It was a natural progression, I guess. After getting my fill of romance novellas that was on the "awww" side that barely touched on the big S word (steamy--what were you thinking??), I was drawn to the steamier side of romance, mainly because my #romanceclass-mates were trying their hand in writing it.
Sure, I tried crafting my own, but darn it, I was already reaching the end of the story with no steamy scene in sight. I threw in the towel and settled for the next best thing: reading steamy stories.
I started with the foreign ones: Tessa Bailey, Victoria Dahl, Melanie Harlow, Liliana Rhodes. And they were really well-paced, well-written and the S-word was done in unabashed and at (times, barely bordering on) tasteful ways. These authors were a brave breed, I thought.
Soon after I found myself reading Chrissie Peria's The Kitchen when It Sizzles, and I loved how it melded the steamy with the cooking. The phrase that did it for me was really "Chinese sticky pork ribs" when the guy cooked it for the girl the first time. As soon as I read that phrase, I immediately thought of something that was dark-sauced and sweet and savory at the same time, and would go well with rice--lots of it. It's this type of imagery that got me hooked because Peria knows how to craft words that make specific images to pop in your head, making you crave, not only for the dishes mentioned in the book, but also for that...uh, other thing.
I loved how the novella wasn't just about the S-word, but also gave out actual cooking tips on the fly. It read as naturally as how the romance between the two characters developed. It's hard to believe that it's Peria's first steamy novella attempt--which is why, I think, it's only proper for her to serve up seconds, and thirds and more of her work.
Then I picked up Mina Esguerra's The Harder We Fall and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't full-on, oh-yeah-give-it-to-me sssteamy. It was an effective transition from her former sweet romance novellas so loyal readers won't be shocked at Esguerra's sexified writing style. As always, dialogues read effortlessly as did the plot development. And I have to tell you, you have to watch out for The Shower Scene. I really loved how it was handled--so subtle yet so...there's no other word for it but hot.
The story's romantic but definitely more mature, and I think Esguerra's fans, who have matured with her writing style, will have a squeal-fest over this one.