Sex and History

P1010009 Hi, Pat Rice here, back from sunny Puerto Vallarta—

Going away for a week, baking my brain in the sun, and coming home to 9 degrees and snow has created a recipe for muddled blogging, I’m here to tell ya.  After digging out from an avalanche of business-that-must-be-dealt-with-now, I’ve managed to skim a week’s worth of blogs and glance at a few comments, and man, y’all have been busy!

Since I rather obviously have spent no time whatsoever thinking about what I’d write today, I thought I’d riff off the general tenor of comments and blogs over the week.  There seemed to be some concern over the narrow parameters of historical romance in the market today, accompanied by Roberta’s insights into the business, and some hesitation over inviting historical heroes into our living room.  (I hear Kasey Michaels chuckling up her sleeve over that one since she did just that with her Regency time traveler mysteries!) 

Admittedly, we’ve gone through a very strange period where mass market has eliminated the highly-researched small category Regencies and replaced them with super-sexy Regencies where historical detail is questionable at best.  I cannot begin to explain the mindset behind that phenomenon, other than that the sexy, historical-lites sold better than anything else, so as usual, publishers bought Bcashregister them to the exclusion of other eras.  And, as usual, this has resulted in a glut that’s soured readers on the whole market.  Gee, who woulda thunk it?

The result, however, has been that clever historical writers have opened up whole new markets that weren’t there before.  We have our wenchly Susans and Lady Layton, among others, writing wonderfully detailed historical fiction in every conceivable era about powerful women through the ages.  We have other authors like Roberta Gellis and Mary Jo and moi using history to create fantasies. Roberta Gellis, Karen Harper, and a whole host more have developed wonderful historical mystery sleuths.

In other words, we’ve driven a wedge straight through the historical market and opened it up all over again!  All these different books have whetted readers’ tastes for wider markets (and from the comments I’ve skimmed here, our wenchlings have a varied taste already), and publishers are now scrambling for the next big historical romance wave. 

I’m of the same school of those of you who have said you can forget about unwashed characters and no toilets if the author opens an exciting, character-driven world.  I buy books by author more than anything, so I’d follow any of the wenches through any era.  I do have a fondness for certain settings in certain time periods, for some weird reason.  I prefer England in Georgian and Regency times, American settings for later decades, for instance. But that doesn’t prevent me from wandering around, reading about ancient Rome (actually, I prefer England, Egypt, and Peru, but that’s another story…) or medieval Venice.

But I will admit that I prefer the heroes of these different eras to be intelligent and thoughtful, no Hherohighbootsma137218800014 matter how brutal their surroundings.  I don’t think I could write about a guy I wouldn’t invite into my own home.  I’m not saying I’d marry them—some of them deserve a good swift kick in the rear occasionally, and I’m not one to do that.  But I can’t think of a single wenchly hero I wouldn’t enjoy sitting down to dinner with.  So maybe the problem with the Viking hero or the gladiator hero is that our preconceived notion is that they’re violent and uneducated and maybe even a little bit stupid? 

My question is—did historical romance create this portrayal that these long ago guys were all barbarians? We know perfectly well that there were Vikings who were brilliant navigators and Romans had immense stores of scientific knowledge, so there’s no reason we couldn’t write strong, intelligent heroes from these periods.  Did romance reduce them to sexy thugs for prurient reasons?  <G>  Would you want your gladiator or Viking to be a man of reason?  Or was the whole point of those earlier books to put the heroine in the control of a barbarian who didn’t know better, so she could surrender to her sexuality without guilt? 

88 thoughts on “Sex and History”

  1. Ye olde “I just couldn’t help myself” defense, LOL. But I really think you’ve struck a chord, Pat. I also think that’s one reason vampire books have taken off—you just can’t say no; it’s all beyond your control.
    Nowadays when women and men are supposed to be effortlessly equal in the bedroom, it doesn’t always result in satisfaction for either. The fantasy of being in someone else’s “power” still works for even the most socially liberated women (and men too, I hear). Sex is really complicated, isn’t it? And why do we still feel guilt?

    Reply
  2. Ye olde “I just couldn’t help myself” defense, LOL. But I really think you’ve struck a chord, Pat. I also think that’s one reason vampire books have taken off—you just can’t say no; it’s all beyond your control.
    Nowadays when women and men are supposed to be effortlessly equal in the bedroom, it doesn’t always result in satisfaction for either. The fantasy of being in someone else’s “power” still works for even the most socially liberated women (and men too, I hear). Sex is really complicated, isn’t it? And why do we still feel guilt?

    Reply
  3. Ye olde “I just couldn’t help myself” defense, LOL. But I really think you’ve struck a chord, Pat. I also think that’s one reason vampire books have taken off—you just can’t say no; it’s all beyond your control.
    Nowadays when women and men are supposed to be effortlessly equal in the bedroom, it doesn’t always result in satisfaction for either. The fantasy of being in someone else’s “power” still works for even the most socially liberated women (and men too, I hear). Sex is really complicated, isn’t it? And why do we still feel guilt?

    Reply
  4. Ye olde “I just couldn’t help myself” defense, LOL. But I really think you’ve struck a chord, Pat. I also think that’s one reason vampire books have taken off—you just can’t say no; it’s all beyond your control.
    Nowadays when women and men are supposed to be effortlessly equal in the bedroom, it doesn’t always result in satisfaction for either. The fantasy of being in someone else’s “power” still works for even the most socially liberated women (and men too, I hear). Sex is really complicated, isn’t it? And why do we still feel guilt?

