Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WTF Wednesday - Sandalwood? Seriously???

Hello fellow islanders. How is your week going so far? Are you glad it's Hump Day? It's all downhill from here. :)

If you're familiar with my blog, you know I've recently started a feature called WTF Wednesday in which I discuss the latest thing that has been driving me crazy. I've posted on such wonderfully interesting things as pubic hair, men that gush, and kissing (none of these are work safe!!).

I've decided to bring WTF Wednesday to the DIK blog today. But have no fear--today's post will be tame. Not even a hint of innuendo. Are you ready? Okay, deep breath. *inhale exhale inhale exhale*

WTF is up with all the sandalwood?

Seriously. Must every romance hero smell like sandalwood? Sherrilyn Kenyon is the worst offender. All of her heroes smell like sandalwood. Have you ever smelled sandalwood by itself? Ewwww! It smells like old man. Or Grandma's dusting powder. Or an old man wearing Grandma's dusting powder. *shudder*

J. R. Ward's heroes aren't much better. At first I loved the idea of a house full of men that smelled like leather, tobacco, and exotic spices, but after a while that got old too.

And what about "spicy male" or "musk and clean male"? Are those any better? WTF is "clean male" anyway? And what are these spices? Cinnamon? Oregano? Black pepper???

For once I'd like to see a man in a romance novel that smells like sweat and fresh cut grass, or like soap and clean laundry. Even car grease and cigarette smoke would be sexy on the more rugged heroes. Or...okay, now this one is pretty extreme...what about cologne? *gasp* Could fragile readers handle it?

I don't think that every hero should smell like fabric softener or that no hero should be allowed to smell like sandalwood, but I think some variety might be nice.

How about the rest of you? Are there any cliched male scent descriptions that bug you in your reading? What would you prefer your romance heroes to smell like? And what's your favorite smell on a man in real life?


Lady of the Review said...

I'm kinda old school in the type of cologne I prefer on a man, but I'm a sucker for Old Spice. I know, it's almost a cliche, but there's something about that scent that is just yummy.

And as for smells that gross me out? Feet. I worked with a guy who smelled like moldy feet and it got so bad that I had to ask to move from my desk. Ugh!

DIK Ladies said...

WOW. Holy cow, you caught that post fast! I was still editing weren't even supposed to see it. LOL

I like cologne too. :)

Lady of the Review said...

Oh! *smacks head* As to what I like reading about? I can't remember who wrote the book or what the book was about, but the thing I do remember is that the hero smelled like cinnamon. Mmmm...I love cinnamon. And there was a good reason for it too (which I can't remember). Either I'm getting old or I'm going senile. Maybe it's both? :D

JenB said...

Oops...that dik ladies comment was actually me!

Tracy said...

Yes lately in books there have been a TON of sandlewood smelling heroes! I thought it was just me. I think it's been a long time since I've sniffed sandlewood cuz I can't remember what it smells like.

A book I read recently had the heroine saying somthing like...he smelled really good - it was proabably just his laundry detergent but it smelled great and that's just what she thought of as "his smell. I loved that!

Great WTF Wed. post - as usual!

jessewave said...

I think this sandalwood craze is like the tying off the condom craze. It just takes one writer and the rest follow like sheep.

Re what smell I prefer on a man - his. Oh, not the nasty moldy feet smell *g*

LesleyW said...

I've just read A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix and she had wonderfully original smells that were quite evocative of the character.

"His scent was frosty and clear, the first chilly breath of autumn."

Which doesn't exactly tell you what he smells like (the first chilly breath of autumn will be unique for everyone), but gives you this wonderful picture in your head and sense of what the character is like.

Bridget Locke said...

I know I posted as LofR, but I also had to say that I hate the description when either the hero or heroine are described as sweet-smelling like grass, floral, etc. I'm allergic to grass and most things floral, so all I think when I read stuff like that is that I'd end up sneezing and it'd totally ruin the moment for me. :D

Ana said...

You know, I think I SHOULD be bothered when someone writes that he smells "male" specially because it appears in 90% of the books that I read but the thing is, I KNOW what they are talking about. I love the smell of male. simple as that, I do think men smell differently from women and I love it - as long as it the good kind of"male" of course (clean, please).

