Wrap that (Historically Correct) Rascal!

Royalharlotfront_cover
By Susan/Miranda

One of the perennial hot topics for writers of contemporary romance is what to do about “safe sex.”  Their characters can’t plead ignorance any longer, not living in the modern world, and for heroes and heroines blithely to hop into bed without any sort of protection against AIDS and other venereal diseases makes them seem irresponsible at best.  Yet a love scene that includes the ritual foil packet or questions about having been tested hits the “ick-factor” for many readers. Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.

Historical romance often seems to side-step this question.  Certainly in the glory days of Rosemary Rodgers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, characters were so busy getting busy that no one had either time or inclination.  But as more and more sex creeps into books, the absence of any mention of protection against pregnancy or disease becomes more noticeable, too.  In the Good Old Days (like five years ago), at least the hero and heroine would abstain until it was likely they’d marry, so that any baby resulting from their love-making would be wanted, and legitimate.  But now, with the sex scenes often beginning on page one, that’s no longer a given.  Add to that the vast worldly experience of most historical heroes, and you do marvel at how seldom pregnancy or the pox is ever mentioned.

I have to admit that in this, I’m no holier than anyone else.  I’ve never introduced a condom into a love scene in a historical romance, nor have I had any characters overly concerned about the pox, either.  For the most part, my heroes worry about not impregnating the heroines, and my heroines in turn do carefully consider the consequences before they leap, though I do recall one particular unhappy scene that included withdrawal –– the only birth control that many people in the past ever did employ, and a lousy one at that.

Still, condoms?  Nope.

But in the historical novel I just finished (The King’s Favorite: A Novel of Nell Gwyn & King Charles II), I couldn’t avoid the pox and all its tragic consequences.  That’s the price of writing about real people, because real people don’t tend to behave as admirably, or at least as obediently, as fictional ones do.  Real lives are messy, and when one of my main characters was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, matters became real messy, real fast, which is what you’d expect of a man who died of a combination of alcoholism and the pox at 33. 

All of which leads me to recommend a fascinating small book: The Humble Little Condom: A History by Aine Collier.  Though Ms. Collier is a Professor of English at the University of Maryland, this is no dry scholarly text, but a fascinating history, full of illustrations.  I don’t know what’s more entertaining: the 20th century posters and advertisements which seem so often to be directed at soldiers, or all the earlier history that I didn’t know.

For example, in the relentless way of disease, Vasco de Gama’s Portuguese sailors were the first to infect the 15th century Japanese, but soon after Dutch traders arrived to do a brisk business in protective sheaths of fine leather.  Nor had I any idea that, inspired by Thomas Malthus, early 19th century proponents of population control offered “receipts” for fashioning condoms from animal intestines, procured from the neighborhood butcher.

But is historical precedent enough for the heroes of historical romances to begin waving their be-ribboned18thcentcondom
sheathes?  John Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, did exactly that in 1708, before a packed House of Lords:  “This Certaine instrument called a Quondom, occassioned ye debauching of a great number of Ladies of Qualitie, and young gentlewomen."  (There’s an example to the right.)

True, good writer can make anything work.  But do readers want that much accuracy?  Does such a detail serve to reveal more of a character’s personality and beliefs, or does it fall into the category of “too much information”?

150 thoughts on “Wrap that (Historically Correct) Rascal!”

  1. “Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.”
    I suppose for me, far from being a “fantasy”, the rakish hero is someone I think of as a potential source of mortal danger to the heroine, and I tend to wish she’d find someone who wasn’t such a health risk.
    In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual. I do tend to think about the pox whenever I read about a hero who’s had lots of sexual partners in the past (or a widowed heroine whose husband had lots of them, but most heroines haven’t had numerous partners in historical romances).
    I’d be a lot less put off by the mention of a semi-reliable condom than I am by thoughts of the pox. It really doesn’t encourage me to believe that the happy ending will last for long. Perhaps I’m a particularly prosaic sort of romance reader.

    Reply
  2. “Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.”
    I suppose for me, far from being a “fantasy”, the rakish hero is someone I think of as a potential source of mortal danger to the heroine, and I tend to wish she’d find someone who wasn’t such a health risk.
    In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual. I do tend to think about the pox whenever I read about a hero who’s had lots of sexual partners in the past (or a widowed heroine whose husband had lots of them, but most heroines haven’t had numerous partners in historical romances).
    I’d be a lot less put off by the mention of a semi-reliable condom than I am by thoughts of the pox. It really doesn’t encourage me to believe that the happy ending will last for long. Perhaps I’m a particularly prosaic sort of romance reader.

    Reply
  3. “Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.”
    I suppose for me, far from being a “fantasy”, the rakish hero is someone I think of as a potential source of mortal danger to the heroine, and I tend to wish she’d find someone who wasn’t such a health risk.
    In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual. I do tend to think about the pox whenever I read about a hero who’s had lots of sexual partners in the past (or a widowed heroine whose husband had lots of them, but most heroines haven’t had numerous partners in historical romances).
    I’d be a lot less put off by the mention of a semi-reliable condom than I am by thoughts of the pox. It really doesn’t encourage me to believe that the happy ending will last for long. Perhaps I’m a particularly prosaic sort of romance reader.

    Reply
  4. “Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.”
    I suppose for me, far from being a “fantasy”, the rakish hero is someone I think of as a potential source of mortal danger to the heroine, and I tend to wish she’d find someone who wasn’t such a health risk.
    In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual. I do tend to think about the pox whenever I read about a hero who’s had lots of sexual partners in the past (or a widowed heroine whose husband had lots of them, but most heroines haven’t had numerous partners in historical romances).
    I’d be a lot less put off by the mention of a semi-reliable condom than I am by thoughts of the pox. It really doesn’t encourage me to believe that the happy ending will last for long. Perhaps I’m a particularly prosaic sort of romance reader.

    Reply
  5. “Romances are fantasies, they protest, and fantasies feature great sex over the safe kind.”
    I suppose for me, far from being a “fantasy”, the rakish hero is someone I think of as a potential source of mortal danger to the heroine, and I tend to wish she’d find someone who wasn’t such a health risk.
    In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual. I do tend to think about the pox whenever I read about a hero who’s had lots of sexual partners in the past (or a widowed heroine whose husband had lots of them, but most heroines haven’t had numerous partners in historical romances).
    I’d be a lot less put off by the mention of a semi-reliable condom than I am by thoughts of the pox. It really doesn’t encourage me to believe that the happy ending will last for long. Perhaps I’m a particularly prosaic sort of romance reader.

    Reply
  6. I agree. Since condoms were actually available it wouldn’t hurt the story for the hero to put one on. I think, though, that there may have been some differences in how men would use them, or, rather, who they would use the condom with. Perhaps if the partner was a prostitute and he didn’t care whether she got pregnant he might not; but of course the liklihood of her having something transmissable was higher. In the case of some wandering-eyed noblewoman, I’m sure he would not want a pregnancy to complicate the fun and one might think there was less chance of getting a “dose.”
    Unfortunately there were quite a few faithful wives who died of syphilis because their husbands brought it home to them.
    In William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author brought out the fact that Randolph and Jennie had “anticipated their vows” and she was actually pregnant when they married. On the night before the wedding at his bachelor party, Randolph got syphilis from an “entertainer”. Apparently the couple never had marital relations again because he didn’t want to give it to his wife. I’m not sure whether that restraint held with regard to the “pros.” Randolph died of tertiary syphilis before the advent of antibiotics and his dementia caused many painful relationship problems in the family.

    Reply
  7. I agree. Since condoms were actually available it wouldn’t hurt the story for the hero to put one on. I think, though, that there may have been some differences in how men would use them, or, rather, who they would use the condom with. Perhaps if the partner was a prostitute and he didn’t care whether she got pregnant he might not; but of course the liklihood of her having something transmissable was higher. In the case of some wandering-eyed noblewoman, I’m sure he would not want a pregnancy to complicate the fun and one might think there was less chance of getting a “dose.”
    Unfortunately there were quite a few faithful wives who died of syphilis because their husbands brought it home to them.
    In William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author brought out the fact that Randolph and Jennie had “anticipated their vows” and she was actually pregnant when they married. On the night before the wedding at his bachelor party, Randolph got syphilis from an “entertainer”. Apparently the couple never had marital relations again because he didn’t want to give it to his wife. I’m not sure whether that restraint held with regard to the “pros.” Randolph died of tertiary syphilis before the advent of antibiotics and his dementia caused many painful relationship problems in the family.

    Reply
  8. I agree. Since condoms were actually available it wouldn’t hurt the story for the hero to put one on. I think, though, that there may have been some differences in how men would use them, or, rather, who they would use the condom with. Perhaps if the partner was a prostitute and he didn’t care whether she got pregnant he might not; but of course the liklihood of her having something transmissable was higher. In the case of some wandering-eyed noblewoman, I’m sure he would not want a pregnancy to complicate the fun and one might think there was less chance of getting a “dose.”
    Unfortunately there were quite a few faithful wives who died of syphilis because their husbands brought it home to them.
    In William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author brought out the fact that Randolph and Jennie had “anticipated their vows” and she was actually pregnant when they married. On the night before the wedding at his bachelor party, Randolph got syphilis from an “entertainer”. Apparently the couple never had marital relations again because he didn’t want to give it to his wife. I’m not sure whether that restraint held with regard to the “pros.” Randolph died of tertiary syphilis before the advent of antibiotics and his dementia caused many painful relationship problems in the family.

    Reply
  9. I agree. Since condoms were actually available it wouldn’t hurt the story for the hero to put one on. I think, though, that there may have been some differences in how men would use them, or, rather, who they would use the condom with. Perhaps if the partner was a prostitute and he didn’t care whether she got pregnant he might not; but of course the liklihood of her having something transmissable was higher. In the case of some wandering-eyed noblewoman, I’m sure he would not want a pregnancy to complicate the fun and one might think there was less chance of getting a “dose.”
    Unfortunately there were quite a few faithful wives who died of syphilis because their husbands brought it home to them.
    In William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author brought out the fact that Randolph and Jennie had “anticipated their vows” and she was actually pregnant when they married. On the night before the wedding at his bachelor party, Randolph got syphilis from an “entertainer”. Apparently the couple never had marital relations again because he didn’t want to give it to his wife. I’m not sure whether that restraint held with regard to the “pros.” Randolph died of tertiary syphilis before the advent of antibiotics and his dementia caused many painful relationship problems in the family.

