Top 9 Most Romantic Love Scenes in Romance

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When I picked up my first romance in March 2007, I had no idea what it was. I didn’t even notice the two people kissing on the cover. I just knew it was about vampires, and that sounded good. The book was J.R. Ward’s Lover Revealed, and I was shocked (shocked!) at the straightforward way in which sex was depicted — no “steel on velvet” or “warm moist depths”. Since then, I have read a lot of romances, and even without considering the huge growth of erotica, I think the level of heat has been turned way up across the genre. As “Smart Bitch” Sarah said on the Today Show, “It’s like really good sex.” I thought it would be fun to list my favorite romantic sex scenes.

Please feel free to comment with your suggestion for a 10th!

Here they are, not ranked:

Zsadist and Bella, Lover Awakened. This title is the fan favorite in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series for good reason. Vampire Zsadist, (at least until Acheron was published), is the most tortured hero evah. He’s scarred, inside and out, by his century as a sex/blood slave. He’s never experienced climax, and has never known love or affection from a woman. Bella, a beautiful high born vampire, is strongly attracted to Zsadist, but he resists, thinking himself unworthy. They end up exchanging bodily fluids a number of times before the end of the book, but the scene in which she kisses him — his first one — is probably my favorite. Bella has to work get get Zsadist to associate lovemaking with good things, and to do that she has to get him to view his own body as unspoiled. She begins in the simplest of ways, by kissing him, just his lips and shoulders, and chest, but it’s a wonderful, tender, amusing romantic encounter, in a book of much angst.

Jamie and Claire, Outlander. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is beloved, not just by romance readers, but fiction lovers of all stripes. It happens to be one of my favorite romances (although I confess I lost steam by the 3rd installment of this loooooooong series). Jamie is younger than Claire (in more ways than one, as she has traveled back to his time from the 20th century), and he is a virgin when he and Claire consummate their marriage of convenience. But my favorite love scene occurs midpoint in the book. It’s probably the most important scene in terms of their relationship. After some time bonding on the road, they return home a married couple, and Claire is suddenly not sure: is this still a forced marriage or is it more? After what they have shared, can she really return to her husband in the 20th century? And does Jamie even want her to stay? After an intense argument, Jamie presents Claire with a wedding ring. Her donning it represents her commitment to him and her new life, and the emotional intensity of that decision spills over into the violent lovemaking they then share. Jamie is principled, reserved, kind, thoughtful, and gentle, but in this scene he is roused beyond all sanity by his love for Claire. He tells her: “You’re mine, mo duinne, mine alone, now and forever. Mine, whether you will it or no.”

Roarke and Eve, Naked In Death, JD Robb. These two — the tough cop and the wealthy suspect — finally give in to their lust for each other at Roarke’s mansion. One minute they’re examining his gun collection, arguing over evidence, and the next he is kissing her, hauling her into the elevator and up to his bedroom, and she is ripping his clothes off. Eve is no virgin, but she only knows one kind of sex: quick and emotionless, with a fast getaway afterwards. When she tries to force Roarke to play by her rules, he turns the tables on her: “You want the kick without the intimacy? You don’t need a partner for that. And you have one tonight. I intend to give as much pleasure as I get.” And boy does he. But Roarke finds that Eve demands something from him, too: a loss of control, of a piece of himself, that, at least as of the latest installment, he never wants or gets back.

Christian and Maddie, Flowers From the Storm. In Laura Kinsale’s classic, Maddie and Christian share a marriage of convenience. His speech has been severely hampered by a near fatal stroke, and Maddie, a devout and prudish Quaker, agrees to marry him to help keep his dukedom out of the hands of his greedy family, on the condition that they not share a bed. But these two do share an intense bond and have been attracted to one another from the get go. When a fear of ghosts in his huge mansion sends the sensible Maddie fleeing to Christian’s room in the night, Christian, once a renowned rake and determined bachelor, finds himself in the strange position of being in bed with his wife, whom he desires, but not being allowed to touch her. It is impossible to describe how beautifully this scene is written — even excerpting it won’t do justice to the way Kinsale portrays the slow eroding of both of their defenses as they give in to their passion and love, ending with Maddie’s mournful recognition that intensifies her inner conflict for the rest of the book: “God forgive me, I love thee more than mine own life.”

