Make Mine a Virgin, Please. . . Monica Burns!

Romance over the years has had numerous virgin heroines who fall in love with handsome rakes. When said rake falls in love with the young miss, she reforms him and they have their HEA once they overcome several different obstacles. While these types of plots are still popular, other heroines have arrived on the romance landscape. Kick-butt heroines capable of saving themselves as well as their man. Then you have the experienced heroine who sometimes has almost as jaded an outlook as the rake she falls in love with. Then you have the unusual exception to the rule.

The virgin hero. Yep, the hero who’s not yet experienced a woman in the most intimate of ways. These type of heroes aren’t found too often in romance, and I think it’s primarily because they’re difficult to write. At least I’m praying that why! *grin* A great many of the most popular heroes in romance books (or at least the ones that get the most air time!) are either alpha males or those bordering on alphas. So when faced with writing a male virgin, an author walks a fine line making the reader believe the hero isn’t a wimp and yet is inexperienced. There have to be believable reasons for a hero’s virginity.

I know for me, I would never have considered writing a virgin hero if it wasn’t for my editor. When I was chatting with her at a conference in 2009 about the next historical I had to write for Berkley, I asked her if writing an older woman, younger man romance would be okay with her. Her face lit up and she nodded her head vigorously and exclaimed, “Can you make him a virgin?”

My initial gut reaction (inside of course, since this was my editor) was No! Oh HELLL NO! Instead, I responded with a skeptical, “Uh, well I guess so.” Now if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I like to please people. Pleasing readers is very important to me, and pleasing my editor is maybe a notch higher because she’s the one who gives me new contracts so I can keep pleasing my readers. So I trucked home wondering how in the world I was going to write a male ALPHA virgin. How does one make a male virgin appear confident in his manhood and yet vulnerable at the same time?

Well, I think you have to have a good reason to explain why he’s not experienced. Coming up with a justifiable explanation for my hero’s virgin status took me two months, but it works. Baron Garrick Stratfield has a physical disfigurement that he believes will make any woman, even a whore reject him. But Garrick’s not without an ego, and he doesn’t want society to view him as anything but a man’s man. So he comes up with an elaborate scheme. He has a mistress in name only, and he’s made it a practice to become an exceptional kisser. So much so that women in the Marlborough Set perpetuate the image that the Baron is a wonderful lover, simply because what woman wants to admit that all she got was a kiss while another woman got the deluxe seduction.

Now for my inexperienced male virgin, I wanted a woman who was experienced in the bedroom. Originally I thought making the heroine a widow would work nicely. But I’ve a fondness for courtesans (Kismet). They accept themselves for who they are, and the successful ones are never ashamed of the way they make a living to survive and thrive in a world where men are the masters. So when Ruth Attwood showed up on the page, I wasn’t really sure who she was. She had a title, and yet I knew she wasn’t a widow. Ask me how long it took me to figure that one out?

Turns out she’s a legitimate peer, but her father threw her mother out of the house when Ruth was a baby. So when her mother dies and she’s homeless, what’s a girl to do? Being the mistress of a peer is infinitely better than working in a brothel. Ruth has held a prominent place in society by virtue of the men she’s lain with for year. Now, she’s feeling her age, because her lovers keep dumping her for younger women. When Garrick comes to her with a proposition, she tells herself that she’s only a few years older than him. But even that “small” difference is enough to convince her that any involvement with him is foolhardy. Still, he’s quite persuasive, and she reluctantly agrees to a friendship. Something that becomes much more as events happen in the book.

Putting these two characters together was difficult and yet exciting. I enjoyed how I was able to have Ruth provide a quiet harbor for Garrick to learn what pleasure is, and I loved how Ruth was given the chance to learn that age is meaningless when you love someone. I’m really looking forward to readers getting their hands on this book. I think it’s uniquely different, and I’m eager to see what everyone thinks about the story and its characters. As an author, every book I write is special, but this one hit home primarily because I AM an older woman married to a younger man. My husband and I have been together 27 years and we’ll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next June.