    Reply
  10. I agree. Since condoms were actually available it wouldn’t hurt the story for the hero to put one on. I think, though, that there may have been some differences in how men would use them, or, rather, who they would use the condom with. Perhaps if the partner was a prostitute and he didn’t care whether she got pregnant he might not; but of course the liklihood of her having something transmissable was higher. In the case of some wandering-eyed noblewoman, I’m sure he would not want a pregnancy to complicate the fun and one might think there was less chance of getting a “dose.”
    Unfortunately there were quite a few faithful wives who died of syphilis because their husbands brought it home to them.
    In William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author brought out the fact that Randolph and Jennie had “anticipated their vows” and she was actually pregnant when they married. On the night before the wedding at his bachelor party, Randolph got syphilis from an “entertainer”. Apparently the couple never had marital relations again because he didn’t want to give it to his wife. I’m not sure whether that restraint held with regard to the “pros.” Randolph died of tertiary syphilis before the advent of antibiotics and his dementia caused many painful relationship problems in the family.

    Reply
  11. I don’t mind when historical male characters whip out a “french letter”. I think that’s the correct term. When did society become aware of how one gets pox? And, Susan is that your very own antique condom? If only it could talk.

    Reply
  12. I don’t mind when historical male characters whip out a “french letter”. I think that’s the correct term. When did society become aware of how one gets pox? And, Susan is that your very own antique condom? If only it could talk.

    Reply
  13. I don’t mind when historical male characters whip out a “french letter”. I think that’s the correct term. When did society become aware of how one gets pox? And, Susan is that your very own antique condom? If only it could talk.

    Reply
  14. I don’t mind when historical male characters whip out a “french letter”. I think that’s the correct term. When did society become aware of how one gets pox? And, Susan is that your very own antique condom? If only it could talk.

    Reply
  15. I don’t mind when historical male characters whip out a “french letter”. I think that’s the correct term. When did society become aware of how one gets pox? And, Susan is that your very own antique condom? If only it could talk.

    Reply
  16. Laura wrote: “In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual.”
    Oops, Laura, clearly a case of Forgetful Author Syndrome!
    But I do like your theory of the possibility of the pox adding a layer of very real danger to a hero. Certainly only the most innocent or sheltered of women would not have been aware of it, for by the 17th century versions of the disease seem to have been found in every level of society. Cartoons and popular engravings of the day (like those by Hogarth)always include a few lurking figures with missing noses, blinded eyes, and prominent patches to cover lesions.
    So while most of the condoms in the past seem to have been aimed primarily at keeping the man from getting the pox from his partner, it would be a nice touch for a gentlemanly hero to suggest it to a heroine once in a while….

    Reply
  17. Laura wrote: “In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual.”
    Oops, Laura, clearly a case of Forgetful Author Syndrome!
    But I do like your theory of the possibility of the pox adding a layer of very real danger to a hero. Certainly only the most innocent or sheltered of women would not have been aware of it, for by the 17th century versions of the disease seem to have been found in every level of society. Cartoons and popular engravings of the day (like those by Hogarth)always include a few lurking figures with missing noses, blinded eyes, and prominent patches to cover lesions.
    So while most of the condoms in the past seem to have been aimed primarily at keeping the man from getting the pox from his partner, it would be a nice touch for a gentlemanly hero to suggest it to a heroine once in a while….

    Reply
  18. Laura wrote: “In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual.”
    Oops, Laura, clearly a case of Forgetful Author Syndrome!
    But I do like your theory of the possibility of the pox adding a layer of very real danger to a hero. Certainly only the most innocent or sheltered of women would not have been aware of it, for by the 17th century versions of the disease seem to have been found in every level of society. Cartoons and popular engravings of the day (like those by Hogarth)always include a few lurking figures with missing noses, blinded eyes, and prominent patches to cover lesions.
    So while most of the condoms in the past seem to have been aimed primarily at keeping the man from getting the pox from his partner, it would be a nice touch for a gentlemanly hero to suggest it to a heroine once in a while….

    Reply
  19. Laura wrote: “In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual.”
    Oops, Laura, clearly a case of Forgetful Author Syndrome!
    But I do like your theory of the possibility of the pox adding a layer of very real danger to a hero. Certainly only the most innocent or sheltered of women would not have been aware of it, for by the 17th century versions of the disease seem to have been found in every level of society. Cartoons and popular engravings of the day (like those by Hogarth)always include a few lurking figures with missing noses, blinded eyes, and prominent patches to cover lesions.
    So while most of the condoms in the past seem to have been aimed primarily at keeping the man from getting the pox from his partner, it would be a nice touch for a gentlemanly hero to suggest it to a heroine once in a while….

    Reply
  20. Laura wrote: “In your The Golden Lord you mentioned the possibility of the hero having the pox or some other disease, which I thought was unusual.”
    Oops, Laura, clearly a case of Forgetful Author Syndrome!
    But I do like your theory of the possibility of the pox adding a layer of very real danger to a hero. Certainly only the most innocent or sheltered of women would not have been aware of it, for by the 17th century versions of the disease seem to have been found in every level of society. Cartoons and popular engravings of the day (like those by Hogarth)always include a few lurking figures with missing noses, blinded eyes, and prominent patches to cover lesions.
    So while most of the condoms in the past seem to have been aimed primarily at keeping the man from getting the pox from his partner, it would be a nice touch for a gentlemanly hero to suggest it to a heroine once in a while….

    Reply
  21. Kay,
    Yes, “French Letters” was a slang term (though I wonder what they were called in France *g*) But as for the photographed one in the blog — that’s from the internet, not my own. Can you imagine collecting such “antiques”? Esp. since the early condoms of cloth or leather were washed and reused –! Maybe better those DON’T talk…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  22. Kay,
    Yes, “French Letters” was a slang term (though I wonder what they were called in France *g*) But as for the photographed one in the blog — that’s from the internet, not my own. Can you imagine collecting such “antiques”? Esp. since the early condoms of cloth or leather were washed and reused –! Maybe better those DON’T talk…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  23. Kay,
    Yes, “French Letters” was a slang term (though I wonder what they were called in France *g*) But as for the photographed one in the blog — that’s from the internet, not my own. Can you imagine collecting such “antiques”? Esp. since the early condoms of cloth or leather were washed and reused –! Maybe better those DON’T talk…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  24. Kay,
    Yes, “French Letters” was a slang term (though I wonder what they were called in France *g*) But as for the photographed one in the blog — that’s from the internet, not my own. Can you imagine collecting such “antiques”? Esp. since the early condoms of cloth or leather were washed and reused –! Maybe better those DON’T talk…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  25. Kay,
    Yes, “French Letters” was a slang term (though I wonder what they were called in France *g*) But as for the photographed one in the blog — that’s from the internet, not my own. Can you imagine collecting such “antiques”? Esp. since the early condoms of cloth or leather were washed and reused –! Maybe better those DON’T talk…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  26. Kathy,
    Interesting (and very sad) about the Churchills.
    History seems full of examples like this. While Henry VIII continued to fault his wives for not providing him with a male heir, medical historians now suspect that he was the guilty party, made sterile by syphillis. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    It all must have posed a strange moral dilema. I know in the 17th century setting of my current series of books, the pox is freely discussed and acknowledged — a neighborhood in London, Hatton Garden, is THE place to go for all the most modern (and ineffective) cures. Charles II took quicksilver (mercury) on a far-too-regular basis, which probably contributed to his early death. There are also creepy stories of vengeful husbands willfully infecting unfaithful wives to get back at them and their lovers. Nice guys!
    But the general feeling among the nobility seems to have been that once you had the pox, you didn’t give it to your wife. To do so would be ungentlemanly, but the main reason was not to “poison” your heirs. Of course, any time the disease went into remission and the outwards signs faded, the sufferer was thought to have been cured, and off he (or she) merrily went again, and so much for gallant abstinence at home.
    It’s now suspected that poor Rochester became infected long before his marriage (perhaps even as a teenager on his Grand Tour), but didn’t realize it until he’d passed the pox along to his wife. Too late he began avoiding her bed (there are sad, pleading letters from her to him, asking what she’d done wrong, since apparently at first he was too mortified to explain), though eventually she, too, was attempting cures along with their seven-year-old son. Once this was known at Court, Rochester got incredible guff for “abusing” his wife in this way — though, given that crowd, there must have been an awful lot of those pots calling the same kettles black.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  27. Kathy,
    Interesting (and very sad) about the Churchills.
    History seems full of examples like this. While Henry VIII continued to fault his wives for not providing him with a male heir, medical historians now suspect that he was the guilty party, made sterile by syphillis. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    It all must have posed a strange moral dilema. I know in the 17th century setting of my current series of books, the pox is freely discussed and acknowledged — a neighborhood in London, Hatton Garden, is THE place to go for all the most modern (and ineffective) cures. Charles II took quicksilver (mercury) on a far-too-regular basis, which probably contributed to his early death. There are also creepy stories of vengeful husbands willfully infecting unfaithful wives to get back at them and their lovers. Nice guys!
    But the general feeling among the nobility seems to have been that once you had the pox, you didn’t give it to your wife. To do so would be ungentlemanly, but the main reason was not to “poison” your heirs. Of course, any time the disease went into remission and the outwards signs faded, the sufferer was thought to have been cured, and off he (or she) merrily went again, and so much for gallant abstinence at home.
    It’s now suspected that poor Rochester became infected long before his marriage (perhaps even as a teenager on his Grand Tour), but didn’t realize it until he’d passed the pox along to his wife. Too late he began avoiding her bed (there are sad, pleading letters from her to him, asking what she’d done wrong, since apparently at first he was too mortified to explain), though eventually she, too, was attempting cures along with their seven-year-old son. Once this was known at Court, Rochester got incredible guff for “abusing” his wife in this way — though, given that crowd, there must have been an awful lot of those pots calling the same kettles black.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  28. Kathy,
    Interesting (and very sad) about the Churchills.
    History seems full of examples like this. While Henry VIII continued to fault his wives for not providing him with a male heir, medical historians now suspect that he was the guilty party, made sterile by syphillis. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    It all must have posed a strange moral dilema. I know in the 17th century setting of my current series of books, the pox is freely discussed and acknowledged — a neighborhood in London, Hatton Garden, is THE place to go for all the most modern (and ineffective) cures. Charles II took quicksilver (mercury) on a far-too-regular basis, which probably contributed to his early death. There are also creepy stories of vengeful husbands willfully infecting unfaithful wives to get back at them and their lovers. Nice guys!
    But the general feeling among the nobility seems to have been that once you had the pox, you didn’t give it to your wife. To do so would be ungentlemanly, but the main reason was not to “poison” your heirs. Of course, any time the disease went into remission and the outwards signs faded, the sufferer was thought to have been cured, and off he (or she) merrily went again, and so much for gallant abstinence at home.
    It’s now suspected that poor Rochester became infected long before his marriage (perhaps even as a teenager on his Grand Tour), but didn’t realize it until he’d passed the pox along to his wife. Too late he began avoiding her bed (there are sad, pleading letters from her to him, asking what she’d done wrong, since apparently at first he was too mortified to explain), though eventually she, too, was attempting cures along with their seven-year-old son. Once this was known at Court, Rochester got incredible guff for “abusing” his wife in this way — though, given that crowd, there must have been an awful lot of those pots calling the same kettles black.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  29. Kathy,
    Interesting (and very sad) about the Churchills.
    History seems full of examples like this. While Henry VIII continued to fault his wives for not providing him with a male heir, medical historians now suspect that he was the guilty party, made sterile by syphillis. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    It all must have posed a strange moral dilema. I know in the 17th century setting of my current series of books, the pox is freely discussed and acknowledged — a neighborhood in London, Hatton Garden, is THE place to go for all the most modern (and ineffective) cures. Charles II took quicksilver (mercury) on a far-too-regular basis, which probably contributed to his early death. There are also creepy stories of vengeful husbands willfully infecting unfaithful wives to get back at them and their lovers. Nice guys!
    But the general feeling among the nobility seems to have been that once you had the pox, you didn’t give it to your wife. To do so would be ungentlemanly, but the main reason was not to “poison” your heirs. Of course, any time the disease went into remission and the outwards signs faded, the sufferer was thought to have been cured, and off he (or she) merrily went again, and so much for gallant abstinence at home.
    It’s now suspected that poor Rochester became infected long before his marriage (perhaps even as a teenager on his Grand Tour), but didn’t realize it until he’d passed the pox along to his wife. Too late he began avoiding her bed (there are sad, pleading letters from her to him, asking what she’d done wrong, since apparently at first he was too mortified to explain), though eventually she, too, was attempting cures along with their seven-year-old son. Once this was known at Court, Rochester got incredible guff for “abusing” his wife in this way — though, given that crowd, there must have been an awful lot of those pots calling the same kettles black.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  30. Kathy,
    Interesting (and very sad) about the Churchills.
    History seems full of examples like this. While Henry VIII continued to fault his wives for not providing him with a male heir, medical historians now suspect that he was the guilty party, made sterile by syphillis. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    It all must have posed a strange moral dilema. I know in the 17th century setting of my current series of books, the pox is freely discussed and acknowledged — a neighborhood in London, Hatton Garden, is THE place to go for all the most modern (and ineffective) cures. Charles II took quicksilver (mercury) on a far-too-regular basis, which probably contributed to his early death. There are also creepy stories of vengeful husbands willfully infecting unfaithful wives to get back at them and their lovers. Nice guys!
    But the general feeling among the nobility seems to have been that once you had the pox, you didn’t give it to your wife. To do so would be ungentlemanly, but the main reason was not to “poison” your heirs. Of course, any time the disease went into remission and the outwards signs faded, the sufferer was thought to have been cured, and off he (or she) merrily went again, and so much for gallant abstinence at home.
    It’s now suspected that poor Rochester became infected long before his marriage (perhaps even as a teenager on his Grand Tour), but didn’t realize it until he’d passed the pox along to his wife. Too late he began avoiding her bed (there are sad, pleading letters from her to him, asking what she’d done wrong, since apparently at first he was too mortified to explain), though eventually she, too, was attempting cures along with their seven-year-old son. Once this was known at Court, Rochester got incredible guff for “abusing” his wife in this way — though, given that crowd, there must have been an awful lot of those pots calling the same kettles black.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  31. I want my heroes in all settings to wrap it up. It’s not “politically correct”, but responsible in my book.
    Considering the fact that it is more likely for a historical hero to be a tomcat, from what I’ve read, Victorian and Edwardian men were pretty darn sophisticated and knew the diseases that could run rampant through prostitutes and courtesans. Not to mention the fact that prostitution and keeping them clean was really only regulated in France. And pregnancy is a major factor too.
    To be honest, if a writer were to be realistic, more heroes would have illegitimate offspring with their aristocratic lovers.

