The Comprehensive Post of Romance Vibes and Attractive Things

Swoonworthy reads...

Daughter of Dusk, the sequel to my first novel Midnight Thief, launches in August (And you can get a free signed novella and other swag if you preorder!).  So I thought I'd share some of the notes I made while revising the book.

Notes from my second round of beta readers for Daughter of Dusk came back with many people wanting more chemistry between Kyra and the love interest. So as I started revising, I needed to come up with ways to make the attraction show through.

As I went into my revision process, I did something that I've been doing since before I sold my first book, which was to analyze books which I thought did a good job at whatever I was trying to achieve, and breaking down how they did it. I've previously done similar analyses about conveying friendship and writing good death scenes.

For this analysis, I chose two slow burn romances that made me melt:  the Cinder and Kai romance in Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and the Elisa and Hector romance in The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (which all lovers of romantic stories should check out).  I read through the each book and jotted down everything that made my stomach flutter, and I categorized them below.

So below is a monster list of all things attractive.  I hope you find it useful! Tell me about your favorite romance arcs in the comment section.  And if you check out Daughter of Dusk, let me know how I did!

Signs of Attraction

Physical Signs of Attraction

Admits wanting physical contact.  

TCOE p.355 “…then he’s sliding his mouth along my jaw, to the pulse at my throat.  ‘Elisa,’ he murmurs.  ‘I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time.’”

Awareness of physical presence.  

Cinder p. 224 “He wasn’t touching her, but she could feel his presence, warm and overpowering.”

TCOE p.127 “He presses up behind me and wraps his left arm around my torso, across my breasts, trapping my own arms to my sides.  My head fits snugly and perfectly beneath his chin.”

Intimate/observant gaze. 

TCOE p.62 “When he finally looks at me, I catch the barest shift of his eyes as he studies every part of my face.”

TCOE p.121 “He stares at me, and I stare back.  His lashes are short but thick, and he has a tiny freckle at the crease of his left eye.  He has the deepest eyes I’ve ever seen on a person, like a whole world goes on inside his head.”

Looking at lips

Cinder p. 229 “His lips parted – she had no choice but to look at them and then immediately back into his eyes.”

Praising appearance 

Cinder p. 161“I found your pretty new mechanic down in the lobby,”

Quickening heartbeat 

 TCOE p.259 “When he pulls off his overshirt, my heart speeds up.”


TCOE p.127 “The mink-oil scent of his rawhide armor pricks at my nose.”

Touch memory  

Cinder p. 128 “And yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade.”

Twinge in the chest. 

Cinder p. 8 “Instead of answering, the prince bent down, craning his neck so that she had no choice but to meet his eyes, and dashed a grin at her. Her heart winced.

Tingling limbs 

TCOE p. 80 “My limbs tingle and heat fills my cheeks as we stare at each other.”

Uneven breathing 

Cinder p. 229 “She listened to his wavering breath.”

Wanting physical contact, or unsure.  

Cinder p. 229  “Her body simultaneously yearned to close the gap between them and push him away.”

TCOE p.259 “I see his scars…one is larger and jagged. . . I have an overwhelming urge to trace its length.”

TCOE p.252 “When one wheel hits a large stone, the carriage lurches to the side and I slide along the bench until our hips collide.  The carriage rights itself quickly but neither of us bothers to move away.


Cinder p 163 “She regretted the joke for half a breath before Kai laughed.  A real laughed, and her chest warmed.”


Emotional/Psychological Signs of Attraction

Asking them on a date.  

Cinder P. 225 “Come to the ball with me.”

Asking about person.  

Cinder p. 372 “How’s Kai?”

Attention drawn to the person.  

Cinder p. 12“Cinder met the prince’s gaze, was caught momentarily dazzled by another easy laugh.”

Attuned to the other person’s needs. 

TCOE p. 69 “I start forward too quickly, and pain shoots down my side.  Hector is at my elbow instantly.  I lean into him.”

Attuned to other person’s habits.  

TCOE p. 326  “Hector bends close. ‘You just prayed, didn’t you?’ I looke up at him, surprised.  ‘I can always tell,’ he says.  ‘Your face changes.’”


Cinder p.7 “Cinder launched up from her chair, nearly toppling over when she forgot about her missing limb.  Steadying herself with both hands on the table, she managed an awkward bow.