Connect with Monica on her:
Newsletter/Info Group 

Pleasure Me by Monica Burns
Berkley Sensation
ISBN – 978-0425238790
Coming March 2011

A courtesan afraid of true love…
And a gentleman ashamed of his true nature.
Youth and beauty are a courtesan’s greatest assets. At forty-one, Lady Ruth Attwood appears to have lost both, as her latest lover just abandoned her for a younger mistress. Struggling with the knowledge that she’s no longer considered desirable, she’s uncertain whether to be offended or flattered when a younger man makes her an unusual offer. In need of funds, she agrees. But then she does the unthinkable. She falls in love.

Despite his reputation as a man’s man, Baron Garrick Stratfield has never been with a woman. His physical impairment is such that he knows not even a whore will touch him, and he needs a mistress who’s willing to be kept without sharing his bed. But passion is just a delicious kiss away because his new mistress is wreaking havoc with his senses. Worse yet, someone is not only out to ruin his reputation, but frame him for murder.

QUESTION: So what do you think of older women with younger men in romances? What about virgin heroes? Are you older than your significant other? Let’s talk age and men.

One lucky commenter will get a copy of ASSASSIN’S HONOR and ASSASSIN’S HEART. 

Thanks so much for joining in the PRINCESS BLOG PARTY, Monica! She has generously opened up her giveaway WORLDWIDE!

I have Assassin’s Honor, Assassin’s Heart and Kismet on my TBR pile.  I’m spending December reading to my heart’s content!  I can’t wait to read these book….and Pleasure Me sounds just as delicious. :)

To win you must:

1. Answer Monica’s question(s) below in your comment.

2. You MUST be a follower/subscriber of Lila DiPasqua’s blog (through Google Friend Connect).

3. You do NOT have to repeat any extra points you’ve earned if you’ve already stated them in prior posts for this blog party.  Only post NEW points as in new tweets/facebook comments about the Princess Blog Party.

* Winner will be announced on SUNDAY–selected from a random commenter on this post.

NOTE: The more you comment on the posts during the month-long PRINCESS October Blog Party, the more points you earn toward winning a signed copy of the next in the sexy Fiery Tales series, THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED…plus SIGNED copies of Nora Roberts’ BLACK HILLS and Eloisa James’ A DUKE OF HER OWN! You *must* be a follower/subscriber (through GFC) to this blog to be eligible to win!


Ways to increase your odds of winning are found at the very bottom of this blog.


  • Hi Monica
    I must admit i’ve never really thoughrt about a virgin hero or ever come accross one i’m not 100% sure i’d like it most likely just because i have never read a book like that before. When i read books i like the men to be older than the women not really sure why myabe for all the experience they have :P I would be open to an older woman and a younger man but i much prefer the older man.

  • Hi Monica,
    I’m so happy seeing you here at Lila’s. I only ever read one Hero who was a Virgin and that was in Emily Bryan’s Vexing The Viscount.
    I didn’t think I’d enjoy it but she proved me wrong. I really loved the story line.I also very excited to add more books of yours to my TRL. This looks like a great read. Please count me in.
    Carol L.

  • okay, I came back with head hanging because of posting on Miranda Neville’s post. I forgot Jamie Fraser in Outlander, how could I have done that , sheesh. :) And then Anna Campbell’s Untouched. I don’t mind it if it’s only a couple of years but usually appreciate the same age or the man being a little older.
    Carol L.

  • Hello, Monica : ) Now that I have “gently matured”, I have a somewhat different outlook on age-difference romances. As they say, it’s not the years in life that counts, it’s the life in your years! I am actually younger at heart than many people I know in my baby-boomer age group. My grandfather and I drank from the “fountain of youth” many years ago, and he remained young at heart throughout his life. I hope to be just like him when I grow up : )

    I am not attracted to “prowling Cougar” romances or extreme “May–December” love stories. However, in some cases, the age difference is an integral part of the story line and makes possible the chain of events and character development. Non–“YA”, somewhat older virgin heroes can be quite intriguing. What are their circumstances? What made them so different from the average adult male? Two books with virgin heroes: “His Secondhand Wife” by Cheryl St. John, and “Virgin” by Cheryl Brooks.

    US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  • I think the idea of a young, hot, untouched hero is fantastic! I mean, what a fantasy. I would definitely read that! But, in reality, I would be too uncomfortable with the situation myself. But that’s what books are for, right? Living your fantasy vicariously through the character.

