By Ranae Rose
I love a good hero and a good heroine. Who doesn’t? Most readers also have specific character traits they love to hate, and I’m no exception. Today I’m talking about the sort of heroes and heroines that make me wish I should jump into the story and slap some sense right into them! If you read romance, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Feel free to use the comments section to tell me what sorts of heroes and heroines drive you crazy.
The offending heroes:
The Cheater: Maybe he’s a playboy, or maybe it’s a one-time thing. I don’t care either way – I can’t stand an unfaithful hero. Once he’s found his true love, he’d better not stray. I’m more than willing to close the book on a hero who can’t keep it in his pants when he’s with anyone other than his partner (or hey, maybe even partners if the story is like that).
The Macho-Bot 2000: This guy has no feelings north of his belt. When he’s not ogling the heroine’s boobs, he’s probably thinking up new ways to replace the blood in his veins with extra testosterone. His lack of emotion makes him a bore to read about.
The Clueless One: He’s not sure what he wants, other than instant gratification. He may be a commitment-phobe whose fear of settling down endangers his relationship with his partner. He’s the opposite of the sort of hero I really love – the guy who knows exactly what he wants, sticks by his partner and does anything necessary to make it work. The clueless one will probably come around eventually, but by then I usually think he’s an ass for being so reluctant to act on his true feelings.
The offending heroines:
The Ball-Buster: This girl never gives the hero a freakin’ break. She’s constantly busting his balls, giving him a hard time and generally making it clear that she hates him. Of course he’s really into her and she secretly has the hots for him, but God forbid she let the relationship take its natural course. These bitchy heroines are infuriating and tiresome to read about. I usually end up feeling sorry for the hero and wishing the heroine would just fall off a cliff so he could find someone more deserving of his affection.
The Boyfriend-Stealer: Fortunately I haven’t come across too many of these nasty heroines, but they are out there: the women who just can’t seem to resist finding a taken man and then proceeding to seduce him away from the partner he’s already got. They always justify it to themselves somehow, but they’ll have a hard time getting this reader on board. It’s not easy for me to like a character that goes around stealing somebody else’s man.
The Material Girl: She spends half the book buying things, namely to expand her designer wardrobe. A third world country could probably be fed off the amount she drops on clothing. I just can’t relate, and reading about it gets old quick.
What about you? What traits can’t you stand in a hero or heroine?
Tiffany isn’t the type to waste time daydreaming about men, but when a hot stranger smoking – in more ways than one – on the steps of the bank she works at takes her breath away, she can’t help it. He catches her attention as she exits the building on her way to lunch break, and she leaves fantasizing about helping the bank’s newest customer-to-be with much more than just his finances. When he finally approaches the counter, it’s not to open a new account, but to demand that Tiffany fill a pillowcase to the brim with cash – at gunpoint. The gorgeous gunman takes Tiffany on the run as his hostage, and her fear can't stand up to her attraction. When he offers to let her return to safety unharmed she realizes that there are many things she wants to do to him, but that walking away isn't one of them.
"A totally gripping, sexy thrillride...the perfect combination of adventure and eroticism." - Lucy Felthouse
Excerpt from Taken Hostage:
After exiting the Mustang himself, he walked around the front and opened Tiffany’s door for her. She was overcome by a sensation of déjà vu – she’d imagined him doing the same thing in her fantasy. Now, in their current situation, it seemed absurd.
She stood uselessly as he tossed the pillowcase full of cash into the Saturn’s trunk and covered it up with the blankets and emergency roadside kit that were already stashed there. The ordinariness of her captor’s car and the contents of its trunk were intriguing. Who was this man, who apparently robbed banks after smoking on their steps and flirting with their tellers for half an hour? It wasn’t as if he could expect any of the plentiful witnesses to forget his face – it was only slightly too rugged to look like it belonged on the cover of GQ, or on a billboard in the city.
What in the world was he planning to do next?
Tiffany eyed the nearby woods speculatively. They were in the middle of the New York wilderness, half an hour from town. She had nowhere to run, and there was probably no one to hear her scream if she tried and he caught her. She dared a glance at her captor, who’d tucked the gun into the front waistband of his jeans. The bulge of the barrel beneath the denim reminded her of the similar protuberance she’d felt there when he’d pinned her against the Mustang in the bank parking lot. She no longer felt horrified by the memory – a fact that sent heat flooding into her face.
Once he’d finished packing the Saturn he opened the passenger door. ‘Ladies first,’ he murmured in a tone she’d heard already in her fantasy.
She sank into the passenger seat gladly, for her knees had begun to feel as if they might give out. ‘Where are we going?’ she asked as he turned his own set of keys in the ignition.
