His eyes narrowed as if contemplation revenge. “I think you’re just asking for a…”

Would he wash her face in snow as he had his sister’s earlier?

The flirtatious twinkle in his eyes transformed into something more potent, and his voice lowered to a whisper. “A kiss.”

Her relief at the reprieve morphed into anticipation. Her lips started to curve into a smile as he leaned down, their breaths mingling…  (From Focus On Love)

Of course, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, let’s not forget about another layer of love. Romance. First crushes. First dates. First kisses. Flowers. Private dinners. Long walks. Proposals. Weddings. And the many other special moments that bind two hearts together.

There’s a true story from the 1920’s in my town when hard-working eligible bachelors employed by the sugar factory had a hard time meeting girls in “polite society” and so a writer at the paper created a list of these worthy men to draw attention to their dilemma. As the story goes, one such man sent the newspaper a poem along with his name so that he could be included in the list. The poem in part read: “For like a bedbug needs a pillow, a detective needs a clue, a hobo needs a shower–that’s how I need you.” Romantic, right? Not. Wish I knew if that gentleman found his perfect match…and if she helped him get a clue about romance.

When I think about romance, I tend to think of the moments that make us tingly with anticipation, giddy with joy, and eager to bottle up the feelings so we can share them with the world…or simply pull the memories out later to savor all over again. Those encounters that catch our breath even in the simplest of moments and mark a moment in time. Of course, I’m keeping it clean here because that’s what I write…so shift your mind from the bedroom instead to the flood of emotion that carries you away when you see that special someone across the room. When they catch your eye, then slowly lower one lid in a lazy wink that unites the two of you with a special message that says “I know you’re there and I can’t wait to reach your side.”

That’s romance. And it doesn’t always happen surrounded by red roses, crystal glasses, and linen tablecloths. Some of my personal romantic memories found life in a teacher’s lounge during my planning period, walking around a track in the dark while he guarded the football field from potential vandals, chaperoning a high school homecoming banquet while keeping the fact we were dating a secret from our students, shifting the gears in his truck so I could sit snuggled up beside him on the bench seat, and even laughing about a fat rabbit outside the window at the rare fancy restaurant we visited.

Romance is all about the little moments that become frozen in time and thick with meaning for just the two of you. No one else in the world could ever understand the emotion a ____(fill in the blank)____ brings. And often, if the sparks have faded, a simple reminder of those moments is enough to reignite the passion once again.

In Focus On Love, Ryan and Liz have a few romantic-to-them moments too including a snowman-building expedition, a crashed sled, a child’s Superman Valentine card, and a gift of pudding cups. I guess you’ll have to read the book to see how those moments could possibly be romantic, but trust me. They are. And someday in the future, this hard-to-believe-they’re-fictional couple can look back on these–and many other–memories to recapture the romance once again.

To celebrate the release of Focus On Love in just two weeks, I’d like to invite you to share a few of your #FocusOnLove moments with the world. Whether it’s a job, hobby, sport, worthwhile cause, friendly outing, family memory, faith experience, or even a romantic moment (G-rated please), just post a photo on Facebook, Instagram, or even Twitter using the hashtag #FocusOnLove to be entered in a drawing for a Shutterfly gift card AND a free autographed copy of the novel. Multiple entries are allowed. Some of my favorites will be shared during the book launch celebration February 13th and the winner will be announced on Saturday February 17th.

In the meantime, what about you? When you focus on love, is there a significant other in your life? Are you in the sparkly-falling-in-love stage or have you grown into a mature love? What can you do to recapture the sparks again? Is there a special or unusual memory that brings those romantic feelings rushing back? And if you’re single, is there a funny story you can share about a not-so-romantic moment (in keeping with our poor eligible bachelor whose poetry needed a better analogy or three)?

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