  • Hi everyone, First, I was extremely remiss thanking Lila for inviting me to the party. *banging head on desk* I’m not normally so rude, but I think she’ll understand because we’re both on deadline, and I wrote my post frantically so I could get it to her in time. So THANK YOU! Lila for having me! I’m flattered and am happy to be here.

    Elizabeth, I was like you, I always liked my men older. Maybe because it made me feel safe, protected, cherished. But as I’ve aged, I’ve found I, personally, don’t need that, so my tastes in romance heroes has changed. I truly didn’t think I could write a virgin hero, but I wound up falling in love with Garret, because despite the age difference, he wound up with the air of being “older” than Ruth. I love these two characters, and I love that you’re open to the possibility of reading them.

    Carol L, Thanks for the welcome. I’m glad you like the sound of the book. Also thank you for telling me about Emily’s book because when I wrote this post I couldn’t find many male virgins. As for Outlander, I’ve never been able to finish the book. It’s sort of like P&P, I’ve never liked that book either, but I love the movie editions. I think it’s a voice issue.

    Virginia C, long live the young at heart. I intend to be like John McCain’s 90 year old mother who three years ago got a speeding ticket for doing something like a 100 miles an hour on a stretch of AZ or Nevada road. THAT’s the way to live life to the fullest, taking risks and never letting the mind go.

    Kathy, I’m glad you like the idea of the book. Living vicariously through a book is why I write. I might not want the life of the characters, but it’s fun to experience them. As for being uncomfortable with a younger man, you might be surprised. I always swore I’d marry a tall, dark handsome man who was 10-20 yrs old. My DH is five years younger, my height and with brownish auburn hair. Most DEFINITELY not the ideal I’d pictured. But Love comes where it may. LOL

  • I have always liked May/Dec romances in books, either way…older man/younger woman or vice versa.

    To me, age does not determine maturity. Not by a long stretch. Attraction, love should never be limited by age.

    That being said I have never dated anyone older (by a lot) or younger. I think I would probably feel self-conscious dating a younger man, not sure, will have to try one day. LOL!

    GFC Follower

  • Scorpio, would you feel self-conscious if you didn’t know? LOL I think age is irrelevant if love is a driving factor and as long as the two people are the same level of maturity. The age factor only really comes into play when the physical body starts to wear out.

    But since women tend to last longer than men, the older woman/younger man relationship is actually to our benefit companionship wise down the road. I tell my DH that’s why I married him, because I wanted him to last as long as I do. LOL

  • I think I rather like the idea of a virgin hero…as long as he’s still a man’s man, like you describe. Like many (most?) women, I prefer the alpha male (yet my more recent hero verges on beta-hood). The prospect of a virgin intrigues me. Of course, in this day and age, I think you could still be a “virgin” and yet be incredibly knowledgable about, er, stuff.

    Age – bah. My DH is older than me, but that’s not why I love him.

  • Tory, writing a virgin who’s an alpha is NOT easy. I really struggled with it where Garrick was concerned. I’m trying it again with Dante, and it’s MUCH harder this time. I LOVE alphas, and my heroes generally are. So the an alpha virgin must have a good reason for being who he is. *grin*

  • Hi Monica. I’m not sure I’ve run into a virgin hero. Phury in J.R. Ward’s book is celibate but I can’t remember if he is’s a virgin. I’d have said a virgin hero wouldn’t really interest me, but in your story he sounds so intriguing the book definitely is going on my list of ‘to buy’.

    Older heroines are great depending on the hero, of course.:)


  • Carolyn, I’m glad the book sounds intriguing enough to you to hit your TBB list. I hope others feel the same way. I love the story considing how hard it was to write (I hated it when I was writing it simply because it was such a creative stretching exercise LOL )

    Thanks for posting.

  • BTW folks, if you Twitter or Facebook, please post this link back to Lila’s Blog. I loved to talk more about virgin heroes. *smile*

  • Hi, Monica~
    I cannot wait to read this book, as you know! I’m just about jumping up and down for a virgin hero. Yay! I love younger men, have written 3 of them (unsold) but I wouldn’t change them. The virgin hero is incredibly delicious to me. Very, very sexy. I’m going to be your first buyer!

