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How come heroes in romance books either smell like citrus, or they have a woodsy or alpinic (is that even a word?) smell?

Why can’t they smell of Calvin Klein’s Eternity or Hugo Boss For Men?

Same goes for the heroines. The other day I read Emma Holly’s Beyond Innocence and the heroine supposedly smelt like ‘innocence and perfection’ (or some such nonsense). WTF?

Other authors have their heroines smelling of ‘sin and seduction’. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what sin or seduction smells like.

I can just about handle the heroines smelling like ‘summer’ or ‘spring rain’, because quite frankly, a good fabric softener can actually help achieve the same results, but why the hell do they have to smell of peace on earth and joy to the frickin world?


If an author writes that the heroine was wearing Estee Lauder’s Pleasures, instead of purple-prosing (yeah I know, another made up word *g*) her smell all over the place, does that make him/her an unimaginative writer?


  • Maura
    February 20
    11:36 pm

    Too funny!

    I will probably tick you off because I have asthma and allergies so most artifical fragrances give me a really bad reaction. Thus I have no idea what most commercial perfumes or colognes smell like.

    I do usually settle for things like sandalwood or a specific fruit (peach or something) instead of more generic terms.


  • Eve Vaughn
    February 21
    12:41 am

    LOL, I’m probably guilty of that. I guess, you have to write what feels right, pretty it up a little as you will. I think I may have written something like smelling like moonbeams and sunrays, not sure if that made it past editing because to be honest, what the hell does mooonbeams and sun rays smell like anyway? Let’s just say I drink lots of mountain dew at any given time and it affects my brain.


  • Desiree Erotique
    February 21
    1:35 am

    I can’t recall reading any descriptions of how a H or H smells that’s bothered me. As a writer I usually describe my heroes as smelling “virile” or “masculine”. I like that fresh man scent much better than any old cologne, lol. And as long as the heroine isn’t smelling of baby drool, dirty diapers, soured sweat or a masculine cologne, I’m a happy reader in regards to her smell.


  • Anne
    February 21
    2:39 am

    LOL! I’m guilty of that… “She smelled like flowers on a warm Summer’s day.” I like being imaginative.. I’ve also got a part where she was mucking stalls and smells like a “heaping pile of horse shit.” LOL!

    Guilty as charged.


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    February 21
    2:45 am

    Well, now that you mention it, Lea Harding smelled like “feminine concern”–or something like that–to Coop. LOL! I think it was my way of conveying warmth and love from his end, and worry on hers.

    Of course, I do believe feelings can be smelled subliminally, like a dog smells the adrenaline of fear. So I think that’s what I’m really hinting at in my writing.

    But thanks for the hilarious heads-up, Karen! It’s always a good thing to keep us from going over the top!


  • Dakota Cassidy
    February 21
    6:04 am

    You know, Karen, you’re getting downright picky and really upsetting my damned writing. LOLLOL

    First it was the whole “can you indentify a writer by their sex scene”, which made me rush to read mine over (something I NEVER do) to see if I was overdoing the blow jobs and people were calling me a meat whistle slut because I was revealing something subliminally.

    Now it’s SMELL! By all that is sacred, I have not had a hero or heroine smell like a ray of sunlight. Moonshine, maybe. LOLLOL. Part of it is the trademark thing too. Some folks in e-books worry more than others,but being sued happens, I guess.

    So would you QUIT making me a fricken’ paranoid mess? Ceeerimeny, I might just go back to writing the damned grocery list. At least there the smells of fabric softener and spray on starch are acceptable.


    Dakota 🙂


  • Dawn
    February 21
    9:47 am

    ROFLMAO!!! That is just so right, K. I’ve often wondered the same thing – we must be twins – except you’ve got the guts to write about it.

    I find sometimes, when I’m reading and it says the guy smelled like darkness, I’m immediately drawn out of the story thinking “Darkness? What does darkness smell like?”

    At the moment, I’m bathing in Marks & Sparks Creme Brulee bath creme, so I guess I smell like dessert, but hey, I can handle that.

    And what about when the H&h kiss and they taste like sin and seduction. Well I guess it’s better than tasting like stale cigarettes. Puke!


  • Sharon
    February 21
    2:11 pm

    Actually our sense of smell is quite a powerful thing. It can be a powerful trigger, and so saying someone smells of something that does NOT actually smell isn’t quite as strange as it may seem.

    If you associate certain smells with particular deeds or even characteristics then when you smell that scent, you’re reminded of intangible traits like “innocence” or “sunshine” etc

    If you’re a “good girl” *g* and you have hot, sweaty sex with a bad boy in the church bathroom and he was wearing Drakkar cologne, you might forever more associate Drakkar with “sin and seduction” *g* ANd it’s much more fun for the heroine to think sin and seduction than it is plain ole Drakkar because there’s no history behind just Drakkar. 😉


  • Paula
    February 21
    2:52 pm

    As uncivilized as it may be, I don’t really have any idea what Calvin Klein colognes etc. smell like cause nobody I hang out with uses them. But citrus and woodsy are somehow easier to understand.

    Peace on earth… not so much. LOL

    It’s usually the hero sniffing the heroine, isn’t it? How many guys can name a perfume by its scent only, unless it’s something his mother/ex-girlfriend/mistress/sister/whoever uses? Actually, I have no idea. *lol*


  • Shelby Reed
    February 21
    5:18 pm

    A lot of times I’ve noticed how the cold air clings to my husband’s coat when he comes in, and I love that yummy outdoors scent. I love the scent of soap on a man’s skin. I don’t like strong cologne, but my heroes often smell like faded aftershave, because that’s when the fragrance smells the best. I worked behind a men’s fragrance counter at Dillard’s for three years, and based on that wealth of useless knowledge, another reason men are often described as having a woodsy or alpine kind of smell is because as the cologne/aftershaves wears down, all the new fragrance layers come through. It’s those worn-down scents that smell the best to me.

    I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever used a purple phrase worse than “He smelled like the autumn woods.” LOL I probably have.



  • HelenKay
    February 21
    7:08 pm

    Well, crap. Here we are thinking we’re being descriptive and showing instead of telling…

    Must go review all references to scent and smell in current manuscript and change to something a bit less annoying.


  • Rosie
    February 22
    2:17 am

    These comments really tickled my funny bone! Dakota really gave me a hoot. Smell is a very powerful thing. I can’t stand cologne on the guy I live with. Him and ivory soap…yummy!

    When a writer uses a descriptive word such as “he smelled like darkness” that doesn’t bother me too much in the right context. I get what they are going for.

    I think when a writer identifies a scent with one character that sometimes it is over used in a story, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me at all.


  • Paige Burns
    February 24
    8:41 pm

    Oh, this is a pet peeve of mine and when I was editing I would say things like…”And what exactly does Summer smell like?” *coughevecough* ;)Heart ya!


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