Confessing attraction.  

Cinder P. 295  “It’s dumb, I know.  It’s not like Levana cares if I, you know, might have actual feelings for someone.”

TCOE p. 80 “My life has ever been yours, Elisa”

Considering that the person better than others.  

TCOE p. 188 “I will do anything.  I’d give him my own life and health if I could.  He’s a good man, the best man.  He deserves to live.  Please.”

TCOE p.9 “Hector is the strongest man I know.”

Empathy for other person. 

Cinder p.222 “Kai grimaced as if it were the most painful topic in the world and fell back against the wall.  Cinder’s heart stirred, watching as his royal demeanor slid off him.”


TCOE p. 24 “I sense Hector beside me.  He leans his elbows onto the wall so that our shoulders almost touch, and he says, “This is your first major crisis as sole monarch.  You are weathering it well.”

Dismay at kept secrets 

 TCOE p. 302 “Hector lost a brother in the war.  Barely seven months ago.  And I never knew.  Why didn’t he tell me?”

Dismay at formality 

TCOE p. 323 “’You’re not obligated to tell me anything.  You’re my queen.’”  For some reason his words sting, and I find myself fighting tears.

Dismay at thought of person getting hurt.  

TCOE p. 188 “I will do anything.  I’d give him my own life and health if I could.  He’s a good man, the best man.  He deserves to live.  Please.”

Giving higher priority to person than to others  

Cinder p. 232 “Kai received two comms between the tie they left the elevator and the time they reached Dr. Erland’s office – cinder new because she could hear the chime from his belt – but he didn’t answer them.  He insisted on helping her down the hallway, despite her protests that she could wal just fine, despite the curious stares of passersby.”

TCOE p. 8 “In the corner of my eye I catch the gleam of Hector’s sword as he raises it high, and my stomach thuds with the realization that he’ll cut through our own people if that’s what it takes to whisk me away.

Looking forward to spending time with the person. 

TCOE p. 129 “I hope we have our next lesson soon.”

Jealousy, or wanting the other to be jealous

TCOE p.211  “It’s wrong of me, I know, but I don’t want Hector to be glad about a potential suitor.”

Making sacrifices to be with the person. 

TCOE p.307 “He gave a up a countship for you, Majesty.  And the home he loves.  I’ve always wondered why.  But now I understand”

Offering to do unpleasant things in the person’s stead.  

TCOE p 144 “Hector studies me.  ‘Can you?”’ he says gently.  ‘I’ll give the order for you, if you like.’  I smother the instant feeling of relief.  ‘No.  I should order it myself.’”

Pride in the other person.  

TCOE p. 242 “Hector, at least, is unsurprised to find me so capable.  He might even be a bit proud.  It makes me feel warm all over.”


Cinder p.297 "‘Put them somewhere near the back, where they won’t get stolen,’ said Pearl, gesturing airily toward the back of the booth.  ‘Somewhere clean if such a place exists.’ . . . .
‘What, no please or thank you?’” said Kai.

TCOE p.4 “They are a formidable team, my guard and my guardian.  Sometimes it’s as though they plot my safety behind my back.”

Rumination about whether the other person likes you, not wanting to get hopes up.  

Cinder p.167 “She was here and she seemed to be sane and she was a safe bet for him to ask to the ball.  That was all it could be.  Besides, he was in mourning.  He wasn’t thinking straight.”

Sadness at rejection 

Cinder p.165  “He blinked.  His eyes fell as he processed her response. Then he lifted his chin and attempted a grin that was almost painfully dejected.” 

Seeking person out for comfort. 

TCOE p. 8 “I turn to rest my forehead against Hector’s breastplate and close my eyes as the chaos around us gradually dissipates.”

Shared humor 

Cinder p.163 “She regretted the joke for half a breath before Kai laughed.  A real laugh, and her chest warmed.”

TCOE  p.108 “Hector says, ‘He thought you were joking about stepping on his feet,” and we exchange a quick smile.”

Speechlessness/rambling speech 

Cinder p.124 “The intensity of Kai’s gaze snatched away her words.” 

Cinder P. 127 “Yes.  Positive.  I’m sure you have very important . . . royal . . government . . .research things. To discuss.  But thank you.  Your Highness.”

Thinking about the person.  

