The Virgin is InThere was a question on one of our Downunder writing loops recently about why so often heroines in romance novels are virgins and how unrealistic it was in this day and age to be writing contemporary novels featuring inexperienced twenty-something heroines.
Now I don't think virgins are either as rare in real life as some would have us believe, or that contemporary novels are full of them - I think it depends on what you read - but I have to admit to writing a few of them myself:-)
So far I've had The Italian's Virgin Bride, in January 07 we have The Greek's Virgin to look forward to, and right now on the shelves is my A Virgin for the Taking (Hint - if you like gorgeous pearls, to die for heroes and romance under tropical sunsets- you'll love this book:-))
And okay,if you look at the titles of the latest Presents releases and you'll find plenty more sprinkled amongst the Greek Tycoons and Italian Stallions. Some might think it's a home away from home for virgins:-)
But not all my heroines are virgins. None of them, however, are sex in the city girls - it wouldn't fit the line, whereas it might work perfectly well in other lines or in single title.
I want my readers to be able to empathise with the heroine, so I don't want her to fall in bed with every guy she meets. I want her to be a tad more selective. And maybe, even though perhaps she's had sexual encounters in the past, they've left her cold or uninvolved or unimpressed or whatever (enter Mr Sex-on-Legs hero - she's incredibly drawn to him but damned if she's going to give into it in a hurry).
But whether the heroine is a virgin or not, it has to fit the story and be true to the character and to the tone of the book. When you're talking high stakes and drama (as in the Presents line), a hero who has the hots badly for a woman and who must possess her at all costs, then her being a virgin can be one more factor that ratchets up the stakes. That's certainly the case in my A Virgin for the Taking - discovering that the woman he believes to have been his father's mistress is a virgin is crucial to the hero's journey in that story (and that's not giving anything away, crikeys the title manages to do that quite nicely, thank you very much!). Hopefully I've also built into her history a reason why she's avoided men these past few years.
It's also worth remembering that the Presents is first and foremost a fantasy line. Larger than life heroes, larger than life situations. For instance, how often do blackmail or arranged marriages or deep seated revenge or secret babies happen in our everyday lives? I'd wager not that often. And yet this one line's books are full of just those things. They're hooks, hopefully set well enough in a believable context so that the reader becomes that heroine, and is transported away to a world of high stakes, high conflict and high passion. And heck, we all deserve a bit of the latter, eh?
Just before I sign off, I want to send huge congratulations to our fellow noodler, Jenna Ness, who just this month became the latest Presents author!! Apart from being a fabulous writer and Golden Heart winner, Jenna is the most gorgeous woman and I'm over the moon to think that sometime soon our books might be shelfmates together!
Congratulations Jenna, a soon to be wetnoodleposse bestseller!!