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Day #10 Birthday Bash with Leanna Renee Hieber

May 27, 2010

Welcome to Day #10 of JoJo's 30 Day Birthday Bash. Today we have the honor of Leanna Renee Hieber.

Leanna Renee Hieber

 Thanks JoJo for allowing me the opportunity to come and talk about my favourite type of romance scene! I’m the author of the Strangely Beautiful series, a quartet of Gothic Victorian Fantasy / Paranormal novels, beginning with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, continuing with the freshly released The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, the series will continue again this fall in A Midwinter Fantasy anthology and on into 2011.

My favourite type of romantic scenes is tied into why I write what I write and in the time period that remains my favourite time period; the Victorian Era. This was an era of great innovation, excitement and creativity, but also great trepidation, pain, aggression, misunderstanding and polarization. It was a time of grit and grandeur, a preened exterior society with a seething underbelly. A time of passion and restraint. A time when the mere touch of a hand was exotic. And so my favourite scene is all about the romantic tension, and all about the first touch.

One of the most commented upon scenes in my debut novel is the waltz scene between sweet, timid Percy and her stern professor Alexi, with whom she’s helplessly smitten, at the academy ball. I write sensual and sweet. I don’t write “hot”, and yet reviewers will assure you my books do not suffer from a lack of romance. *s*. This is a preview from what precedes that now infamous waltz scene. Because before one dances a waltz, one must be taught. My favourite part of romance is the building, the tension, and the revelation of a first touch. This is that very moment. The first touch.

From The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful #1):

“Did I say you were dismissed?” Alexi called from his desk.

She whirled to face him across the grand office. “You said, ‘That will be all …’”

“For the first lesson.” Alexi rose and went to a shelf. “Turn the phonograph handle,” he instructed, “and place the needle on the disk.”

Miss Parker’s ghost-pale face lit. She did as instructed, and the phonograph bell crackled; the glorious sound of strings lifting sinuously into the air. Alexi moved toward the open floor of his office.

“The pleasant surprise about music and mathematics, Miss Parker, is that it’s all numbers,” he began casually. “And so is a dance.”

The music became distinguishable as a lilting waltz. Miss Parker’s eyes widened and a hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, Professor!” Joy radiated from her like a sunbeam, and for a brief moment, Alexi forgot what he was about to say.

“Hush, hush. Don’t make me regret taking the time to do this. Come here, silly girl.”

Percy darted forward, but when she stood before him, looking up, she became so frightened that the professor might read her mind that she shrank back, embarrassed and awkward.

His own composure remained cool as he offered a noble bow. “That is your cue to curtsey, Miss Parker.”

“Oh, yes, of course. How stupid of me.” She curtseyed, and the professor closed the distance between them to a decorous familiarity. She stared up at him. Her pounding heart made her mind swim. The professor placed a hand around her waist and took her right hand. When they made physical contact, Percy thought she might faint. Actual, voluntary human contact from a man she so admired … Tears rolled down her white cheeks.

“My goodness, Miss Parker, if I thought this would upset you …” Alarmed, Professor Rychman withdrew. “Of course there is an academy rule of no contact, but a dance lesson is most certainly an exception, and if you fear—”

“Oh, no, my dear professor! You must understand. In the convent, the only man I ever could call a friend was a ghost. We could never so much as take hands …”

There was a moment, as they stared at each other, where Percy thought they shared a keen understanding of loneliness. The professor’s dark eyes softened. He respectfully held her gaze until she bashfully looked away; then he held out his hand, patiently allowing her to approach when ready.

Percy wiped her eyes and stepped forward. His hand closed again over her waist. Her fingers alit upon his other palm, and he coaxed her hand into his, squeezing gently.

“Your fear of me simply must cease,” he commanded.

“It … it isn’t that I’m afraid, Professor.”

“If I’m not mistaken, Miss Parker, you quake.”

“Not out of fear, I assure you!” But after this declaration, more mottled patches burst upon Percy’s porcelain cheeks. She was terrified anew that he’d expel her on the spot.

The professor cleared his throat and simply said, “The rhythm guides us, Miss Parker. One-two-three, one-two-three.” He tapped time upon her finger. “Your feet must do the same. Place your other hand on my shoulder.”

Percy complied. Far too nervous to look at him, she instead stared at the ornate silver button that clasped his robe and held his signature scarlet cravat in place.

