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A Waft of Scent, Dark and Dangerous

The title of this blog is a straight pinch from an as-yet-unpublished manuscript of mine, but it sums up my attitude to perfume. I absolutely love it, in case you’re in any doubt.

Some of my Murano glass perfume bottles

I’m thinking about perfume at the moment for various reasons.

That as-yet-unpublished manuscript is the first reason – because the heroine has a huge store of perfumes she matches to her mood (which of course intrigues the hero).

The second reason is that it’s that time of year when romance writers start thinking about attending conferences. After a year of isolation, we catch up face-to-face with our colleagues, meet with and/or pitch stories to editors and agents, and listen to a range of experts on a fascinating array of subjects covering the craft or writing, the business of publishing, marketing and promotion, and trends in romance, and we eat and drink and party.

My most exotic bottles where I keep my oils from Egypt and India

There’s only one thing we don’t do – and that’s wear perfume.

That’s because the thing that sets romance conferences apart from other conferences is that the very vast majority of attendees are women, and if all of those hundreds of women (or thousands, depending on which conference you’re attending) decided to wear a spritz of their favourite scent (as so many women are wont to do), all those little spritzes would become one big cloud of warring smells. That spells ‘migraine’ – even for those who tolerate strong aromas. And for those with an allergy? Unbearable.

Much as I adore perfume, I understand that. The scents I bought while living in the Middle East, for example, may make me feel like an exotic Arabian phenomenon just walking down the street, but they’re so heavy on the oud, they can twitch a nostril from a mile away. I’m afraid this makes them the problem children of my collection, so they’re not allowed out on the prowl all that often.

The top of one of my favourite perfumes – Niki de St Phalle

Which brings me to my third reason for this blog.

Perfumes are always on the prowl in my books. I almost always give my heroines a signature scent. My heroes too, even if it’s soap! So I finally decided to give my passion its ultimate outlet and made my next heroine (currently underway) a perfumer. Boy, has that involved some fun research. And just so you know, the hero’s scent in this one is Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef & Arpels, because the first time I sniffed it on a guy, I almost melted into a puddle. Although of course, there’s something under it that’s going to drive my heroine crazy as she tries to isolate it in her lab.

I suspect she’s going to have trouble with that, because it’s all about pheromones! Something Evie Parker in Wanting Mr Wrong could tell her all about!

Meanwhile, here’s a little perfume making video I found on YouTube for anyone else who shares my perfume addiction.

I’d love to hear what perfumes you love…or hate!

Wanting Mr Wrong hi res coverEvie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees.

Hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her.

Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.

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19 thoughts on “A Waft of Scent, Dark and Dangerous”

  1. Ha! Avril – great topic. Your bottles and tops are extraordinary. As an RN for almost half of my life, perfume was very low on my list. We could never wear it to work, and that accounts for over half of a person’s day, right? On occasion I use perfumes, but find I am super sensitive to strong scents – makes my nose run and eyes water. I do have one perfume I treasure from my daughter and son in law. It came from a perfumery in Ireland and the Burren botanicals. It is called Spring Harvest. Not very sexy sounds, I admit, but that’s about it for me and wearing perfumes. I remember working with men who bathed in guy scents and it used to make my eyes water. lol, so for me less is more.
    Love the premise of your book!

  2. Oh, and forgot to say that I once had a reader hate my book giving it a low star rating, and she sighted the fact I’d used the term pheromones. She quoted the sentence that made her throw my book across the room. LOL conveniently I have forgotten the particular sentence.

    1. Oh dear – I will be on the look out for pheromone-haters! Mind you, the word made my heroine in Wanting Mr Wrong want to punch people! I love the sound of your Irish perfume; it’s always so exciting when you have a scent that is quite distinctive. I have one from Egypt – lotus flower – and dread losing the last drop because I have no idea how I will ever get it again. Even a subsequent trip to Cairo failed to find it.

  3. Hi Avril

    I don’t wear a lot of perfume but I do like it at the moment I have Beautiful and wear that when going out over the years there have ben some lovely perfumes that I have had Angel is another favourite and during the 70’s Tabu was what I wore. I do love your scent jars they are beautiful and I love stories that mention the name of fragrances that worn by the hero or heroine 🙂

    Have Fun

    1. Beautiful is a wonderful perfume! The hero in the book I am planning to start writing later in the year wears Tresor – it is just so her.

  4. Reblogged this on Love Lines and commented:
    I love perfume too but have to wear it sparingly as both me and my husband are susceptible to allergies. There is nothing that can ruin the scent of a perfume so thoroughly as a red, dripping nose and scratch, watery eyes! I still collect the bottles, however. Those little objects of beauty are too tempting to resist.

