Love at First Sight by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Confession time. I love paranormal romance, but I can’t seem to write that kind of book. My love stories, full of romance and passion—not to mention sex and humor—depend only on the magic of love itself. That condition wherein a man and a woman discover that they are made for each other.

That Moment

That moment of recognition between a man and a woman is true magic. Anyone who has felt it will tell you that. For most people, love comes softly, grows slowly and steadily, and bursts into bloom.

But for some, true love occurs in an instant. I know many couples who have been married for scores of years who said they took one look and knew in that instant that they were going to marry that person.

Head Over Heels in Love at First Sight

Every culture has an expression meaning love at first sight. In Italy, they call it colpo di fulmine which, roughly translated, means struck by a lightning bolt. That’s what it feels like.

Does love at first sight really exist? Or is it a figment of our collective imagination? I think it exists, and there may be a sound physiological reason for love at first sight.

Exploring Love at First Sight

For my Valentine romantic comedy Scents and Sensuality, I did a lot of research about the Science of Smell in relation to Sex Appeal because the heroine, Amanda, is a perfumer by trade. I’ve always been fascinated by smell. Maybe it’s because I had a mother who wore the most wonderful perfume. I can remember thinking she smelled better than any person I knew. When she hugged me, this wonderful fragrance wrapped us in its embrace.

I couldn’t pronounce the name of my mother’s perfume then. I can now, but I won’t be purchasing a bottle anytime soon. Mom’s fragrance was by Lucien LeLong. The parfum came in a bottle as beautiful as the smell. Recently, I priced it online and was dismayed to discover it was $250.00 for a quarter ounce.

Maybe that memory created my love for fine perfumes and my interest in the science of smell.

Smell: Primitive and Powerful

Smell is the most primitive of all our senses. We inhale and odor molecules float into our noses, traveling back to the nasal cavity behind the bridge of the the nose. There, those odor molecules get absorbed by mucosa containing receptor cells on which there are microscopic hairs called cilia. About 5 million of these receptor cells fire impulses to the olfactory bulb, or smell center, in the brain.

If you kill a brain neuron, it won’t re-grow. Neither will cells in the eyes or ears, but you grow new nasal neurons about every month. These neurons wave in the air like anemones in the ocean. When your olfactory bulb detects something, it signals your cerebral cortex and sends a message straight into your limbic system, that primitive, emotional part of the brain that houses your feelings—your desires.

Smell: The Different Sense

If a visual stimulation occurs, your brain immediately starts trying to process what you saw. The same thing occurs if you hear something. Your brain goes to work immediately to interpret the sound. That doesn’t happen when you smell something. You don’t need your brain to do anything. What you smell creates an immediate effect that needs no translation, thought, interpretation, or anything. The primitive part of your brain reacts immediately. You react immediately.

This is why you can smell something and immediately be transported to your grandmother’s front porch when she served a hot apple pie on a Sunday afternoon. Smell is a sensory time machine. You smell. Bam! You remember an event, and the way you felt during that event. You can see it so clearly. Memories triggered by smell are sharper than other memories.

Love at First Smell

In Scents and Sensuality, heroine Amanda Whitfield, is a perfume designer. What a great career for a romance novel heroine because smell is so closely linked to sexual attraction. Scent goes hand in hand with sensuality. Knowledge of smell and sexual attraction is all about the science of pheromones, those below-consciousness odors we all breathe in without realizing it.

When Amanda explains smell and the science of sex appeal to Harrison, her Mr. Right, I hope you’ll find it as hilarious—and sexy—as I thought it was when I wrote the book. It may not sound romantic, but love at first sight has little to do with sight and much to do with smell.

In fact, if you want to know how to attract a member of the opposite sex, be sure and read Scents and Sensuality (available at all ebook sellers including: Amazon * iTunes * Kobo * Nook .

Since we just had Valentine’s Day, I’m giving away a belated Valentine gift: the audiobook edition of my romantic comedy Old Enough To Know Better. To be entered to win, leave your email address (not as a hot link so you won’t get spammed) with a comment. Comments are open until Feb. 24. The winner will be selected and notified on Feb. 25.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance whose books are available as Audiobooks (at iTunes and Audible), eBooks (at most major sellers), and Print (coming soon). Visit Joan online at her Website, her blog, or on Twitter @JoanReeves and Facebook.

Look for Joan’s new nonfiction ebook: Little Book of Sunshine: For Readers and Writers, an Attitude Adjustment disguised as a book. Encouragement and Inspiration for only 99cents wherever ebooks are sold. (Okay, maybe not every ebook seller on the planet today, just on Amazon until the others catch up!)


About Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. She lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. Sign up for Joan's mailing list: and visit her at and her blog
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11 Responses to Love at First Sight by Joan Reeves

  1. leighmorgan1 says:

    Wonderful post, Joan. Melting chocolate, peonies and lilacs are some scents that immediately bring a vision of my grandmother, and with it a smile and a sense of well-being. I love scent…such a primal way to experience people, food, flowers…our environment.

    I believe in love at first sight too. My grandfather met my grandmother in London during an air raid. When the blackout came, he flicked his lighter on, took one look at her, said “You’ll do” (not terribly romantic I know) and they spent the next 4&1/2 decades loving one another. Now you’ve got me wondering if he didn’t love her from her scent before that lighter every flashed 🙂


  2. Joan Reeves says:

    Good morning, Leigh. Thanks. What a wonderful sensory memory of your grandmother and what a great love at first sight story. Surely you will write a story about that one day?


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      I will! I’v been thinking a lot about both grandparents of late. BTW: I’m curious what scents you favor. My family seems to enjoy Shalimar….an oldie but a goodie 🙂


      • Joan Reeves says:

        I’ve always loved Chanel No. 5, but when I was writing Scents and Sensuality, I bought a bottle of Tabu, which is discussed in the book, and really enjoyed its spicy scent. Lighter than a lot of the modern orientals, and really love the “clench” portrait on the violin shaped bottle.


  3. monarisk says:

    I enjoyed the scientific research you did about the sense of smell. I must admit I didn’t remember much about the neurons although I probably studied the subject in college. I love dabbing perfume around the neck line of my blouses and always have my heroine do the same.


  4. Carol says:

    Scents are one of the strongest parts of life and a book. My grandmother always smelled of powder. I also remember the scent of cooking, her kitchen smelling of cornbread and the aprons she wore daily. Thanks for the memories.


    • Joan Reeves says:

      Carol, your comment made me remember that my grandmother did also. She used what was called “dusting powder” and so did my mom. Perfumed talcum powder. They had porcelain bowls with great big powder puffs and a lid to cover the bowl. I wonder if that product is still sold.


  5. stephaniequeen says:

    I’m a sucker for a good smelling man. And the smell of chocolate! It’s on my bucket list to work in a chocolate candy factory some day just so I can be immersed in that heavenly smell all the time!


  6. When I met my husband, I knew he was special. He smelled so clean and crisp. He still does.


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