But to be honest, on top of the "male" smell , when there is a good, citric perfume? *drools* Dear Partner has a couple of really good ones (presented by moi, duh) that make me go nuts: like Fuel for Life by Diesel. *thud*

A really old perfume that drives me crazy in a good way as well? Azzarro. Seriously, just to think of it.......... *swoons*

I have a very keen sense of smell and sometimes it happens I am walking down the street and then a man walks pass me and if he is wearing a nice perfume I turn around and inhale. yes, that's me , Ana, the crazy perfume stalker LOL.

Sarah said...

snort. You crack me up, literally. I just got frowned at too, from S who is trying to sleep. shhhh.

As long as said rugged hero does not smell like week old socks, I am a happy camper.

Carrie Lofty said...

I like when heroes are described as smelling a bit of what they do for a living. Cowboys smell of leather and horses. Knights smell of metal and being out in the sun. Or whatever. It's evocative. Work equals sweat. On some primitive level, the idea of those raw scents and masculine pheromones speak to the female psyche, promising safety, security. A provider. I wonder if plain old cologne--even tho it smells better in real life--would come across as too girly on paper? The sandalwood thing must be some macho in-between :)

Madelynne Ellis said...

eek! I'm going to go check my heroes don't smell of anything weird. Actually, maybe weird is good! Hang on, if sandalwood is commonplace, what the hell is weird?

Off into town to sniff some cologne.

KT Grant said...

A hero that smells like dew on a summer morn or the ocean as the sun rises over the horizon?
Oh yeah, much more sexier than sandalwood or leather.
How about sweaty lusty men? What would that smell be?
Or imagine if they smelled like a flower just like Garwood's heroines did with the roses?

JenB said...

Tracy - I never really noticed the sandalwood thing 'til I started reading Kenyon. Oh my goodness, she has SO overused that scent.

Wave - Funny you should mention sheep... ;) So you don't like stinky feet smell either? lol

Lesley - That's a nice image. You're right though...not very informative.

Bridget - I hate it when a man is described as smelling of pine. PINE??? Makes me think of floor cleaner and car deodorizer.

JenB said...

Ana - I'm a crazy perfume stalker too! I have a super sensitive nose and I can pretty recognize any scent. I know most colognes by name. I've freaked out more than a few guys by tapping them on the shoulder and asking what they're wearing because it happens to be something I don't recognize. Or...talking to a guy and randomly saying, "Are you wearing such-and-such?" I get some weird looks. :) And I really love the smell of "male". Especially on my hubby's pillow.

Sarah - In gay porn/erotica the guys always smell "ripe" and sweaty. "Gamey" is another popular word in the gay erotica. You'll NEVER catch a woman writing that about a man. Eww.

Carrie - I love when a cowboy is described as smelling of leather and horses. I love that smell. A mechanic should smell slightly of engine grease. When hubby was a pizza boy waaaaay back in the day, he always came over to my apartment smelling like pizza. LOL

JenB said...

Madelynne - I don't mind when a few heroes smell like sandalwood or "clean male". It's just when ALL the heroes smell like sandalwood. So as long as all your heroes don't smell like sandalwood, you're good. ;) I read a hero once that smelled like nutmeg. That was an odd one. I had to go to my spice rack to figure out what that would be like. But why the hell would a guy smell like nutmeg? He wasn't a baker or anything. Very weird.

KB - Clean sweat is a nice smell. Not sure I'd want my man smelling like flowers. Dew???? I like the smell of a man that's been driving with the windows open. Sweat, grass, exhaust.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit offputting when you can smell a guy from quite far away. That suggests too much cologne or 'man smell'. Some of the shaving products for men smell great and you can only smell them when you get up close and personal, which, of course, is the best position to be in to appreciate the smell of any man.

Bev(QB) said...

A little sweat, a little fresh mown grass, some fresh air and sunshine, and a lot of man.


add in the smell of leather and I melt faster than chocolate.

JenB said...

Jenre - I don't like guys that walk around in a cloud of cologne either. Reminds me of teenage boys at the can smell them minutes before you can see them. LOL A hint of cologne from across the car is plenty strong.

Bev - I like natural outdoorsy smells too. Leather is nice when it's worn in and mixed with the man's natural smell.

little alys said...

OMG, I bow down to your post. Yes, why do they always smell like sandlewood? That scent gives me allergies! And those spicy men smells, UGH! I always think of the yucky-hasn't-showered-in-2-weeks smell.

