9 December 2012


This week's installment of my quest to delve into the human psyche and behaviour, looks at the exciting emotion of desire.

D is for Desire

Perhaps to some people's delight or to other's disappointment, I'm going to keep this post PG13. It's not that I'm a prude (I could find plenty of lusty examples in my favourite Sookie Stackhouse books), but I want to look at the different ways desire and attraction happens.

When I first saw my current partner Dani, I was walking up the road to the piercing studio. He was stood outside chatting to someone else. In that instant, everyone and everything else disappeared. There was only him. With his wild, long black hair, green eyes surrounded by eyeliner, and tailored black clothes I fell for him instantly. His confident demeanour made me so nervous, and despite offering to hold my hand during the piercing I was too scared that he would notice my sweaty palms to say yes. And whilst having a piercing makes me nervous, it was nothing compared to being in the same room as Dani, this stranger that I wanted to know and wanted to like me. After meeting him that day, I just had to find a reason to go back to the piercing studio to see him again. I even called up to check he was working (of course under the pretence that I wanted to check what time they closed). When I went back a second time, I ended up staying for coffee. I could hardly talk, was ridiculously nervous and I couldn't stop looking at him (and quickly looking away if he looked back at me). I must have looked like a love struck teen. But that was over six years ago.

A wonderful example of instantaneous attraction and longing is from Mystic City by Theo Lawrence. With undercurrents of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (the ultimate love at first sight story), I can really relate to how Aria feels when she meets Hunter, the mysterious rebel mystic.

He stands. Simply looking at him makes my heart beat faster. I want to stay, but there is nothing that ties him to me. We really are strangers. The thought makes my insides ache.
"Goodbye, Aria," he says, and though he's determined, I can tell he's pained.
I sit still, frozen with sadness. Even though he's telling me goodbye, the way he say my name feels like the warmest hello I've ever received.

Despite these thrilling love at first sight moments where your heart starts pounding in your chest as soon as you meet this other person, it was easier to find examples in YA of desire and romance that grow slowly over time. Perhaps this seems more realistic and believable because you're not just falling for exterior, physical qualities but also for the other person's personality. But there is also a sense of building tension and excitement, and that will-they-won't-they fall for each other question. Slowly blossoming chemistry makes me want to read on, and see what happens.

In Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky, I love how Perry and Aria don't get on at all to start. It's only time and getting to know each other better that fuels their feelings for each other little by little.
When they stepped into the close space of the elevator, Aria's scent flooded into his nose, a combination of violets and sweat and pride and power. He felt it all like a surge of strength inside him. He breathed again and soared with his feet on the ground. Perry couldn't stop himself from putting his hand on the small of her back. Told himself he'd do this just once. The he'd stay away.
She looked up at him. Her face was flushed. Strands of her dark hair clung to her sweated neck. Roar was with them, and a good thing too. He'd never been as tempted by her, by the warm muscle he felt behind the palm of his hand.

(Can I just say, the fact that the two examples I wanted to use were of female characters with the same name, was a total coincidence. But somehow poignant.)

When it comes to attraction, there is no right or wrong. Sometimes you fall for someone quickly and the feelings last through thick and thin. Sometimes the attraction is merely temporary and can't be sustained once you find out what that person is really like. And sometimes you don't even realise you're falling for them. But no matter how it happens, attraction and desire is exciting, nerve wracking, thrilling, and just a little bit scary.

Which do you prefer to read about? Instant attraction or slow growing chemistry?


Clover said...

Aww, that was so sweet what you've written about you and your partner :)

I really don't mind reading about different sorts of attraction in YA as long as I believe it. I think you picked some great examples too :)

Book Angel Emma said...

Love love love <3

Jo said...

I like both! I'm not sure where I stand on the whole instalove debate, but I do love that instant attraction, where the sexual tension just sizzles off the page! But I also love it when feelings slowly evolve, like with Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. I love it all! What I'm not the biggest fan of is when authors shut the door on the more intimate things... but that's only because I'm 25 and like a little of that. I can understand why there isn't in most books. (One of the reasons why I am SO excited about New Adult! :D) Great post, Hannah! I do love this series!