“I will lead with my right foot. Step back with your left.” The professor moved forward. As Percy faltered he said, “No, the other—”

“I’m so sorry!”

“Stop apologizing, Miss Parker, and move.”

Percy stepped back, obedient if rigid. The professor added, “Repeat this, following my lead, stepping back when I step forward, interchanging.” As he did so, Percy followed with hesitation but precision, and moved without stumbling. She felt a giddy rush.

“I see!” She dared a look up at him, and grinned.

“It’s rather simple once you know the steps,” he stated, and began again. “Can you feel the pulse?”

Their steps remained small and controlled. “Yes,” she breathed, shocked at her voice, which was a good deal more sensual than she intended. Their eyes locked, Percy stumbled and broke away. “I am sorry, Professor, but—”

He stepped forward and grabbed her by the hand, firmly turning her to face him again. Percy gasped. He clamped his other hand upon her waist, putting an abrupt halt to her cringing retreat. He stepped forward. She stepped back. They lifted and stepped and repeated without incident. They moved around the open spaces of the office, each turn imparting confidence. Finally, Percy could not hold back a delighted laugh as she realized she was waltzing. And Constance was watching, hovering above the professor’s desk, smiling proudly.

“I’m dancing!” Percy whispered with glee.

The professor partially smiled, his eyes sparkling for one single moment. “Indeed you are,” he replied, and Percy felt a tug upon her right hand. She allowed his pull—and twirled beneath his arm! As she spun to face him again, his hand returned to her waist. Percy nearly swooned.

The professor lowered his head in approval. “Not a bad start, Miss Parker. You see, if you pay attention to your partner, you can react without even being warned.” He smirked, displaying a mischievousness Percy had never seen—or perhaps it was merely wishful thinking.

The music ended. The disk crackled beneath the needle. The professor released his hold on Percy and stepped back, bowed, holding her gaze. Percy curtseyed in return, wishing the music had gone on indefinitely.

“Now … no more moping about that damnable gala!” he commanded, moving to the phonograph and lifting the needle.

“Oh, Professor, how can I ever thank you for this—?” She ran forward and realized with sudden horror that she had unconsciously meant to embrace him.

“Good night, Miss Parker,” he interrupted.

“Oh. Yes, of course. Good night, Professor. Thank you!” She spoke hurriedly, awkwardly gathering her things to cover her dangerous intention. “I shall see you on Saturday?”

“Perhaps you will find me in a dark corner, hiding,” he admitted, grimacing as he took to the chair behind his desk and busied himself with a cup of spiced tea.

“Well. Good night, then.” She hurried to the door, wondering if the blush upon
her cheeks would ever fade.

(End of Excerpt)


I hope you’ll join the Strangely Beautiful saga and pick up The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, which picks up exactly where Strangely Beautiful #1 leaves off, both now in stores! Keep track of the saga via

Thank you so much Leanna for being here today
and for helping me Celebrate my upcoming 30th Birthday!!!

Leanna Is offering you awesome commentors,
 the chance to win The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.
(which is AWESOME! My review coming soon!)


Answer the Question: Via Leanna
In books and films, do you enjoy the buildup of tension between the romantic leads as much as I do?
(please include an e-mail address so the winner can be contacted)

*Open US ONLY / Ends June 18th*

28 Hottie Follwers Thoughts:

Stella (Ex Libris) May 27, 2010 at 6:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stella (Ex Libris) May 27, 2010 at 6:18 AM  

Please don't enter me in the contest I'm outside the US and already have my copy (Thank you Leanna!), but I just couldn't couldn't help stopping by, reading the guest post and this excerpt. It is one of my favourite scenes in the novel too Leanna! People wouldn't believe that a "simple" waltzing scene can be so powerful as to make you tremble and catch your breath, but this one did! I can't get enough of the repressed passion and gentle sensuality woven in your book. The tenderness between Alexi and Percy, the restrictiuons of society and proper behaviour make every small lingering touch close to a volcano eruption! Every little brush of a hand is magnified and heightened, it is amazing. You truly have to read it! :-)

As to your question Leanna: YES! The way the tension is building up between the H/H is my favourite part!! I simply love the thrill when you feel like your skin is too tight with excitement, that tension is palpable you feel that passion will erupt any minute. LOVE that! :-) And there were plenty of scenes like that in The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!

A Buckeye Girl Reads May 27, 2010 at 7:15 AM  

Just wanted to stop by and say what a great series Strangely Beautiful is. There are so many great sizzle/tension moments in both Strangely Beautiful and Darkly Luminous. (Please don't enter me in the contest.)

