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 plotWhatever 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 virginsThe 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.