Colin and Savi, Demon Moon, Meljean Brook. Brook is typical of today’s paranormal writers in her tendency to write very explicit sex scenes, and Colin, a beautiful vampire and Savi, an Indian-American human computer geek, certainly have their share. To my mind, the scene that best captures their relationship is the one after Colin comes racing across town – waking from his deep daysleep, in his bare feet, through the daylight — to rescue her from a wyrmwolf. As is typical of Brook’s heroines, and a reason why I love her books, Savi actually mostly took care of things before Colin arrived. But his coming to her signals that he is much more than the vain, broken, and cursed vampire he appears to be. Bloody and exhausted, Colin falls back to sleep in Savi’s bed. When he awakens, he’s too tired to do much seducing, but they share a very hot sexual encounter in which she is able to articulate her needs very clearly. Colin tells her “I’ll give you everything you need”, but Savi knows that his bloodlust and her physical inability to give him enough blood will make it impossible for him to be monogamous. She tells him: “Even with the others, even if it was of short duration, I was faithful. Could you be?”. After a long silence, Colin answers, “If I could Savi, it would be with you.”

Sebastian Dain and Jessica, Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase. This is another celebrated romance, for good reason. It features the classic tortured titular hero, abused in childhood, whose poor self-image is a self-fulfilling prophesy. My favorite scene in this book occurs when Jessica, beautiful, smart, and strong, storms into Dain’s house to rescue her innocent brother from Dain’s corrupting influence. She excoriates the big lout in front of a roomful of drunk hangers on and prostitutes, then storms out. Dain follows her, and they argue up and down the streets of Paris. He’s half dressed, she’s whacking him with her bonnet, and then it starts to rain. Somehow, they end up kissing, and what a kiss! It’s told all from his point of view, and we get to see the earthshaking effect it has on the hero for once: his knees wobble, his chest tightens, and he wants to weep, as loving words flow through his mind, in his native Italian (!) (“I’ve dreamed of you. I’ve wanted you in my arms since the moment we met. I need you.”) It awakens feelings in these two that they will never be able to quash, and while the road to marital bliss is long, it all started with this unexpected wet smooch.

Phin and Sophie, Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie. I debated a long time about whether to include this one. While Crusie is a gifted writer in many ways, I have never found her sex scenes particularly well written, and this scene occurs at a point in the novel when neither wants more than a fling. But the consummation of Phin and Sophie’s attraction has so many things going for it, that I just had to put it in. (Oh god. why does every word I type in this post have to seem like a double entrendre). Crusie writes romantic comedy like nobody’s business, and this scene had me in pain from laughing so hard. From its beginning, when Sophie insists on calling her boyfriend to break up with him after lovemaking with Phin has begun, to the end, when Phin realizes that Sophie is turned on by the thought that her sister is about to walk in on them, and uses his free hand to start smashing things against the wall to encourage her to do so, it’s one in a million. But what makes this scene really romantic for me is the moment when Sophie, who, despite making a porn video, is sexually uptight and insecure, loses interest and starts going through the motions.

Crusie writes, “she could let him figure it out on his own, except that guys never did. They just –

‘You’re not even close, are you?’ Phin said, breathless below her, and she refocused back on him.

‘What?”

‘Hi, I’m Phin Tucker, and I’m inside you. I know how these things slip your mind.'”

He proceeds to ask her if she’s worried about her ex, and then gets her back in the game by figuring out what makes her tick. Their honest, humorous, and caring communication in this scene — when they’re lovers, or trying to be, but not yet in love, gives the reader a glimpse into who these two people are, and the kind of deep love they will eventually share

Joe and Sadie, Broken, by Megan Hart. This is a very unusual book, in which the hero spends most interactions with the heroine recounting his one night stands with other women. Usually, I hate romance novels in which the hero and heroine have as little time together as did Sadie and Joe (for most of the novel she is faithfully married to another man). But their first and only sexual encounter, when Joe shows up, drunk and wet in the rainy night on Sadie’s doorstep and they fall into each other wordlessly, like two starving people, is priceless. Hart is billed as an author of “erotica” and this book certainly has its share of explicit, detailed and nontraditional sex, most of it between Joe and a host of nameless faceless women. None of these encounters mean anything to him, and they become more crass and desperate as the book proceeds. It’s clear Joe is missing something, missing the chance to be known and loved for who he is, but even he can’t articulate this need, saying only “Please don’t make me leave”. As their coupling proceeds from the doorway, to the stairs, to her bedroom, Joe pauses, and Sadie gives him what he needs. She doesn’t say, “I really want you” or “You’re so hot”, but tells him: “Your favorite color is blue. You hate tomatoes and love cucumbers. You drink whiskey but hardly ever get drunk. You smell like soap and water. I know you. Joe. It’s all right. Come to bed with me.'” It’s just a wonderfully romantic scene.

