Hot Takes by Holly, Smut Reporting

Heroines Who Giggle

I hate them. 

Actually, allow me to rephrase that to be more accurate. I hate it when a heroine giggles. I hate it even more when the heroine is an otherwise grown-ass woman with an established career but when the hero gives her the eyebrow wiggle or says something that’s mildly amusing she breaks into a paroxysm of giggles.

Let’s break this down. A “giggle” is a demure, girly kind of laugh. It’s quiet. It doesn’t take up space. It’s a bit fawning. It’s something little kids do. It’s something we do when we’re nervous. 

When a woman giggles, she signals to the man that she is with that she is not a threat. She is less powerful than he is. She is accommodating and therefore desirable. There’s a power imbalance there. 

Now, I admit, the occasional giggle around a new potential partner makes sense. You’re nervous. You want them to like you. But why is continuing to giggle at your partner as you move your courtship towards established relationship sexy or desirable? Why continue to perpetuate the power imbalance between the One Who Speaks Funny Things and the One Who Giggles?

I want to see romance heroines let out some good ole rip roaring belly laughs. 

This has been a Hot Take by Holly, brought to you by one too many grown ass women giggling in romance novels. 

Hot Takes by Holly, Smut Reporting

I Want to Lick the Sweat from His Body

Have you ever wanted to lick someone’s sweat? Because I haven’t. 

Yet this image is something that appears quite frequently in romances. Specifically, the heroine sees the hero all sweaty from doing a Manly Thing (laying pipe, making a soufflé, playing sportsball, etc) and is like: “I want to lick that sweat.” 

Time for a poll!

Unlike my previous discussions of things that are not sexy (smirking, moist apertures), I can kind of see the logical progression of this one. 

Step 1: Man doing Many Things is attractive. 

Step 2: Man sweat – when it’s the Right Man – smells so delicious. 

Step 3: I want to put my mouth on Delicious Man.

It’s the final step that loses me – the move from salivating over someone to wanting to lick their arm or whatever. I suspect that the desire to lick sweat is generally concentrated on, say, the chest, neck, and back, but if that’s the case, maybe we should be a little more specific, eh? Also, I’m not a germaphobe, but if I’m attracted to someone, I feel like it’s a bit more sanitary to touch them with my hands rather than my mouth. Until the right moment, obviously, but you’ve got to build up to it! That’s what foreplay is all about. 

Maybe it’s because I live with a toddler who licks my arm on the regular and…it is not pleasant. Just the feeling of someone’s tongue suddenly running over your skin is…well, just typing that sentence was a little bit shudder-inducing. Unsolicited licking in general: not sexy. 

This has been a Hot Take by Holly, brought to you by every single contemporary romance ever written. 

Hot Takes by Holly, Smut Reporting

Sexy Smirking

I’m here to talk (briefly! I promise!) about a pet peeve of mine. 

Sometimes, I read romance novels, and the protagonists do a lot of smirking. Like, a lot. And I have to wonder: am I missing something? Is there such a thing as a sexy smirk?

Smut Readers! Help me out here:

When our Romantic Hero **smirks** at the heroine all the time, I have this visceral reaction. The first time it happens, I roll my eyes. The second time it happens, I highlight it. The third time it happens, I clench my teeth a little bit. Until every time the word “smirk” appears on the page, I am annotating my book in all caps while grinding my teeth: THIS IS NOT SEXY.

Because I know what words mean, and how to use a dictionary, I decided that I should investigate this a bit. Merriam Webster defines “to smirk” as “to smile in a smug or condescending way.” The very first example they give is from Harry Potter – and guess who’s smirking.** (Hint: it’s not Hermione Granger, who is definitely too cool for Ron and Harry, but I digress.)

Smugness is not sexy. Condescension is not sexy. Both imply a feeling of superiority in the smirker towards the smirkee. What is the appeal of a romantic pairing where one party clearly feels superior to the other? 

I’m not talking about alpha-holes. These guys aren’t alpha-holes. Alpha-holes might be smug and condescending, but they are too above it all to smirk. Smirking is what small-minded, irritating people do. And small-minded, irritating heroes are the very worst heroes of all. 

*If you chose this answer, please explain it to me in the comments! 

**Malfoy. It’s Malfoy.