has a chance to prepare. LOL
7. Liz Lipperman
Shameless plug alert!! This is from my ghost mystery series that's being shopped as we speak.

His breathing, fast and frantic as if his body craved oxygen, finally became normal, and he slid off her. Staring at the ceiling deep in thought, he knew he had just crossed the line, his own self-imposed line. Knew things could never be the same between them now. Knew it and was terrified this incredible moment had been a disastrous mistake.
“Okay, then,” she said, her voice still breathy as she broke the silence between them.
“Lainey, I’m...”
She reached across and put her finger to his lips. “Shh. Let’s enjoy the moment. It is what it is. Nothing more.”
“I never meant...”
“Colt, I’m serious. No apologies. We both know this didn’t mean anything. Leave it at that.” She giggled. “I gotta tell you though, Mr. Winslow. You have a couple of major moves I wasn’t aware of.”
Donna Cummings
8. Donna Cummings
@Liz -- That was a fun excerpt! I love how he's worried about it being a "disastrous mistake". LOL Sounds like he's met his match too.
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