‘Far away,’ was all the reply he gave her.
She couldn’t stop asking questions. Now that her fear was beginning to ebb, a strange curiosity seemed to be replacing it. ‘If this isn’t your house, why’d we come here?’
‘Because the owner leaves every morning for work at 7:15 and doesn’t come home until at least 5:45 in the evening. So it should be at least that long before they discover the abandoned Mustang and figure out that I’m driving something else. We’ll be long gone by then.’
Tiffany noted his use of the word ‘we’ with a sudden rush of half-amazed, half-frightened anticipation. ‘You had this all planned out?’
‘Of course.’ He pulled the Saturn back out onto the road. ‘What’d you think, that I’m just some idiot who decided to rob a bank on the spur of the moment?’ He grinned at her, and she had to fight the sudden urge to grin back.
She shrugged instead.
He reached down, pulled out a hat from the small compartment on the driver’s side door and pushed it down on top of his head, hiding his hair.
‘Shouldn’t you make me lay down in the back seat or something?’ Tiffany asked. That was how the bad guys always did it on the crime dramas she liked to watch on TV.
He looked away from the road for a moment, turning the full force of his gaze upon her. His eyes were intense, but one corner of his mouth was pulled up in an amused half-smile. ‘Do you really want me to?’ He spoke in the same husky voice that’d starred in her pre-abduction fantasy.
She dropped her gaze, too abashed to maintain eye contact. What she saw when she looked down only deepened her embarrassment – though her kidnapper had removed the gun from his waistband, the fabric of his jeans was just as strained quite near where it had been.
Copyright © Ranae Rose, 2011
Taken Hostage is available from major e-book retailers, including:
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Taken-Hostage-ebook/dp/B005E4W0UK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317059716&sr=8-1
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taken-hostage-ranae-rose/1104729022?ean=2940011432422&itm=3&usri=ranae%2brose
All Romance – http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-takenhostage-581905-144.html
Ranae Rose is a multi-published author of red-hot romance. Believing that true love knows no bounds, she’s not one to confine herself or her characters to a single genre. She enjoys writing contemporary, historical and paranormal romances. Living on the US East Coast, she’s also an avid reader and animal-lover. When she’s not writing she can usually be found in the saddle or with a good book. You can find out more about Ranae and her books and get free reads at: www.ranaerose.com
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.
Pre-order link for Temporary Trouble
Flickr Attribute Jan Willemsen
A romance novel must always have a happy ending or at least the promise of one. Always. No exceptions. No ways around it.
The very idea of never, can't be and shouldn't be done, rankles. My muse glowers at me every time I try to force him to conform, to deal with rules and limitations. I can almost hear him saying 'I could make you write a romance and kill everyone'.
Scary thing is, I bet he could.
Maybe my idea of romance is different. Plays like Romeo and Juliette, like Othello, which I always considered romantic, are called 'tragic comedies'. One of my favourite books by Barbara Michaels, Black Rainbow, is gothic suspense. Any other book I'd list is probably not a 'real' romance.
What about Phantom of the Opera? Or actually, any opera? Aren't they all tragic? And the stories romance, no? Then there's movies like Titanic, Ghost, Pearl Harbor...
Flickr Attribute Professor Mortis
I could probably go on and on and you could probably shut down my every argument by simply saying either, 'that's not really a romance' or 'But that had a HEA'.
Can you have a HEA if one of both of the main characters die? Does the great love they experienced, and the closure of saying goodbye for now, knowing they will be together again, someday, meet happily ever after criteria?
Flickr Attribute Lily Warrior
I think it could. Then again, to me a romance isn't definied by how it ends, but by that moment when, as a reader, I truly feel that what's between the hero and the heroine is real. Nothing can take that away or make it something less—not death, not betrayal, not competition. What happens after is irrelevant. I would say a 'romance' that lacks that precious moment doesn't deserve the title. Let the hero and the heroine marry and grow old together, resolve their predictable misunderstandings, never ever stray. How sweet. Without either of them touching on that purest form of love, something we can all identify with in a raw, basic way, they're just a couple with a story.
Flickr Attribute Elyce Feliz
To me anyway. But I intend to take writing 'dark erotica' (a label given to books that might have romantic scenes and love but don't meet HEA requirements) to a whole new level. Might take me awhile, but one day I'm going to write a gothic romance and trash convention. And no one will be able to debate that the story is a romance.
If I can pull that off, my next goal is learning to fly ;)
Note: I was really bad assuming everyone would get the acronyms, sorry about that.
HEA- Happily Ever After
HFN- Happy For Now
GMAFB- Gimme a Fucking Break
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