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.
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.
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. :)
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