A First Name Basis
Last night I was enjoying a treat: getting an advance read on something new and steamy from my friend Addison Cain. Aside from it being hot perfection, as her stories always are, a passage she wrote reminded me how much I enjoy the moment in a historical romance where the couple begins to address each other by first names.
Unlike today, especially in American culture where that kind of familiarity tends to happen quickly, if not immediately, the use of first names in anything other than the most intimate situation is a fairly recent historical trend. The historical pieces I’ve written so far have been set in 1716, and during that time, even husband and wife didn’t address themselves this way in front of others.
One of my favorite things is dragging the reader (and myself! Heck, I write to turn me on, too!) as slowly and heavily as possible through any moments of romantic or sexual tension. Ugh. So good. Why rush, amirite? In these historical settings, the moment my beloved characters switch from Captain Blackburn to Edmund, from Mrs O’Creagh to Brigit, is just as critical and delicious a point in the narrative as any first kiss, any bit of clothing swept aside for the first time. First times are fun. The characters are doing something taboo for their setting, and I don’t know about you, but that makes it extra hot for me.
So for fun, I’ve put together a few excerpts from some of my historical pieces to share some of my favorite First Name scenes. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing!
Some of these are Not Safe For Work!
Hannah Collingwood & Edmund Blackburn Part One
She turned away from the gunwale to face him, her arm pulling away from his touch in the process. Still silent, she stared up at him now with as much uncertainty on her face as was coursing through him at that very moment. If he wasn’t exceedingly careful, he could ruin this.
He took a deliberate step into her space, trying not to frighten her with any sudden moves, as though she were some skittish animal. The distance between them mirrored the tantalising proximity she didn’t even know they’d shared last night in his bed. He saw that her breasts were rising and falling with the quickness of her breath, but she did not step away.
Edmund wanted her acceptance like nothing he’d wanted in a very long time. He could no longer hold himself back.
She still did not shrink away when he slid his left arm around her waist to pull her the rest of the way to him. His own heart was racing as if he were some nervous boy. Dare he risk another kiss now? Perhaps one that wouldn’t end in biting and punishments?
“Hannah.” Her name came on his breath like a promise and he inclined his head just the slightest degree, not pushing himself on her, but making his unspoken request clear.
Her unblinking gaze went on for a maddening length of time and Edmund was nearly ready to give up on the whole affair as a failure, but in a move that spoke of a hard fought decision, she raised herself up on her toes and accepted his silent offer by placing her lips on his.
Hannah Collingwood & Edmund Blackburn Part Two
They worked together there in the darkened council chamber, the sturdy surface of the table helping to force their bodies together at the hip. Edmund was soaring in triumph at the way she relaxed her weight against him, his wildest hopes for the evening surpassed by her unbridled surrender to her desires.
Their motions became shorter, quicker, each straining toward the infinite. She covered his hand at her shoulder with hers, the fingers of her other hand circling behind his neck as she lay her head on his shoulder. Her jaw was slack, lost as she was in sensation, and her throat moved in wordless plea. She was so, so beautiful this way and he knew the image of her like this would be burned for ever into his memory—no matter what became of the two of them in the end.
Liquid heat clenched around his cock and he knew she was just as close as he was. So very, very close.
“Captain … yes, God!” Her urgent whispers set him aflame, but he felt the tiniest distance in the remnants of her formal address.
“We’re beyond that now, aren’t we Hannah?” he ground out between his teeth. So close, so close. “Use my name if it pleases you.”
“Edmund!” she cried out then, and loud enough that someone would probably hear, even from outside the room. “Edmund, please!”
It was all he needed.
The Maid and the Cook
Brigit O’Creagh & John Bone
He was nipping at her collar bone, lips and teeth tracing a fiery path, and his right hand was back, urging the fabric of her sleeve further down over her shoulder. A rough thumb smoothed over the top of the crease where her arm met her body, and his kisses moved from there to her neckline. Between her thighs, a dull, warm throb made demands.
“Mr Bone …” His name came without thought, a sigh as her own right hand smoothed up over the arm that remained supporting the big man’s weight.
“John … if ye like …” he said, amid intent nuzzling and lapping at her flesh.
So. John Bone it was. Pirate aboard The Devil’s Luck.
He buried his face nose-deep between her breasts where they were piled high together by her stays and inhaled, letting out a groan of approval before his eager mouth set to work there as well.
Pirate. Cook. I don’t care what he is, so long as he doesn’t stop.
The man setting her body aflame soon became dissatisfied with the limitations set by her bodice and, with a grunt of frustration and a sharp tug, brought the entire affair some inches lower. Her remaining intact sleeve slid off its shoulder with the movement, and the bones of her stays prodded down into the meat of her hips. But now her breasts were completely freed and none of that mattered.
Bone righted himself and held her at arm’s length for a moment, taking in her freckled curves with those blue eyes of his. The pale pink of her nipples darkened, hardening under the raw need in his stare alone.
“Mmm. Look at that,” he said in the way a man might appraise a holiday feast. Brigit watched him chew at the inside of his lip and give a soft, disbelieving shake of his head before he bent to her once more, making new claims on her exposed flesh.
