Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Virginal Heroes: Yea or Nay?

Hi troupers! Jessi Gage here with a post about virginal heroes.

The Starz series, Outlander, is hugely popular right now, and it features a virginal hero. Those of us who have read the books know that Jamie is as yet inexperienced in "tooping," even though the show hasn't gotten to that yet.

But Jamie aside, virginal heroes don't exactly abound in romance. Why is that? Are virgins un-sexy? Are they the less attractive antithesis to the large and in-charge alpha heroes we see everywhere?

Would readers welcome a billionaire virgin? A shifter virgin who is the pack alpha? A small town virgin with a blue-collar job? Is sexual experience a mandatory item on the list of attractive qualities for fictional men?

All good questions.

What do you think? Do you like virginal heroes? What characteristics must they have to be appealing to you in their inexperience?

Personally, I tend to write a lot of virginal heroes. I am up to three now, including Emmett in my new contemporary romance release, Jade's Spirit.

So how do I make virginal heroes work (Gosh, I hope they work!)?

I pair my virginal heroes with sexually-experienced women.

This pairing sets up a delicious role reversal where the empowered, sensual woman is the one who shows the inexperienced man the ways of physical intimacy. Lest you envision leather-clad dominatrices who dent the poor virginal heroes chest with their stilettos, the heroes always get a chance to do some teaching of their own.

I always include a component to the physical intimacy that challenges the heroine. Maybe she realizes something about herself through the pairing. Maybe she learns that with this man, the perfect man for her, sex is more than it has ever been in the past.

If the learning goes both ways, both characters have a chance to grow, always a good thing in romance.

I make my heroes active in the plot

Whatever the external (non-relationship) challenge the characters face, the hero plays a vital role. Maybe he rescues the heroine from certain death. Maybe he uses his political clout to negotiate a way out of peril for himself and the heroine. However he saves the day, he does it because he is strong, determined, and smart.

Through being active, the hero demonstrates desirable characteristics that outshine his sexual inexperience.

My heroes have darn good reasons for being virgins

In the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin featuring Steve Carell, the virginal protagonist is portrayed as awkward. His inexperience is because he is not attractive to women. He is relatively handsome, but his personality drives women away.

He would make a terrible romance hero. Good thing this is a comedy!

For a romance hero to be attractive AND a virgin, there must be a reason other than awkwardness.

Darcy, the hero of Wishing for a Highlander, is a virgin because a prank played on him in his teen years made him believe he is too large under his kilt. He believes he would cause a woman pain by trying to join with her. Naiive? Yeah, probably. But he is also sympathetic. He has chosen celibacy over hurting women. There is a certain honor in that that is appealing to his heroine, Melanie, who has the great privilege of showing Darcy that he is not abnormally large, but rather wonderfully large and extremely desirable.

Riggs, the hero of The Wolf and the Highlander, is a virgin because there are no women around to have sex with. He is wolfkind, and his people are slowly dying. The birthrate has tipped toward males with the youngest females still alive being nearly too old to breed.

When Riggs meets his heroine, Anya (who happens to be the one who played the cruel prank on Darcy in Wishing), he is tempted by her sensuality. But he must not take her as his mate because the king of the wolf people needs an heir. To take Anya for his own, Riggs would be a vile treason.

Again, themes of honor abound, and the hero has a good reason for having gone without.

In my latest release, a contemporary romance, Jade's Spirit, the situation is not so cut and dry. Emmett, the hero, has stayed a virgin because he took a virginity vow as a seventeen year old. He is a Christian and is doing his best to live a life ascribed by Biblical principles.

Being a devout Christian might strike some romance readers as not super attractive. Emmett is definitely no domineering billionaire. But he is handsome, confident, and flirtatious. He owns his own lawn care business and has a great sense of humor. He is not a virgin because he isn't attractive to women. He is a virgin because he has resisted oodles of temptation and lived to tell the tale.

By the time Emmett meets Jade, the heroine for which the book is named (who also happens to be a stripper from Boston), he is struggling to hold to his vow. Something is going to have to give. Either he will give in to temptation and break his vow, or he will get married so he can have sex without breaking his vow. But Jade isn't exactly the marrying kind. And there's this pesky incubus demon fanning the flames of desire between them.

What do you think? Are virgins sexy? What romance novels have you read that feature virginal heroes? Are there non-romance virginal heroes, say in fantasy or other genres you have read and loved?

Do share! I'll be giving away an ecopy of Jade's Spirit to one commenter, so don't be shy. And please share if you enjoyed this post!

Jade's Spirit

When exotic dancer Jade seeks refuge from an abusive boyfriend in her grandmother’s aging Victorian home, she finds she’s not the only houseguest. A dream-invading incubus has taken up residence, and it wants Jade’s soul. Fortunately, a flirtatious lawn-care provider has a trick or two up his sleeve for dealing with hauntings. And he has definite rebound-guy potential—if only he would stop inviting her to church.

The virginity vow Emmett "the lawn guy" Herald took when he was seventeen has become legendary in Dover, Vermont. Ten years later, everyone is waiting to see if he’ll blow a decade of “waiting for marriage” now that he’s dating the new girl from the big city. Even Emmett thinks he has met his match in the vivacious Boston beauty. In fact, he’s starting to think virginity may be overrated.

A spark of attraction ignites between Jade and Emmett, and quickly grows into a roaring inferno. But with a demon fanning the flames, attraction has never been so perilous.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Parchment Scroll is OUT!

HI! *WAVES!*  C.A. Szarek here, and I have exciting news!

I am super excited to announce that my new book, THE PARCHMENT SCROLL is now out!!!!!!!!!!