Gabe and Rachel, Dream a Little Dream, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have a very conflicted relationship with SEP’s books (You know that Joan Jett song, “I hate myself for loving you”? That about sums it up.), and this one in particular isn’t my favorite of hers, but the scene in which Gabe and Rachel give in to the desire for each other is a winner. Gabe is the surly widower, bereft after losing his wife and son years ago. He only wants to be left alone with a heart frozen in time. Rachel Bonner, the disgraced ex-wife of a charlatan minister, is now an impoverished single mom, reviled by the whole community and barely trusted by Gabe. But the sparks flew from the moment they met, and their love scene in the rain, in the back yard, after a heated argument, is a keeper. Rachel has only had one lover, her husband, who viewed her as “pure and fragile” and refused to allow her to enjoy sex. Gabe has been saving himself for his wife’s memory. She wants to experience sex as a mature lusty woman, and he wants to be able to have sex without feeling like he is cheating on his wife. This a very serious book overall, but they manage to find humor as they fumble towards each other. At one point Rachel jokes, “Bonner, don’t disappoint me.”, to which Gabe replies, “It’s a good thing I’m a man who does his best work under pressure.” The most romantic moment is when Gabe begins to think of his late wife. Rachel can see the change in his face, and know she has to make him see her instead. She goes for humor, saying “Don’t go squirrelly on me now, dude, or I’ll have to throw you out and find another model.” They try to play it down, of course, but these two are not the casual sex types, and eventually their hearts get around to acknowledging what their bodies have been telling them.

26 responses

  1. You know, Lord of Scoundrels is my favorite romance novel and that scene there is just so amazing. It melts my heart every time I read it. Great selection.

    That one with Colin and Savi is also splendid, I love how she tends to his bleeding feet while he sleeps even though it was not really necessary.

    One love scene that I find unforgetable is the one between Evie and Sebastian st Vincent in Devil in Winter. It is right at the start of the book, St Vincent is this jadded rake who has shagged all of London and yet he shakes and he trembles inside when he is consumating his marriage with Evie. It is the first time for him too, in a way and it opens up a whole new world to him. From that moment on , he is lost. I just love that book so so much.

    Great topic!

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  2. I can’t believe you mentioned that one in DIW. I was thinking about that exact scene. I don’t have the book, but I remember the devastating effect the encounter had on him. I may just have to add that it.

    (I got DIW from the library at a time when I was trying to “be good” about my growing book library and expenditures on romance novels. It occurs to me that I may have to buy an e-book reader, mainly for evasive techniques.)

    Thanks Ana!

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  3. You were? How surreal ! But then again, that book is one of the best romance novels out there….

    Another one I thought of: the first sex scene in The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. That book was so beautifully written and that scene was all kinds of awesome. I remember distinctly how she was so surprised at how he was INSIDE of her, so many feelings and the setting was amazing and that book was about the loss of innocence in every aspect. Gaah. One of the best books of 2008. Have you read it?

    And I can relate on the trying to be good and getting books from the library. I try, I really do. But if they are good , I end up buying them anyway. so. yeah.

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  4. Great topic, Jessica.
    I have to agree with you on the Bella & Zsadist first kiss. That was one of the most unbelievably tender and romantic scenes in such a bad boy novel like those of the BDB. I adore that scene as well.

    Colin and Savi. *sigh* I love the way every single word spoken between them, every look, every touch… everything is not without meaning and depth. I don’t think I’ve ever cried while reading a lovemaking scene except in Demon Moon. I think I simultaneously shed tears of heartbreak and of joy. The scene toward the end when they make love in the shower thinking it will be the last time together ever? Wow.

    Ana mentions a great scene from Duran’s Duke of Shadows, too. One of my favorite books of 2008 as well.

    Another favorite that comes to mind is from The Spy Master’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. It takes almost the entire novel before the hero and heroine consummate their love, but when they finally come together it is so utterly beautiful and sexy. And heartwarming. Have you read it?

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  5. I have read both the Bourne and Duran, loving the latter and feeling good about the former. I mean to write a review of the Duran in the next few days, and I agree that the love scene is fantastic. I especially like it when he warns her that she can trust him to save her life “but you cannot trust me in this”.

    I also really liked the Bourne, recalling it involved a bath but the rest is fuzzy.