    Reply
  5. Good post, Pat!
    I know that a lot of women’s studies professors point to the correlation between the “success” of the women’s movement in the late 80s (at least as far as more women holding better and more responsible jobs in the workplace, and being perceived as more equal in relationships) and the rise of the classic “bodice ripper” style of historical romance — the Rosemary Rodgers style of borderline-abusive alpha-male heros. The theory is that while modern women wanted equality in their lives, they still wanted to be “mastered” in their fantasies. Not exactly my personal cup o’ tea, but there may be some sense to it.
    Or it might just be academic hogwash….*G*

    Reply
  6. Good post, Pat!
    I know that a lot of women’s studies professors point to the correlation between the “success” of the women’s movement in the late 80s (at least as far as more women holding better and more responsible jobs in the workplace, and being perceived as more equal in relationships) and the rise of the classic “bodice ripper” style of historical romance — the Rosemary Rodgers style of borderline-abusive alpha-male heros. The theory is that while modern women wanted equality in their lives, they still wanted to be “mastered” in their fantasies. Not exactly my personal cup o’ tea, but there may be some sense to it.
    Or it might just be academic hogwash….*G*

    Reply
  7. Good post, Pat!
    I know that a lot of women’s studies professors point to the correlation between the “success” of the women’s movement in the late 80s (at least as far as more women holding better and more responsible jobs in the workplace, and being perceived as more equal in relationships) and the rise of the classic “bodice ripper” style of historical romance — the Rosemary Rodgers style of borderline-abusive alpha-male heros. The theory is that while modern women wanted equality in their lives, they still wanted to be “mastered” in their fantasies. Not exactly my personal cup o’ tea, but there may be some sense to it.
    Or it might just be academic hogwash….*G*

    Reply
  8. Good post, Pat!
    I know that a lot of women’s studies professors point to the correlation between the “success” of the women’s movement in the late 80s (at least as far as more women holding better and more responsible jobs in the workplace, and being perceived as more equal in relationships) and the rise of the classic “bodice ripper” style of historical romance — the Rosemary Rodgers style of borderline-abusive alpha-male heros. The theory is that while modern women wanted equality in their lives, they still wanted to be “mastered” in their fantasies. Not exactly my personal cup o’ tea, but there may be some sense to it.
    Or it might just be academic hogwash….*G*

    Reply
  9. Yes, Susan, newly liberated women were a little (or a lot scared) and so wanted their fantasy men to be all powerful and take charge.
    But even now, c’mon: can you see a Viking going dress shopping with you? A Gladiator wondering which men’s cologne he likes best? A pirate (with the exception of Johnny Depp) worried about how his hair looks?
    VIkings and your general barbarian types were not metrosexuals. Romans were, and that may be why we don’t have any great Roman Historial Romance heroes… or do we?
    And Maggie, I think guilt and sex are a combo because anything that feels really good makes us feel guilty. Just take hot fudge sundaes, for example….mmmmm
    Good musings, Pat!

    Reply
  10. Yes, Susan, newly liberated women were a little (or a lot scared) and so wanted their fantasy men to be all powerful and take charge.
    But even now, c’mon: can you see a Viking going dress shopping with you? A Gladiator wondering which men’s cologne he likes best? A pirate (with the exception of Johnny Depp) worried about how his hair looks?
    VIkings and your general barbarian types were not metrosexuals. Romans were, and that may be why we don’t have any great Roman Historial Romance heroes… or do we?
    And Maggie, I think guilt and sex are a combo because anything that feels really good makes us feel guilty. Just take hot fudge sundaes, for example….mmmmm
    Good musings, Pat!

    Reply
  11. Yes, Susan, newly liberated women were a little (or a lot scared) and so wanted their fantasy men to be all powerful and take charge.
    But even now, c’mon: can you see a Viking going dress shopping with you? A Gladiator wondering which men’s cologne he likes best? A pirate (with the exception of Johnny Depp) worried about how his hair looks?
    VIkings and your general barbarian types were not metrosexuals. Romans were, and that may be why we don’t have any great Roman Historial Romance heroes… or do we?
    And Maggie, I think guilt and sex are a combo because anything that feels really good makes us feel guilty. Just take hot fudge sundaes, for example….mmmmm
    Good musings, Pat!

    Reply
  12. Yes, Susan, newly liberated women were a little (or a lot scared) and so wanted their fantasy men to be all powerful and take charge.
    But even now, c’mon: can you see a Viking going dress shopping with you? A Gladiator wondering which men’s cologne he likes best? A pirate (with the exception of Johnny Depp) worried about how his hair looks?
    VIkings and your general barbarian types were not metrosexuals. Romans were, and that may be why we don’t have any great Roman Historial Romance heroes… or do we?
    And Maggie, I think guilt and sex are a combo because anything that feels really good makes us feel guilty. Just take hot fudge sundaes, for example….mmmmm
    Good musings, Pat!

    Reply
  13. There is a real bond which occurs when people have sex- emotional, psychic. But in order to be a romance, I think that a meeting of the minds is just as important as meeting of the flesh. If the physical is all there is, the relationship won’t be ultimately satisfying. Passion is a fire which can burn out quickly. I don’t much like the marauder who is raping and pillaging his way through the town, nor do I find him a suitable hero. I have enjoyed a book or two on the subject of an invader who marries the daughter of his enemy in order to make peace, but that has to be handled very delicately so that the power is not all on the winner’s side. It has to show some of his vulnerability to balance his physical strength- without making him a wimp. I definitely don’t like anything that approaches force or inflicts pain as titillation.

    Reply
  14. There is a real bond which occurs when people have sex- emotional, psychic. But in order to be a romance, I think that a meeting of the minds is just as important as meeting of the flesh. If the physical is all there is, the relationship won’t be ultimately satisfying. Passion is a fire which can burn out quickly. I don’t much like the marauder who is raping and pillaging his way through the town, nor do I find him a suitable hero. I have enjoyed a book or two on the subject of an invader who marries the daughter of his enemy in order to make peace, but that has to be handled very delicately so that the power is not all on the winner’s side. It has to show some of his vulnerability to balance his physical strength- without making him a wimp. I definitely don’t like anything that approaches force or inflicts pain as titillation.

