Promiscuous Heroes. Yes or no?

Promiscuous Heroes. Yes or no?

Back in the early days of historical romance, most heroes were what I would consider promiscuous or, at the very least, constantly sexually active.  The hero’s pattern is interrupted when the oh-so-virginal heroine arrives on the scene and in his heart.  He is suddenly repelled by the offerings of the barmaid he has tumbled regularly since he was sixteen.  Or he must dismiss his mistress – one in a long line of mistresses – by giving her a splendid diamond necklace.

Even though I enjoyed those books in their day and still revisit some of them, I do not particularly care for a slutty hero, first because he does not represent an ideal man to me, and second, I do not think a zebra can change his stripes that much.  Men who feel entitled to sex continue to feel entitled to it, marriage certificate or no.

Since I’ve started writing my own historical romances, I tend toward the opposite direction. In fact, my heroes’ sexual restraint is actually helpful to developing motivation and sometimes plot in all three books in my Evolution Series.

My hero in Unbidden is sexually experienced but with few partners and none involving long-term relationships. He finds the idea of regular sexual relations with the woman with whom he is falling in love a wonderful, increasingly frustrating enticement.

In Redeemed, I go out on a bit of a limb with a hero who is not only the villain in the first book but who has never had intercourse – not for lack of interest – but because of a physical disability that tripped him up the one time he tried during his adolescence.  His wife has to initiate him and luckily she is a widow who knows enough about the business to get them started down the road to discovering the pleasures of marriage together.

The hero in the third book in this series, Vain, to be released March 2013, is experienced but strictly avoids dallying with the women in his town and does not maintain a mistress.  He starts to realize that having a satisfying sexual relationship might be an important consideration to him in choosing a wife.

What do you think, readers? Is a virgin hero hot or odd? Do you demand a hero who is a walking Kama Sutra or do you like your fictional couples to discover a few moves together?

7 Responses to Promiscuous Heroes. Yes or no?

  1. I want my couple to know what they’re doing, yet, find a lot of moves together. I grew up reading the bodice rippers, too, and for the time, the hero being “slutty” was what it was about. But, in this day and age, I don’t think it would fly. Like in real life, I want my hero to be totally mine. (If I had one.) That doesn’t mean he can’t be a little bad though. :-)

    Awesome descriptions of your books.

  2. I agree, Jill. If a hero is slutty in a romance novel, he’s diminished in my eyes as a worthy partner for the heroine. I think you nailed it (heh) with this: “Men who feel entitled to sex continue to feel entitled to it, marriage certificate or no.” I get a ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’ phase for characters, but a serial manwhore will prolly stay that way and be tempted to stray, esp. when his wife gets worn out from age and child-bearing. LOL

  3. Wow, Jill, I think we are like minded. But it does seem to me that historically and into present day, men of tremendous wealth seem to think that sex is there for their enjoyment, marriage vows or not. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are a CEO, a general, a senator, or a President. I don’t like it. But it’s easy to see where knights in armor, or Lords of the manor dallied here and there, besides back then women were really nothing more than possessions anyway.

    I think there’s an attitude that men must have some sort of experience to be a good lover. When I wrote A CHALLENGE I wrote the hero as a virgin. His mother was unwed and that played a part, plus he was the nerd in school. He went off to college on a scholarship, but still had to work to make ends meet. Then he was building his career with little free time. The heroine’s life was different, yet in many ways similar.

    When these two met and sparks started to fly, they had to make some serious decisions. They were no longer kids. They were mature adults. I think part of the fun of the story was watching them grow together. And in any good relationship, communication is the key. What did they like? What had they dreamed about? Exploration, giggles, embarrassment, reservations, and all the other things that come with first times made them a couple with which people can relate. Especially today when many young people are opting not to be promiscuous while waiting for a more serious relationship.

    The sexual discovery is the undercurrent within a larger story. No two people are ever the same, but I happen to think that the vast majority of men and women today tend to be a little more conservative and less apt to take chances with their bodies. Those bad boys still exist and probably always will. History has proven it.

    • I think it is great when “sexual discovery” CAN be an undercurrent, instead of there being a “here, let me teach you what is going to feel good to you.” That can be a titillating fantasy but I always have my doubts if that couple is going to last. Thanks for visiting!