  • D’Ann, yes, I know how eager you are to read this book as you witnessed my agony writing the book all last spring on Facebook. LOL Thank you for being such a great supporter of my work. Readers are my livelihood.

  • I don’t mind reading about virgin hero’s as long as it is written well. One of my favorite books had a virgin hero. As for the heroine being older than the hero, well age is nothing but a number. As long as the story is well written what do I care?
    This book looks really interesting. I would like to read this and learn more about your virgin alpha male.
    +3 twitter follower
    +3 facebook fan
    +3 newsletter

  • Danielle, It’s ALWAYS about the execution of the story and nothing else. The elements are what make it challenging for a writer to pull it off in a way that’s believable for the reader.

  • I have not read a lot about virgin heroes. I think it is an interesting twist because usually it is the girl who has to feel self-conscious about whether or not she will do something to satisfy her partner. I think that it is interesting that an older woman can teach a younger man and the fact that it is unconventional makes it even more unique.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com

  • Stephanie, my friends will tell you that I am one to take risks. It can be dangerous, but the rewards are generally greater if I can pull it off. I’m hoping I pull it off with Pleasure Me because I do think it’s rather a unique twist with the two elements combined. Time will tell. :D Thanks for commenting.

  • Victoria

    Great post, Monica. Look forward to reading Pleasure Me. When I was younger, older men seemed more interesting. Now that I am older, younger men are a nice fantasy. lol

  • Victoria, I’m for fantasy across the board. LOL

  • Hi Monica! Love your attitude about older woman/younger man relationships! Can’t remember any romance novels I’ve read with this situation but as for virgin heroes, No Man’s Mistress by Mary Balogh stands out many years after I’ve read it.

  • Monica! Don’t know if you watch it but this past Sunday’s episode of Brothers and Sisters was about Sarah Walker’s birthday and I think she’s older than her French underwear model boyfriend on the show, Luc Laurent… and they have an awesome relationship. She had lied about her age but was unaware that he knew all along that she was older!

  • Anonymous

    Oh yeah, give me a virgin hero….give me a younger man…wonderful.

    My hubby is actually 12 years older than me and I was rather more virginal than he was…hehe!!!

    If I ever had to find another man….then I’ll be a cougar….hear me roar….lol!!!

    in Germany

  • Oh, if the younger man had the body of your cover models… NO PROBLEMA. But I mesh with responsible men. So, the poor guy would have to be as perfect internally as externally! LOLLLL

    Hey, whatever works for anyone is fine with me. But it might not work with me! :)


  • I am all for older women with younger men in romances…nothing wrong with that. As for virgin heroes I think I prefer reading about guys with a little experience. It really just depends on the circumstances though.

  • The first romance I read was “Anyone But You” by Jennifer Crusie with a 30-year-old hero and a 40-year-old heroine (and a dog named Fred), so I’m fine with the older woman younger man trope whether contemp or historical (“Suddenly You” by Lisa Kleypas). Besides, with vampires and such being immortal, does it matter who is older? What’s a couple hundred years between lovers?

    As for virgin heroes, I can only think of two: Simeon of Eloisa James’ “When the Duke Returns” (he didn’t want to pick up any diseases on his travels to give to his wife) and Sebastian of Miranda Neville’s “The Dangerous Viscount” (he was just anti-women on general principle). I’m fine with a virgin hero as long as the situation is reasonable.

    I’ve never been in a serious relationship with a man who is younger than I; maybe I should? ;)

    tweeted contest ( +2
    and etc.

  • *waves* Hi everyone! I had such a great time reading your responses!

    Monica—It’s my absolute pleasure to have you here! I so appreciate you being here when you’re on deadline. I totally love the idea of a virgin hero—and an older woman. I’m so intrigued and can’t wait to read PLEASURE ME to see it all play out. I know it’s going to be brilliant. :)

    Keep the comments coming, everyone! Thanks for posting, dearest Princess party-goers. ;)


  • I am looking forward to this read also, Monica, as it is usually the older guy w/ experience & possibly a tight, vulnerable virgin! My husband is 10 years older than me & I really appreciate what he does to help me. Although I’m not sure if I would have liked being the older one 15 yrs ago, I don’t think it would bother me now. Love is love! I can’t wait to see how this plays out!