    Reply
  32. I want my heroes in all settings to wrap it up. It’s not “politically correct”, but responsible in my book.
    Considering the fact that it is more likely for a historical hero to be a tomcat, from what I’ve read, Victorian and Edwardian men were pretty darn sophisticated and knew the diseases that could run rampant through prostitutes and courtesans. Not to mention the fact that prostitution and keeping them clean was really only regulated in France. And pregnancy is a major factor too.
    To be honest, if a writer were to be realistic, more heroes would have illegitimate offspring with their aristocratic lovers.

    Reply
  33. I want my heroes in all settings to wrap it up. It’s not “politically correct”, but responsible in my book.
    Considering the fact that it is more likely for a historical hero to be a tomcat, from what I’ve read, Victorian and Edwardian men were pretty darn sophisticated and knew the diseases that could run rampant through prostitutes and courtesans. Not to mention the fact that prostitution and keeping them clean was really only regulated in France. And pregnancy is a major factor too.
    To be honest, if a writer were to be realistic, more heroes would have illegitimate offspring with their aristocratic lovers.

    Reply
  34. I want my heroes in all settings to wrap it up. It’s not “politically correct”, but responsible in my book.
    Considering the fact that it is more likely for a historical hero to be a tomcat, from what I’ve read, Victorian and Edwardian men were pretty darn sophisticated and knew the diseases that could run rampant through prostitutes and courtesans. Not to mention the fact that prostitution and keeping them clean was really only regulated in France. And pregnancy is a major factor too.
    To be honest, if a writer were to be realistic, more heroes would have illegitimate offspring with their aristocratic lovers.

    Reply
  35. I want my heroes in all settings to wrap it up. It’s not “politically correct”, but responsible in my book.
    Considering the fact that it is more likely for a historical hero to be a tomcat, from what I’ve read, Victorian and Edwardian men were pretty darn sophisticated and knew the diseases that could run rampant through prostitutes and courtesans. Not to mention the fact that prostitution and keeping them clean was really only regulated in France. And pregnancy is a major factor too.
    To be honest, if a writer were to be realistic, more heroes would have illegitimate offspring with their aristocratic lovers.

    Reply
  36. Re: Lord Randolph Churchill, two of the most recent biographies on Lady Randolph (my favorite historical character) have refuted the claims that he suffered from and died of syphilis.
    But the disease wasn’t uncommon to the careless men who consorted with English street-walkers. Which is why the sets around the Prince of Wales happily followed his lead in engaging in extra-marital affairs with aristocratic lovers and famous courtesans, actresses, and the women available at maison closes instead of the perilous sex available from the common prostitute.

    Reply
  37. Re: Lord Randolph Churchill, two of the most recent biographies on Lady Randolph (my favorite historical character) have refuted the claims that he suffered from and died of syphilis.
    But the disease wasn’t uncommon to the careless men who consorted with English street-walkers. Which is why the sets around the Prince of Wales happily followed his lead in engaging in extra-marital affairs with aristocratic lovers and famous courtesans, actresses, and the women available at maison closes instead of the perilous sex available from the common prostitute.

    Reply
  38. Re: Lord Randolph Churchill, two of the most recent biographies on Lady Randolph (my favorite historical character) have refuted the claims that he suffered from and died of syphilis.
    But the disease wasn’t uncommon to the careless men who consorted with English street-walkers. Which is why the sets around the Prince of Wales happily followed his lead in engaging in extra-marital affairs with aristocratic lovers and famous courtesans, actresses, and the women available at maison closes instead of the perilous sex available from the common prostitute.

    Reply
  39. Re: Lord Randolph Churchill, two of the most recent biographies on Lady Randolph (my favorite historical character) have refuted the claims that he suffered from and died of syphilis.
    But the disease wasn’t uncommon to the careless men who consorted with English street-walkers. Which is why the sets around the Prince of Wales happily followed his lead in engaging in extra-marital affairs with aristocratic lovers and famous courtesans, actresses, and the women available at maison closes instead of the perilous sex available from the common prostitute.

    Reply
  40. Re: Lord Randolph Churchill, two of the most recent biographies on Lady Randolph (my favorite historical character) have refuted the claims that he suffered from and died of syphilis.
    But the disease wasn’t uncommon to the careless men who consorted with English street-walkers. Which is why the sets around the Prince of Wales happily followed his lead in engaging in extra-marital affairs with aristocratic lovers and famous courtesans, actresses, and the women available at maison closes instead of the perilous sex available from the common prostitute.

    Reply
  41. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  42. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  43. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  44. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  45. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  46. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  47. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  48. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  49. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  50. Being used to trad Regencies, I didn’t mind the lack of protection in bed, since it was usually after marriage. But with the rising level of sex in shorter and shorter timeframes, it gets more and more unrealistic to me not to see any mention of it – both for disease prevention and birth control. I prefer to see some realism in this aspect, even if it’s just mentioning the danger or having the heroine (and hero if he’s not a jerk) worry about it. If the couple has sex early and then goes on their merry way (without being engaged) without even thinking “what-if”, they don’t even seem human to me, as strange as that sounds. It would be as if you had a whole book where the characters don’t eat, or don’t sleep – as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m babbling 🙂

    Reply
  51. I think I may have read the same books as you Camilla about Jennie and Randolph Churchill. Unless they exhume the body and examine it, it’s only speculation, although there is a rumor that Jack, her second son wasn’t Randolph’s.
    I personally love reading books where the heroine manages to use the sponge to prevent a pregnancy like Jane Lockwood’s book Forbidden Shores, or Patricia Gallagher’s book Castles in the Air, where the heroine was having an affair with married man (imagine trying to do that in a historical romance today!)

    Reply
  52. I think I may have read the same books as you Camilla about Jennie and Randolph Churchill. Unless they exhume the body and examine it, it’s only speculation, although there is a rumor that Jack, her second son wasn’t Randolph’s.
    I personally love reading books where the heroine manages to use the sponge to prevent a pregnancy like Jane Lockwood’s book Forbidden Shores, or Patricia Gallagher’s book Castles in the Air, where the heroine was having an affair with married man (imagine trying to do that in a historical romance today!)

    Reply
  53. I think I may have read the same books as you Camilla about Jennie and Randolph Churchill. Unless they exhume the body and examine it, it’s only speculation, although there is a rumor that Jack, her second son wasn’t Randolph’s.
    I personally love reading books where the heroine manages to use the sponge to prevent a pregnancy like Jane Lockwood’s book Forbidden Shores, or Patricia Gallagher’s book Castles in the Air, where the heroine was having an affair with married man (imagine trying to do that in a historical romance today!)

    Reply
  54. I think I may have read the same books as you Camilla about Jennie and Randolph Churchill. Unless they exhume the body and examine it, it’s only speculation, although there is a rumor that Jack, her second son wasn’t Randolph’s.
    I personally love reading books where the heroine manages to use the sponge to prevent a pregnancy like Jane Lockwood’s book Forbidden Shores, or Patricia Gallagher’s book Castles in the Air, where the heroine was having an affair with married man (imagine trying to do that in a historical romance today!)

