Wednesday 20 March 2013

Smell and The Science of Sex Appeal

I am very pleased to welcome Joan Reeves as a guest blogger today. 
Thanks, Anna. Great to be here.
In my most recent romantic comedy, Scents and Sensuality, my heroine Amanda is a perfumer. In the book, she has the opportunity to inform the hero Harrison about the fascinating research being done in the Science of Smell and Sex Appeal as well as the history of perfume.
The hero, owns a computer company, so there's a little bit of computer history and computer languages too. A perfumer and a computer geek! Sounds like a mismatched couple, doesn't it? But that's what I like to write about: two people who are made for each other, but they just don't know it. Yet.
Weaving Research Into Sexy Romance
In the book, Amanda tells Harrison about smell and the science of sex appeal, but it's always in sexually-charged scenes. She talks about the subject because she's nervous. He encourages her to tell him all about smell, the most primitive of all our senses, because he realizes she drops her guard when she talks about something she knows so well. 
Studies have been done as close at home to me as the University of Texas at Austin and in many laboratories around the world. From anecdotal evidence to double-blind tests, studies have shown that women are drawn to a man by his scent. I don't mean his aftershave or shampoo. It's his androstenone, the male pheromone that is consciously undetectable.
Smell and Sex Appeal
Androstenone is in a man's sweat, and a woman's pheromone receptors in her nose pick that up. A simplified explanation is that what her pheromone receptors tell her brain, determines how sexually attractive he is to her. The more pleasing his androstenone to her particular pheromone receptors; the more likely she is to want him sexually.
Guess what? The same thing works in reverse. A woman's copulence, the pheromone she sends out which peaks when she is ovulating, is picked up by the man's pheromone receptors. That determines how attractive he finds her. With men, visual stimulation is first and foremast. The way a woman looks - and there are specific, identifiable female characteristics that a man instinctively looks for - is what draws a man to a woman first. But what his pheromone receptors tell him about how she smells determines his interest in having sex with her.
In research studies, men rate women with higher levels of copulence as being more attractive - even when, to the eye, they may not appear that way at all. It's all a fascinating field of study, and it's easy to see why perfume manufacturers spend millions in trying to develop fragrances that "speak" to a man or woman's pheromones.
Contemporary Contradictions
Ironically, the way men and women in western culture deodorize themselves and denude their bodies of hair, reduces their respective pheromones which actually reduces their sexual attractiveness to the opposite sex. Birth control pills also decrease a woman's copulence dramatically since that medication mimics pregnancy which biologically reduces copulence - no ovulation, remember? - and lessens her sexual attraction, at least to other men.
Suffice it to say that Amanda and Harrison's pheromones communicate quite well! When she explains smell and the science of sex appeal to her Mr. Right, I hope you'll find it as hilarious - and sexy - as I thought it was when I wrote Scents and Sensuality, available now at all major ebook sellers.

Post Script
To celebrate Scents and Sensuality - watch the blurb about the book on YouTube:
I'm giving away a free copy. Leave a comment with your email address (write it this way: EmailAddy at whatever dot com - so your addy won't get harvested and spammed). I'll randomly draw for the winner.

Thank you Joan for this article that I know will be of great interest to every romance author!
Here is Joan's bio: Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Romantic Comedy. She is multi-published in print and ebooks. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Joan writes and publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers; Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers; and the long-running blog SlingWords.
Find Joan Online
Writing Hacks
Twitter: @JoanReeves


  1. Good morning! Thanks, Anna, for hosting me today. Readers, leave a comment. I'm giving away 2 copies of my new book. Your choice of format.

  2. Very interesting topic! I won't say how that scent over appearance part makes sense. Let's just say baggie t-shirt and sweats on a romance writer are no deterrent to a pheromone. ;) lol Best luck.


    1. Hi, Rose! Thanks for your comment. There's a wonderful documentary series from National Geographic called The Science of Sex Appeal. It's on DVD and Netflix, etc. You'd be shocked at some of the things researchers have found.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful book! I remember the scene in Main Event where Barbara Streisand's character is talking about perfume and scents. :)

    1. Hi, Melissa! I'll have to find that movie. Sounds interesting. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Joan, what an intriguing interview. I'm buying this book. It sounds fascinating. You're totally correct about the power of the sense of smell. Boy, can it bring back memories...or apparently, make new ones. LOL.

    1. The reason smell and memory is linked is because smell is our most primitive sense. (I talk about this in the book.) Smell makes the limbic system react instantly without the brain having to interpret the way it does with visual or auditory cues. Yes, if you want to link a new experience, make sure smell is part of the experience.

  5. Great post. I'm very interested in scents, and your story sounds like a good read.

    1. Thanks, Janice. Fascinating field of study.