    1. I suffer from allergies from the trees in Surry Hills, so you have my sympathy there. The perfume bottles, though, are really magical no matter what you put in them, or even if you keep them empty.

  5. I never wore perfume, never saw the point. I was so fed up of smelling women from forty paces who had apparently taken a bath in it! But then, just before this last Christmas, I was stood in a queue at my local chemists and they had a display of tester perfumes. I was bored, so I picked up the prettiest bottle (Beyonce’s) and sprayed it on. Ugh. Smelt awful. So I put it down and walked away, but then about thirty minutes later, I caught a scent and realised it was coming from my wrist and it was gorgeous!
    So, long story short, I asked my kiddies to get me a bottle for Christmas.

    1. That is a great story! I never buy perfume unless I’ve sprayed a little test. Funnily enough, many years ago, I was given a perfume by someone who had described my personality to the expert behind the counter. I never really cared for it myself, but whenever I wore it, people thought I smelled delicious!

  6. Avril, your collection of perfume bottles is stunning! Definitely worth buying them for their shapes and colours. I have a large collection of different perfumes as my late husband worked for a firm that distributed perfumes around the world and I tend to prefer spicy scents rather than sweet. My two favourites are Opium and Rive Gauche but I don’t wear them every day, just occasionally.
    When we were teenagers my sister had a perfume I loathed so to try to get rid of it I used to spray it out of the window or on the dog (a bit of rolling in the mud soon dispensed with the smell :> ) I don’t think I have ever confessed that to her so maybe it’s time I did!

    1. Oh that is funny about your sister – I’ll bet she’d get a laugh out of that story. There is a really popular perfume that I really cannot stand, and whenever I smell it, I feel ill. It’s not even a heavy perfume, but very distinctive. It’s all so personal – which is what makes perfumes so fascinating.

  7. Avril,
    What a neat subject for a post. I used to wear perfume more but it started bothering my allergies. I loved Charlie as a teen and Holston as an adult. Now the most scent I wear is in lotion. I love your perfume bottles. My mother has a small collection of them. You new book sounds fun.

    1. I have a gorgeous body cream – La Prairie’s Silver Rain – and when I wear that, there’s no need to add anything else. You know, I may have got my scent bottle interest from my mother, now I think of it. She has a lovely collection too. The new book is going to be a lot of fun with a very outrageous heroine. I am having a ball researching it.

  8. Amazing collection of bottles Avril – beautiful…little wonder with the woman behind the collection. I LOVE scent but strangely tend not to wear it myself – but I am definitely a swooner if someone smells delicious. As opposed to the other day when I found one of my running shoes out in the orchard (courtesy of my pooch), wore it to the gym and I when I was doing some stretch or other, realised the honkey scent that had been following me around was eau de FOX. On my shoe. That baby went straight in the washing machine! x A

    1. I don’t like to get too close to my running shoes! Although it is more likely to be bat excrement than foxes getting to them. Annie, I guarantee if you walked past most of the gorgeous men in the Middle East, you would be swooning left, right and centre. They all smell divine – it’s like an art form there.

  9. Love this subject, Avril, and that you’ve made it a part of your books. I’m certainly not the perfume expert you are, but I do enjoy wearing it, after many years of not wearing it very often. I remember one time maybe ten years ago when I put on a spritz of Estee Lauder Private Collection (which was at that time the only scent I wore) and my youngest, who was little at the time, asked “Why do you smell like we’re going to church?” I had to laugh, then wonder why that was the only time I wore it – that’s something to put in a book sometime, isn’t it? 🙂

    I probably had cheap colognes as a teenager, but I do remember my first real perfume that I purchased as a young adult at a shop in the Virgin Islands when I went on a sailing tripe there. It smelled amazing, and was fairly powerful – not something to douse oneself in! I haven’t had a true perfume since, and your post is making me think I need to make that happen. I have a few perfume bottles, with my favorites being one that belonged to my grandmother, and one my hubby brought back from a ski trip to France, doubtless hoping to appease my annoyance with him going on a guy trip to the Alps to begin with! 🙂

    1. One of the things I enjoyed most about living in the Middle East was going perfume shopping. It really is an art over there, and even some of the big names in fashion perfume have scents exclusive for that market. Hard to choose just one though! I think you need to have your husband take you to France so you can a very special scent in a gorgeous bottle that reminds you both of the Alps!!

  10. Love those glass perfume bottles, Avril. I’m a big perfume fan. BVLGARI being my all time favourite.

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