Sex on the Beach
- 1 1/2 oz. vodka
- 3/4 oz. peachtree schnapps
- 1/2 oz. creme de cassis
- 2 oz. orange juice
- 2 oz. cranberry juice
- orange slice, maraschino cherry
Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with lime wedge. Recipe source here.
Summer at the beach. The crash of the waves, the caress of the sun, the tang of salt . . . and the lure of a hot romance. Who hasn't necked on a blanket on the sand or dreamed of strolling hand in hand along the water's edge?
So the beach should be the perfect setting for a romance novel, right?
Um...yes and no.
"Sea Lord," the latest book in my Children of the Sea series, is out this month--just in time to tuck into a beach bag. The series was inspired by the Celtic legends of the selkie, immortal creatures of the sea living apart from humankind but able to shape-shift into seductive human form. Set off the coast of Maine, the stories draw on the mystery and magic, power and passion of the ocean.
But sex on the beach...Well, it poses problems for an author. Not to mention her characters. First of all, hell-o? My books are set in Maine. It's cold. The water is really cold. This can have a very damping effect on a woman's mood, the need to get naked, and a man's, er, libido.
It never occurred to me three books ago how much trouble I was going to have getting my sea-loving selkies anywhere near a bed.
Most of the usual trappings of romance--flowers, candles, food, wine--must be carted in and packed out if I use them at all. (Can't leave litter on the beaches!)
Expensive hotels? No.
Five star restaurants? Puh-leeze.
Lobster dinner? Okay, my characters can eat as much lobster as Daryl Hannah in Splash. But don't even get me started on the subject of sand...
Yet somehow the setting works for me. It was that juxtaposition, after all, between the land and the sea, between the contemporary, pragmatic, workaday world of the islanders and the timeless, sensual, magical world of the Children of the Sea that originally hooked me on the concept.
In "Sea Witch" those seeds of conflict—the tension between land and sea, between the mundane and the magic worlds—are present even at the moment of first attraction.
A woman shone at the water's edge, wrapped in twilight and a towel. The sea foamed around her bare, pale feet. Her long, dark hair lifted in the breeze. Her face was pale and perfect as the moon.
For one second, the sight caught him like a wave smack in the chest, robbing him of speech. Of breath. Yearning rushed through his soul like the wind over the water, stirring him to the depths. His hands curled into fists at his sides.
Not okay. He throttled back his roaring imagination. She was just a kid. A girl. An underage girl in an oversize sweatshirt with--his gaze dipped again, briefly--a really nice rack.
The sea is primal. Powerful. A perfect metaphor for sex:
Lightning shattered the shadows as she gathered the storm, owned it, rode it. Rode him. Power pulsed inside and out. She shuddered. He groaned. He felt the crackle and surge as she closed around him, rising and falling like the sea.
His heart contracted. "I am yours," he had told her.
But he had not believed it until now.
When the wave came, the swell took them both. (from "Sea Lord")
Because the sea itself reflects the moods of the weather and the seasons, it's a good way to get the characters' moods on the page. It can even be a way to talk about love itself:
He picked her up in his arms and jumped with her over the side.
Water rushed over their heads, cutting off her shriek.
She surfaced sputtering and clutching at him. "You son of a bitch! Are you out of your mind?"
He buoyed her up, felt her shiver with shock and cold. "Scared?" he demanded.
She glared, her hair dripping in her eyes. "I'm wet."
"Out of your element."
"Over your head?"
She squinted, adjusting her grip on his neck. "I...so?"
"Me too," he confessed. (from "Sea Fever")
So what's your favorite romantic setting? Your least favorite? Do you like to see the classic trappings of romance in your novels? And did you ever read a story where the setting totally worked (or didn't work) for you?
Read Eloisa James' praise for 'Sea Lord' in her Barnes&Noble.com Review column here!
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