ONE OF THE first times food hooked me into a story was in the Lawrence Sanders’ Deadly Sin series. The sandwiches Police Chief Edward X. Delaney ate made you understand everything about him. In my contemporary romance, Below the Beltway, food has a different purpose.

When I was in my twenties, I used to get really uncomfortable eating in front of a man. Then I learned something.

Sharing a meal can take attraction to another level. It’s the whole point… The ambiance, yummy flavors, delectable appetizers, and cocktails brought to your table in a beautiful goblet or a chilled beer mug, set the mood. Then there’s the moment you clink glasses and look into the eyes of someone you want to see naked. Even if you can’t say that out loud yet.

Taylor and her husband, Mark.

Taylor and her husband, Mark.©

A romantic dinner date for my heroine and hero, Alex and T.J., breaks the tension that has built up between them over months.

Because my hubby and I have had so many romantic dinners looking out over the water, that’s the setting for their first date feast.

Alex’s favorite dish was seared ahi tuna, so that was one of the appetizers they chose. Neither of them could resist the lobster and shrimp egg rolls. The menu description teased of cabbage, cucumber, and capellini, with the seafood heightened by a citrus chili sauce. It was yummy. They also ordered decadent crab tater tots with cheddar and herbs, served with a lemon chipotle aioli. Anything with lemon or citrus was pure seduction for Alex.

The food was acting like an aphrodisiac—or was it the company, or maybe the setting? The combination was part of the seduction, especially since the conversation was so easy and natural between the two of them. …

[…] Back and forth they volleyed, with Alex sharing what she had planned while T.J. asked questions and added his own comments. If men only knew how sexy it was for them to engage a woman when she was talking about her work, they would be halfway to third base before the dinner check was paid. Women know instinctively to pay attention to what a man does for a living and how successful he is, because, if these two things aren’t in place, a man won’t commit to a relationship no matter how much he likes you.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found this Bustle article.

“When it came to choosing between dinner or sex, 35 percent of both Millennials and the Baby Boomers said they would choose the dinner, and 30 percent of Generation X said the same.”

I’m new to writing contemporary romance but I can assure readers of one thing.

A romantic interlude over a meal never takes sex off the table in my stories.

Seduction is only one mouth-watering moment away.

T.J. leaned forward and kissed her. It was a soft, warm first kiss. The moment of truth for two people attracted to each other when you wait to see how it feels, if the attraction will become a spark that ignites. Or not. Their first kiss confirmed the lust between them, so once was not enough for T.J. He kissed her again, both of them responding with their whole bodies this time. …

Author’s Note: Want to help an independent author? After getting two non-fiction books published, I’ve jumped into contemporary romance, starting from scratch in this highly competitive and exciting genre, launching my own imprint. If you’re curious about smart, arousing romance or enjoy it already, I’d be grateful if you would buy my book for $1.99, then give it an honest and fair review on Amazon. I could really use the support.

All photos owned by MM Press, a division of Taylor Marsh, LLC