The Art of Seduction

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We’ve all been seduced.  At one time or another, we’ve been persuaded to do something we know we shouldn’t.  But we do it anyway, damn the consequences.  Why?

People have been resisting and succumbing to seduction for centuries, not only in the sexual arena but in all facets of our lives.  Have you ever been seduced by the call of Starbucks?  You know you don’t need to spend the money, you don’t need the empty calories, but you find yourself pulling into the drive-thru anyway, ordering that venti mocha latté.  You’ve been seduced, just as surely as Darth Vader was to come over to the Dark Side.  Call it persuasion if you want, I think it’s seduction.

Most people, however, still think of seduction in its sexual connotation. The very definition is to lead someone astray or persuade them to have sexual intercourse.  So if we know this up front, why is seduction so…seductive?

A recent article in The Independent lists ten of the world’s best seducers and sheds some light on this question.  The article by Mark Wilson, titled The Great Seducers, states the basics of seduction:  “get them to notice you in the crowd, make them feel special, win their trust, make their pupils dilate, get them into bed.”

Can you see the bones of many a romance novel in that technique?  But in addition to technique, the seducer, in order to be truly worthy of the name, must develop his or her

Giacomo Casanova by Anton Raphael Meng 1760

own particular style of seduction.  Wilson admits that seduction is actually “a ritual with a complex set of rules,” and the ones capable of understanding and adapting those rules are more successful.  He lists, quite rightly, Casanova, as the ultimate measure of a seducer–the man who was expelled from most European cities in the 18th century for his wild sexual escapades.  His “style” according to Wilson, was to “discover a lady in trouble; be attentive; extricate her from her difficulty; bestow small gifts; use alluring words; make hay; get bored; exit stage left.”

My favorite (and best in my estimation) seducer in literature has to be Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, adapted from the 18th century novel by de Laclos.  His charm, wit, and persuasive talents, as he seduces not one, but two very different women at the same time, are spellbinding to watch.  As John Malkovich portrayed him, he would have had me at hello.

So how do you plan a seduction?  In Only Scandal Will Do, Duncan tries to seduce Katarina when he’s with her in the brothel.  He plays on her need to believe that he’s accepted her story.  So he treats her as a damsel in distress:

Excerpt from Only Scandal Will Do:

“You are distraught, my lady. It has been a harrowing night for you. Please allow me to come to your aid.” He brought her hands to rest on the soft black cloak that disguised the solid expanse of his chest. The concern and respect in his voice, which had so recently mocked and insulted her, broke through her crumbling defenses. Ready to drop from weariness, she could not reclaim the strength leached away by the excitements of the night. And his chest was so strong and warm under her palms. Incredibly warm. Kat sighed as that heat stole into her body, relaxing the muscles in her hands and arms inch by inch.

The face beneath the mask softened, his lips turned up in a tender smile. He traced a line down her cheek with the back of one finger. “Allow me take care of you, my dear.”

His touch, like fine silk drawn over her skin, sent a pang of longing through her. Could she permit someone else to be strong for her, just this once? He understood the fears she faced tonight and sought to vanquish them, as any knight errant would seek to make amends. He continued to stroke her cheek, her jaw, her chin, his touch feather light. A powerful, unreasoning desire assaulted her to feel his strong arms around her, sheltering her from the harsh world. She was hardly surprised, then, to find him gathering her against his broad chest.

“Lean your head just there, sweet.”

She could hear the strong beat of his heart, smell the clean, comforting citrus of his cologne. The fresh scent reminded her of home.

“You will be all right now,” he whispered, holding her securely to him. Safe at last. She closed her eyes and leaned into his caresses, contentment stealing through her for the first time since leaving Virginia.

With a finger beneath her chin, he lifted her face up to his. Her eyes flew open and peace fled as he pressed her mouth with a gentle kiss that stole what breath she had left. His lips–soft, warm, insistent–generated heat all the way to her toes. A sensation so overpowering she forgot everything around her, giving herself completely to the pleasures of that kiss.

