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Why the Forced Proximity Trope Makes Romance Novels So Steamy

Updated 06 February 2024


Steamy romance is on the rise. Readers want more sex in their romance novels; just ask TikTok.


But how do you, a romance writer, meet your readers' expectations without making extra sex scenes feel out of place? How do you write the best steamy romance novel?


The answer is tropes.


And one of the best romance novel tropes out there for increasing steaminess is forced proximity.


What is the forced proximity romance trope?


Forced proximity is a broad term for a trope that forces main characters into a situation where they can't escape from each other.


Are there different types of forced proximity?


There are more specific types of forced proximity, including

-snowed in, where the characters are caught in a snowstorm and have to share shelter

-stranded, where the characters are stranded in a confined space due to weather, a capsized boat, or other natural disaster

-only one bed, where the characters are forced to share a bed for the night

-country house party, where the characters, usually in a historical romance, are invited to a week/s-long house party in the country where they'll have to stay in the same house and spend every day together

-road trip, where the characters need to, for romance reasons, share a car and accommodation for days/weeks


How can forced proximity make your romance novel steamier?


Because your characters can't escape each other, they'll constantly be reminded that they're really attracted to the other person. Those reminders create sexual tension, and eventually, your characters will get to a breaking point, when they're so sick of fighting their feelings that they'll have to give in. And the physical intimacy that follows will be tinged with desperation, because your characters are essentially volcanoes exploding with pants feelings that have ve been building up for days, weeks, or even months. they'll have to eventually act on the attraction building between them. Desperation makes for very steamy sex scenes, because it adds conflict. Your characters want to savor this moment they've been dreaming about for so long, but they're also so horny they can't take things slow.


What are the best steamy, forced proximity romance novels you can read for inspiration?


One of my favorite steamy forced proximity romances is an older title, She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot, that stands the test of time It's a romantic suspense set in Alaska that follows the romance between a jaded screenwriter and the Hollywood star she's stranded with after a plane crash. The sex scenes these two characters share once they finally give in are so steamy.


And if you're a historical romance writer, I highly recommend How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long, which features the stranded forced proximity trope and two main characters who connect emotionally and physically, making their sex scenes truly world-class.

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