“John!” The newly-learnt name burst out of her with a gasp as he took one of her nipples into his mouth, plumping the breast around it with a warm squeeze of his hand.
Hot, wet suckling drew her in, and a hand moved over her other breast, palming its weight, brushing its stiffened tip with an idle thumb. Just as her head began to loll back in indulgence, however, she felt him pull away and stand again.
She opened her eyes to find him grinning down at her.
“Stay where ye are, Brigit O’Creagh,” he said in a lusty taunt, flashing his teeth at her. “Don’t. Move. Not one inch.”
Emmat Bird & Bartholomew Vane
How was this the man who’d spirited her from the crest of Gallows Hill, who’d dragged a chaplain to marry her under threat in a lightless stone house, miles from anywhere?
How was she the same Emmat Bird to allow it? And not merely to allow it, but to hold him to her, to see in him this … this long-harboured emptiness, and to want to fill it.
It flew in the face of reason, but some immaterial voice suggested if she were to place her own empty spaces against his, she would find the void made whole.
She took the risk.
“Bartholomew.” The name fell light as a sheet of parchment brushed from the surface of a table.
His shoulders heaved with a low grunt she might have mistaken for a chuckle in a less serious man.
“I haven’t been ‘Bartholomew’ since I was a boy,” he said, not raising his head. “Just Vane.”
Emmat decided to interpret this as a preference, and tried again.
This name was different. A single syllable, pointed at one end and rounded on the other. A name made to penetrate with a single, piercing motion, but also made to smooth over the damage as it passed.
Flashes of prior nights together made her shift on his lap, a familiar warmth building.
No more than breathing from the man, but Emmat could no longer be still. Not with the quickening pace of her own thoughts, her own wants.
“Husband,” she said with more force, “please.”
This made him lift his head.
Emmat’s lips came apart. Her breasts rose and fell above the limits of her stays. A grey and a white eye met hers and, though the colour didn’t match her green, their reflection was one and the same.
This next one is not a historical piece, but due to the formal role of the male lead as a priest, the intimacy of first names still applies, in my opinion. This story used to be available in the Darker Side of Love boxed set, which had to be unpublished due to some new Amazon rules about anthologies. My goal is to get this out as a single novella again in the fall, so stay tuned. Sign up for my email list if you want to get notified when it’s out.
Serah & David Kent
She stepped in to the adjacent booth, pulled the curtain shut and knelt.
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Serah began as she heard the panel slide back, “Amen.” He said nothing yet, but she knew it was him. How long before he recognized her voice?
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been … a very long time since my last confession.” She smiled at this. ‘Very long time’ was an understatement. Serah continued.
“I have not been chaste in thought or word, Father.” Her voice lowered and she brought her mouth near the lattice. “I’ve touched myself. And thought of you.”
“What?” he blurted, against all propriety.
She sent a husky giggle through the screen. “Oh yes. Right here in this church. Right after you left me.”
There was a pause, but then …
A grin split her face. It was way, way out of line for him to have spoken her name like that. And he said it in hushed tones, as if the name alone, overheard, would spill his secrets into public view. The man was a mess: just as she needed him to be.
“Did you miss me, Father Kent?”
Serah stood and stepped out of her side of the booth. And opened the door to his.
The look on that handsome, if inexperienced face was priceless as his eyes snapped to the door and to the woman suddenly joining him in the tiny compartment.
“You can’t be in here!” he protested, but she was already shutting the door behind her.
Give him no time to think.
In a fluid motion, Serah threw her left leg over the priest’s lap and came to straddle him. He rocked back in the single chair and his hands came up, clearly wanting to fend her off, but not sure where he could grab or push that wouldn’t be an entirely new problem.
“Serah!” he hissed, eyes darting around as though anyone could see them hidden away in the enclosed space. “Have you lost your mind? We can’t do this! I can’t do this!”
“Oh, but we can.” Her hands slid up over his arms and shoulders, grazing up the sides of his neck to cup at his jaw. “We are.”
She was already humming with arousal sitting astride his legs this way, but those frantic brown eyes sent the unusual urge to comfort him singing through her chest. She brushed it away.
“Please, you don’t understand.” The words tumbled out of him, desperate, on edge. “I’ve taken a vow, Serah. I cannot just —”
“Shh, David. I know all about vows.” Her fingers combed through dark brown hair, mussing the tidy way the priest kept it combed. She smiled down at him with her thumb and forefinger cradling the base of his skull.
“How do you know my name?” He was very still now, looking up at her, as though any movement might provoke her to some further assault against his chastity.
“It was on the bulletin, silly man.” She batted his paranoia aside, leaning close, framing his face with the fiery curtain of her hair. Eyes pleaded with her through a net of confusion and denial. Their faces were close enough now that the steam of breath could be felt over slightly parted lips. They were in that wavering moment; surface tension holding water just above the rim of a glass.
Shall we pick up where we left off, Father Kent?
Any of these do it for you? Tell me in the comments!