    Reply
  15. There is a real bond which occurs when people have sex- emotional, psychic. But in order to be a romance, I think that a meeting of the minds is just as important as meeting of the flesh. If the physical is all there is, the relationship won’t be ultimately satisfying. Passion is a fire which can burn out quickly. I don’t much like the marauder who is raping and pillaging his way through the town, nor do I find him a suitable hero. I have enjoyed a book or two on the subject of an invader who marries the daughter of his enemy in order to make peace, but that has to be handled very delicately so that the power is not all on the winner’s side. It has to show some of his vulnerability to balance his physical strength- without making him a wimp. I definitely don’t like anything that approaches force or inflicts pain as titillation.

    Reply
  16. There is a real bond which occurs when people have sex- emotional, psychic. But in order to be a romance, I think that a meeting of the minds is just as important as meeting of the flesh. If the physical is all there is, the relationship won’t be ultimately satisfying. Passion is a fire which can burn out quickly. I don’t much like the marauder who is raping and pillaging his way through the town, nor do I find him a suitable hero. I have enjoyed a book or two on the subject of an invader who marries the daughter of his enemy in order to make peace, but that has to be handled very delicately so that the power is not all on the winner’s side. It has to show some of his vulnerability to balance his physical strength- without making him a wimp. I definitely don’t like anything that approaches force or inflicts pain as titillation.

    Reply
  17. I think I find that a lot of the romances, even if they don’t use a “barbarian” as a hero, do use a lot of – um- psychological domination, in that the hero is always (well, usually) older and that the female is young and innocent (as has been mentioned before). I find I get a little tired of reading about 17, 18, even horrors – an elderly spinster at 21 – as the heroine. I guess I like to relate on some level to the heroine, and find it difficult to accept that a 17 – 21 year old heroine is really all that experienced, and wise. Why is it so hard to find a good book with an “older” (even 30ish) year old heroine? I’ve found a few, but don’t always find them to be well written.
    Heck, if I could read a good book involving a viking and a 30 year old woman who could stand up for herself, I’d probably love it.

    Reply
  18. I think there’s a lot to the rape-fantasy research as it plays out in romance fiction (I was wondering just yesterday why Iris Johansen was adding an ultra violent love interest into a series dominated by a woman who lost her daughter to a predator – and why the woman would be interested. Certainly not my bag of tea, but enough of these are in the bestsellers that they must be someone’s) but I want to step away from the academics on the dynamic.
    Me, I want to talk about generational bias. I don’t think romance made these characters simplistic, I think we do that to history every day. People in the past are violent, flat, and one dimensional. Until a (very very few) of us look closer and read their letters or diaries and discover (cue shock here) they were just like us! Exactly! Slightly different social structures, but given placement in that social structure we are them!
    And it’s promptly forgotten again. Because we are somehow better and more enlightened than those who came before us. Just as they smugly knew they were a step up on those before them and made flat cartoons out of those fellows. The alternative to that thought freaks people out. so if the people of the earlier time are complex or more like us, it seems ‘wrong’ because we know who they are. we don’t need to think about it or investigate it, we just know.
    I can absolutely see a Viking shopping, a pirate checking himself out in the mirror and a gladiator worrying about scent. Not only were appearance aspects of each or their cultures, but they were the same as we, just with different excuses for their actions. Yesterdays barbarian is today’s soldier. Yesterday’s pirate is today’s drug lord. Times change a lot more than humanity does.

    Reply
  19. I think I find that a lot of the romances, even if they don’t use a “barbarian” as a hero, do use a lot of – um- psychological domination, in that the hero is always (well, usually) older and that the female is young and innocent (as has been mentioned before). I find I get a little tired of reading about 17, 18, even horrors – an elderly spinster at 21 – as the heroine. I guess I like to relate on some level to the heroine, and find it difficult to accept that a 17 – 21 year old heroine is really all that experienced, and wise. Why is it so hard to find a good book with an “older” (even 30ish) year old heroine? I’ve found a few, but don’t always find them to be well written.
    Heck, if I could read a good book involving a viking and a 30 year old woman who could stand up for herself, I’d probably love it.

    Reply
  20. I think there’s a lot to the rape-fantasy research as it plays out in romance fiction (I was wondering just yesterday why Iris Johansen was adding an ultra violent love interest into a series dominated by a woman who lost her daughter to a predator – and why the woman would be interested. Certainly not my bag of tea, but enough of these are in the bestsellers that they must be someone’s) but I want to step away from the academics on the dynamic.
    Me, I want to talk about generational bias. I don’t think romance made these characters simplistic, I think we do that to history every day. People in the past are violent, flat, and one dimensional. Until a (very very few) of us look closer and read their letters or diaries and discover (cue shock here) they were just like us! Exactly! Slightly different social structures, but given placement in that social structure we are them!
    And it’s promptly forgotten again. Because we are somehow better and more enlightened than those who came before us. Just as they smugly knew they were a step up on those before them and made flat cartoons out of those fellows. The alternative to that thought freaks people out. so if the people of the earlier time are complex or more like us, it seems ‘wrong’ because we know who they are. we don’t need to think about it or investigate it, we just know.
    I can absolutely see a Viking shopping, a pirate checking himself out in the mirror and a gladiator worrying about scent. Not only were appearance aspects of each or their cultures, but they were the same as we, just with different excuses for their actions. Yesterdays barbarian is today’s soldier. Yesterday’s pirate is today’s drug lord. Times change a lot more than humanity does.

    Reply
  21. I think I find that a lot of the romances, even if they don’t use a “barbarian” as a hero, do use a lot of – um- psychological domination, in that the hero is always (well, usually) older and that the female is young and innocent (as has been mentioned before). I find I get a little tired of reading about 17, 18, even horrors – an elderly spinster at 21 – as the heroine. I guess I like to relate on some level to the heroine, and find it difficult to accept that a 17 – 21 year old heroine is really all that experienced, and wise. Why is it so hard to find a good book with an “older” (even 30ish) year old heroine? I’ve found a few, but don’t always find them to be well written.
    Heck, if I could read a good book involving a viking and a 30 year old woman who could stand up for herself, I’d probably love it.

