Smut Reporting

“He slanted his mouth across hers”

When I wrote about licking sweat and how it wasn’t sexy, Silver Button Books (whose blog you can check out here) brought up another ubiquitous romance phrase: “he slanted his mouth across hers,” noting that it was weird and always made her think of toddlers smearing their faces across a glass window. 

If you think about it, this is kind of a weird way to describe kissing. All we really have in this description is an angle – the “slant.”

And if we go to my trusty Merriam-Webster, the predominant synonym is “slope.” Unless we’re talking about “slant” in a metaphorical sense, in which case synonymous words distort, falsify, pervert, etc. I think it’s safe to assume that romance writers who use this phrase are talking about a literal slant, not a metaphorical one. 

I decided some further investigating was in order. 

This phrase most commonly appears in historical romance, so I turn to some classic (and maybe less classic) clinch covers to help illuminate exactly what kind of kisses are happening here. Also, this is an excellent excuse to look at romance novel covers because they are an art form that deserve to be talked about all the time.


The first thing I learned is that…a lot of clinch covers, even the really steamy ones, don’t actually involve locked lips. 


The next step seems to be gentle kisses. These mouths aren’t slanting!

This is a gorgeous cover though! I might have to snag a copy of this one.

Definitely not. What is going on with her neck?

(I have been thinking about making a Pinterest board for a while now, and I think I’ve found my first theme: “Ma’am, are you getting a neck cramp?”)


We’re getting closer!

And a rare reverse gender sighting!


Based on this extremely scientific survey of romance kisses, I think the mouth slant must include the following:

  • That head tilt at that perfect angle
  • Height difference 
  • There is a kisser and a kissee – one person is leading, rather than full mutuality. This may be because the mouth slant appears so often in bodice rippers.

But what about these kisses?

We’ve got the head tilt and the steam and the height different creating a greater angle between them, but these kisses feel less about a display of power to me. So are these captured moments ones where “he slanted his lips over hers” or not? Is lip slanting about power, or only about proper angles? Let me know your thoughts!

PS: If you have a favorite clinch cover, I want to know what it is! Bonus points if it includes neck cramps.

6 thoughts on ““He slanted his mouth across hers””

  1. Sorry I’m so late to this! I *kind of* get the slanting. I’ve always thought that it gets awkward if you kiss a person straight on because of all the nose-bumping so you kind of have to kiss at an angle. For the clinch covers, I loved the covers for Maya Banks’s McCabe Trilogy and Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. I never noticed that people don’t actually kiss in the covers! Now I have something to look out for when I read HR…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, you definitely have to angle your face to kiss without the nose bump, but as I was thinking about it, what really struck me was the…I dunno, the aggression of it almost. Like, you can tilt someone’s chin to kiss them, without “slanting your mouth” over them.
      I’ll have to check out Kerrigan Byrne’s covers! (And maybe the books. I read my first book by her last fall and while I didn’t love it, I could tell that it was smart smut.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, okay, I get it now that you put it that way—in my mind the image is someone devouring a mouth! I find that I want so badly to like her books more than I actually do, but I’m not entirely put off by them yet. The covers are really fantastic, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh man! The mouth devouring! That’s a whole other thing that, when you think about it, is also kind of a weird way to put things. I don’t actually want someone to eat my mouth.

        And agreed re: Byrne – that was exactly my reaction, that I wanted to like it more than I did. Like, in the one I read, she gave a really nuanced and interesting portrayal of how a rape survivor might come to terms with her sexuality, but other parts of the book felt a bit messy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Right! Now slanting will be pretty gross to me.

        Is this the How to Love a Duke in 10 Days one? I remember seeing a review of that here and the rape scene at the beginning, and duly noted to skip it. I still want to keep trying her books though—I find myself unable to stop reading even if I didn’t particularly like them in the end.

        Liked by 1 person

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