    Reply
  55. I think I may have read the same books as you Camilla about Jennie and Randolph Churchill. Unless they exhume the body and examine it, it’s only speculation, although there is a rumor that Jack, her second son wasn’t Randolph’s.
    I personally love reading books where the heroine manages to use the sponge to prevent a pregnancy like Jane Lockwood’s book Forbidden Shores, or Patricia Gallagher’s book Castles in the Air, where the heroine was having an affair with married man (imagine trying to do that in a historical romance today!)

    Reply
  56. While I do love the fantasy factor in Romance, to me the fantasy may not work unless it’s grounded in reality. I need to believe in the characters to believe in their HEA, and even if they are described as smarter, prettier, handsomer, stronger, better lovers than anyone in Real Life, I have a hard time accepting them as real if they don’t have some of the concerns that real people would, e.g. pregnancy and/or venereal disease. The author need not describe every single attempt at birth/disease control, but it’s helpful to have people at least think about the consequences of their acts. And who says that condom use is not sexy — putting the sheath on can, in fact, be very sexy, especially if the woman helps (which may not itself be likely if she’s one of the all too frequent innocence personified heroines but could happen with a woman of a bit more experience).

    Reply
  57. While I do love the fantasy factor in Romance, to me the fantasy may not work unless it’s grounded in reality. I need to believe in the characters to believe in their HEA, and even if they are described as smarter, prettier, handsomer, stronger, better lovers than anyone in Real Life, I have a hard time accepting them as real if they don’t have some of the concerns that real people would, e.g. pregnancy and/or venereal disease. The author need not describe every single attempt at birth/disease control, but it’s helpful to have people at least think about the consequences of their acts. And who says that condom use is not sexy — putting the sheath on can, in fact, be very sexy, especially if the woman helps (which may not itself be likely if she’s one of the all too frequent innocence personified heroines but could happen with a woman of a bit more experience).

    Reply
  58. While I do love the fantasy factor in Romance, to me the fantasy may not work unless it’s grounded in reality. I need to believe in the characters to believe in their HEA, and even if they are described as smarter, prettier, handsomer, stronger, better lovers than anyone in Real Life, I have a hard time accepting them as real if they don’t have some of the concerns that real people would, e.g. pregnancy and/or venereal disease. The author need not describe every single attempt at birth/disease control, but it’s helpful to have people at least think about the consequences of their acts. And who says that condom use is not sexy — putting the sheath on can, in fact, be very sexy, especially if the woman helps (which may not itself be likely if she’s one of the all too frequent innocence personified heroines but could happen with a woman of a bit more experience).

    Reply
  59. While I do love the fantasy factor in Romance, to me the fantasy may not work unless it’s grounded in reality. I need to believe in the characters to believe in their HEA, and even if they are described as smarter, prettier, handsomer, stronger, better lovers than anyone in Real Life, I have a hard time accepting them as real if they don’t have some of the concerns that real people would, e.g. pregnancy and/or venereal disease. The author need not describe every single attempt at birth/disease control, but it’s helpful to have people at least think about the consequences of their acts. And who says that condom use is not sexy — putting the sheath on can, in fact, be very sexy, especially if the woman helps (which may not itself be likely if she’s one of the all too frequent innocence personified heroines but could happen with a woman of a bit more experience).

    Reply
  60. While I do love the fantasy factor in Romance, to me the fantasy may not work unless it’s grounded in reality. I need to believe in the characters to believe in their HEA, and even if they are described as smarter, prettier, handsomer, stronger, better lovers than anyone in Real Life, I have a hard time accepting them as real if they don’t have some of the concerns that real people would, e.g. pregnancy and/or venereal disease. The author need not describe every single attempt at birth/disease control, but it’s helpful to have people at least think about the consequences of their acts. And who says that condom use is not sexy — putting the sheath on can, in fact, be very sexy, especially if the woman helps (which may not itself be likely if she’s one of the all too frequent innocence personified heroines but could happen with a woman of a bit more experience).

    Reply
  61. I’ve never had a character use a condom (mostly because the historical ones are made of intestine and they have to be soaked in water before use; so not spontaneous). But I have made sure that in both my books there’s some mention of what kind of steps were being taken to prevent pregnancy.
    As for things like the pox, I must admit that’s a little too realistic for me (esp after reading Kelley’s Brummell bio).

    Reply
  62. I’ve never had a character use a condom (mostly because the historical ones are made of intestine and they have to be soaked in water before use; so not spontaneous). But I have made sure that in both my books there’s some mention of what kind of steps were being taken to prevent pregnancy.
    As for things like the pox, I must admit that’s a little too realistic for me (esp after reading Kelley’s Brummell bio).

    Reply
  63. I’ve never had a character use a condom (mostly because the historical ones are made of intestine and they have to be soaked in water before use; so not spontaneous). But I have made sure that in both my books there’s some mention of what kind of steps were being taken to prevent pregnancy.
    As for things like the pox, I must admit that’s a little too realistic for me (esp after reading Kelley’s Brummell bio).

    Reply
  64. I’ve never had a character use a condom (mostly because the historical ones are made of intestine and they have to be soaked in water before use; so not spontaneous). But I have made sure that in both my books there’s some mention of what kind of steps were being taken to prevent pregnancy.
    As for things like the pox, I must admit that’s a little too realistic for me (esp after reading Kelley’s Brummell bio).

    Reply
  65. I’ve never had a character use a condom (mostly because the historical ones are made of intestine and they have to be soaked in water before use; so not spontaneous). But I have made sure that in both my books there’s some mention of what kind of steps were being taken to prevent pregnancy.
    As for things like the pox, I must admit that’s a little too realistic for me (esp after reading Kelley’s Brummell bio).

    Reply
  66. After reading Boswell’s memoirs, I realized that those poor rakes were extremely aware of the consequences they faced and did make some attempt not to get infected by using condoms or hiring “clean” mistresses, who sometimes weren’t so clean after all, much to their dismay.
    I’ve not been able to write a rake since. “G”
    I think the question of to condom or not to condom depends a lot on the character, time, place, and situation. A hero who makes love to a heroine in a fit of passion should at least mention what will happen if she gets pregnant (can’t imagine him revealing his disease free state “G”), especially if he’s the more experienced partner. And a woman would have to be an idiot not to worry, so some mention of that somewhere would alleviate her obtuseness.
    I tend to mention somewhere if a sailing hero has been abstinent for a while, since sailors are far more prone to disease. There are all sorts of creative writing mechanisms one can use to reassure the reader (and the heroine), if one is knowledgeable enough to care, without brandishing a condom in the reader’s face at the wrong possible moment.

    Reply
  67. After reading Boswell’s memoirs, I realized that those poor rakes were extremely aware of the consequences they faced and did make some attempt not to get infected by using condoms or hiring “clean” mistresses, who sometimes weren’t so clean after all, much to their dismay.
    I’ve not been able to write a rake since. “G”
    I think the question of to condom or not to condom depends a lot on the character, time, place, and situation. A hero who makes love to a heroine in a fit of passion should at least mention what will happen if she gets pregnant (can’t imagine him revealing his disease free state “G”), especially if he’s the more experienced partner. And a woman would have to be an idiot not to worry, so some mention of that somewhere would alleviate her obtuseness.
    I tend to mention somewhere if a sailing hero has been abstinent for a while, since sailors are far more prone to disease. There are all sorts of creative writing mechanisms one can use to reassure the reader (and the heroine), if one is knowledgeable enough to care, without brandishing a condom in the reader’s face at the wrong possible moment.

    Reply
  68. After reading Boswell’s memoirs, I realized that those poor rakes were extremely aware of the consequences they faced and did make some attempt not to get infected by using condoms or hiring “clean” mistresses, who sometimes weren’t so clean after all, much to their dismay.
    I’ve not been able to write a rake since. “G”
    I think the question of to condom or not to condom depends a lot on the character, time, place, and situation. A hero who makes love to a heroine in a fit of passion should at least mention what will happen if she gets pregnant (can’t imagine him revealing his disease free state “G”), especially if he’s the more experienced partner. And a woman would have to be an idiot not to worry, so some mention of that somewhere would alleviate her obtuseness.
    I tend to mention somewhere if a sailing hero has been abstinent for a while, since sailors are far more prone to disease. There are all sorts of creative writing mechanisms one can use to reassure the reader (and the heroine), if one is knowledgeable enough to care, without brandishing a condom in the reader’s face at the wrong possible moment.

    Reply
  69. After reading Boswell’s memoirs, I realized that those poor rakes were extremely aware of the consequences they faced and did make some attempt not to get infected by using condoms or hiring “clean” mistresses, who sometimes weren’t so clean after all, much to their dismay.
    I’ve not been able to write a rake since. “G”
    I think the question of to condom or not to condom depends a lot on the character, time, place, and situation. A hero who makes love to a heroine in a fit of passion should at least mention what will happen if she gets pregnant (can’t imagine him revealing his disease free state “G”), especially if he’s the more experienced partner. And a woman would have to be an idiot not to worry, so some mention of that somewhere would alleviate her obtuseness.
    I tend to mention somewhere if a sailing hero has been abstinent for a while, since sailors are far more prone to disease. There are all sorts of creative writing mechanisms one can use to reassure the reader (and the heroine), if one is knowledgeable enough to care, without brandishing a condom in the reader’s face at the wrong possible moment.

    Reply
  70. After reading Boswell’s memoirs, I realized that those poor rakes were extremely aware of the consequences they faced and did make some attempt not to get infected by using condoms or hiring “clean” mistresses, who sometimes weren’t so clean after all, much to their dismay.
    I’ve not been able to write a rake since. “G”
    I think the question of to condom or not to condom depends a lot on the character, time, place, and situation. A hero who makes love to a heroine in a fit of passion should at least mention what will happen if she gets pregnant (can’t imagine him revealing his disease free state “G”), especially if he’s the more experienced partner. And a woman would have to be an idiot not to worry, so some mention of that somewhere would alleviate her obtuseness.
    I tend to mention somewhere if a sailing hero has been abstinent for a while, since sailors are far more prone to disease. There are all sorts of creative writing mechanisms one can use to reassure the reader (and the heroine), if one is knowledgeable enough to care, without brandishing a condom in the reader’s face at the wrong possible moment.

    Reply
  71. In historicals I don’t mind if they don’t use protection. However, in a contemporary it is necessary. A good book I read recently is “Sex with Kings” about royal mistresses through time. The book discusses Charles II and how Nell Gwyn’s life was probably cut short because of the diseases she contracted from Charles. I’ll have to read The King’s Favorite.