    Reply
  22. I think there’s a lot to the rape-fantasy research as it plays out in romance fiction (I was wondering just yesterday why Iris Johansen was adding an ultra violent love interest into a series dominated by a woman who lost her daughter to a predator – and why the woman would be interested. Certainly not my bag of tea, but enough of these are in the bestsellers that they must be someone’s) but I want to step away from the academics on the dynamic.
    Me, I want to talk about generational bias. I don’t think romance made these characters simplistic, I think we do that to history every day. People in the past are violent, flat, and one dimensional. Until a (very very few) of us look closer and read their letters or diaries and discover (cue shock here) they were just like us! Exactly! Slightly different social structures, but given placement in that social structure we are them!
    And it’s promptly forgotten again. Because we are somehow better and more enlightened than those who came before us. Just as they smugly knew they were a step up on those before them and made flat cartoons out of those fellows. The alternative to that thought freaks people out. so if the people of the earlier time are complex or more like us, it seems ‘wrong’ because we know who they are. we don’t need to think about it or investigate it, we just know.
    I can absolutely see a Viking shopping, a pirate checking himself out in the mirror and a gladiator worrying about scent. Not only were appearance aspects of each or their cultures, but they were the same as we, just with different excuses for their actions. Yesterdays barbarian is today’s soldier. Yesterday’s pirate is today’s drug lord. Times change a lot more than humanity does.

    Reply
  23. I think I find that a lot of the romances, even if they don’t use a “barbarian” as a hero, do use a lot of – um- psychological domination, in that the hero is always (well, usually) older and that the female is young and innocent (as has been mentioned before). I find I get a little tired of reading about 17, 18, even horrors – an elderly spinster at 21 – as the heroine. I guess I like to relate on some level to the heroine, and find it difficult to accept that a 17 – 21 year old heroine is really all that experienced, and wise. Why is it so hard to find a good book with an “older” (even 30ish) year old heroine? I’ve found a few, but don’t always find them to be well written.
    Heck, if I could read a good book involving a viking and a 30 year old woman who could stand up for herself, I’d probably love it.

    Reply
  24. I think there’s a lot to the rape-fantasy research as it plays out in romance fiction (I was wondering just yesterday why Iris Johansen was adding an ultra violent love interest into a series dominated by a woman who lost her daughter to a predator – and why the woman would be interested. Certainly not my bag of tea, but enough of these are in the bestsellers that they must be someone’s) but I want to step away from the academics on the dynamic.
    Me, I want to talk about generational bias. I don’t think romance made these characters simplistic, I think we do that to history every day. People in the past are violent, flat, and one dimensional. Until a (very very few) of us look closer and read their letters or diaries and discover (cue shock here) they were just like us! Exactly! Slightly different social structures, but given placement in that social structure we are them!
    And it’s promptly forgotten again. Because we are somehow better and more enlightened than those who came before us. Just as they smugly knew they were a step up on those before them and made flat cartoons out of those fellows. The alternative to that thought freaks people out. so if the people of the earlier time are complex or more like us, it seems ‘wrong’ because we know who they are. we don’t need to think about it or investigate it, we just know.
    I can absolutely see a Viking shopping, a pirate checking himself out in the mirror and a gladiator worrying about scent. Not only were appearance aspects of each or their cultures, but they were the same as we, just with different excuses for their actions. Yesterdays barbarian is today’s soldier. Yesterday’s pirate is today’s drug lord. Times change a lot more than humanity does.

    Reply
  25. I’m not into rape or violence, but that “powerless to help one’s self” fantasy does still hold some fascination, if only to jumpstart a romance from an interesting perspective. I suppose civilizing the barbarian holds fascination to some people, although I’m not one of them. But I can see what you’re saying about the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they? I wonder how much costuming has to do with that? “G”

    Reply
  26. I’m not into rape or violence, but that “powerless to help one’s self” fantasy does still hold some fascination, if only to jumpstart a romance from an interesting perspective. I suppose civilizing the barbarian holds fascination to some people, although I’m not one of them. But I can see what you’re saying about the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they? I wonder how much costuming has to do with that? “G”

    Reply
  27. I’m not into rape or violence, but that “powerless to help one’s self” fantasy does still hold some fascination, if only to jumpstart a romance from an interesting perspective. I suppose civilizing the barbarian holds fascination to some people, although I’m not one of them. But I can see what you’re saying about the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they? I wonder how much costuming has to do with that? “G”

    Reply
  28. I’m not into rape or violence, but that “powerless to help one’s self” fantasy does still hold some fascination, if only to jumpstart a romance from an interesting perspective. I suppose civilizing the barbarian holds fascination to some people, although I’m not one of them. But I can see what you’re saying about the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they? I wonder how much costuming has to do with that? “G”

    Reply
  29. Oh, cool, while I was typing my comment, two more great ones came through. Liz, I’m so totally with you! Admittedly, there are just as likely to be Vikings who’d wear thorns in their hair for days as there are guys willing to slurp beer in front of the telly without shaving for days, there had to be some raised with a modicum of vanity. Maybe ones with mirrors. “G” I think my preference for guys with mirrors over beer slurpers is not a popular dynamic in romance for some reason. Which is strange, since the Regency is full of guys with mirrors. But that may be why I can read a Viking romance if they make the guy real enough to care about his cattle and his men and not a chest thumper. Yeah, they’d see woman as chattel, but smart ones would take care of valuable possessions, not brutalize them. And a smart woman would see that she was valued.
    Piper, I don’t think we’re reading the same romances. The older ones did that age/experience domination thing, but a lot of the ones I’ve read recently have been about experienced widows (and in the case of Eloisa James, as one example, powerful duchesses)and women who are equals to their heroes. I suppose a lot of these might get the domination thing out of the cultural aspects of a male being the one who gets to do the choosing. Which makes for another whole new delightful topic–how many ways can we be dominated?!