    You know, Demon Moon is one of my top 5 romances, and I don’t think it got nearly enough attention. Given your responses, I wonder if there isn’t a large quiet cult following for this book!

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  6. You mean you don’t know? we are all fan girls of Meljean Brook. LOL. We luuurv her. Her blog is awesome. (NO, I am not a stalker. Not yet. ) and there are quite a few bloggers that feel the same.

    If you go to my blog you can check and interview we did with her ; )

    Christine, that scene in the shower had me in tears too. The last chapters of that book were so gut wrenching. I totally bought that they truly believed they would not get a HEA. Meljean put us through hell with that book.

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  7. Sorry for the delay in responding — it took me a while to extract my head from my ass, remove my foot from my mouth, and pick myself up off the floor.

    I stand corrected: there IS a huge Meljean following on the net.

    That’s a fantastic interview! Thank you!

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  8. LOL you’re welcome! : )

    Just so you know, as I see you have Nalini Singh listed as well, she is coming over for a chat next Saturday, 30th. ; )

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  9. I totally agree on Welcome to Temptation. I listened to it again recently and I was totally surprised at how hot the book was because normally I find her books funny but not usually sexy.

    For DiW, it was the scene later in the book where Evie seduces Sebastian that I loved!

    Jamie and Claire – yep. Zadist and Bella – yep and Roarke and Eve totally yes. In fact there are so many hot scenes between Roarke and Eve. I just read the 16th story in that series and JD Robb is so good at keeping the heat up between the two of them. The irony is that I don’t particularly find Nora Robert’s books particularly sensual.

    Other scenes I love – either of the first two books by Elizabeth Hoyt – woooeeee! And also Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas.

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  10. Thanks for the additions, Marg. I agree, Hoyt can write “hot” in historicals like nobody’s business.

    I’m glad you seconded my WTT pick. Honestly, so many Crusie sex scenes involve food — watching someone chew donuts (Bet Me), or rolling around in a bed of lo mein (Charlie All Night), is just… shudder. But the food free scenes in WTT were terrific.

    And I have never read Suddenly You. I just finished Where Dreams Begin, and have read all the Wallflowers books, but SY is next on my ever growing list.

    Thank you for reading!

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  11. Hi. What a great blog. My favorite love scene in romance is the third love scene in Gaffney’s To Have and to Hold.

    SPOILERS
    .
    .
    .
    .

    In the book, Sebastian, a bored and somewhat dissolute rake finds a variety of ways to test and torment Rachel, a prisoner whom he “rescues” from returning to prison after she has already spent ten years there for a murder she did not commit.

    The first two love scenes in the book involve forced sex, and Rachel responds physically (though not completely — she can’t reach orgasm) the second time. They are very powerfully written scenes. But the third love scene is very different from them in tone. It comes after Sebastian has been revolted and horrified by his own actions in almost allowing one of his friends to abuse Rachel. He has a mental break of some sort, which is described as the sound of a bone breaking in his head, his past and his future breaking in two. Sebastian saves Rachel from his friend, whom he then nearly kills, and he’s wounded in the process. Then he spends days drunk and won’t let anyone treat his wound. When he finally does allow someone to touch him, it’s Rachel.

    He asks her to help him to bed, and after she does, asks her to remain there. Because she has no one else, and because it sometimes feels like his her friend, she remains there. They have a long conversation that is more intimate and revealing than the sex they’ve had before, confessing deeply personal things, and Sebastian tells Rachel he believes in her innocence of the crime she was jailed for. He holds her while he cries, and then she falls asleep.

    While sleeping, she dreams that she is back in her prison cell. But then the dream transforms and she is in a meadow of flowers, with an unknown man who leaves color wherever he touches her body. When she wakes up, she recognizes Sebastian as that man, and she allows him to make love to her. Afterwards she pretends they are married, that they love each other. And then a warning sounds in her head, and she pleads with God not to let the whisper she heard (“It’s you”) be true. She is terrified of falling in love with Sebastian.

    I’m sure I’m not doing justice to this scene but I think it’s greatness for me comes both from the beautiful way it is written but also from its context in the story. It is a turning point for both characters, and for their relationship. It’s where they begin to trust each other and open up to each other, yet Gaffney doesn’t forget that what Sebastian did to Rachel before has left a mark. Rachel still doesn’t have an orgasm, and she’s terrified of the trust she is placing in a man who may be her only friend in the world, but is also someone who has hurt her.