    Reply
  72. In historicals I don’t mind if they don’t use protection. However, in a contemporary it is necessary. A good book I read recently is “Sex with Kings” about royal mistresses through time. The book discusses Charles II and how Nell Gwyn’s life was probably cut short because of the diseases she contracted from Charles. I’ll have to read The King’s Favorite.

    Reply
  73. In historicals I don’t mind if they don’t use protection. However, in a contemporary it is necessary. A good book I read recently is “Sex with Kings” about royal mistresses through time. The book discusses Charles II and how Nell Gwyn’s life was probably cut short because of the diseases she contracted from Charles. I’ll have to read The King’s Favorite.

    Reply
  74. In historicals I don’t mind if they don’t use protection. However, in a contemporary it is necessary. A good book I read recently is “Sex with Kings” about royal mistresses through time. The book discusses Charles II and how Nell Gwyn’s life was probably cut short because of the diseases she contracted from Charles. I’ll have to read The King’s Favorite.

    Reply
  75. In historicals I don’t mind if they don’t use protection. However, in a contemporary it is necessary. A good book I read recently is “Sex with Kings” about royal mistresses through time. The book discusses Charles II and how Nell Gwyn’s life was probably cut short because of the diseases she contracted from Charles. I’ll have to read The King’s Favorite.

    Reply
  76. Though I’ve referred to condoms in more than one book, count me among those who like the fantasy world in which the experienced lover is disease free. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after. Some of the bad boys I’ve encountered and loved in romance I would run screaming from in real life. In real life, in the heat of passion, people can be irresponsible, so that works for me in a historical romance. I’m not against a hero in a historical using a condom, but I don’t expect it. Besides, they didn’t work very well, being porous and all, so it’s not all that much comfort to me.

    Reply
  77. Though I’ve referred to condoms in more than one book, count me among those who like the fantasy world in which the experienced lover is disease free. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after. Some of the bad boys I’ve encountered and loved in romance I would run screaming from in real life. In real life, in the heat of passion, people can be irresponsible, so that works for me in a historical romance. I’m not against a hero in a historical using a condom, but I don’t expect it. Besides, they didn’t work very well, being porous and all, so it’s not all that much comfort to me.

    Reply
  78. Though I’ve referred to condoms in more than one book, count me among those who like the fantasy world in which the experienced lover is disease free. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after. Some of the bad boys I’ve encountered and loved in romance I would run screaming from in real life. In real life, in the heat of passion, people can be irresponsible, so that works for me in a historical romance. I’m not against a hero in a historical using a condom, but I don’t expect it. Besides, they didn’t work very well, being porous and all, so it’s not all that much comfort to me.

    Reply
  79. Though I’ve referred to condoms in more than one book, count me among those who like the fantasy world in which the experienced lover is disease free. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after. Some of the bad boys I’ve encountered and loved in romance I would run screaming from in real life. In real life, in the heat of passion, people can be irresponsible, so that works for me in a historical romance. I’m not against a hero in a historical using a condom, but I don’t expect it. Besides, they didn’t work very well, being porous and all, so it’s not all that much comfort to me.

    Reply
  80. Though I’ve referred to condoms in more than one book, count me among those who like the fantasy world in which the experienced lover is disease free. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after. Some of the bad boys I’ve encountered and loved in romance I would run screaming from in real life. In real life, in the heat of passion, people can be irresponsible, so that works for me in a historical romance. I’m not against a hero in a historical using a condom, but I don’t expect it. Besides, they didn’t work very well, being porous and all, so it’s not all that much comfort to me.

    Reply
  81. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after.
    The way I see it, if smelling a particular way, missing teeth etc was the norm, then it’s not something that the characters (if true to their time period) would particularly notice/be bothered about, so if they wouldn’t think about it, there’s no particular reason for the author to mention it either, and modern readers can therefore imagine or ignore such realities as suits their taste.
    The characters would tend to notice and/or be bothered about the pox, so if an author really emphasises how much of a rake the hero is by constantly mentioning his sexual prowess and his having bedded almost all the female members of the ton (and a fair number of prostitutes too) then my suspended disbelief starts to come crashing down and I worry that the hero’s going to infect the heroine and they’re not going to get much of a HEA.

    Reply
  82. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after.
    The way I see it, if smelling a particular way, missing teeth etc was the norm, then it’s not something that the characters (if true to their time period) would particularly notice/be bothered about, so if they wouldn’t think about it, there’s no particular reason for the author to mention it either, and modern readers can therefore imagine or ignore such realities as suits their taste.
    The characters would tend to notice and/or be bothered about the pox, so if an author really emphasises how much of a rake the hero is by constantly mentioning his sexual prowess and his having bedded almost all the female members of the ton (and a fair number of prostitutes too) then my suspended disbelief starts to come crashing down and I worry that the hero’s going to infect the heroine and they’re not going to get much of a HEA.

    Reply
  83. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after.
    The way I see it, if smelling a particular way, missing teeth etc was the norm, then it’s not something that the characters (if true to their time period) would particularly notice/be bothered about, so if they wouldn’t think about it, there’s no particular reason for the author to mention it either, and modern readers can therefore imagine or ignore such realities as suits their taste.
    The characters would tend to notice and/or be bothered about the pox, so if an author really emphasises how much of a rake the hero is by constantly mentioning his sexual prowess and his having bedded almost all the female members of the ton (and a fair number of prostitutes too) then my suspended disbelief starts to come crashing down and I worry that the hero’s going to infect the heroine and they’re not going to get much of a HEA.

    Reply
  84. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after.
    The way I see it, if smelling a particular way, missing teeth etc was the norm, then it’s not something that the characters (if true to their time period) would particularly notice/be bothered about, so if they wouldn’t think about it, there’s no particular reason for the author to mention it either, and modern readers can therefore imagine or ignore such realities as suits their taste.
    The characters would tend to notice and/or be bothered about the pox, so if an author really emphasises how much of a rake the hero is by constantly mentioning his sexual prowess and his having bedded almost all the female members of the ton (and a fair number of prostitutes too) then my suspended disbelief starts to come crashing down and I worry that the hero’s going to infect the heroine and they’re not going to get much of a HEA.

    Reply
  85. To me it’s not much different than pretending they have all their teeth, their breath doesn’t smell, and they bathe daily–and they all live happily ever after.
    The way I see it, if smelling a particular way, missing teeth etc was the norm, then it’s not something that the characters (if true to their time period) would particularly notice/be bothered about, so if they wouldn’t think about it, there’s no particular reason for the author to mention it either, and modern readers can therefore imagine or ignore such realities as suits their taste.
    The characters would tend to notice and/or be bothered about the pox, so if an author really emphasises how much of a rake the hero is by constantly mentioning his sexual prowess and his having bedded almost all the female members of the ton (and a fair number of prostitutes too) then my suspended disbelief starts to come crashing down and I worry that the hero’s going to infect the heroine and they’re not going to get much of a HEA.

    Reply
  86. A few months ago, I read a historical novel in which the hero produces a sock to put over his “member” to avoid the possibility of the pox. I wondered, of course, how thick this sock was and what effect it would have on the whole business.
    Were these real socks and wouldn’t they be somewhat too thick? How thin were men’s socks of the day? It certainly sounded as if the sock mentioned were a sock that the man actually wore. I guess I really don’t know that much about men’s clothing of whatever the era was. I now wish I remembered which book it was in.

    Reply
  87. A few months ago, I read a historical novel in which the hero produces a sock to put over his “member” to avoid the possibility of the pox. I wondered, of course, how thick this sock was and what effect it would have on the whole business.
    Were these real socks and wouldn’t they be somewhat too thick? How thin were men’s socks of the day? It certainly sounded as if the sock mentioned were a sock that the man actually wore. I guess I really don’t know that much about men’s clothing of whatever the era was. I now wish I remembered which book it was in.

    Reply
  88. A few months ago, I read a historical novel in which the hero produces a sock to put over his “member” to avoid the possibility of the pox. I wondered, of course, how thick this sock was and what effect it would have on the whole business.
    Were these real socks and wouldn’t they be somewhat too thick? How thin were men’s socks of the day? It certainly sounded as if the sock mentioned were a sock that the man actually wore. I guess I really don’t know that much about men’s clothing of whatever the era was. I now wish I remembered which book it was in.

    Reply
  89. A few months ago, I read a historical novel in which the hero produces a sock to put over his “member” to avoid the possibility of the pox. I wondered, of course, how thick this sock was and what effect it would have on the whole business.
    Were these real socks and wouldn’t they be somewhat too thick? How thin were men’s socks of the day? It certainly sounded as if the sock mentioned were a sock that the man actually wore. I guess I really don’t know that much about men’s clothing of whatever the era was. I now wish I remembered which book it was in.

    Reply
  90. A few months ago, I read a historical novel in which the hero produces a sock to put over his “member” to avoid the possibility of the pox. I wondered, of course, how thick this sock was and what effect it would have on the whole business.
    Were these real socks and wouldn’t they be somewhat too thick? How thin were men’s socks of the day? It certainly sounded as if the sock mentioned were a sock that the man actually wore. I guess I really don’t know that much about men’s clothing of whatever the era was. I now wish I remembered which book it was in.

    Reply
  91. I always seem to comment and then read the other comments afterwards just in case I have to break off for some reason or other.
    Laura makes a good point. I sometimes view rakes the same way she does. Maybe I should try to find one of these “little books” to find out what sexual mores and the results were really like.
    I know that the composer Beethoven was often suspected to have died of syphilis. The latest tests done on some fortuitously preserved hair, however, reveal that he died of lead poisoning.
    Sometimes it amazes me that any of us are even alive today to since it seems that everybody was whoring or “raking” around.

    Reply
  92. I always seem to comment and then read the other comments afterwards just in case I have to break off for some reason or other.
    Laura makes a good point. I sometimes view rakes the same way she does. Maybe I should try to find one of these “little books” to find out what sexual mores and the results were really like.
    I know that the composer Beethoven was often suspected to have died of syphilis. The latest tests done on some fortuitously preserved hair, however, reveal that he died of lead poisoning.
    Sometimes it amazes me that any of us are even alive today to since it seems that everybody was whoring or “raking” around.

    Reply
  93. I always seem to comment and then read the other comments afterwards just in case I have to break off for some reason or other.
    Laura makes a good point. I sometimes view rakes the same way she does. Maybe I should try to find one of these “little books” to find out what sexual mores and the results were really like.
    I know that the composer Beethoven was often suspected to have died of syphilis. The latest tests done on some fortuitously preserved hair, however, reveal that he died of lead poisoning.
    Sometimes it amazes me that any of us are even alive today to since it seems that everybody was whoring or “raking” around.