    Reply
  30. Oh, cool, while I was typing my comment, two more great ones came through. Liz, I’m so totally with you! Admittedly, there are just as likely to be Vikings who’d wear thorns in their hair for days as there are guys willing to slurp beer in front of the telly without shaving for days, there had to be some raised with a modicum of vanity. Maybe ones with mirrors. “G” I think my preference for guys with mirrors over beer slurpers is not a popular dynamic in romance for some reason. Which is strange, since the Regency is full of guys with mirrors. But that may be why I can read a Viking romance if they make the guy real enough to care about his cattle and his men and not a chest thumper. Yeah, they’d see woman as chattel, but smart ones would take care of valuable possessions, not brutalize them. And a smart woman would see that she was valued.
    Piper, I don’t think we’re reading the same romances. The older ones did that age/experience domination thing, but a lot of the ones I’ve read recently have been about experienced widows (and in the case of Eloisa James, as one example, powerful duchesses)and women who are equals to their heroes. I suppose a lot of these might get the domination thing out of the cultural aspects of a male being the one who gets to do the choosing. Which makes for another whole new delightful topic–how many ways can we be dominated?!

    Reply
  31. Oh, cool, while I was typing my comment, two more great ones came through. Liz, I’m so totally with you! Admittedly, there are just as likely to be Vikings who’d wear thorns in their hair for days as there are guys willing to slurp beer in front of the telly without shaving for days, there had to be some raised with a modicum of vanity. Maybe ones with mirrors. “G” I think my preference for guys with mirrors over beer slurpers is not a popular dynamic in romance for some reason. Which is strange, since the Regency is full of guys with mirrors. But that may be why I can read a Viking romance if they make the guy real enough to care about his cattle and his men and not a chest thumper. Yeah, they’d see woman as chattel, but smart ones would take care of valuable possessions, not brutalize them. And a smart woman would see that she was valued.
    Piper, I don’t think we’re reading the same romances. The older ones did that age/experience domination thing, but a lot of the ones I’ve read recently have been about experienced widows (and in the case of Eloisa James, as one example, powerful duchesses)and women who are equals to their heroes. I suppose a lot of these might get the domination thing out of the cultural aspects of a male being the one who gets to do the choosing. Which makes for another whole new delightful topic–how many ways can we be dominated?!

    Reply
  32. Oh, cool, while I was typing my comment, two more great ones came through. Liz, I’m so totally with you! Admittedly, there are just as likely to be Vikings who’d wear thorns in their hair for days as there are guys willing to slurp beer in front of the telly without shaving for days, there had to be some raised with a modicum of vanity. Maybe ones with mirrors. “G” I think my preference for guys with mirrors over beer slurpers is not a popular dynamic in romance for some reason. Which is strange, since the Regency is full of guys with mirrors. But that may be why I can read a Viking romance if they make the guy real enough to care about his cattle and his men and not a chest thumper. Yeah, they’d see woman as chattel, but smart ones would take care of valuable possessions, not brutalize them. And a smart woman would see that she was valued.
    Piper, I don’t think we’re reading the same romances. The older ones did that age/experience domination thing, but a lot of the ones I’ve read recently have been about experienced widows (and in the case of Eloisa James, as one example, powerful duchesses)and women who are equals to their heroes. I suppose a lot of these might get the domination thing out of the cultural aspects of a male being the one who gets to do the choosing. Which makes for another whole new delightful topic–how many ways can we be dominated?!

    Reply
  33. Ok, on the Roman hero thing, I gotta pimp my godmother’s book THE CENTURIANS (ISBN: 0345296915). She wrote it under the pen name Damian Hunter, cause ‘historical fiction doesn’t sell under a woman’s name’. It’s way out of print, but if you don’t think the main character is a major hero, you and I are just not the same kind of people. *GRIN*
    Or, if you’re more into the tragic romance thing, you might look at her very first novel: THE LEGIONS OF THE MIST by Amanda Cockrell (ISBN: 068910989X). It’s set in Roman Britian, and it’s about the 9th Legion Hispania (the one cursed by Boadicea).

    Reply
  34. Ok, on the Roman hero thing, I gotta pimp my godmother’s book THE CENTURIANS (ISBN: 0345296915). She wrote it under the pen name Damian Hunter, cause ‘historical fiction doesn’t sell under a woman’s name’. It’s way out of print, but if you don’t think the main character is a major hero, you and I are just not the same kind of people. *GRIN*
    Or, if you’re more into the tragic romance thing, you might look at her very first novel: THE LEGIONS OF THE MIST by Amanda Cockrell (ISBN: 068910989X). It’s set in Roman Britian, and it’s about the 9th Legion Hispania (the one cursed by Boadicea).

    Reply
  35. Ok, on the Roman hero thing, I gotta pimp my godmother’s book THE CENTURIANS (ISBN: 0345296915). She wrote it under the pen name Damian Hunter, cause ‘historical fiction doesn’t sell under a woman’s name’. It’s way out of print, but if you don’t think the main character is a major hero, you and I are just not the same kind of people. *GRIN*
    Or, if you’re more into the tragic romance thing, you might look at her very first novel: THE LEGIONS OF THE MIST by Amanda Cockrell (ISBN: 068910989X). It’s set in Roman Britian, and it’s about the 9th Legion Hispania (the one cursed by Boadicea).

    Reply
  36. Ok, on the Roman hero thing, I gotta pimp my godmother’s book THE CENTURIANS (ISBN: 0345296915). She wrote it under the pen name Damian Hunter, cause ‘historical fiction doesn’t sell under a woman’s name’. It’s way out of print, but if you don’t think the main character is a major hero, you and I are just not the same kind of people. *GRIN*
    Or, if you’re more into the tragic romance thing, you might look at her very first novel: THE LEGIONS OF THE MIST by Amanda Cockrell (ISBN: 068910989X). It’s set in Roman Britian, and it’s about the 9th Legion Hispania (the one cursed by Boadicea).

