When writing romantic fiction or erotic fiction, including all the senses in the story is vital but new scientific evidence suggests the most important of those in determining attraction is the sense of smell. Scientists have so far discovered a thousand genes responsible to recognize and remember ten thousand different scents. Mind boggling.
Humans have odor prints as individual as fingerprints. Helen Keller said, "Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across a thousand miles and all the years we have lived." This makes it incredibly important in the multi-faceted puzzle of attraction.
It is sight that first attracts a man and woman, but once they move closer it's scent that determines if they are mutually attracted. A scientific study found that male arousal is enhanced by certain scents or combinations of scents. How did they determine this? They tracked penile blood flow while the men wore odorized masks. You can read about it here.
So what were the results? They varied a little based on age, but in general, penile blood flow was most affected (a whopping 40%) by a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie. The next most stimulating combination was doughnut and black licorice (31.5%). Rounding out the top three was the combination of pumpkin pie and doughnut (20%).
Funny, but I never used the lavender/pumpkin pie combo for any of my characters. I might have to rethink that!
Speaking of smells, have you ever smelled a horse up close? Not exactly pleasant. But in romance we can suspend some harsh realities for a while. We can believe that a cowboy smells like his piny cologne and nothing else. Which leads me to some pimpage. My very first cowboy story, Horsing Around is now available.
Here's the blurb:
City girl Paige Eastman arrives at her recently deceased father’s Ocala, Florida, horse ranch to settle his estate, but she finds more than material assets with his business partner, resident cowboy Jake Skinner. The two engage in a hot fling until Paige learns she must sell the struggling enterprise out from under Jake.
All Jake wants is a chance to turn the business around since Paige’s father nearly ran it into the ground. But his attention quickly shifts to wrangling the hot prima donna who is now his partner. Can they overcome their differences without dousing the fire burning between them?
And here's a snipet:
Paige Eastman lifted her gaze from her laptop when the taxi came to a stop in front of a white two-story colonial-style home. Could this be her father’s place? She surveyed the lush green landscape and rolling hills. Fishing in her purse, her fingers closed around the money she’d stashed for the fare. Maybe being here would answer some of the gnawing questions she had about the father she’d hardly known.
“This is the Circle O Ranch, right?” She handed the driver a fifty.
“Yes, ma’am.” He stepped out of the car. Seconds later the trunk clicked open.
She climbed out of the cab and drew in a deep breath infused with the scent of fresh cut grass and something else, something vaguely unpleasant. Another sniff. Manure? Nausea threatened, but she forced it back. Lord, it had to be a hundred degrees out. Why would anyone choose to live in such a hellishly hot place?
No one had even contacted her until more than a month after his death. Now she had the unwanted task of disposing of the assets of a man she hadn’t spoken to in more than ten years.
The ranch seemed inviting enough, though. The house looked well cared for and freshly painted. A porch wrapped all the way around it, the kind she’d always dreamt of. With the sprawling green meadows and a white split-rail fence, the property appeared exactly how she’d envisioned it.
The driver ascended the three wide steps to the wraparound porch and set her suitcases near the front door of the house. “Would you like me to take them inside for you?”
Giving the man a smile, she shook her head. “I’ve got it from here, thanks.” She waved as the cab pulled away.
Glancing around, she heard the whinny of a horse. Curiosity niggled at her. The only horses she’d ever laid eyes upon in real life had been with the mounted patrols she occasionally saw near
Abandoning her luggage, she followed the sound around the side of the house. A huge black and gray horse approached. White markings dotted its face and its thick legs. The steady clomp of the animal’s hoofs mirrored the pounding of her heart.
It wasn’t the horse, but the rider who stole her breath away. Still a good twenty yards from her, she could already see the broad, muscled shoulders beneath his T-shirt, the long, powerful legs covered in faded denim.
Lord, the man was hot. With scenery like him, she could deal with the hellish temperatures, at least for the week or so this ought to take. With the ink still wet on her divorce decree, she deserved to make this forced trip part vacation.
Tugging at her collar, she realized she should have changed her clothes before she left the office. Sweltering heat engulfed her as the man drew near. His icy blue stare raked over her body. Despite the stifling temperature and humidity, a chill skittered across her skin. He must have noticed, because he gave her a crooked grin that charged the air with a crackle of sensual energy.
He patted the horse’s neck then dismounted. After he’d tied the reins to a post, he strode across the thick grass toward her. Great walk, amazing legs, strong jawline and prominent cheekbones. His dark hair brushed his shoulders and he had just enough stubble on his face to be sexy, but not messy looking.
“You must be Owen’s daughter.” His smile revealed deep dimples. “Welcome to Ocala.”
Offering her hand, she prayed her voice wouldn’t fail her. “Paige Eastman.” When they shook, electricity arced between them, nearly knocked her off balance. She let go, cleared her throat.
His eyes shone even bluer up close. And his lips, oh, Lord. He licked the bottom one and she imagined that tongue licking her. Her legs turned to jelly. Maybe this trip didn’t have to be all business. No reason she couldn’t put the property on the market and have a hot fling during her time here. She couldn’t remember the last time her body had responded to a man this way.
“Sorry about Owen. He was a good man.”
Not really. Her father had abandoned her and her mother fifteen years ago. Just picked up and left. That didn’t exactly qualify him as a good man in her book. He’d been distant even before he’d gone away. Yet she remembered some fun times with him, an occasional hug. For some reason she cherished those memories, even though animosity still remained. “Thank you.”
“I’m Jake Skinner. Your dad’s lawyer told me you planned to come.” He set his hands on his waist. “Did he explain about the damage to the bunkhouse?”
How could she think rationally with this incredibly sexy man standing in front of her? Who was he, anyway? Caretaker? Friend? Employee? Whoever he was, he was beyond fine. She hoped he planned to stick around for the length of her stay. Her nipples hardened and strained against the lace fabric of her bra, reminding her of her unfulfilled needs. “Um, no. He only said I needed to come down to decide what to do with the ranch.”
Jake’s face only grew more handsome with the slight furrow of his brow. He shifted and pointed past his horse. “Last big storm through here took out the roof of that building over the hill. Guess y’all heard about Tropical Storm Emily even up in New York City, huh?”
She tried to concentrate on what he’d said. “No, we didn’t. At least, I didn’t.” Guilt stabbed at her for not paying more attention to potentially catastrophic events in her father’s adopted state. Not like he’d paid her and her mother much attention, though.
She reluctantly dragged her gaze from Jake’s eyes and scanned the green pastures. A small brown building sat near a traditional looking barn. Blue tarps covered one side of the roof. “I assume the bunkhouse is where you live?” Her heart pounded so loudly she prayed he couldn’t hear it.