Not a bad strategy.  Looks to be working.  But all seductions don’t go as planned. Always keep that in mind when designing yours.

Today’s giveaway is a Scandal Swag Pack to a random commenter who tells me: What seduces you?

Only Scandal Will Do is now available at Lyrical Press, Amazon, iTunes, and All Romance Ebooks.

Lyrical is actually running a special through the end of July:  All the Scandal for Half the price!  Check out their store!

This entry was posted in On Only Scandal Will Do, On Writing Historical Romance and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Art of Seduction

  1. flchen1 says:

    The combination of smarts and sensitivity is very seductive–brains without a heart is much less so 😉

    f dot chen at comcast dot net


  2. Hi Jenna,
    i know for me it would have to start out with being friends. i have to be able to trust someone before i can allow them to be intimate with me let alone seduce me. then i like the unusual. my ex-husband to me dancing under the stars next to the river and sang love songs to me for music on our 1st date. he really had to work to top that one for awhile! 😀

    tammy ramey


  3. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’m seduced by large dark eyes, soft skin, softer facial features, and a kind disposition. He has to have a good mind too, and be a fellow intellectual and lifelong learner.


  4. Feed me. LOL. I’m kidding. Kinda.


  5. Maria D. says:

    Great post! i am fairly easy to seduce lately – chocolate, air conditioning (it’s really hot this summer) or some nice clothing and I’m willing to listen. I think I’m mostly seduced though by a man who is intelligent and can have a conversation with me as an equal – someone who’s more into discussing books and different things than being focused on what’s going on in the sports world at the moment. Thanks for the giveaway!


  6. Cera duBois says:

    A great sense of humor!

    Great post, Jenna!


  7. Neecy Kelly says:

    A soft touch, a look of lust in his eyes that says, I want you!


  8. I am too easy to seduce. I fall for one-liners and movie quotes with a good sense of humor. At least that is how I ended up with my husband. It must work as we have been together 15 years and counting.


  9. You know, I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think I’m the typical female. I don’t care for romance (in real life, jeez, lower the pitch forks) or the frilly stuff that goes along with it. I’m one of those commitment phobic sorts with personal space issues. Go figure. However, I can tell you what makes me notice a man. Definitely certain aspects of his character – humor, ability to take charge of a situation, and even though I might admit to hate it, his ability to make me feel utterly feminine. 🙂 So, I suppose those characteristic might seduce me.


  10. Daryl Devore says:

    no theatre in you – exit stage left 🙂

    great excerpt.


  11. Honesty and conversation are lead ins to seduction for me. I’m a sucker for a listener, an honest one that can repeat back what I said and add to the conversation. But Damian can pull me in anyday. Loved his description, Congrats on your release and I already have this one on my list. Can’t wait to read it.


  12. I am seduced by a man’s mind and how thoughtful and tender he is. Taking things slowly.



  13. Carin W says:

    what seduces me hmmm I think stroking and touching in a non sexual way is the start, little kisses just working up to things slowly with lots of tenderness. Carin


  14. John Malkovitch could read the telephone book to me and I’d be hooked. He was smashing in Dangerous Liaisons. Great article, Jenna. Half-price is a great deal for Only Scandal Will Do. You’re going to make a lot of sales!


  15. D'Ann Lindun says:

    What seduces me? Conversation.


  16. Jennifer Lowery says:

    Knowing Lady Katarina as I do, I don’t think this seduction will go the way he’s planning, lol! Love this story!! Congrats on the release, Jenna! Another great one!!


  17. The slight tilt of her head as she smiles, the angelic voice with a hint of seduction, her soft movements as she walks towards me, the gentle angling of her body as she stands in the light to make a profile, her hair as it cascades in gentle curls and wave across her shoulder just drawing you to her breast line, eyes that can draw in your soul to them, her grace and elegance in little movements, her independence, strength and willing submission as I tenderly take her hand to kiss the back of it. These are what seduces me to a woman.


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