    Reply
  37. Yes, I’ve been reading Eloisa James’ books and enjoying them greatly, just for that reason. But then I picked up another author’s books and it is once again back to the young woman/older man (it even occurs in E.J.’s books with the Essex sisters). But yes, some are nice with older more experienced women. I guess my complaint is that they aren’t always well written. Ah well, we can’t have everything, I guess. Although one of my favourite fictional romances isn’t even a romance! It’s Sam Vimes and Sybil from Terry Pratchett’s novels. There you have a woman that I picture to be older and her world weary suitor who is totally outclassed by her!

    Reply
  38. Yes, I’ve been reading Eloisa James’ books and enjoying them greatly, just for that reason. But then I picked up another author’s books and it is once again back to the young woman/older man (it even occurs in E.J.’s books with the Essex sisters). But yes, some are nice with older more experienced women. I guess my complaint is that they aren’t always well written. Ah well, we can’t have everything, I guess. Although one of my favourite fictional romances isn’t even a romance! It’s Sam Vimes and Sybil from Terry Pratchett’s novels. There you have a woman that I picture to be older and her world weary suitor who is totally outclassed by her!

    Reply
  39. Yes, I’ve been reading Eloisa James’ books and enjoying them greatly, just for that reason. But then I picked up another author’s books and it is once again back to the young woman/older man (it even occurs in E.J.’s books with the Essex sisters). But yes, some are nice with older more experienced women. I guess my complaint is that they aren’t always well written. Ah well, we can’t have everything, I guess. Although one of my favourite fictional romances isn’t even a romance! It’s Sam Vimes and Sybil from Terry Pratchett’s novels. There you have a woman that I picture to be older and her world weary suitor who is totally outclassed by her!

    Reply
  40. Yes, I’ve been reading Eloisa James’ books and enjoying them greatly, just for that reason. But then I picked up another author’s books and it is once again back to the young woman/older man (it even occurs in E.J.’s books with the Essex sisters). But yes, some are nice with older more experienced women. I guess my complaint is that they aren’t always well written. Ah well, we can’t have everything, I guess. Although one of my favourite fictional romances isn’t even a romance! It’s Sam Vimes and Sybil from Terry Pratchett’s novels. There you have a woman that I picture to be older and her world weary suitor who is totally outclassed by her!

    Reply
  41. Kalen, I have a vague idea that I’ve read the CENTURIANS, but my mind isn’t likely to hold anything past tomorrow. “G” I’ll have to go back to the library and check it out!
    Oh yeah, Piper, I adore that Pratchett relationship. All his “romances” are quirky and cool.
    I’m wondering if you’re falling into a pattern that I’m in, where too many romances seem juvenile. Yes, I understand women married young in earlier eras, and some were mature and some weren’t. I don’t care about the age of the heroine, but I want her to be mature enough that I can believe she can handle our alpha heroes!

    Reply
  42. Kalen, I have a vague idea that I’ve read the CENTURIANS, but my mind isn’t likely to hold anything past tomorrow. “G” I’ll have to go back to the library and check it out!
    Oh yeah, Piper, I adore that Pratchett relationship. All his “romances” are quirky and cool.
    I’m wondering if you’re falling into a pattern that I’m in, where too many romances seem juvenile. Yes, I understand women married young in earlier eras, and some were mature and some weren’t. I don’t care about the age of the heroine, but I want her to be mature enough that I can believe she can handle our alpha heroes!

    Reply
  43. Kalen, I have a vague idea that I’ve read the CENTURIANS, but my mind isn’t likely to hold anything past tomorrow. “G” I’ll have to go back to the library and check it out!
    Oh yeah, Piper, I adore that Pratchett relationship. All his “romances” are quirky and cool.
    I’m wondering if you’re falling into a pattern that I’m in, where too many romances seem juvenile. Yes, I understand women married young in earlier eras, and some were mature and some weren’t. I don’t care about the age of the heroine, but I want her to be mature enough that I can believe she can handle our alpha heroes!

    Reply
  44. Kalen, I have a vague idea that I’ve read the CENTURIANS, but my mind isn’t likely to hold anything past tomorrow. “G” I’ll have to go back to the library and check it out!
    Oh yeah, Piper, I adore that Pratchett relationship. All his “romances” are quirky and cool.
    I’m wondering if you’re falling into a pattern that I’m in, where too many romances seem juvenile. Yes, I understand women married young in earlier eras, and some were mature and some weren’t. I don’t care about the age of the heroine, but I want her to be mature enough that I can believe she can handle our alpha heroes!

    Reply
  45. Now I can think of several more with more mature heroines that weren’t badly written. i think I just must have read one with a youngster that I didn’t like fairly recently! Sorry….

    Reply
  46. Now I can think of several more with more mature heroines that weren’t badly written. i think I just must have read one with a youngster that I didn’t like fairly recently! Sorry….

    Reply
  47. Now I can think of several more with more mature heroines that weren’t badly written. i think I just must have read one with a youngster that I didn’t like fairly recently! Sorry….

    Reply
  48. Now I can think of several more with more mature heroines that weren’t badly written. i think I just must have read one with a youngster that I didn’t like fairly recently! Sorry….

    Reply
  49. Liz, you have so snapped me! You’re right, I was too glib, and yes, there may have been sweet smelling Gladiators -actually, probably, given their propensity for bathing. But there may have been moussed Pirates and Vikings picking out frocks for their sweetiestoo. Just that I haven’t read about any lately. (And truth to tell, if I did, I’d wonder about the research. See? Sometimes our preconceived notions are as powerful as a Pirate’s shampoo.)

