Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Why I like virgin characters in my romances

I know that some readers are weary and disgusted with the innocent virgin heroine. I don't feel that way. In fact, I prefer virgin heroines, and even virgin heroes. I even seek them out. I think that a virgin character can serve as a blank canvas, if you will, for the romantic feelings of love that we read romances for. It's all new and fresh, and we get to walk on the journey along with them. Isn't that the true fantasy of romance? You meet the person you are supposed to spend your life with and fall in love, in bed and in bliss and live happily ever after? Well that's my vision of romantic love. Don't get my wrong, I have read lots of books with non-virginal characters that I liked. But if that character is a virgin, it's all the more special to me.
Let's discuss some arguments again virginal characters:
1)Nobody is a virgin anymore, so it's not realistic: This is blatantly false. I know quite a few virgins and in their thirties too. Believe me that there are some people who chose not to experiment sexually and to preserve their chastity for the right person. And there are other reasons for remaining a virgin like having commitments that kept a person from going out into the dating world. This would actually make for interesting conflict in a story. I will be honest with you now. I myself am a virgin for both reasons. I believe in waiting until marriage to have sex, but also the conflicts of my family life and career aspirations had gotten into the way of having a social life. And by the time I could have gone out and lost my virginity (in college), it was a precious thing that I wasn't about to give away it for a few minutes of pleasure or assuaged curiousity. I know of at least a handful of people like this. So why can't some characters be the same way? Isn't fiction a reflection of life in some small way?
2)It makes the sensuality less interesting and open to experimentation since the deflowering is out of the way: Not true. I think that it can make this even more interesting. You get to go along on the sensual journey with the character.
3)In the case of male virgins, who wants a man who doesn't know what he's doing under the covers: Well I personally would prefer to have a virginal man who learns along with me. Plus he probably had lots of untapped enthusiasm that merely needs channeling. I love those books with those male virgins. I seek them out in fact. I hate the thought of my man haven't slept with half of the world, even if this has made him the best lover ever. Ugh!!!
4)The virgin heroine is silly, insipid and someone you can't identify with: Just because a woman is a virgin doesn't mean that she's hopelessly naive, fluffy-headed, or boring. There are older womens who are intact but are mature and just as independent and intelligent as our experienced women are. That's why I like the bluestocking, spinster type historicals. I myself prefer the older heroine because I am older and it's hard to identify with a seventeen year old girl fresh out of the school room. But the important factor is her level of intelligence, resourcefulness, and maturity, which can be found in both the young heroine and the older one. Christina Dodd has a lot of these types of heroines, and Anne Stuart has a few that I really liked for this.
As to my affection for virtuous characters, perhaps I am in the minority. It's entirely possible. But let me tell you that I dislike rakes and promiscuous heroines as much as some readers dislike virginal ones. I cannot find them sympathetic in the least unless the author takes the time to delve into why they are that way. For me, just enjoying sex and lots of it doesn't cut the mustard as a reason to be promiscuous. Don't get me wrong. Sex is a wonderful thing that is made for enjoyment. But not with every Tom, Dick, and Harry or Thomasina, Rica, and Harriet in the vicinity. Gotta hate those scenes at Lady So and So's Ball where Lord Rakehell passes by at least fifteen women who he has shared himself with and pleasured sensually to the point that they sigh when he walks by. I wouldn't want to be with Lord Diseased Member, no matter how good he is in bed. But that's just me. I tire of the sexual stud, Lord of Ecstasy, Bad Boy heroes that can make a woman groan with ecstasy, if you don't mind that he's slept with everyone you know and then some.
This brings me to another point: Virtuous versus Virginal--I believe that a person can still have virtue despite not technically having their virginity. Virtue is an attitude, a mindset. It's about having respect for your body and not giving it away casually. There are many a book that I have read with characters who are not virgins for various reasons but they are far from being sleazy or promiscuous. I can respect this. I understand that some people have traveled the road of life in a direction in which they have experienced sex in some way or fashion. But they still have enough respect for themselves and self-control not to sleep around. Gotta love those celibate heroes like Sir Ross Cannon in Lady Sophia's Lover! I read a some books where the heroine may have been raped or seduced, or merely fell in love and gave themselves in love and I respected them as characters. I'm not crazy about the stories where the character just had sex out of curiosity. For me this seems like a great waste. But that's just my opinion.
The tide has recently turned away from virginal heroines so there are still a great many stories which feature them. Not as many contemporaries alas. But authors like Diana Palmer and Johanna Lindsey tend to prefer virginal beauties. Harlequin Presents author Lynne Graham almost always has them. If you are like me and tend to avoid books with very experienced heroines, you may want to steer away from authors like Susan Johnson, Miranda Lee, Vicky Lewis Thompson and forgive my generalization, the Blaze line. The following link should help you in your avoidance. A word of caution: I have read a lot of books with non-virginal heroines that I adored, so please try to put this tiny detail aside and enjoy the books anyway. If everything else was right with the book and this wasn't a big deal to me. This happens a lot with Suzanne Brockmann books. She's not big on the virginal heroines. But I still love her Troubleshooter books. Also there are women on here who despite not being virgins are quite virtuous and not at all sleazy.

Now, If you are interested in catching up on your virgin hero readings, I'll give you a link to the All About Romance Site which has a great list to give you a good start.

Perhaps you will join me on the darkside....

Rant over.


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