Virgin Heroes

I’m piggy-backing this off a thread on Karen Scott’s blog. I like virgin heroes. I like them a lot. I don’t care for the “rake,” reformed or otherwise. I stopped reading regencies because they are so unrealistic in this regard. Dudes would’ve been eaten up with STDs. Syphilis, in particular, was far more virulent back in the day. Your body parts would literally fall off. (Yeah, I’m a disease and history geek, which you would know if you read Try a Little Tenderness. Koss is only a virus hunter because I’ve read so many books on the subject I figured I might as well put the research to good use.)

If you’ve read Try a Little Tenderness, and seriously, if you haven’t, well, I’m hurt. IMO, it’s probably one of my best books, at least that’s what Crystal Hubbard says, and she’s like a writing jedi master, so there! Anyway, if you’ve read the book, you know that Koss, the hero, is one sexy geek virgin. Socially awkward, he started college early. None of the college girls would date someone so young, and now he’s a professor and his students are his age, but off limits. Koss is probably my favorite hero. Twist, one of the heroes of Rock Star Weddings, is also a virgin. He lied about his age and joined the band young. The groupies scared the all living hell out of him, so Naysa, the heroine, is his only lover.

How about you? How do you feel about virgin heroes? Have you read a lot of them? Diana Palmer, who used to be a guilty pleasure of mine, does a lot of male virgins. I understand the hero of Outlander is also a virgin, but, and I know I’ll be flayed for this, I’ve never read the book. In my defense, it seems that I always hate the books others love. People rave so much about Son of the Morning that I finally read it despite my misgivings about time travel books. Plus Lisa and I are working on a project that involves time travel. I wanted to see how a master storyteller like Linda Howard handled it. I hated it! Not the time travel aspect. That was fine. No, it was the rest if the book I loathed. For one thing, there was no romance. For another she went back to fourteenth century Scotland, to live! While pregnant! Are you kidding me? Less than twenty five years before the Black Death?! How many different ways can you say, hell no? I still haven’t read Lord of Scoundrels for the same reason.

Sorry, I digress. Back to virgin heroes. I think I like turning the usual trope on its head. I really like pairing my virgins with a sexually experienced woman, but I imagine it would fun to have two virgins figuring out love together. Would you like to see more virgin heroes? Do you like them? Have you read many?


I realized the other day that Dark Star is the first book I’ve written with flashbacks, and I’m really not sure why. Certainly reunited lovers is one of my favorite themes, but I’ve never done flashbacks before. Looking back, I think that was a problem with Try a Little Tenderness. I wrote it as essentially a two-part story because I didn’t want to tell the whole story of them meeting in flashback. That style worked for some, but didn’t work for others. I think it might have impacted the pacing.

Now with Dark Star I’m wondering if the flashbacks might be hurting the pacing as well. I don’t think the story works as well without them and there are only two, but I’m not really sure. How do y’all feel about flashbacks? Do you prefer them italicized or in regular font? Do you like them, tolerate them, or loathe them with a deadly passion? Let me know what you think.

Throwaway Characters

I like creating characters. I was a lonely child and had lots of imaginary playmates. Now as a writer I get to put all those fun people down on paper. The thing that’s most interesting to me though, is the way those secondary characters tend to capture the imagination of my readers. I put in a lot of work on my primary characters. They typically have long a long backstory much of which doesn’t make it into the book. My secondary characters are typically created on the fly. Take Nate Randolph, the hero of my current WIP Dark Star. Nate was part of Tonya’s backstory, her long-lost love who takes off for the Peace Corps and is never heard from again. So when I was writing Rock Star I knew someday I’d do this story reuniting her with this secret agent man. The interesting thing is the way he popped up in Try a Little Tenderness. In that story once I’d stranded Koss and Lola on Ile de Lina, I needed a way to get them out again. As initially written Koss was going to do a rescue type thing and save Lola, but really that made no sense. Koss is one sexy geek, but he’s no commando, it seemed crazy to have him going up against professional mercenaries alone. So, I went through my catalogue of characters for a fighting man, it worked perfectly to have Nate show up and help them out. Also, Nate was talking to me incessantly the whole time I was writing Try a Little Tenderness. It was deucedly hard to finish that book because he simply wouldn’t SHUT UP! I had to put him in the book or lose my freaking mind. It wasn’t a big part, but boy did it have impact. I’ve had more emails about Nate than any other character I’ve created besides Tonya. And once I revealed that he was Tonya’s long-lost love the interest went stratospheric.

Another more recent character is Jacinto from Buttercream. He doesn’t even appear in the book, yet something about the adopted Vietnamese man with the Latino name who lives in a yurt in Kansas making goat cheese struck a chord with people. I do plan to do a whole series of novellas about this quirky little family which is near and dear to my heart, but this interest in both him, and Poppy’s sister, Daffodil caught me by surprise. I love off-beat characters and I think I’ll have a lot of fun with these ersatz hippies.

For the writers who read this blog, how about you, do you have secondary characters that have taken on a life of their own? Forcing you to write their story NOW! Readers, how do you feel about secondary characters, how much is too much? Do you enjoy having them, or are they a distraction?