Michaeline: Debate: How hot is summer romance?

1908 girl in a skirted bathing costume having fun on a dock while two admiring boys splash in the water below.

“Oh, how we would laugh at anything!” — kd lang, “Summerfling” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Well, dear readers, do you like a romance set in the summer? There’s no denying that there’s nothing better than lolling on the sofa during a heatwave with a cold drink and an engrossing romance (unless it’s lolling on the sofa during a winter storm with a hot drink and an engrossing romance). But have you set your romances in the summer? Or do you have any favorites that involve sun and heat?

Here in northern Japan, we’ve been enduring 35C (95F) temps for more than a week, and Hokkaido is not used to this. We don’t have an air conditioner in our home, and none of my schools have AC, either. We’re on summer break, so when we’re not doing special classes, we’re in a government high-rise, and the summer code-word ever since 2005 has been “cool biz” – it’s an effort to conserve energy which includes shirt-sleeved business shirts, and also keeping the air conditioning on the edge of comfort – I’d guess about 27 to 28 C. (That’s 80 to 82F for the Americans playing the sympathy game at home.) The campaign got a boost after the energy crisis after the 3/11 earthquake, and was lengthened from May to October.

So, I can say for sure that in REALIA, the heat sucks. How about in Romancelandia?

Heatwave + Romance CONS.

It’s too darn hot, and Cole Porter recognized this way back in 1948. (YouTube clip from Kiss Me, Kate 10:55)

I’m pretty sure “Sweet summer sweat” is a fantasy trope. (“Hotel California” Eagles Live 6:48) Stuff STINKS during summer heat, and places stink, and people stink.

When the temperature rise, tempers get short. People get into stupid arguments, and it’s such an effort to be polite. It’s even more of an effort to apologize. If there’s a crowd of cranky people, it can easily turn into a riot.

Lack of appetite. For everything. Ugh.

Heatwave + Romance PROS

After a super-hot day, the cool evening seems like a blessed relief. Romance under a full summer moon? Fireworks by the river? Dancing under the stars? Mmm, yes, please!

A woman lounging on a hammock as a man brings them drinks. She's holding a book, and her fan is on the ground.

This cartoon was originally published on February 8, 1904 — the summer in our mind is often a distilled version of the summer our bodies experience. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

While the stink of summer is real, there are flowers blooming, and also many chances to wear scent – a spritz of lemony cologne or a dalliance under the roses . . . and the fresh smell of a newly mown lawn is full of vanilla overtones. Plus, stink means there’s a good reason to have showers!

And let’s talk about summer and water! By the seaside, suntan lotion must be applied, whether you love the person or hate them. The pool is a perfect place to cool down and flirt, and minimal clothing is the social contract! After a hot argument, getting sprayed by (or spraying) a hose (or an automated lawn system) can feel less like aggressiveness and more like a relief.

While I’m talking about arguments, just like a cool evening is so welcome after a hot day, making up is so sweet after a hot and cranky argument. It’s good to get the truth out in the open, and while it’s hard to deal with it in the heat, it’s not impossible.

Countering the lack of appetite argument, the food that is appetizing is often sexy. Popsicles. Ice cream with a cherry on top. Cold drinks that go clink-clink-clink when swirled gently by an MC’s lazy hand. Tapas and other finger foods! Garden tomatoes, ripe off the vine. Hand-feeding a partner with sweet bits of fruit. “Peel me a grape, Beulah!” Do I dare to eat a peach?

Summer clothes are a definite romantic plus. As I mentioned, minimal clothing is de rigeur pool side. Flirty sundresses, handsome shorts, bicep-baring shirts – the loud-printed blouse that flirts with the wind, revealing and concealing the curve of a clavicle.

And once the clothes are strewn, there are the cool sheets – the fan that allows your characters to be a tiny bit louder than usual – the curtains billowing in the summer breeze – the gorgeous afternoon light – the warm summer nights under the cover of darkness.

To tell the truth, when I started to write this blog post, I was afraid the heat had melted my brain and I wouldn’t be able to think of any pros. But now? Oh, I’m so glad it’s summer! Seasons greetings, y’all! If you are in the northern hemi, what’s your favorite summer romance? And if you are in the southern hemi, how do you like a summer romance in the middle of winter?

I’ll leave you with a song from my favorite summer album: kd lang’s “Summerfling” from Invincible Summer.(3:50)

Couples, friends and singles under a tree -- wicker chairs, blueberries. Summer in the late 19th century.

“And so pretend a neverending summerfling.” — kd lang (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: Debate: How hot is summer romance?

  1. I hate the heat. I’m one of those people who gets cranky really fast when temperatures rise. And I hate the cold and snow just as much. But in terms of my writing, I’ve set all of my books during the summer. Even though I grew up in Wisconsin and ought to be used to winter climates, I can’t imagine why people would want to go out in the cold and have “fun.” Sports like skating and tobogganing leave me a little confused, not to mention curling. Who on earth would want to do that? I can’t visualize any of my characters participating in winter sports. So it’s summer settings for me. And I’ll have you know, my characters never sweat or stink! They glow.

  2. A series I recently read (no romance, alas) used the four seasons as settings for the first four books. One in autumn, one in winter, . . .you get the idea. For the one in winter, the characters were bundled up so much against the freezing temperatures that it was hard to tell people apart – definitely something that would impede a romance. The one set in summer was much more sensual with hot humid air, the sweat-slicked bodies, and the opportunities for shucking of clothing to dive into a cool lake or a refreshing shower. It feels like there is more romantic opportunity in the heat, despite the allure of cuddling in the cold.

    Like Kay, however, I too get cranky fast when temperatures rise and don’t find cold any more appealing. Though at least with cold, you can bundle up. When it comes to heat, there is only so much clothing you can remove.

    • I haven’t written any series, but when I plan them in my head, they often are based on the progression of a year in a four-season climate. (-: They often start in February. Warming up a partner’s hands can be so sexy and caring, and of course, there’s the tendency to nest during a snowstorm — one has to have the set-up to get two characters in the same house together, but apparently, the “trapped in a cabin during a snow storm” is a very popular trope.

  3. The Demon Always Wins is set in September in Florida, where it’s still miserably hot even in November.
    The Demon’s in the Details is set in Sedona, AZ in January. I was there in January a couple of years ago. It got cold at night, but it got up in the seventies during the day.
    The Demon Goes Hungry is set in July in Columbus, Ohio, inside a sweltering food truck.
    The Demon Wore Stilettos, on the other hand, is set in Minneapolis-St. Paul in January, mostly because I thought the idea of Lilith in her stilettos on ice and snow struck me as funny..

    Hmm. I seem to have a pattern.

    Something you forgot to mention about summer–fresh, home grown tomatoes! I’ve been stealing, that is, enjoying tomatoes from my neighbors’ garden recently and they’re fabulous.Since The Demon Goes Hungry pretty much cries out for food sex, I’m thinking those tomatoes may have a role in my book!

    • (-: Weren’t tomatoes known as love-apples at some point? Prufrock could have had just as much juicy dripping with a good, vine-ripened tomato! I love it.

      (-: What pattern are you seeing? Florida and Arizona are not exactly four-season places, but Minneapolis? Oh, yeah, four or maybe even five seasons there! Looks like a very nice variety to me!

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