  • Mrsshukra, I’ve heard about Mary Balogh’s book. I shall have to find it. As for Bros & Sis, never heard of it. I don’t watch too much TV because it’s time suck from writing. I like the lying about age only to find he knows perspective though. LOL

    Valerie, I was a cougar before they came up with the term. LOL I didn’t think about it at the time, and still don’t tell you the truth. The only person it was a problem for was the MIL, but then DH is an only child and MIL didn’t like me from the get go. *shrug* Her loss, cuz I would have been the best damn DIL anyone could have ever had.

    Skhye isn’t that cover to die for??? I think it’s my most fav cover ever. But they got the body position right. Only thing missing is the blind fold. *wicked grin*

    Throuthehaze, I think experience can come quite quickly to someone if they’re shown how. Trust me, Garrick gets excellent instruction from Ruth. She knows her trade. LOL

    Shree, I’m with you on that virgin hero situation must be believable. It’s why I had trouble with the idea when my editor first suggested it. Heroes in historicals are historically so alpha that a virgin seems unrealistic. Hopefully, I have something unique that readers will love. As for trying for a younger man, don’t do it for the age, do it for the stamina. ROFL

  • Lila, how’s your deadline going, doll. Hugs

    Rebecca, I think you’ll enjoy the read. Garrick is pretty alpha according to my beta reader. :-D

  • Also, I missed your agonizing on fb back in the spring. I’m sure I would have loved it! So much fun to see what you say when you are getting it all worked out!

  • Rebecca, that’s right! We didn’t meet until June. OMG I can’t tell you how much I hated the book at that point!! Loathed it, now i’m in love again! LOL

  • I’m not older, but I don’t see anything wrong with the woman being older. As long as the age difference isn’t drastically large, then I think it’s fine! I suppose it’s more “traditional” for the man to be older, but I don’t see that; all the same for me!

    Can’t wait to read the books!

  • Stephanie, the age difference in Pleasure Me is 12 years. Don’t ask me WHY it’s that spread. It just happened. LOL Glad you’re excited about the books.

    Folks, remember to RT the post here, and if you’ve not read my work before, I have three chapters of Assassin’s Honor and Assassin’s Heart on my website to give you a taste.

  • Monica wrote:
    As for trying for a younger man, don’t do it for the age, do it for the stamina. ROFL

    *GASP* *CHOKE* Should not read posts like that while drinking iced coffee – not good for my sinuses.

    My cousin was trying to decide on a new boyfriend recently. Her concern was that, even though the guy was pursuing her quite ardently, he was also 24 years old (15 years younger than she). I suggested that she should wait until he was 25. But I’ll tell her what you wrote about younger men and their stamina. ;)

  • Her concern was that, even though the guy was pursuing her quite ardently, he was also 24 years old (15 years younger than she). She needs to read Pleasure Me this March. Age means nothing. There’s no difference between an older man/younger woman and an older woman/younger man except for the stigma society puts on it. I’d tell her to GO FOR IT!

    Also, men die younger than women on average, so that’s another point toward a younger guy. Lasts longer in another way. LOL

  • I love a virgin heroes. I have read several books about them, that I absoulutley loved. They are on my keeper shelf! I just ordered a book the other day with a virgin hero too. I can’t wait to read it! There is something sexy about them. Not sure why though. LOL! Your book looks amazing since it deals with a older woman too. I don’t think age should matter as long as both couples are ok with it! This story sounds very unique and interesting! I am now adding it to my list to get! Thanks for sharing today!

    +3 FB fan

  • I like stories with older women and younger men because it’s a conflict that makes perfect sense. A woman might feel uncomfortable with a large age difference and there are always going to be people who comment on it.
    +3 facebook fan
    +3 newsletter group

  • Johanna, I’m so glad to hear that virgin heroes are loved, and I’m thrilled you’ve added Pleasure Me to your list. It’s not due out until March, but if you Facebook me, you’ll get constant updates.

