Mar 17 2014 4:33pm

Behind Closed Doors: The Romance of Kristan Higgins’s Fade-to-Black Scenes

Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins

Sexy doesn't necessarily have to include explicit sex. In my opinion, some of the sexiest writing in modern romance occurs before and after the actual act. No one does this better than Kristan Higgins.  In fact, I read two or three of her early novels before I realized that she shuts the bedroom door in the readers' faces. It works for me, and I'd like to take you on a journey through some of my favorite love scenes.

In Higgins's first book, Fools Rush In, Millie Barnes finally admits that the man she loves is not the fantasy she'd been chasing, but her sister's ex-husband.

Because I had known Sam all my life, I knew his goodness and kindness and I knew that I loved him with all my heart, and really, why on earth should we wait?
“I love you, Millie,” he whispered, tucking a strand of hair behind my hear, and I actually felt dizzy at the words.
“I love you, too,” I breathed.
And I disentangled myself from his arms, stood up and led him down the hall. To bed.

There you have it.  The first love scene between Millie and Sam.  You don't get to see the sex, but you just know it was great.

Some of my favorites are when the door closes at the same time as the chapter and the next chapter gives you a little glimpse of what the scene before must have been like.

In All I Ever Wanted, when Callie and Ian finally realize they need each other, 

“Would you like to stay?” he asked, running his thumb over my lower lip.

I swallowed, then nodded. “Should we clean up first?” I whispered, glancing at the devastation the turkey had wrought.

“No,' he said, then he took my hand and led me upstairs.

And then the next chapter begins, ”I woke up roughly twelve hours later, completed and delightfully unrested.“

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgina

And sometimes, as in The Next Best Thing, three sentences are all it takes.

…He tastes so good, feels like heaven and I can't believe I've waited so long for this. His mouth moves to my neck, a hot jolt shudders through me, and I sink into the bed, the sun hot on my skin, and give myself away.

Or, as in Too Good to Be True,  one sentence.

”About time," he whispered again, and after that, there was no more talking.

It's no secret that I'm a big Kristan Higgins fan and one of the reasons is that her characters are individuals with depth and emotion (and usually a few quirks). As a result, we get to see their relationships develop with depth and emotion, and when they finally consummate that relationship, we've already had the payoff of two people realizing their love.  More isn't necessary.

I encourage you to pay attention to the love scenes the next time you read something by Kristan Higgins. For example, Waiting on You, for which Leigh Davis has written a First Look, and which will be released on March 25.  


Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, and on Twitter @Myretta.

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1. Scarlettleigh
I absolutely love fade to black scenes. Because as you said I can imagine what has happened to your own satisfaction. Half the time with sex scenes I get distracted by purple prose, or maybe even foreplay that doesn't even sound appealing. And no I am not talking about off the wall stuff (grin).

Years ago a extremely popular author had the hero and heroine so in the throes of passion that they always ripped each other clothes off and slammed each other up against the wall. I would either flashback to the scene at the wedding from the movie Godfather where a bridesmaid is being slammed against the wall or I would remember the jokes when a co-worker called in sick because he hurt his back from wild monkey sex (and yes he told everyone what happened)

And then I would think about the money wasted from the ripped clothes. Her idea of sentimental closure would be the hero stating I guess I owe you some new lingerie.

I know that everyone has their preferences, and I respect that, but personally I read romance for the emotion, not the act. You don't have to be in love to have hot sex.
2. lauralee1912
Last week, I caught Kristan Higgins on a BookTalk as I am a fan. When asked, she said the reason she closes the door is she doesn't write good sex scenes. :)
Myretta Robens
3. Myretta
Well, @lauralee1912, she really doesn't have to. What she writes works for me.
4. Kareni
I've enjoyed many of the books you mentioned here. I'm always happy to read Kristan Higgin's newest book.
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