Jason May 27, 2010 at 8:43 AM  

It depends on how contrived it feels. If the tension and build up seem genuine, that they are caused by knowable forces, then yes. But if it feels like the tension is just there so that the climax of finally getting together is better, than no.

Robin K May 27, 2010 at 9:38 AM  

I do enjoy the tension, but it also drives me crazy. You know that there is a happy ending coming, at least you think you know. Perhaps I will peak at the end ;)

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

Victoria May 27, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

I've heard really great things about your books. Looking forward to reading them.

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) May 27, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

I do like the build up of tension between characters and you hope that they either get it on or not.

aprilmom00 at gmail dot com

joder May 27, 2010 at 3:15 PM  

I definitely love the build up of sexual tension. When the coming together finally happens it makes it even more worthwhile. It's what happens after that really counts. As long as they still sizzle together then I'm a happy camper.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

mbreakfield May 27, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

Oh, yes, I enjoy the build up of tension, but if it goes on too long, I get a little frustrated. For example, on Bones, Bones and Booth have great chemistry but keep skirting around each other. I only hope, that they get together before the series ends. I would be disapointed, if they don't get together.

Lady_Graeye May 28, 2010 at 11:42 PM  

Hey Leanna! Love your books! I enjoy the buildup of tension between romantic leads as long as it's tthe real deal. If it's just plain banter I don't like it an I can sense it from the very beginning. Thx!

lisaglidewell AT gmail DOT com

Jenn May 29, 2010 at 11:21 AM  

Love the tension - makes for a much more interesting story!

malleybean at gmail

Colleen,  May 29, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

I am always looking for new to me authors to try... adding your name to my list!
Always enjoy a build up of tension... adds to the storyline!
greenshamrock AT go DOT com

Elizabeth June 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM  

Hey Leanna and to answer your question no and yes. No because who dos'nt want to watch a movie when the characters are perfect and yes because all good movies have tension example the note book.

Leilani @Leilani Loves Books June 1, 2010 at 8:05 PM  

I've seen these books!

I like tension. It always brings something cool to the table between them.

Ina June 2, 2010 at 3:41 AM  

Hi there!
no need to enter me in the contest since I already have the book and I'm living outside the US ;)
just wanted to drop by and say how much I enjoyed The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker - believe me, you won't miss it!
greetings, Ina

tetewa June 3, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Yes I do, its fun to see how they finally come together!

CrystalGB June 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM  

Yes I do enjoy the build up of tension. Makes the story more interesting. :) Your books sound great.

Anonymous,  June 4, 2010 at 11:08 PM  

Without the tension there is no epic love story. It doesn't have to be drawn out but they should face some obstacles that make you root for them. The tension is what leads to those moments where your eyes get all misty and your chest tightens waiting for true love. *sigh*

Thanks for the interview and giveaway!
yeseniah23 at gmail com

Andrea I June 7, 2010 at 6:46 PM  

I definitely enjoy the buildup of tension between romantic leads. It makes for an interesting story.

van_pham June 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM  

I love the buildup of tension between romantic leads!


booklover0226 June 9, 2010 at 4:32 PM  

I enjoy the buildup of tension between the leads... as long as it isn't too drawn out!

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Candace June 9, 2010 at 4:51 PM  

I enjoy the tension but if it's TOO long I lose interest.
These books are both on wishlist. They look GREAT! I'm very excited for reading them. Thanks for the giveaway!
candace_redinger at yahoo dot com

Carol L. June 15, 2010 at 11:44 AM  

Oh I agree with Booklover. I enjoy the tension as long as the Author doesn't draw it out too much. Then it just gets frustrating. You're a new to me Author Leanna but I now have these books on my TRL.
Carol L.

Anne June 17, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

Yes, I love the build up, it's what makes so many television shows so great (until they hook up or get married). I've read a lot of good things about this series, but I haven't read it yet.

Julie June 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

I do enjoy some good tension build up, it makes the romance so much more fun to read about.


Darcie K. June 17, 2010 at 3:42 PM  

I love the build ups. I think that is one of the major deciding factors on whether a novel or show is good.

Anonymous,  June 17, 2010 at 5:44 PM  

I love tension build up it makes romances novels so much more fun to read.

jellybelly82158 June 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

I love the build up of tension. It makes the books better

jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

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