    Reply
  50. Liz, you have so snapped me! You’re right, I was too glib, and yes, there may have been sweet smelling Gladiators -actually, probably, given their propensity for bathing. But there may have been moussed Pirates and Vikings picking out frocks for their sweetiestoo. Just that I haven’t read about any lately. (And truth to tell, if I did, I’d wonder about the research. See? Sometimes our preconceived notions are as powerful as a Pirate’s shampoo.)

    Reply
  51. Liz, you have so snapped me! You’re right, I was too glib, and yes, there may have been sweet smelling Gladiators -actually, probably, given their propensity for bathing. But there may have been moussed Pirates and Vikings picking out frocks for their sweetiestoo. Just that I haven’t read about any lately. (And truth to tell, if I did, I’d wonder about the research. See? Sometimes our preconceived notions are as powerful as a Pirate’s shampoo.)

    Reply
  52. Liz, you have so snapped me! You’re right, I was too glib, and yes, there may have been sweet smelling Gladiators -actually, probably, given their propensity for bathing. But there may have been moussed Pirates and Vikings picking out frocks for their sweetiestoo. Just that I haven’t read about any lately. (And truth to tell, if I did, I’d wonder about the research. See? Sometimes our preconceived notions are as powerful as a Pirate’s shampoo.)

    Reply
  53. “the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they?”
    Hmm. To me Romans are EXTREMELY sexy. I’ve kinda got gladiator fatigue, but I’ll take a nice, strong-featured, battle-scarred Roman soldier in uniform over a Viking or pirate or barbarian any day. Mmm…Roman soldiers…mmm…

    Reply
  54. “the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they?”
    Hmm. To me Romans are EXTREMELY sexy. I’ve kinda got gladiator fatigue, but I’ll take a nice, strong-featured, battle-scarred Roman soldier in uniform over a Viking or pirate or barbarian any day. Mmm…Roman soldiers…mmm…

    Reply
  55. “the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they?”
    Hmm. To me Romans are EXTREMELY sexy. I’ve kinda got gladiator fatigue, but I’ll take a nice, strong-featured, battle-scarred Roman soldier in uniform over a Viking or pirate or barbarian any day. Mmm…Roman soldiers…mmm…

    Reply
  56. “the Romans–they don’t seem like a real sexy lot, do they?”
    Hmm. To me Romans are EXTREMELY sexy. I’ve kinda got gladiator fatigue, but I’ll take a nice, strong-featured, battle-scarred Roman soldier in uniform over a Viking or pirate or barbarian any day. Mmm…Roman soldiers…mmm…

    Reply
  57. Following up on my own post, I think I’m so into Roman soldiers and, for that matter, Regency military or naval heroes because it’s the best of both worlds. You get all the sexiness of a tough, strong, battle-scarred warrior, but he’s also part of a civilization close enough to my own that I can connect to him and imagine myself part of his world.

    Reply
  58. Following up on my own post, I think I’m so into Roman soldiers and, for that matter, Regency military or naval heroes because it’s the best of both worlds. You get all the sexiness of a tough, strong, battle-scarred warrior, but he’s also part of a civilization close enough to my own that I can connect to him and imagine myself part of his world.

    Reply
  59. Following up on my own post, I think I’m so into Roman soldiers and, for that matter, Regency military or naval heroes because it’s the best of both worlds. You get all the sexiness of a tough, strong, battle-scarred warrior, but he’s also part of a civilization close enough to my own that I can connect to him and imagine myself part of his world.

    Reply
  60. Following up on my own post, I think I’m so into Roman soldiers and, for that matter, Regency military or naval heroes because it’s the best of both worlds. You get all the sexiness of a tough, strong, battle-scarred warrior, but he’s also part of a civilization close enough to my own that I can connect to him and imagine myself part of his world.

    Reply
  61. LOL! Guess we need to be more specific about our particular fantasies. For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes. “G”

    Reply
  62. LOL! Guess we need to be more specific about our particular fantasies. For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes. “G”

    Reply
  63. LOL! Guess we need to be more specific about our particular fantasies. For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes. “G”

    Reply
  64. LOL! Guess we need to be more specific about our particular fantasies. For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes. “G”

    Reply
  65. Here’s a question: For those of us busily writing our historical novels, should we (a) care about the market (b) not care about the market or (c) use statements about what the market demands as an excuse to dither about in panic?

    Reply
  66. Here’s a question: For those of us busily writing our historical novels, should we (a) care about the market (b) not care about the market or (c) use statements about what the market demands as an excuse to dither about in panic?

    Reply
  67. Here’s a question: For those of us busily writing our historical novels, should we (a) care about the market (b) not care about the market or (c) use statements about what the market demands as an excuse to dither about in panic?

    Reply
  68. Here’s a question: For those of us busily writing our historical novels, should we (a) care about the market (b) not care about the market or (c) use statements about what the market demands as an excuse to dither about in panic?

    Reply
  69. I’ve only read one gladiator book since times long ago when I read my grandmother’s historical novels, so I’m not jaded–and since the book was nicely done, the gladiator hero was very sexy indeed. A fop, properly done, could be sexy, I think. And call me naive but I think a strong, well-written story will triumph in the end, no matter what the latest market fad is.

    Reply
  70. I’ve only read one gladiator book since times long ago when I read my grandmother’s historical novels, so I’m not jaded–and since the book was nicely done, the gladiator hero was very sexy indeed. A fop, properly done, could be sexy, I think. And call me naive but I think a strong, well-written story will triumph in the end, no matter what the latest market fad is.

    Reply
  71. I’ve only read one gladiator book since times long ago when I read my grandmother’s historical novels, so I’m not jaded–and since the book was nicely done, the gladiator hero was very sexy indeed. A fop, properly done, could be sexy, I think. And call me naive but I think a strong, well-written story will triumph in the end, no matter what the latest market fad is.

    Reply
  72. I’ve only read one gladiator book since times long ago when I read my grandmother’s historical novels, so I’m not jaded–and since the book was nicely done, the gladiator hero was very sexy indeed. A fop, properly done, could be sexy, I think. And call me naive but I think a strong, well-written story will triumph in the end, no matter what the latest market fad is.

