by Paige Turner
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Scenes of dubious consent in erotic romance novels are a hot-button topic – a kink for some people, and a definite squick for others.
But let’s face it, dubious consent scenes are nothing new in romance. The traditional (and rather dismissive) view of romance is the Barbara Cartland bodice-ripper. All steely-eyed heroes and manly embraces on one side, all heaving bosoms and swooning on the other. Although Barbara Cartland’s later novels had little in the way of saucy scenes, her heroes were dominant and her heroines were virginal – and often had to be coerced or even forced into the hero’s arms. Of course it was what they really wanted deep down and everyone lived happily ever after. But if that isn’t dubious consent, I don’t know what is.
I think the difference today is that we write dubious consent scenes with a little more self-awareness. We write dubious consent scenes not dubious consent relationships.
In old-fashioned romances, the hero is cruel or angry. He crushes the heroine to him and his kisses are hard, relentless or punishing. He is supremely confident that when the heroine says no, she means yes. The power dynamics are always in favor of the hero – the pirate and his captive, the Earl and the governess, the billionaire boss and his secretary. Old-fashioned bodice rippers aren’t playing to a kink – they come from a world where men are our masters, and women are wilting violets with no minds of their own.
Romance readers today demand more from their characters. Whether male or female, they want them to be three-dimensional with strengths and flaws. They don’t want dim-witted heroines and emotionally distant heroes, because they recognize that a bully and a nit-wit are unlikely to live happily ever after, even in the fantasy world of erotic romance.
While it’s possible to argue that bodice rippers were the original dub-con, it’s more accurate to say that dubious consent is the bodice-ripper all grown up.
If you like the sound of a story where the power dynamic is firmly in the heroine’s favor, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Temporary Trouble and a Paige Turner teddy bear to snuggle up with while you read.
Blurb: When jokes in work time turn into serious playtime.
For Ben and Aaron, bored of the same old temping assignments, playing practical jokes makes the job a bit less boring and keeps them out of more serious trouble. That is, until their female boss catches Ben on the photocopier with his trousers down, and sees the sexual tension the boys haven’t quite admitted to themselves.
A good boss has to discipline her staff, and Ben has been a very naughty boy indeed. And what better job for her other temporary office boy, Aaron, than to help her administer the punishment Ben deserves?
Reader Advisory: This book shows naughty boys having their bottoms warmed and exploring each other’s sweet spots.
Excerpt: Ben dropped his trousers and peeled his boxers down his thighs, allowing them to puddle at his feet. Aaron tried not to stare. He wanted Ben, really wanted him—he was honest enough to admit that much to himself—but he wouldn’t risk their friendship for anything. Not even for the chance to kiss that cynical mouth and run his fingers through the dark, close-cropped hair. But how could he help staring when Ben had his cock out, right in front of him? It was thick and curved and, Aaron couldn’t fail to notice, slightly erect, as though Ben was turned on by the mischief they had planned, turned on by breaking the rules.
The photocopier room wasn’t really much more than a storage cupboard. Its photocopier was an outdated model that had recently been replaced with a high-tech monstrosity, and mainly it was used for storing packages of paper and boxes of toner cartridges. The chances of anyone popping in for supplies this early in the morning was remote, and anyway part of the thrill was the risk of being caught.
The plan was to replace the paper in every printer and copier in the building with photos of Ben’s arse—Ben’s tight, round, glorious arse, the one that featured so prominently in Aaron’s late-night fantasies and fumblings with himself. On more than one occasion he had got so carried away he had groaned Ben’s name, and had to pass it off as a nightmare when his flatmate had come padding through, bare-footed and tousle-haired from sleep, to make sure he was all right.
“…I said I’ll take the first two floors and you take the executive offices, HR, all that lot, okay?”
Nobody would notice them replacing the paper. Unless there was a boring job that needed to be done, temps might as well be invisible.
Ben braced his hands on the photocopier behind him and boosted himself up onto it, wincing as he settled his bottom on the cold glass.
“O-okay,” Aaron stammered, averting his eyes from the tempting sight of Ben perched on the photocopier, where Aaron could so easily put his hands on his strong thighs, part them and step between them, running his hands up and under the lap of his shirt, exploring the planes of his belly and chest as he leaned in and…
“Come on, then,” said Ben, wriggling impatiently.
And Aaron almost swallowed his tongue before he realised Ben wanted him to get started loading paper and pushing buttons for the thousands of copies they’d need to pull off their practical joke.
His palms were sweaty and his legs didn’t want to hold him up as he crouched to load the paper trays. And as he stood and started pressing buttons for dozens of copies—as many as he estimated the machine would spit out before he had to load more paper—he caught a whiff of Ben’s scent. With his head bent over the copier, he was at eye-level with Ben’s lap, and the smell of him filled his senses—heady and musky and masculine. His mouth went dry. He was overcome by a desperate urge to lick the crease where Ben’s thigh met his body. It seemed as though, this time, the joke was on him.
He looked up, despite knowing his want showed in his eyes, and met Ben’s gaze. The look on Ben’s face was surprised, questioning…lustful?
They locked gazes in silence for a moment, and Aaron allowed himself to hope that Ben wanted him in the same way he wanted Ben.
Aaron startled upright and Ben almost toppled backwards off the photocopier as the door banged open, rebounding off the wall, and their boss—their temporary boss—walked in.
“Gentlemen,” she said, as Ben scrambled to pull up his trousers, hopping on one leg in an ungainly, embarrassed dance, “or should I say boys?” Aaron opened and closed his mouth, but no sound came out. “You have a disciplinary meeting in my office in ten minutes.”
She turned and walked out, heels clicking on tile, as Ben overbalanced and tumbled into a box of toner cartridges.
Paige Turner likes to write love stories with a difference. Whether it’s boy-meets-girl, boy-meets-boy or werewolf-meets-vampire, she thinks everyone deserves a happy ending. She lives partly in England but mostly in Cyberspace. She enjoys dreadful puns and naughty stories, and believes the best way to have a good time is by being bad.
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