    Maureen, you’re right about the conflict. People can be REALLY cruel about older women. It never made sense to me, but then I don’t understand cruelty period. Thanks for posting

  • I love coming across an older woman in a book. It makes her more real in my eyes. I’ve also come across a more heavy woman twice in my reading and that was really interesting becuase you don’t see that much. Most often the heroine is written in her late 20’s early 30’s witha beautiful body. I loved the book where she was a bit of an ugly duckling and loved watching her come into her own. I have yet to come across a virgin hero but have read several virgin heroines. It’s fun to get to experience their first time, though now days virgins are rare and far and few in between, so it’s nice to read about innocence. My husband is a year and a half older than me and I like it that way. He reached his 30th birthday last year and I was happy to still be 28, yet I just turned 29 and my dirty thirties is fast approaching. I dated a lot of older guys before I settled down, they were just more on my level maturity wise. The oldest I dated was 6 years older. I thought it was exciting :)

  • I really don’t like it, when there is a big age difference. More than 10 years is rather off-putting for me. I enjoy reading about a virgin hero, for a change of pace.

  • Jolene, I love ugly duckling, beauty & the beast type of stories. I really like the way they evolve. And speaking from experience, I understand that desire not to want to hit 30, but trust me, the next 20 years are going to be some of the best years of your life. I feel it.

    Mbreakfield, if you’ve read any of my work, you’ll know that I do my very best to deliver a good story. My hope is that the story is good enough to convince even readers such as yourself who say prove it to them.

  • My hope is that the story is good enough to convince even readers such as yourself who say prove it to them.

    That didn’t come out quite right! LOL What I mean is that I hope the story I write is good enough to convince a skeptical reader that the age difference isn’t an issue at all where the characters are concerned. There. That’s better. *grin*

  • Hi Monica!
    I’ll admit I didn’t think I would like reading about older women and younger men in a romance, but I’ll also admit that after accidentally picking up a book with that particular characteristic, I’m happy to say I don’t really care either way anymore. The book was really good and didn’t affect the story in a negative way for me as much as I thought it would have.

    I don’t mind at all reading about virgin heroes and in fact don’t think it’s done enough. It’s nice to have the female be the experienced lead who teaches the male in the ways of erotic arts.

  • Hi Yadkny,

    I enjoyed writing Ruth as the one teaching in the bedroom, but Garrick did some teaching of his own by making her realize she was beautiful no matter what he age was. What woman wouldn’t want to be loved like that. And I confess, Garrick was a quick learner, so the tables were turned later in the book with regard to who was in control. :D

  • Hey Monica!

    I’m all for the older woman/younger man combo!! I even like the virgin hero too :) I never thought I would, but then I read Outlander….and Jamie Fraser is my all time favorite hero. So it just goes to prove that you can have an extremely alpha hero who is confident sexually and still be a virgin when he meets his heroine.

    Can’t wait to read Pleasure Me! Congrats on what promises to be another fabulous book.

    booklover1335 at gmail dot com

  • Hi Booklover! I really, really wish I could get the fascination with Jamie. I’ve tried several times to read the book (I’ve even BOUGHT it twice! LOL), but I think there must be something wrong with me because it’s never resonated with me. I guess I’m simply a heretic. LOL I didn’t know he was a virgin though. Interesting. Thanks for the good thoughts.

  • It’s me again, Monica : ) First, let me say congratulations to you for your own lovely true romance story! I am very intrigued with the story line for “Pleasure Me”. Both Garrick and Ruth are interesting, worthy characters about whom I wish to learn much more! I have added your beautiful book to my TBB list–and I can’t wait : ) I love cookies, but I don’t always want to read about “cookie cutter” heroes and heroines. When an author steps outside the standard characterization box and offers something fresh and new, then I am most appreciative : )

  • Awww, thanks Virginia. I have a sweetheart of a husband. Although if I tell him that too much he’ll get a swelled head. He does the same with me I might add. LOL

    And thanks for the support of outside the box h/h. I sometimes wonder if readers really want the different because it seems like folks tend to gravitate to the same type of reads consistently. I wonder if this is because they recognize the themes or if they’re afraid to try out a NEW author and a NEW type of setting at the same time.

    It’s one of the reasons why I put up three chapters of my books on my website. I want readers to know what to expect if they spend their hard-earned cash on my books.

    BTW, When I get edits back for Pleasure Me, I’ll be posting those on my website. Just haven’t gotten them yet. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Hopefully it means I won’t have too many changes.*smile*

  • This sounds like a book I would love!! I love the age difference and the less experienced aspect. It’s also just really refreshing and different. I’m definitely adding this to my to read list!!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com