    What I love about this scene is how well Gaffney pulls off Sebastian’s transformation — every time I read it, I believe completely that he will never choose to hurt Rachel again. But I also understand what a trapeze act the lovemaking is for Rachel, letting go of her fears and trusting Sebastian to catch her, after the past they share. In a way, it’s as though her needs for human contact, for love, for intimacy, are betraying her. The scene is a high wire act for the writer, too, and she strikes just the right balance between Rachel’s trust and her trepidation.

    I’m sure I haven’t done any kind of justice to it, but this is a brilliant book. Actually I could have picked other love scenes from it as well — the last one, in which Rachel takes the initiative, knowing that she will be leaving Sebastian, is fabulous as well, as are the early ones (which can be tough to read). The whole book is amazing; IMO the best romance ever written.

    Before I end this post, I want to mention another author who hasn’t been mentioned and who writes sublime love scenes — Judith Ivory. My favorite is probably the first scene from Beast, in which Louise is blindfolded and doesn’t know that the stranger she is making love to is her unwanted fiance. But she has other great love scenes as well.

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  12. Janine, what a wonderful comment to wake up to, and what an unexpected and happy surprise to have a visit from one of my romance blogging heroes!

    I confess I have read neither the Gaffney nor the Ivory (I actually read your spoilers with my eyes half shut, kind of like I watch horror films). I should have titled this post “my subjective and biased list of favorite romantic love scenes so far in my admittedly severely limited experience” but it didn’t have the same ring to it.

    I’m surfing from this page this very minute to add those two books to my Amazon shopping cart!

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  13. My favorite book for touching love scenes is Mary Jo Putney’s Dancing in the Wind. It’s one of the books in her Fallen Angels series and Lucien and Kit have a chemistry that jumps off of the page. Lucien is an English spymaster investigating the Hellion’s Club when he encounters Kit, who is looking for her lost sister. The first edition paperback had one of the raciest painting inserts until they removed it in the second edition.

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  14. Bridgette wrote:

    My favorite book for touching love scenes is Mary Jo Putney’s Dancing in the Wind. It’s one of the books in her Fallen Angels series and Lucien and Kit have a chemistry that jumps off of the page. Lucien is an English spymaster investigating the Hellion’s Club when he encounters Kit, who is looking for her lost sister. The first edition paperback had one of the raciest painting inserts until they removed it in the second edition.

    Thank you so much for that suggestion. I have read and enjoyed other books by Mary Jo Putney, including One Perfect Rose and The Rake and the Reformer, but now I have to add one more of hers to my TBR list!

    Like

  15. So interesting that you shuddered at Charlie All Night, because that’s the book that made me fall in love with Crusie.

    I don’t remember the lo mein (maybe I blocked it out) but I definitely remember the moment when they had sex before she was ready, and she looks up into this stranger’s face and freaks out internally.

    There’s a man, inside her and she doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing there. So often in romance books the sex is always perfect, no matter when in the relationship it happens. But in this, the sex is so wrong for the heroine because the relationship hasn’t developed yet. I love that scene.

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  16. Thank you so much for that suggestion. I have read and enjoyed other books by Mary Jo Putney, including One Perfect Rose and The Rake and the Reformer, but now I have to add one more of hers to my TBR list!

    A bit OT here, but the entire Fallen Angels series (of which Dancing on the Wind and One Perfect Rose are a part) is worth reading. My personal favorite is Shattered Rainbows (which is also my second favorite Putney, after the angsty Uncommon Vows). The series is best read in order, IMO.

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  17. Pingback: Review: The Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas | Read React Review

  18. Well, if you are looking to add to the list, I have to put in my two cents worth. The love scenes in Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. Truly original and magical and add depth to what is happening between hero and heroine.

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  19. Hey, i was thinking about reading demon moon but realised it was a series.. would i have to read all of the previous books to understand and fully enjoy that one?

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    • Actually, I started the series with Demon Moon, which is book 2. I would check out Meljean’s site, where she has a primer on the universe she created.

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  20. That bit in Demon Moon that you quoted was one of my favourite scenes, as well as the one where Colin turns up at her door looking completely wrecked because he couldn’t go through with it.

    Thanks for putting me onto Broken. It’s a book I’ve been thinking of trying for a very, very, VERY long time, but wasn’t sure I could stomach. I ended up reading the entire thing in one night. I loved its intensity and, ironic for an erotic novel, I wished there had been less sex and more of the other stuff.

    And now I think I’ll have to read Dirty sometime soon, especially after reading your spectacularly awesome review.

    Like

  21. Pingback: REVIEW: Broken by Megan Hart – Book Thingo

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