Saturday, July 12, 2014
Saturday Discussion: Is She Experienced?
Some topics come easily, and after last week's fabulous discussion on heroes with experience (or not,) it's time to look at the other side of the coin. Does a heroine's romantic and/or sexual history affect your enjoyment of the story?
Virgin heroines are perhaps most common in historical and inspirational romances, as well as on the sweeter end of the spectrum. It makes sense. In historicals, women usually married at a younger age than many do today, and among the upper crust, a woman could find herself closely scrutinized from cradle to altar. Discovering love, romance and sex is new, heady and exciting. That rush of first feelings, the aspect of discovery are something to savor, and, in romance, first times generally go much more smoothly than the messy business of real life. If both hero and heroine are new to this part of life, we get to see them discover the wonder and newness together. If one partner is more experienced, love lessons can prove delicious, whether hot or sweet.
Some romance heroines are widows, divorcees or even single women, who have loved and lost. Perhaps their first husband or partner wasn't all he should have been, and it's up to our hero to show her all the joys that love can truly bring. There's baggage, to be sure, from relationships that weren't all our heroine had hoped, whether she'd lost a beloved husband, dodged a bullet by leaving an unsuitable lover or were themselves rejected by a man who couldn't see what a treasure he had.
Romance even offers us women some might consider beyond the pale. Mistresses, madams, courtesans and Other Women can find love in romance novels as well. Francine Rivers' landmark western historical, Redeeming Love, for example, features a heroine who is a working prostitute at the novel's inception...and that's in an inspirational, so you know there are no musts or must nots when it comes to a heroine's history.
It all comes down to what works for the individual author, story or reader. What's your pleasure?