The lemony aroma of my mother’s raisin bread reminds me of Christmas. When I was a child, each year my mother made a huge batch of her family recipe to give as gifts to friends and co-workers. The citrus scent of the pure lemon oil she used mingled with the fruity raisins and yeast produced a fragrance that to this day takes me back to my childhood holidays.
Of all the five senses, the sense of smell is the most linked to memory. I’ve been blessed with a particularly strong sense of smell. My husband swears I was a dog in a past life . I adore all kinds of fragrances, and I adore describing them in my writing. My CPs have often commented on my use of this particular sense.
In romance, the sense of smell can be used abundantly — setting, for example. Describe the pungent scent of pine as your heroine breathes in fresh mountain air, or the sweet floral fragrance of wildflowers as she walks in a meadow.
But nothing is as important in romance as when your heroine smells your hero for the first time. She’s attracted to him. His amazing looks stop her in her tracks. And then she inhales.
The scent of a man is often described as “musky.” Take this a step further and describe that musk. Is it spicy? Sweet? Like leather? The outdoors? All are common scents associated with men, and all work well when you, as the author, give them your own special touch. Does your hero wear cologne? What does it smell like?
Once you’ve determined your hero’s fragrance, the important part begins. You show your reader how that scent affects your heroine. Does her heart accelerate, her breath catch? Does his scent spark a memory for her? Perhaps his leathery aroma takes her back to summers spent on her grandfather’s ranch.
The sense of smell can bring an immediacy to your writing and plunge your reader directly into your scene. So as you write, close your eyes. Take a moment to visualize your scene, then inhale. What smells do you imagine? Describe them with lots of detail, then show your reader their effect on your point of view character.
Here’s a short example of the sense of smell in my current release, Lessons of the Heart, available at The Wild Rose Press.
With a shallow breath through her nose, she parted her lips. His tongue glided into her mouth, and his exotic vanilla spice flavor trickled into her. Smooth, masculine, and oh so very delicious.
She inhaled again, another shallow puff, and his raw aroma permeated her body. More spice, a hint of tobacco, and the fresh scent of the open prairie.
Ruth shuddered, her lips numb. She didn’t know how to kiss him, how to respond, but he didn’t seem to mind. He growled against her mouth and deepened his assault.
How do you use the sense of smell in your work?