1) Start out casual.

Harper and Max are physically attracted to each other from the moment they meet. But neither is looking for love. Instead, they take their time getting to know each other in casual group settings. At times, the slow pace feels frustrating and sexually tense—even for readers—but this only makes them more certain of their attraction. Both Harper and Max see that the object of their affection is more than a pretty face and a hot body. (Not that anyone’s complaining about that!

2) Go on meaningful “dates.”

Instead of asking Harper out on a typical date, Max invites her to volunteer at Cedar Village, a group home for troubled boys, where he serves on the board of directors. The experience shows both of them new sides of each other. Harper sees how great Max is with kids, which is always a turn-on for a woman who wants a family of her own someday. Max watches how welcome Harper makes everyone feel, even though the environment is outside her comfort zone. The “date” isn’t candlelit or intimate, but it makes them even more attracted to each other.

 

3) Open up. 

Harper and Max first learn about each other through hearsay and some casual observation. Sharing a common experience makes it easier for them to open up about more personal matters, including their pasts. Neither is ready to make a move just yet … and that makes things even more promising. “When you’re looking for love, your focus should be on finding your best friend,” says YourTango Expert Marla Martenson, a matchmaker and author of Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting. “If you’re only after sexual chemistry, you’ll be missing that essential friendship. Physical attraction can burn out, if it’s all you have.”

 

4) Take your crush off the pedestal.

Initially, Harper and Max don’t think they have much in common. Harper assumes that Max is aloof, because he’s not interested in her. Max assumes that a “silver spoon girl” like Harper is out of his league. Both are wrong, but it takes them time to realize that. Author Susan Andersen considers it the biggest obstacle the characters have to overcome. “Relationships on an unequal footing are much less likely to be successful,” she says. “Max especially has to realize what he can bring to the relationship.” As Max grows more comfortable, he’s warmer and less guarded. Harper reciprocates. Before long, the two decide to…

5) Go for it … but not too fast!

It’s a sexy summer romance novel, after all. When anyone has this much fun together—and feels this much sexual tension—it’s time to take things further. After a few glasses of wine one night, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She walks to Max’s house, despite the voices in her head that remind her that she’s only staying in Razor Bay until summer ends. “When you get to know someone and you still feel really strongly about them, you’ve got to dive into love the way you would a lake,” says YourTango Expert Marla Martenson. “It’s a risk worth taking.” Harper and Max finally kiss, but Max insists they delay gratification a bit more. When they finally sleep together, the encounter doesn’t disappoint

 


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