I haven't really sniffed Old Spice yet, so I'll be sure to do that later this week. ;)

I'll have to second Tracy in that a nice detergent smell, or the scent of clean laundry works just fine.

Jessewave- Hehehe, sheep.

The only author I can think of off the top of my head is Emma Holly. She had the hero smell earthy, like the forest. Another hero smelled clean, like the frest scent of snow.

See? Innovative.

Not that I don't like perfume or cologne, but I'm highly allergic to most of these things. In stores, I get rather dizzy if I'm around those heavily scented stuff for too long. So, when I read it in books about sandlewood or something like that, I keep wondering if the heroine's getting a headache. O_o Hehehe.

JenB said...

alys - Those Emma Holly descriptions are pretty cool!

I prefer natural smells too, but I think it would be cool to see a variety. Some guys smell like cigarettes and leather, some guys smell like hay and horses, some guys smell like clean laundry, etc.

But sandalwood...yuck.

kirsten saell said...

No perfume, just soap and heat and clean flesh. She wanted to grab his shirtfront and bury her nose in it, breathe him in.

That's the way a man should smell. :D

It's a dilemma, because we're told to write for all five senses, but there are so few smells a man is allowed to smell of in romance. I mean, as far as unpleasant stank goes, even "musky" is pushing it, but the last thing you want him to smell is all girly...

JenB said...

Kirsten - Yep, I bet it is tough. Sandalwood is bad, but I don't want my man smelling like vanilla and roses either.

I wonder if wolf shifter men smell like dog.

little alys said...

JenB- Hahaha, I can just imagine. "And as she buried her nose in his neck, it suddenly reminded her the comforting send of a dog in the rain." *chuckles*

I donno, the smell of vanilla might be tempting for me. Then he'll smell like ice cream all the time. ;)

JenB said...

alys - If my hubby ever smelled like vanilla, I'd have to ask him why he'd gotten into my perfume. That would be too freaky. LOL

Ally Blue said...

OMG this made me laugh so hard! LOLOL.
None of my guys have ever smelled like sandalwood. I don't think. I've done sunshine, grass (the kind on the lawn *g*), clover shampoo, homemade soap... hmmm... I don't remember. I've done the "male" think! I do love that smell :D

In gay porn/erotica the guys always smell "ripe" and sweaty. "Gamey" is another popular word in the gay erotica. You'll NEVER catch a woman writing that about a man. Eww.
Gamey???? Ick! I've done "ripe" though O_O

I love reading about how a character smells. Scent is extremely evocative for me. But, yeah, the same thing all the time gets old :)

Katie Reus said...

Oregano *snort*. You totally made my day.

Ana, omg, I know. I love the 'male' smell. Maybe it's perception and we obviously all have a different one, but when an author says male, I know what she means. *sigh* I think of my man. :)

Okay, to whoever said something about the tying off of the condom....what is that all about?? I live in a cave and I'm clueless. Apparently I need to expand my reading ;)

KT Grant said...

When I think of gamey I think of moose. There may come a day when someone writes about a hero's musky moose smell of lust.

JenB said...

Ally - Yeah, but you write m/m. Ripe is okay 'cause that's what those dirty boys like. And same as you, I like variety...I never paid much attention to the sandalwood thing until I started seeing it everywhere. Then I thought "WTF???"

Katie R - I linked to the condom thing in the body of the post. Close to the top when I described past WTF Wednesdays. Wave also did a survey on her blog (

KB - I think of a moose when I read "musky". Musk is an animal mating smell to me. I don't associate it with humans.

KT Grant said...

The musky moose smell would be perfect for our demon sheep hero!

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to be close enough to a guy to smell him. *sigh* I wouldn't care much what he smelled like. LOL

No idea what I like. Someone sid Old Spice, I like that. I love the smell of fresh cut grass or hay but I'm not sure I'd want to cuddle up to that. I do find contemporaries do tend to have guys who smell like cologne and other "normal" stuff where as paranormals like to make them smell "unhumanlike" so with more exotic flavors.

I must say that after your soft palate kissing post I now notice it where I never before. There was mention of a tongue piercing hitting the soft palate and considering that's usually a ways back on the tongue I thought "Wow, Jen would have issues with that" and when they say tongue down the throat, they mean it literally. LOL

JenB said...