    Reply
  94. I always seem to comment and then read the other comments afterwards just in case I have to break off for some reason or other.
    Laura makes a good point. I sometimes view rakes the same way she does. Maybe I should try to find one of these “little books” to find out what sexual mores and the results were really like.
    I know that the composer Beethoven was often suspected to have died of syphilis. The latest tests done on some fortuitously preserved hair, however, reveal that he died of lead poisoning.
    Sometimes it amazes me that any of us are even alive today to since it seems that everybody was whoring or “raking” around.

    Reply
  95. I always seem to comment and then read the other comments afterwards just in case I have to break off for some reason or other.
    Laura makes a good point. I sometimes view rakes the same way she does. Maybe I should try to find one of these “little books” to find out what sexual mores and the results were really like.
    I know that the composer Beethoven was often suspected to have died of syphilis. The latest tests done on some fortuitously preserved hair, however, reveal that he died of lead poisoning.
    Sometimes it amazes me that any of us are even alive today to since it seems that everybody was whoring or “raking” around.

    Reply
  96. I get itchy and impatient when writers start going PC on me in historicals. It imposes 21st Century mores into a setting where they are incongruous, and as such, it takes me out of the story.
    I’ll never forget the pirate romance where the H/H are getting it on, and the hero pauses to fetch his condoms from a drawer. He then proceeds to lecture the heroine about safe sex. In the middle of a love scene. ***blaaaattt*** (finger pressing buzzer) Next book, please.

    Reply
  97. I get itchy and impatient when writers start going PC on me in historicals. It imposes 21st Century mores into a setting where they are incongruous, and as such, it takes me out of the story.
    I’ll never forget the pirate romance where the H/H are getting it on, and the hero pauses to fetch his condoms from a drawer. He then proceeds to lecture the heroine about safe sex. In the middle of a love scene. ***blaaaattt*** (finger pressing buzzer) Next book, please.

    Reply
  98. I get itchy and impatient when writers start going PC on me in historicals. It imposes 21st Century mores into a setting where they are incongruous, and as such, it takes me out of the story.
    I’ll never forget the pirate romance where the H/H are getting it on, and the hero pauses to fetch his condoms from a drawer. He then proceeds to lecture the heroine about safe sex. In the middle of a love scene. ***blaaaattt*** (finger pressing buzzer) Next book, please.

    Reply
  99. I get itchy and impatient when writers start going PC on me in historicals. It imposes 21st Century mores into a setting where they are incongruous, and as such, it takes me out of the story.
    I’ll never forget the pirate romance where the H/H are getting it on, and the hero pauses to fetch his condoms from a drawer. He then proceeds to lecture the heroine about safe sex. In the middle of a love scene. ***blaaaattt*** (finger pressing buzzer) Next book, please.

    Reply
  100. I get itchy and impatient when writers start going PC on me in historicals. It imposes 21st Century mores into a setting where they are incongruous, and as such, it takes me out of the story.
    I’ll never forget the pirate romance where the H/H are getting it on, and the hero pauses to fetch his condoms from a drawer. He then proceeds to lecture the heroine about safe sex. In the middle of a love scene. ***blaaaattt*** (finger pressing buzzer) Next book, please.

    Reply
  101. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it (the pox) from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    I think this is unlikely because congenital syphilis has a very recognizable appearance and is also commonly associated with mental retardation. Elizabeth has never been reported to have the facial deformities of congenital syphilis and she certainly was not retarded. Too, I don’t think she would have lived such a long and apparently healthy life with that kind of damage.
    Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative. One shudders to think about all the ruined lives related to that fable.

    Reply
  102. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it (the pox) from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    I think this is unlikely because congenital syphilis has a very recognizable appearance and is also commonly associated with mental retardation. Elizabeth has never been reported to have the facial deformities of congenital syphilis and she certainly was not retarded. Too, I don’t think she would have lived such a long and apparently healthy life with that kind of damage.
    Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative. One shudders to think about all the ruined lives related to that fable.

    Reply
  103. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it (the pox) from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    I think this is unlikely because congenital syphilis has a very recognizable appearance and is also commonly associated with mental retardation. Elizabeth has never been reported to have the facial deformities of congenital syphilis and she certainly was not retarded. Too, I don’t think she would have lived such a long and apparently healthy life with that kind of damage.
    Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative. One shudders to think about all the ruined lives related to that fable.

    Reply
  104. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it (the pox) from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    I think this is unlikely because congenital syphilis has a very recognizable appearance and is also commonly associated with mental retardation. Elizabeth has never been reported to have the facial deformities of congenital syphilis and she certainly was not retarded. Too, I don’t think she would have lived such a long and apparently healthy life with that kind of damage.
    Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative. One shudders to think about all the ruined lives related to that fable.

    Reply
  105. There are also suggestions that his daughter Elizabeth inherited it (the pox) from him, too, and that this was part of the reason she may have chosen never to wed.
    I think this is unlikely because congenital syphilis has a very recognizable appearance and is also commonly associated with mental retardation. Elizabeth has never been reported to have the facial deformities of congenital syphilis and she certainly was not retarded. Too, I don’t think she would have lived such a long and apparently healthy life with that kind of damage.
    Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative. One shudders to think about all the ruined lives related to that fable.

    Reply
  106. >>>. . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.<<< Jill A, I think that's beautifully said! For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm Reading A Fun Story that Isn't Real But Who Cares. One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can't keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can't Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she's flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn't quite know how it happened, but She Can't Wait to Do it Again! Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don't ring true to me. I mean, it's sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell. And I'd love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can't keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn't that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?--aren't we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?) And, Kathy Kremer said >>Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative.<< Um, isn't this the Exact Trajectory of so many romance novels? The Hero's Uncontrolled Animal Urges are cured once he puts his Tab A into the Sweet Virginal Slot B of the heroine? (Don't the Smart Bitches call this the "Magic Hoo-Hoo"?) Zap! Instant Devotion, Faithfulness, Husband-worthiness --he's a Changed Man and all it took was a little nookie!

    Reply
  107. >>>. . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.<<< Jill A, I think that's beautifully said! For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm Reading A Fun Story that Isn't Real But Who Cares. One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can't keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can't Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she's flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn't quite know how it happened, but She Can't Wait to Do it Again! Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don't ring true to me. I mean, it's sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell. And I'd love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can't keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn't that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?--aren't we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?) And, Kathy Kremer said >>Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative.<< Um, isn't this the Exact Trajectory of so many romance novels? The Hero's Uncontrolled Animal Urges are cured once he puts his Tab A into the Sweet Virginal Slot B of the heroine? (Don't the Smart Bitches call this the "Magic Hoo-Hoo"?) Zap! Instant Devotion, Faithfulness, Husband-worthiness --he's a Changed Man and all it took was a little nookie!

    Reply
  108. >>>. . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.<<< Jill A, I think that's beautifully said! For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm Reading A Fun Story that Isn't Real But Who Cares. One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can't keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can't Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she's flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn't quite know how it happened, but She Can't Wait to Do it Again! Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don't ring true to me. I mean, it's sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell. And I'd love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can't keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn't that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?--aren't we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?) And, Kathy Kremer said >>Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative.<< Um, isn't this the Exact Trajectory of so many romance novels? The Hero's Uncontrolled Animal Urges are cured once he puts his Tab A into the Sweet Virginal Slot B of the heroine? (Don't the Smart Bitches call this the "Magic Hoo-Hoo"?) Zap! Instant Devotion, Faithfulness, Husband-worthiness --he's a Changed Man and all it took was a little nookie!

    Reply
  109. >>>. . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.<<< Jill A, I think that's beautifully said! For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm Reading A Fun Story that Isn't Real But Who Cares. One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can't keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can't Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she's flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn't quite know how it happened, but She Can't Wait to Do it Again! Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don't ring true to me. I mean, it's sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell. And I'd love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can't keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn't that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?--aren't we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?) And, Kathy Kremer said >>Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative.<< Um, isn't this the Exact Trajectory of so many romance novels? The Hero's Uncontrolled Animal Urges are cured once he puts his Tab A into the Sweet Virginal Slot B of the heroine? (Don't the Smart Bitches call this the "Magic Hoo-Hoo"?) Zap! Instant Devotion, Faithfulness, Husband-worthiness --he's a Changed Man and all it took was a little nookie!

    Reply
  110. >>>. . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.<<< Jill A, I think that's beautifully said! For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm Reading A Fun Story that Isn't Real But Who Cares. One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can't keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can't Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she's flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn't quite know how it happened, but She Can't Wait to Do it Again! Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don't ring true to me. I mean, it's sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell. And I'd love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can't keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn't that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?--aren't we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?) And, Kathy Kremer said >>Another creepy thing about syphilis is that having sex with a virgin was rumored to be curative.<< Um, isn't this the Exact Trajectory of so many romance novels? The Hero's Uncontrolled Animal Urges are cured once he puts his Tab A into the Sweet Virginal Slot B of the heroine? (Don't the Smart Bitches call this the "Magic Hoo-Hoo"?) Zap! Instant Devotion, Faithfulness, Husband-worthiness --he's a Changed Man and all it took was a little nookie!

    Reply
  111. The whole first part of my comment got lost! This is the rest of what I wanted to say:
    . . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.
    Jill A, I think that’s beautifully said!
    For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m Reading A Fun Story that Isn’t Real But Who Cares.
    One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can’t keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can’t Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she’s flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn’t quite know how it happened, but She Can’t Wait to Do it Again!
    Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don’t ring true to me. I mean, it’s sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell.
    And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn’t that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?–aren’t we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?)

    Reply
  112. The whole first part of my comment got lost! This is the rest of what I wanted to say:
    . . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.
    Jill A, I think that’s beautifully said!
    For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m Reading A Fun Story that Isn’t Real But Who Cares.
    One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can’t keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can’t Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she’s flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn’t quite know how it happened, but She Can’t Wait to Do it Again!
    Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don’t ring true to me. I mean, it’s sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell.
    And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn’t that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?–aren’t we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?)

    Reply
  113. The whole first part of my comment got lost! This is the rest of what I wanted to say:
    . . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.
    Jill A, I think that’s beautifully said!
    For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m Reading A Fun Story that Isn’t Real But Who Cares.
    One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can’t keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can’t Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she’s flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn’t quite know how it happened, but She Can’t Wait to Do it Again!
    Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don’t ring true to me. I mean, it’s sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell.
    And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn’t that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?–aren’t we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?)