Cinder p. 370 “There.  That moment.  That smile.  Again, and again and again.

Trouble focusing  

Cinder p. 8 “She was glad to have routine tasks for her hands and routine questions for her mouth – something to focus on so she wouldn’t get flustered and lose control of her brain’s net connection again.”

Valuing the other person’s opinion of them

Cinder p. 27 “She had not even thought to give Kai her condolences… He must think her so insensitive.  So ignorant.”

TCOE p. 178 “Strange how I can brush off Ximena’s praise as the ravings of a madly affectionate nurse, but kind words from Hector feel like drops of water in the desert.”

Wanting to hide weaknesses. 

Cinder tries to hide the fact that she’s a cyborg from Kai

Wanting to be with the person.  

Cinder p. 207 “She couldn’t help imagining she was in the palace with him, rather than this dim, cool, garage.

Worrying about appearance – 

Cinder p.14 Iko pointed at her forehead with a  pronged finger.  “You havea grease splotch.”  
Cinder jerked back and scrubbed at her brow.   ‘You’re kidding.’
‘I’m sure he hardly noticed.’”

Attractive Characteristics (Non-Physical)


TCOE p.2  Hector is good at his job.


Cinder p. 289 “Now, I don’t want to tell you how to run your business or anything,’ he said, ‘but have you considered actually charging people for yoru services?”

Easy to talk to.  

Cinder p 228  “I shouldn’t be telling you all this, anyway.  It isn’t your problem to worry about.  It’s just . . . you’re easy to talk to.”


TCOE p. 8 Hector gestures at the guards, barking orders.

Persistence in wooing 

Cinder p. 226 “Why?  Why don’t you want to go with me [to the ball]?”

Cinder p. 6 His own surprise was short-lived, melting into an apology. “I’m sorry,” he said.  “I didn’t realize anyone was back there.”


Cinder p. 209 “Cinder’s heart swelled as she scrubbed the hood.  She had never seen Kai look so serious, or so handsome.  She feared for him a bit, knowing how nervous he must be, but in that moment he was not the prince who had brought a broken android to the market or almost kissed her I an elevator.  He was her emperor.”

Quick thinking – Kai's quick decision to take the blame for a putting mirror in Levana’s dinner plate saves a servant from punishment.

Self effacing  

Cinder p. 125 “You probably have a client list a mile long.  I shouldn’t expect royal treatment.”  His mouth twitched. “Although I guess I do anyway.

Self sacrificing

 Kai is willing to marrying Levana to save country.

Sense of direction 

TCOE p. 73 “Unless I’ve gotten turned around, I think we’re beneath the Wallows.”

Social status/found desirable by others

p.6 Cinder “She was met with startled copper-brown eyes and black hair that hung past his ears and lips that every girl in the country had admired a thousand times.”


TCOE p.9 “But Hector is the strongest man I know.”

Willingness to be let other people know about attraction, risking humiliation.  

Cinder p. 225 “The hall was filled with doctors, nurses, androids, officials, technicians, and they all fell into an awkward hush and stared at the prince and the girl in the baggy cargo pants he was flirting with.  Flirting.

Attractive Physical Traits

Combat skills 

TCOE p. 21 He whips his sword around to defend himself, but Hector blocks him neatly.”


COE p.134 “You must have impressed him greatly, to have been named his page.  And later, to be appointment commander of the guard.  You’re the youngest in history.”

Eye contact  

Cinder p. 8 “Instead of answering, the prince bent down, craning his neck so that she had no choice but to meet his eyes, and dashed a grin at her. Her heart winced.


Cinder p.6 “He seemed taller in real life.”


Cinder p. 12 “Cinder met the prince’s gaze, was caught momentarily dazzled by another easy laugh.”

Lack of mustache

(Okay, this is a bit tongue in cheek, but Rae Carson did tell me that she removed the mustache to make Hector more attractive.) TCOE  P.1 “He and the other guards shaved their mustaches to mark are recent victory, and I’ve yet to adjust to this new, younger-looking Hector.


Cinder p. 8 “Instead of answering, the prince bent down, craning his neck so that she had no choice but to meet his eyes, and dashed a grin at her. Her heart winced.”

Strength – TCOE p.1 “Firm hands grasp my shoulders, saving me from tumbling backward.”

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