Katie R - Oops, I didn't link to that condom thing in my post like I thought I did. Here it is:

JenB said...

KB - OMG...have you ever smelled wet sheepskin or wool? *gag*

Tam - The soft palate thing still drives me crazy. In fact, I just saw it in another book I read in the past week. Eww!

KT Grant said...

Hey, in romance the hero and heroine don't bathe for days or they have hot smoking sex and sleep in the wet spot and all is still good.

JenB said...

KB - That grosses me out. I don't care if they just dunk themselves in the book characters must bathe.

Sayuri said...

I'm reading an erotica book at the moment and the guy's smell is described as

The smell of Dior and the wolfish tang of perspiration grows stronger, and without thinking I breathe in deep

And I just thought...YES! I'm totally into that....sigh.

Sandalwood makes me gag. Actually most colognes do, I have a verra sensitive nose. I doona like air freshners or anything. Too strong.

JenB said...

sayuri - Oooh, nice description!

I don't like strong odors. I like candles, but air fresheners kill me. I like my husband's natural smell, but I also love his cologne...especially after it's faded a bit.

A guy in my office walks around in a cloud of stinky cologne. I run and hide when I see him coming around the corner.

Bridget Locke said...

My cousin, who is probably close to 50, literally dowses himself in cologne. I always end up reeking like him afterwards. And this stuff is RANK! I've got so many allergies, it's not even funny, so I've learned to just smile and wave at him from across a room. :)

nita said...

1st post here :)

For cologne, I looooooooooove Acqua di Gio. It just smells so good for me.

I was talking to my bff about Ward and her "dark spices" smell.. and my bff blurted "why can't she just say BALLS". I lol-ed for a long time.

I think Lynn Viehl has a hero that smells like fresh cut grass. Can't remember which one though.

Marnie said...

Lever soap... I love that for some reason.

Katie Reus said...

JenB - i found your old post!! Don't know why i'm excited, but I read the blog and it's hilarious. I've never seen them tied off least I don't think I have.

JenB said...

Bridget - I can't stand it when guys bathe in cologne. Eww! (girls either, for that matter)

Babz - Acqua is my favorite. My hubby wears that. :)

Marnie - Oooh, I haven't smelled Lever in forever. Yum!

Katie - That tying off thing is crazy. Did you find Wave's blog post and survey on it? Hilarious.

Mary M. said...

ROTFL. Oregano??????? Looooool. I won't be able to get that sensorial picture out of my mind now! To tell the truth, I don't think I've ever met a man who did smell like spices of any kind, except when we were cooking :-D, but I rather like reading of men who smell of spices because it means everything and nothing, so I picture whatever I want. Cologne can be nice in small doses. Like Ralph Lauren's Polo Black...yum :-D Nice post Jen :)!

JenB said...

Hey Mary! I'd expect a baker or a chef to always smell like spices, but not a normal guy. It's like the romance heroines that "naturally" smell like cinnamon and peaches. Yeah right! LOL

I haven't smelled Polo Black. I need to try that one out!

Mary M. said...

I love Polo Black, although it does give me headaches with prolonged exposure :) I'm no good at describing smells, so you,ll have to make your own idea :). I first checked it out at the mall because JR Ward had said Nacho Figueras, the new face for teh perfume, looked like her idea of V :). But then I fell in love with the fragrance itself and bought little samples on eBay just so I could smell it from time to time :-D (and, OK, also because it came with cute little cardboard protectors with Nacho's pic insid :-p).

I'm such a groupie. *sigh*

Nicola O. said...

Mary - I'm a JRW groupie too and V is my fave but I just cannot get into a man named Nacho. OMG.

Viehl's vampires all have some kind of nature-based scent that gets stronger when they do vampirey stuff. I thought it got kind of old after 7 or 8 books.

Never met a guy who smelled like cinnamon. Maybe Santa?

But I think it's great when a writer can describe convincingly that the heroine *loves* the way the hero smells. Because yeah, pheremones, etc. etc. Never hang onto a guy that doesn't make you want to bury your nose in his neck or shoulder (or lower, heh) and breathe deep.

Very visceral stuff when done well.

JenB said...

Nicola - If it makes you feel any better, "Nacho" is just a nickname that is commonly used for men named Ignacio.

I love the way my husband smells naturally. It's not a smell I can really identify though. It's certainly not a specific herb or spice.

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