Not The Usual Romance Suspects

Dear Readers,  I am reposting my contribution from Valentine’s day for a couple of reasons: 1. people said they liked it and wished it could be up longer and 2. I’ve spent some recent time in the ER and have not put the finishing touches on what I wanted to post. (All is well; now just a bit behind on things.)


 I’ve taken my author romance cues from a group of women sitting around a campfire talking about romantic scenes we wish potential partners (or current ones) would watch. For hints. Scenes that sweep us into a place of intense caring.  Except for the scene where Kevin Costner sweeps everything off the table to pursue Susan Sarandon in “Bull Durham” (oh, my), no one mentioned sex as essential.  

Hidden Figures

The top votes went to the hair washing scene from Out of Africa and the dinner served on a lovely table after a long day at work as an after-work surprise. From Hidden Figures. Look at the eyes. Oh my.

Extra credit: unexpected caring and. the eyes.

In this scene from my upcoming novel Deadly Trespass (out soon, I hope) I was after a Leave-It-Hanging romantic moment filled with unexpected caring … and surprise. (I like surprises; even small ones keep readers turning pages late into the night.)


  Deadly Turn excerpt: After catching some trout, the narrator, Patton, is sitting on the ground in woods frequented by wildlife and what they leave behind. Moz, game warden, ex-husband’s best friend, and now, perhaps something more … is sitting next to her. Pock, the wayward Lab, is swimming nearby.

Moz reached behind me, put his arm around my waist, and pulled me closer. It didn’t look like there was going to be much discussion. I thought about all the lady-like things I could do with a blow dryer, eyebrow pencil, and other strategies to offset, dark eye circles and hair that had to be mad at me for its permanent pony tail. I’d covered the camp’s mirrors when I’d moved in full time. Personal grooming was limited to soap in the shower.

“I know no easy way to say this,” Moz said, pulling me closer, “but I believe you sit on something an animal left behind, and it is now melting under you.”

I tried jerking my arms away. ”You mean I smell?”

Moz tightened his grip, turned, and leaned down to my neck. I think I went limp, probably just like birds do when you’ve got a good grip on their body and wings at the same time.

He laughed low into my neck. I think more of my small skin hairs floated free. “Yes and no. The part of you at my nose smells like pine and trout and clean water.”

I was a great believer in sniffing one’s way toward shared intimacy even if my daughter rebelled against the practice. It never crossed my mind I’d be on the sniffed end of such a moment. I stayed limp but whispered, “Not having a problem with the part that’s furthest from your nose?”

His chuckle pressed teeth against my neck, but I felt their pressure all the way to my toes. “Pretty sure whatever it is, the owner ate only grass,” he said.

I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and found a not unpleasant horse barn odor. I could feel a Moz smile spread wide on my skin. It seemed like we were suspended, breathing each other. He also smelled like pine, trout, and clean water.

Am very partial to wet doggies.

Even Pock smelled that way when he landed on us, fish head in his mouth and stream pouring off his body. Moz rolled away and leaped to his feet. Pock dropped the fish head in my lap.

“Oh, many thanks, Pock,” I said. Drenched, we all stared at each other. My dog wagged his tail and laid a protective paw on the fish.

Sandy’s novel, “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine,” won a national Mystery Writers of America award, was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, and she’s been a finalist for a Maine Literary Award. Find her novel at all Shermans Books and on Amazon. Find more info on the video trailer and Sandy’s website. The second Mystery in Maine, “Deadly Turn,” will be published in 2020



About Sandra Neily

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass” received a Mystery Writers of America award, was named a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, a finalist in the Mslexia international novel competition, a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition, and recently, an international SPR fiction finalist. Sandy lives in the woods of Maine and says she’d rather be “fly fishing cold streams, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there—unless I’m sharing vanishing worlds with my readers. "
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