It's the third book in my Highland Secrets Trilogy. (Which is packed full of time travel, magic, fantasy, guys with wings and HAWT guys in kilts) *wink*

I really love this story. Don't tell my other couples, but Hugh and Jules are my fave of the series. Their story was a blast to write.

Here's the GORGEOUS cover and blurb:


Book Three in the time travel, fantasy romance trilogy, Highland Secrets!

Her sister is lost…in the past.

Three weeks after her sister goes missing, Juliette McGowan encounters her on a beach in Scotland. Her sister gives her a scroll full of claims about time travel and disappears—literally.

As a sister, Jules is determined to find her. As a cop, she can’t go to the authorities. The piece of parchment declares magic exists; they’d think she’s nuts.
When a mysterious woman vows she can help her get to the seventeenth century, Jules goes along with it out of desperation.

He’s an infamous barbarian…

Hugh MacDonald is intrigued when he finds a disoriented naked lass on the beach. She holds a scroll that was written by his rival’s wife. Clan MacLeod will pay ransom for her safe return, so he takes her captive.

She challenges his authority—and his desires. What started off as a plan to anger the MacLeods ends with Hugh wanting to keep her for himself.

Can Jules break free of the barbarian, find her sister and return to the future or will she give in to her attraction and desire to remain in the past?

Get it here!  
Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | KOBO Barnes&Noble

**It will be listed at ARe as well, but it not live there yet. If you buy your ebooks there, stay tuned. Also it's not live on iBooks, but it will be. Same for Smashwords, coming soon! :) **

Jules struggled to no avail. The man’s hands were like iron on her waist, and she was laid across the back of a huge black horse, so if she fought him harder, she would probably fall off and hit her head. “Let me go!” she commanded for the billionth time.

Air hit her bare ass, and she couldn’t even reach to yank the shirt down over it. He had her face-down, arms pinned, and damn horseflesh cut into her stomach, stealing her breath. Blood rushed to her head, making her pulse pound in her temples. She wiggled, but he held her tighter. “Seriously! Let. Me. Go.” 

He chuckled and held on with only one of his hands.

God, he’s strong. 

The guy was huge, too. She was tall for a girl, at five-ten, but this dude had towered over her on the beach. He had to be six-five or six-six, and he was broad, well-muscled, like he lived in the gym. He was hot, too, which just pissed her off. His long dark hair kissed his shoulders, and he had eyes to match. 

Another breeze ruffled the shirt, shooting air up her spine. She clenched her thighs and whimpered. No doubt he could see her everything. 

His grip burned through the thin linen of the tunic, but he wasn’t hurting her. Not really. 

“Hope you’re enjoying the view,” Jules bit at him. 

A deep chuckle teased her ears—and made her gut roil. She kicked her legs, trying to flip over and hit him. She’d always hated being restrained, even back in police academy days.

“Calm yerself lass, or ye’ll fall off my horse.” 

Jules froze when she felt his big hands on her bare thighs. He brushed higher, getting closer to her girly parts, so she yanked her arm from beneath her and tried to punch his side.

The guy released the hold on her thighs—he only had two hands, after all—and she was able to get a hit in as he tried to grab her wrists. 

He missed, she rolled, and clocked him in the ‘nads. Dude cursed—she guessed, it wasn’t English—and Jules took the opportunity to slip from the horse’s back. She landed so hard her bare feet shot pain all the way up to her knees, but the best part was the shock on his face.

Her captor had one hand on his crotch, and those dark eyes were wide. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, staring at her. 

“Later, sucker!” 

She ran. Harder than she ever had to go after a suspect. Her lungs burned, her legs seared all the way into her quads, and her feet were on fire. Maybe bleeding from the rocky terrain, but she didn’t stop to inspect them. 

Hooves on her heels made her push harder. 

He was yelling curses and orders from best she could tell, but Jules kept going even after she heard the thud of boots hitting the ground. She didn’t look over her shoulder to see where he was, but he was taller and had a longer stride than her, so she didn’t have a chance if she hesitated even for a second. 

Hard hands seized her from behind, and then she was enveloped in his heat. He lifted her off the ground effortlessly and said nothing.

The guy stalked to the horse and threw her on its back, but this time he sat her up properly, swinging up behind her before she had time to react, or think about her bare ass on horsehair—there was no saddle. He wrapped her in his arms, and lifted her so she was sitting on his lap, then pinned her to him. The sound he made deep in his throat shot awareness down her spine and Jules squirmed. 

She could feel his anger. He was seething, but he still hadn’t hurt her, despite the steel hold he had going on. His bare chest was hot against her back. And what a chest it was! Despite her own anger, her body was aware of every hard muscle, every defined line she could feel through the shirt she was wearing.

His shirt.  

This story was so much fun! I hope you love it as much as I do!
Need to get caught up?


Claire gets sucked into 1672, naked and scared. Duncan rescues her only to realize she's the key to finding his brother who was kidnapped by the Fae. Can they work together and both get what they want? Will sudden passion for each other change their goals?

Xander slips a ring on Janet’s finger that seals their fate. They’re soul-mates—whether they like it or not. When Janet flees to the Realm of the Fae, will her banished winged warrior and fated husband be able to bring them to safety or will the Fae sense her human blood and capture them both?

Bestselling, award winning author of romantic suspense and epic fantasy romance, C.A. loves to dabble in different genres. If it's a good story, she'll write it, no matter where it seems to fit!
She's a hopeless romantic and always will be. Risking it all for Happily Ever After is what she lives by!
She's originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She's happily married and has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.
She works with kids when she's not writing.



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