    Reply
  114. The whole first part of my comment got lost! This is the rest of what I wanted to say:
    . . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.
    Jill A, I think that’s beautifully said!
    For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m Reading A Fun Story that Isn’t Real But Who Cares.
    One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can’t keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can’t Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she’s flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn’t quite know how it happened, but She Can’t Wait to Do it Again!
    Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don’t ring true to me. I mean, it’s sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell.
    And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn’t that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?–aren’t we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?)

    Reply
  115. The whole first part of my comment got lost! This is the rest of what I wanted to say:
    . . .as if the act of sex is something like going out to a play or dancing, totally devoid of its actual meaning and consequences.
    Jill A, I think that’s beautifully said!
    For me, most romance novels these days (Wenches excepted, of course!) are Agreeable Fantasies, where I’m always conscious of the fact that I’m Reading A Fun Story that Isn’t Real But Who Cares.
    One of the things that automatically puts a novel over in this category for me is the Hero who can’t keep his pants buttoned because he has Strong Virile Urges that Can’t Be Contained, and the heroine who gets kissed once, the heavens sing, and she’s flat on her back in the first 10 pages and doesn’t quite know how it happened, but She Can’t Wait to Do it Again!
    Characters who have so little control and/or understanding of their own sexuality just don’t ring true to me. I mean, it’s sex, not hypnotism or a magic spell.
    And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine. Why is that so fascinating to us? (And isn’t that the total stereotype of the Lustful Animal Male?–aren’t we skating pretty darn close to that Rape Fantasy in all this?)

    Reply
  116. RevMelinda wrote:”And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    I had way too much fun with this kind of thing in the historical paranormal ms. I just finished. It remains to be seen if readers enjoy it too, or end up feeling like a cat toy!

    Reply
  117. RevMelinda wrote:”And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    I had way too much fun with this kind of thing in the historical paranormal ms. I just finished. It remains to be seen if readers enjoy it too, or end up feeling like a cat toy!

    Reply
  118. RevMelinda wrote:”And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    I had way too much fun with this kind of thing in the historical paranormal ms. I just finished. It remains to be seen if readers enjoy it too, or end up feeling like a cat toy!

    Reply
  119. RevMelinda wrote:”And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    I had way too much fun with this kind of thing in the historical paranormal ms. I just finished. It remains to be seen if readers enjoy it too, or end up feeling like a cat toy!

    Reply
  120. RevMelinda wrote:”And I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    I had way too much fun with this kind of thing in the historical paranormal ms. I just finished. It remains to be seen if readers enjoy it too, or end up feeling like a cat toy!

    Reply
  121. Even people of my generation associate the use of condoms quite strongly with sleaze and prostitution. I find any mention of them in contemporary stories very intrusive; they have really only come into general use since the rise of AIDS. It needs to be remembered that the whole pattern of sexual morality was drastically different, at least in the middle classes, before the 1960s. By the 1950s, venereal diseases had become rare (and treatable), and AIDS had not yet emerged. Contraception was usually in the form of the diaphragm, which had come into use before the War. By the 1960s, the Pill was taking care of the risk of pregnancy for most unmarried women, and there was still very, very little danger of infection. Condoms really were used only by men consorting with whores.
    Even any mention of condoms in a novel set in, say, the 1950s, would need to be treated with some skill and scene-setting, and it is ridiculous to bring them into an 18thC/Regency setting, where they really would have been used only in commercial sex.
    Contraceptive devices (as I am sure you all know) go back into remote antiquity, normally barrier methods such as sponges and vinegar or lemon-juice. The earliest condoms of which we have archaeological evidence in the UK date to the 17th century AD. There are a couple of 18thC ones on the collections of the British Museum (the picture in the blog looks like one of them, but no doubt they were all pretty similar). Oh, and they were still called ‘French letters’ in my youth – and one French name for them was ‘redingote anglaise’ – ‘English coat’.

    Reply
  122. Even people of my generation associate the use of condoms quite strongly with sleaze and prostitution. I find any mention of them in contemporary stories very intrusive; they have really only come into general use since the rise of AIDS. It needs to be remembered that the whole pattern of sexual morality was drastically different, at least in the middle classes, before the 1960s. By the 1950s, venereal diseases had become rare (and treatable), and AIDS had not yet emerged. Contraception was usually in the form of the diaphragm, which had come into use before the War. By the 1960s, the Pill was taking care of the risk of pregnancy for most unmarried women, and there was still very, very little danger of infection. Condoms really were used only by men consorting with whores.
    Even any mention of condoms in a novel set in, say, the 1950s, would need to be treated with some skill and scene-setting, and it is ridiculous to bring them into an 18thC/Regency setting, where they really would have been used only in commercial sex.
    Contraceptive devices (as I am sure you all know) go back into remote antiquity, normally barrier methods such as sponges and vinegar or lemon-juice. The earliest condoms of which we have archaeological evidence in the UK date to the 17th century AD. There are a couple of 18thC ones on the collections of the British Museum (the picture in the blog looks like one of them, but no doubt they were all pretty similar). Oh, and they were still called ‘French letters’ in my youth – and one French name for them was ‘redingote anglaise’ – ‘English coat’.

    Reply
  123. Even people of my generation associate the use of condoms quite strongly with sleaze and prostitution. I find any mention of them in contemporary stories very intrusive; they have really only come into general use since the rise of AIDS. It needs to be remembered that the whole pattern of sexual morality was drastically different, at least in the middle classes, before the 1960s. By the 1950s, venereal diseases had become rare (and treatable), and AIDS had not yet emerged. Contraception was usually in the form of the diaphragm, which had come into use before the War. By the 1960s, the Pill was taking care of the risk of pregnancy for most unmarried women, and there was still very, very little danger of infection. Condoms really were used only by men consorting with whores.
    Even any mention of condoms in a novel set in, say, the 1950s, would need to be treated with some skill and scene-setting, and it is ridiculous to bring them into an 18thC/Regency setting, where they really would have been used only in commercial sex.
    Contraceptive devices (as I am sure you all know) go back into remote antiquity, normally barrier methods such as sponges and vinegar or lemon-juice. The earliest condoms of which we have archaeological evidence in the UK date to the 17th century AD. There are a couple of 18thC ones on the collections of the British Museum (the picture in the blog looks like one of them, but no doubt they were all pretty similar). Oh, and they were still called ‘French letters’ in my youth – and one French name for them was ‘redingote anglaise’ – ‘English coat’.

    Reply
  124. Even people of my generation associate the use of condoms quite strongly with sleaze and prostitution. I find any mention of them in contemporary stories very intrusive; they have really only come into general use since the rise of AIDS. It needs to be remembered that the whole pattern of sexual morality was drastically different, at least in the middle classes, before the 1960s. By the 1950s, venereal diseases had become rare (and treatable), and AIDS had not yet emerged. Contraception was usually in the form of the diaphragm, which had come into use before the War. By the 1960s, the Pill was taking care of the risk of pregnancy for most unmarried women, and there was still very, very little danger of infection. Condoms really were used only by men consorting with whores.
    Even any mention of condoms in a novel set in, say, the 1950s, would need to be treated with some skill and scene-setting, and it is ridiculous to bring them into an 18thC/Regency setting, where they really would have been used only in commercial sex.
    Contraceptive devices (as I am sure you all know) go back into remote antiquity, normally barrier methods such as sponges and vinegar or lemon-juice. The earliest condoms of which we have archaeological evidence in the UK date to the 17th century AD. There are a couple of 18thC ones on the collections of the British Museum (the picture in the blog looks like one of them, but no doubt they were all pretty similar). Oh, and they were still called ‘French letters’ in my youth – and one French name for them was ‘redingote anglaise’ – ‘English coat’.

    Reply
  125. Even people of my generation associate the use of condoms quite strongly with sleaze and prostitution. I find any mention of them in contemporary stories very intrusive; they have really only come into general use since the rise of AIDS. It needs to be remembered that the whole pattern of sexual morality was drastically different, at least in the middle classes, before the 1960s. By the 1950s, venereal diseases had become rare (and treatable), and AIDS had not yet emerged. Contraception was usually in the form of the diaphragm, which had come into use before the War. By the 1960s, the Pill was taking care of the risk of pregnancy for most unmarried women, and there was still very, very little danger of infection. Condoms really were used only by men consorting with whores.
    Even any mention of condoms in a novel set in, say, the 1950s, would need to be treated with some skill and scene-setting, and it is ridiculous to bring them into an 18thC/Regency setting, where they really would have been used only in commercial sex.
    Contraceptive devices (as I am sure you all know) go back into remote antiquity, normally barrier methods such as sponges and vinegar or lemon-juice. The earliest condoms of which we have archaeological evidence in the UK date to the 17th century AD. There are a couple of 18thC ones on the collections of the British Museum (the picture in the blog looks like one of them, but no doubt they were all pretty similar). Oh, and they were still called ‘French letters’ in my youth – and one French name for them was ‘redingote anglaise’ – ‘English coat’.

    Reply
  126. “I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    OK, I accept the challenge 😉 I started to write a reply to the question here, but then I had to look up a few journal articles, it got very long and now I think I’ll have to polish it up a bit, and turn it into a blog post at TMT. I’ll try and get it finished in a day or two.

    Reply
  127. “I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    OK, I accept the challenge 😉 I started to write a reply to the question here, but then I had to look up a few journal articles, it got very long and now I think I’ll have to polish it up a bit, and turn it into a blog post at TMT. I’ll try and get it finished in a day or two.

    Reply
  128. “I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    OK, I accept the challenge 😉 I started to write a reply to the question here, but then I had to look up a few journal articles, it got very long and now I think I’ll have to polish it up a bit, and turn it into a blog post at TMT. I’ll try and get it finished in a day or two.

    Reply
  129. “I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    OK, I accept the challenge 😉 I started to write a reply to the question here, but then I had to look up a few journal articles, it got very long and now I think I’ll have to polish it up a bit, and turn it into a blog post at TMT. I’ll try and get it finished in a day or two.

    Reply
  130. “I’d love to see Laura Vivanco write about why we seem to love heroes who are so Out of Control that they can’t keep their boy toy in their pants or their hands off the heroine.”
    OK, I accept the challenge 😉 I started to write a reply to the question here, but then I had to look up a few journal articles, it got very long and now I think I’ll have to polish it up a bit, and turn it into a blog post at TMT. I’ll try and get it finished in a day or two.

    Reply
  131. Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.
    I love when romances acknowledge safe sex, particularly when historicals show the safe sex methods of the time. It doesn’t have to be intrusively written. Thoughtful, responsible characters would naturally consider preventing pregnancy.
    As for preventing disease, that’s a specter I’d rather not see regularly in romances, realistic though it may be. Without good medical tests or cures, how could the author contrive an HEA for a hero or heroine with an STD? I suppose a really ambitious book could attempt it, but it wouldn’t fit most romances.

