What Is It About a Virgin?
When I revealed the title of my second book to one of my writing buddies, she wrote back: “Nice. Are virgins like the new dukes?” Apparently I’m not the only one name-checking virgins these days. She’d seen it on several other books, not unlike the proliferation of “dukes” of the last couple of years.
So, what gives? What is it about a virgin?
Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that not everyone loves a virginal heroine. In fact, some readers can’t abide them. Certainly, virgins-as-heroines are not as thick on the ground as they were back in the day, when I read my first romance in the late 1980s. In today's contemporary romance, I’d venture to say that virgins are virtually nonexistent.
But my editor loved the title, The Virgin and the Viscount as soon as I suggested it, and as my friend said, I’m not the only author brandishing the big “V.” So perhaps this means that there are still a few of us virgin enthusiasts out there. Hey, I’ll admit, straight up, that one of my favorite romance tropes is a hero who believes a heroine is not a virgin, only to discover, after he deflowers her, that she is (or was). It’s out-dated and mysoginistic, and even I had to tone down some version of this trope (spoiler alert #1) to make my 1811-set Historical match modern sensibilities (although the resulting scene is still pretty devastating, if I do say so myself).
Regardless of who knows who’s a virgin, I still consider an innocent heroine—so long as she’s full of spunk and enthusiasm and healthy curiosity—to be playful and fun and totally sexy. She certainly offers a lot more interesting fodder for a love scene. Every romance author approaches these scenes a little differently, but for me, they must advance the story and up the stakes for the hero and heroine. In other words, they must be remarkable, worth spelling out in graphic detail. And nothing makes an interlude more worthy of remark or lengthy detail than the first time, especially for my over-the-top characters.
Also, virgins are historically accurate.
Also, we were all (or still may be) virgins, so we can relate.
Also, few sexual experiences are more wildly discussed, lamented, celebrated or (circling back) discussed than anyone’s first time. For better or for worse, we relish dishing about this topic. I defy you to think of your best friend and claim you have not heard the story of her first time.
Also—well, maybe this is more like a “primarily”—if you know me in real life, you know that I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal, and I simply prefer the virgins There, I said it. Or, at least, I prefer my eager, exploratory, and totally in-love virginal heroines. But hey—even if your not usually a fan of the virginal heroine, consider this: the leading lady in The Virgin and the Viscount (spoiler alert #2) does not know whether she is a virgin or not. Either way, I hope you’ll give Lady Elisabeth a try. And just like your best friend, let’s dish. Let me know what you think!