In erotic romance fiction, which statement has the most effect on you? “I love you” or “I want you”?
Personally, in most books I’d have to say “I want you” is more emotion-provoking to read (since declarations of love and want are likely to inspire different emotions in the reader, let’s stick with non-specifics there!). For me, that’s mainly because “I love you” is so overused that unless the situation is very specific, it’s almost clichéd.
That’s not to say love has no place in erotic romance – but you can have romance pre-love, and you can also have characters who clearly love each other but never say it. It’s also commonly used for platonic types of love between family and friends.
“I want you” is a clear statement of raw desire, and it’s very, very direct. If a character tells the object of their affections that they want them, it’s pretty damn clear (in 99% of scenes) what they mean. Having one character admit that to another just gives me tingles. 😉
Here’s a little snippet from Battle of Thrills (where the characters are playing a mental game with each other – ‘Tease, tempt, tremble… but don’t touch’):
She gave a soft sigh in response, a whispered moan, retreating a few inches and giving them both room to breathe. His self-control began to slip at the sound, and he turned back to the window, watching the rain bounce off the pavement outside.
“I want you…” He wasn’t sure how he heard her whisper over the cacophony of the storm, but he did, and his resolve weakened still further at the directness of her phrasing.
Struggling to hold on, he told the window, “Then you know what you have to do.”
“Or what I have to make you do,” she pointed out, her voice sounding closer. She was standing behind him.
“Been trying that for a week.”
“And you think you can hold out a week longer?”
He turned to face her. “Can you?”
She bit her lip, unable to answer. He knew exactly how she felt—every molecule in his body screamed for her to touch him again.
To give himself something to do, he busied himself with her clothes. Her shirt was too fitted for him to strip it from her body without touching her, but her skirt was a simple matter, once he’d located the zip that loosened it enough for gravity to do the rest.
Her thong was black, a sharp contrast to the pale beauty of her skin. He traced the contours of the newly-revealed flesh—curving out from her waist to form her shapely hips, then running down to her upper thighs—with his eyes. And there was the tattoo he’d noticed earlier in the week—a pen and a sword, crossed as if they were locked in combat. Typical Elle.
She fidgeted, seeming all too aware of his hungry gaze, and for a moment he wondered if there was any way to strip off her thong without touching her. Even before he’d finished the thought, he knew he couldn’t, but he was no longer sure if he cared.
He hesitated for one long moment, his obstinacy warring with his need for her.
I want you…
If she hadn’t said it, he might have been able to stay for a while longer, to remain in her presence long enough to make her give in to him. But she had, and the only way to stay in the game was to get out of there, right then.
He picked up his discarded shirt and shrugged it on, giving her one more appreciative look. His eyes lingered for as long as he could stand to look, then he stepped back. “Goodnight, Elle.”
Her face was a mirror of what he felt—a mixture of disappointment at his decision and relief their intriguing battle of wills remained intact. “Night, Jared…”
He scooped up his keys from the table and left before he could change his mind, moving from the warmth and character of her apartment to the cool, impersonal hallway outside. Instead of waiting for the elevator, which would give his resolve too much time to deteriorate, he took the stairs and headed out into the storm, buttoning his shirt on the way.
His cell phone rang the second he unlocked the car, and he stared from the display bearing Elle’s name up to her window. The curtains were drawn, but one of them twitched as he answered the call, and he knew she could see him. “Yeah?”
“You forgot your wallet,” she said, so innocently that he just knew she’d moved it from its resting place by his keys. “Lucky I noticed before you got home, huh?”