    Reply
  132. Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.
    I love when romances acknowledge safe sex, particularly when historicals show the safe sex methods of the time. It doesn’t have to be intrusively written. Thoughtful, responsible characters would naturally consider preventing pregnancy.
    As for preventing disease, that’s a specter I’d rather not see regularly in romances, realistic though it may be. Without good medical tests or cures, how could the author contrive an HEA for a hero or heroine with an STD? I suppose a really ambitious book could attempt it, but it wouldn’t fit most romances.

    Reply
  133. Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.
    I love when romances acknowledge safe sex, particularly when historicals show the safe sex methods of the time. It doesn’t have to be intrusively written. Thoughtful, responsible characters would naturally consider preventing pregnancy.
    As for preventing disease, that’s a specter I’d rather not see regularly in romances, realistic though it may be. Without good medical tests or cures, how could the author contrive an HEA for a hero or heroine with an STD? I suppose a really ambitious book could attempt it, but it wouldn’t fit most romances.

    Reply
  134. Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.
    I love when romances acknowledge safe sex, particularly when historicals show the safe sex methods of the time. It doesn’t have to be intrusively written. Thoughtful, responsible characters would naturally consider preventing pregnancy.
    As for preventing disease, that’s a specter I’d rather not see regularly in romances, realistic though it may be. Without good medical tests or cures, how could the author contrive an HEA for a hero or heroine with an STD? I suppose a really ambitious book could attempt it, but it wouldn’t fit most romances.

    Reply
  135. Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.
    I love when romances acknowledge safe sex, particularly when historicals show the safe sex methods of the time. It doesn’t have to be intrusively written. Thoughtful, responsible characters would naturally consider preventing pregnancy.
    As for preventing disease, that’s a specter I’d rather not see regularly in romances, realistic though it may be. Without good medical tests or cures, how could the author contrive an HEA for a hero or heroine with an STD? I suppose a really ambitious book could attempt it, but it wouldn’t fit most romances.

    Reply
  136. Wynne wrote: “Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.”
    VERY differently, I assure you. 🙂 Any mention of a condom is an absolute sure-fire instant yucky passion-killer for me, and always was: moreover, I am typical of my generation. I know that the whole question is seen differently now – and I do understand and fully accept the reasons for the change – but the whole point about historical novels, whether they are set in the 1320s or the 1680s or the 1960s, is that they should be based on a sound knowledge of the attitudes and mores of the time, even if they are attitudes of which the contemporary reader does not approve. An author has the freedom to tweak the facts a bit, of course, but she needs to know the facts first, thoroughly. This awareness should include the readiness or otherwise of individuals to engage in sexual relations outside marriage, the intricacies of class differences, and also matters like the prevailing attitudes towards conception, illegitimacy and infection, and any devices used to circumvent the possible consequences of sex.
    If an author were to write a novel set in 1964, and put in the hero helpfully ‘protecting’ his partner (how I detest that term) by donning a condom, the 1960s atmosphere would come tumbling down with such a resounding crash that the book would have lost all credibility. I know we are not speaking of such recent history, but it makes a good case-study for understanding how drastically perceptions have changed even well within living memory. We MUST NOT impose contemporary mores upon the past. If an author wants to write about 21st-century middle-class Americans, that’s fine, and those of us who do not beling to that culture can still thoroughly enjoy reading about it: but a writer should never confuse the cultural baggage of 21stC middle-class Americans with the perceptions of 18thC English aristocrats or people of any other culture and time. Where ancient and modern perceptions are so different that they threaten to pull the reader out of the story, then a degree of tactful reticence is the only good answer.
    😀

    Reply
  137. Wynne wrote: “Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.”
    VERY differently, I assure you. 🙂 Any mention of a condom is an absolute sure-fire instant yucky passion-killer for me, and always was: moreover, I am typical of my generation. I know that the whole question is seen differently now – and I do understand and fully accept the reasons for the change – but the whole point about historical novels, whether they are set in the 1320s or the 1680s or the 1960s, is that they should be based on a sound knowledge of the attitudes and mores of the time, even if they are attitudes of which the contemporary reader does not approve. An author has the freedom to tweak the facts a bit, of course, but she needs to know the facts first, thoroughly. This awareness should include the readiness or otherwise of individuals to engage in sexual relations outside marriage, the intricacies of class differences, and also matters like the prevailing attitudes towards conception, illegitimacy and infection, and any devices used to circumvent the possible consequences of sex.
    If an author were to write a novel set in 1964, and put in the hero helpfully ‘protecting’ his partner (how I detest that term) by donning a condom, the 1960s atmosphere would come tumbling down with such a resounding crash that the book would have lost all credibility. I know we are not speaking of such recent history, but it makes a good case-study for understanding how drastically perceptions have changed even well within living memory. We MUST NOT impose contemporary mores upon the past. If an author wants to write about 21st-century middle-class Americans, that’s fine, and those of us who do not beling to that culture can still thoroughly enjoy reading about it: but a writer should never confuse the cultural baggage of 21stC middle-class Americans with the perceptions of 18thC English aristocrats or people of any other culture and time. Where ancient and modern perceptions are so different that they threaten to pull the reader out of the story, then a degree of tactful reticence is the only good answer.
    😀

    Reply
  138. Wynne wrote: “Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.”
    VERY differently, I assure you. 🙂 Any mention of a condom is an absolute sure-fire instant yucky passion-killer for me, and always was: moreover, I am typical of my generation. I know that the whole question is seen differently now – and I do understand and fully accept the reasons for the change – but the whole point about historical novels, whether they are set in the 1320s or the 1680s or the 1960s, is that they should be based on a sound knowledge of the attitudes and mores of the time, even if they are attitudes of which the contemporary reader does not approve. An author has the freedom to tweak the facts a bit, of course, but she needs to know the facts first, thoroughly. This awareness should include the readiness or otherwise of individuals to engage in sexual relations outside marriage, the intricacies of class differences, and also matters like the prevailing attitudes towards conception, illegitimacy and infection, and any devices used to circumvent the possible consequences of sex.
    If an author were to write a novel set in 1964, and put in the hero helpfully ‘protecting’ his partner (how I detest that term) by donning a condom, the 1960s atmosphere would come tumbling down with such a resounding crash that the book would have lost all credibility. I know we are not speaking of such recent history, but it makes a good case-study for understanding how drastically perceptions have changed even well within living memory. We MUST NOT impose contemporary mores upon the past. If an author wants to write about 21st-century middle-class Americans, that’s fine, and those of us who do not beling to that culture can still thoroughly enjoy reading about it: but a writer should never confuse the cultural baggage of 21stC middle-class Americans with the perceptions of 18thC English aristocrats or people of any other culture and time. Where ancient and modern perceptions are so different that they threaten to pull the reader out of the story, then a degree of tactful reticence is the only good answer.
    😀

    Reply
  139. Wynne wrote: “Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.”
    VERY differently, I assure you. 🙂 Any mention of a condom is an absolute sure-fire instant yucky passion-killer for me, and always was: moreover, I am typical of my generation. I know that the whole question is seen differently now – and I do understand and fully accept the reasons for the change – but the whole point about historical novels, whether they are set in the 1320s or the 1680s or the 1960s, is that they should be based on a sound knowledge of the attitudes and mores of the time, even if they are attitudes of which the contemporary reader does not approve. An author has the freedom to tweak the facts a bit, of course, but she needs to know the facts first, thoroughly. This awareness should include the readiness or otherwise of individuals to engage in sexual relations outside marriage, the intricacies of class differences, and also matters like the prevailing attitudes towards conception, illegitimacy and infection, and any devices used to circumvent the possible consequences of sex.
    If an author were to write a novel set in 1964, and put in the hero helpfully ‘protecting’ his partner (how I detest that term) by donning a condom, the 1960s atmosphere would come tumbling down with such a resounding crash that the book would have lost all credibility. I know we are not speaking of such recent history, but it makes a good case-study for understanding how drastically perceptions have changed even well within living memory. We MUST NOT impose contemporary mores upon the past. If an author wants to write about 21st-century middle-class Americans, that’s fine, and those of us who do not beling to that culture can still thoroughly enjoy reading about it: but a writer should never confuse the cultural baggage of 21stC middle-class Americans with the perceptions of 18thC English aristocrats or people of any other culture and time. Where ancient and modern perceptions are so different that they threaten to pull the reader out of the story, then a degree of tactful reticence is the only good answer.
    😀

    Reply
  140. Wynne wrote: “Being born in the 70s, I see positive rather than negative associations for condoms; but I think it’s interesting that other readers would see it differently.”
    VERY differently, I assure you. 🙂 Any mention of a condom is an absolute sure-fire instant yucky passion-killer for me, and always was: moreover, I am typical of my generation. I know that the whole question is seen differently now – and I do understand and fully accept the reasons for the change – but the whole point about historical novels, whether they are set in the 1320s or the 1680s or the 1960s, is that they should be based on a sound knowledge of the attitudes and mores of the time, even if they are attitudes of which the contemporary reader does not approve. An author has the freedom to tweak the facts a bit, of course, but she needs to know the facts first, thoroughly. This awareness should include the readiness or otherwise of individuals to engage in sexual relations outside marriage, the intricacies of class differences, and also matters like the prevailing attitudes towards conception, illegitimacy and infection, and any devices used to circumvent the possible consequences of sex.
    If an author were to write a novel set in 1964, and put in the hero helpfully ‘protecting’ his partner (how I detest that term) by donning a condom, the 1960s atmosphere would come tumbling down with such a resounding crash that the book would have lost all credibility. I know we are not speaking of such recent history, but it makes a good case-study for understanding how drastically perceptions have changed even well within living memory. We MUST NOT impose contemporary mores upon the past. If an author wants to write about 21st-century middle-class Americans, that’s fine, and those of us who do not beling to that culture can still thoroughly enjoy reading about it: but a writer should never confuse the cultural baggage of 21stC middle-class Americans with the perceptions of 18thC English aristocrats or people of any other culture and time. Where ancient and modern perceptions are so different that they threaten to pull the reader out of the story, then a degree of tactful reticence is the only good answer.
    😀

    Reply
  141. I just have a comment about the book you just finished,the characters sound a lot like the movie The Libetine,it starred Johnny Depp.

    Reply
  142. I just have a comment about the book you just finished,the characters sound a lot like the movie The Libetine,it starred Johnny Depp.

    Reply
  143. I just have a comment about the book you just finished,the characters sound a lot like the movie The Libetine,it starred Johnny Depp.

    Reply
  144. I just have a comment about the book you just finished,the characters sound a lot like the movie The Libetine,it starred Johnny Depp.

    Reply
  145. I just have a comment about the book you just finished,the characters sound a lot like the movie The Libetine,it starred Johnny Depp.

    Reply

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