We stand three stallions here and foal out mares and I think we've educated most of the boarders children now quite thoroughly on the birds and bees and equine reproduction.
Well, I'm not sure romantic is how I'd describe it either but for two horses that live together as companions...stallion and mare...in this case my 19 year old stallion and a very experienced mare...it can be very gentle and slow and not the rush people often think of for live cover. The mare generally initiates breeding and the stallion will arouse and tease her or he might just walk away if he's not in the mood. When he finally does mount and cover her, this mare will turn her head and touch his nose and nicker to him. There is no doubt in my mind that they are enjoying themselves!
Live cover in hand can be a very fast and even violent act if the stallion is not well mannered or a very calm and orderly procedure...I've seen both and a lot depends on the stallion and how he's trained/handled. I think live cover in hand can be fairly dangerous if not done right...much more so than pasture breeding with a stallion accustomed to living out with mares.
Obviously AI is probably the safest for the stallion but not so for the people who have to get up close and personal. AI collecting can be very exciting or very ho hum depending on the stallion and even humorous when you find your recently purchased stallion who know tricks like putting his front feet up on things tries to do them on the phantom!