    Reply
  73. Be it Viking, Pirate, Roman or fop, give me a hero who’s been knocked down a few pegs by life and a strong heroine to see him back up the latter. I’m a sucker for the wounded heart every time.
    Nina

    Reply
  74. Be it Viking, Pirate, Roman or fop, give me a hero who’s been knocked down a few pegs by life and a strong heroine to see him back up the latter. I’m a sucker for the wounded heart every time.
    Nina

    Reply
  75. Be it Viking, Pirate, Roman or fop, give me a hero who’s been knocked down a few pegs by life and a strong heroine to see him back up the latter. I’m a sucker for the wounded heart every time.
    Nina

    Reply
  76. Be it Viking, Pirate, Roman or fop, give me a hero who’s been knocked down a few pegs by life and a strong heroine to see him back up the latter. I’m a sucker for the wounded heart every time.
    Nina

    Reply
  77. To CM: Excellent question. I’m right there with you on the dithering about in panic. If I choose not to care, I might end up writing an unpublishable tome. But when I do care, I can’t seem to write anything at all. Ugh.
    Nina

    Reply
  78. To CM: Excellent question. I’m right there with you on the dithering about in panic. If I choose not to care, I might end up writing an unpublishable tome. But when I do care, I can’t seem to write anything at all. Ugh.
    Nina

    Reply
  79. To CM: Excellent question. I’m right there with you on the dithering about in panic. If I choose not to care, I might end up writing an unpublishable tome. But when I do care, I can’t seem to write anything at all. Ugh.
    Nina

    Reply
  80. To CM: Excellent question. I’m right there with you on the dithering about in panic. If I choose not to care, I might end up writing an unpublishable tome. But when I do care, I can’t seem to write anything at all. Ugh.
    Nina

    Reply
  81. Edith – I pinged first, peeked second and said Hm, someone knows better in my archest voice. Ok, no I didn’t. I said “WHO said that??” S’okay, even I, the eternally right, have my moments.
    Pirate wise – Jean Lafitte comes to mind immediately as a pirate who would use mousse. He was popular with the ladies, everyone fell over themselves praising his personal demeanor – unless they met him in less congenial surroundings, in which case he was the devil himself.
    Vikings, hm… their smelly rep is pretty deserved, afaik – but their personal belonging were diverse and changing with a strong fashion slant. I went to a really cool museum – Stockholm, I think. Check out this Nova transcript – I just got it on a google for Viking personal care – seems my own ideas about smelly Vikings got in my way.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2708vikings.html

    Reply
  82. Edith – I pinged first, peeked second and said Hm, someone knows better in my archest voice. Ok, no I didn’t. I said “WHO said that??” S’okay, even I, the eternally right, have my moments.
    Pirate wise – Jean Lafitte comes to mind immediately as a pirate who would use mousse. He was popular with the ladies, everyone fell over themselves praising his personal demeanor – unless they met him in less congenial surroundings, in which case he was the devil himself.
    Vikings, hm… their smelly rep is pretty deserved, afaik – but their personal belonging were diverse and changing with a strong fashion slant. I went to a really cool museum – Stockholm, I think. Check out this Nova transcript – I just got it on a google for Viking personal care – seems my own ideas about smelly Vikings got in my way.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2708vikings.html

    Reply
  83. Edith – I pinged first, peeked second and said Hm, someone knows better in my archest voice. Ok, no I didn’t. I said “WHO said that??” S’okay, even I, the eternally right, have my moments.
    Pirate wise – Jean Lafitte comes to mind immediately as a pirate who would use mousse. He was popular with the ladies, everyone fell over themselves praising his personal demeanor – unless they met him in less congenial surroundings, in which case he was the devil himself.
    Vikings, hm… their smelly rep is pretty deserved, afaik – but their personal belonging were diverse and changing with a strong fashion slant. I went to a really cool museum – Stockholm, I think. Check out this Nova transcript – I just got it on a google for Viking personal care – seems my own ideas about smelly Vikings got in my way.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2708vikings.html

    Reply
  84. Edith – I pinged first, peeked second and said Hm, someone knows better in my archest voice. Ok, no I didn’t. I said “WHO said that??” S’okay, even I, the eternally right, have my moments.
    Pirate wise – Jean Lafitte comes to mind immediately as a pirate who would use mousse. He was popular with the ladies, everyone fell over themselves praising his personal demeanor – unless they met him in less congenial surroundings, in which case he was the devil himself.
    Vikings, hm… their smelly rep is pretty deserved, afaik – but their personal belonging were diverse and changing with a strong fashion slant. I went to a really cool museum – Stockholm, I think. Check out this Nova transcript – I just got it on a google for Viking personal care – seems my own ideas about smelly Vikings got in my way.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2708vikings.html

    Reply
  85. “For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes.”
    Funny how these associations work–say “Roman” and the first place my brain goes is armor and muscular legs made visible by short tunics! And my next stop is the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, which are good fun with a great underlying romance, and I always pictured Falco as quite the hottie…

    Reply
  86. “For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes.”
    Funny how these associations work–say “Roman” and the first place my brain goes is armor and muscular legs made visible by short tunics! And my next stop is the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, which are good fun with a great underlying romance, and I always pictured Falco as quite the hottie…

    Reply
  87. “For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes.”
    Funny how these associations work–say “Roman” and the first place my brain goes is armor and muscular legs made visible by short tunics! And my next stop is the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, which are good fun with a great underlying romance, and I always pictured Falco as quite the hottie…

    Reply
  88. “For whatever reason, when I made my comment about Romans not being sexy, I was thinking of jaded senators in togas lounging about the pool eating grapes.”
    Funny how these associations work–say “Roman” and the first place my brain goes is armor and muscular legs made visible by short tunics! And my next stop is the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, which are good fun with a great underlying romance, and I always pictured Falco as quite the hottie…

    Reply

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