Monday, November 29, 2010

Virgin Heroes and Experienced Heroines by Monica Burns

Before I get into my post, I’d like to thank Hannah for hosting me on her blog. It’s always a pleasure to be here. Speaking of pleasure, I’d like to invite everyone to a huge blog event starting January 17th through the 1st of March. More than 35 historical romance authors will be blogging at my blog during the Pleasure Me With Romance event. Hannah will be one of my guests, along with Sabrina Jeffries, an interview with Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick), Sarah MacLean, Jennifer Haymore, Julieanne MacLean, Lisa Valdez and many more of your favorite authors. There will be book giveaways, as well as a grand prize and other goodies up for grabs. You can visit for more details.

Now on with the post! When it comes to romance heroes, many of us love an alpha male. We love how the heroine is strong enough to push back and eventually tame her man. Well, tame is a little bit of an overstatement. What alpha hero is ever really tame? That’s what we love about alpha heroes. It’s that raw, masculine predator wrapped up in tall, dark, and handsome that we love. A hero who’s willing to go to hell and back for his woman.

A little more than a year ago, I was getting ready to write my March 2011 release Pleasure Me. My editor and I had talked at a conference, and she’d asked me to make the hero a virgin. My initial on the outside was, umm…sure, I suppose I could. Inside I was thinking WTF? I write alpha heroes. How in the hell am I going to write an alpha male who’s never been with a woman. Who wasn’t to read a wimpy-butt hero who’s inexperienced? So I mulled it over for a few weeks. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I had to at least try and please my editor. After all, the editor is who will decide if I get another contract or not.

My initial thoughts about the hero were pretty cut and dried. I had only one requirement for a virginal hero. The reason for the hero’s virginal status had to be a logical one. I also had to have a reason that enabled me to make the hero an alpha while still keeping him untouched. So I did some research and came up with a medical reason that made my task a little easier. In the late Victorian era (just like now) it was important to the male ego that a man appeared strong, virile, manly, and above all sexual prowess in the bedroom. Any man who wasn’t these things was viewed as a possible homosexual or a weakling.

So, you can imagine what it must have been like for a man who is minus some of his private equipment. The idea of his manhood being questioned would be devastating to any man’s sense of self-worth. Baron Garrick Stratfield, my hero, is no exception to the need to appear strong and virile. But thanks to a vicious uncle Garrick is convinced that not even a whore will touch him, because he has only one testicle.

For the second piece of the puzzle, I needed an experienced woman who could teach the hero how to become a wonderful lover. My immediate choice was an older courtesan. Actually, I’d decided on an older courtesan BEFORE my editor “suggested” the virgin hero. I know there are some readers who might well balk at the idea of an older woman, younger male virgin hero. I totally understand that position. But the relationship between Ruth and Garrick might just surprise you. I know it did me.

What I loved so much about Ruth was her vulnerability and strength. Let’s face it, we all know that our looks and figures aren’t going to last forever (unless of course you’re a movie/TV star who can afford the pricey diets, plastic surgery, botox, personal trainers and exercise time). It’s tough enough being you and me, but for a woman whose livelihood is based on her looks, it’s even tougher. For me, Ruth epitomizes a woman who’s facing middle age knowing her days as a widely sought after courtesan are numbered. Suddenly, she’s forced to deal with impending retirement, and she has to do it alone.

Like most of us, Ruth doesn’t understand how time could pass so quickly. And when Garrick enters her life, things spin out of control. But spinning out of control can be a good thing if it involves a HEA. Pleasure Me is a story about two people who are convinced they’re one thing, but falling in love gives them new insight into the people they really are.

I’ve always enjoyed the dynamics of an older woman, younger man scenario, but adding in the virgin hero piece of the story made it a challenge to write. I’m really proud of the book. In fact, I just reread it for the second time in less than a month (edits), and I still love the story. Ruth and Garrick hold a special place in my heart.

So tell me, do you like older women, younger men story lines? What sort of age difference can you handle between the hero and the heroine? Do you like virgin heroes? What age do you think constitutes being over the hill?


  1. I love older woman/younger man stories. I dont think there are enough of them to be honest. As far as age differences go,if a 10-15 yrs difference is acceptable for a man to have without much of a question in society why cant a woman have a man that much younger? And yes why cant a hero be a virgin? If there is a good reason for him to be a virgin sure go for it. I think being 'over the hill' is a mind set more then a physical thing. I am 54 and have 7 kids 30-5yrs old. The last two we adopted at age 47 and 50. I had many people tell me I was crazy and several who just turned thier backs on me all together because 'they' thought I was too old to adopt. Maybe I am crazy but I dont feel 54 and I have been told I dont look it either,dont always believe it though,lol. Now if I felt 'old' I would look look 'old'. So if an older woman can keep up with a younger guy why not? I say go for it.

  2. Hi Carol, thanks for posting. I have to say that I love that my editor pushed me outside of the box, because I love Garrick and his virginal status. He's alpha and yet sensitive too. I also think he's a romantic at heart.

    As for older women/younger men. I'm five years older than my husband, so I think I was destined to write this book.