Monday, October 22, 2007

Real Men Do ... or Don't?

My book Forbidden Shores came out three weeks ago and there's quite a bit of buzz about it online. I'm very happy about that.

But a lot of the chat about it seems to be about the fact that the book has some m/m stuff. Nothing new, I'd have thought--except this book doesn't look like an erotic romance, it's cataloged as a historical romance, and the back cover blurb is, uh, discreet. Take this discussion at the All About Romance Reviews Board where the consensus seems to be that heroes do not take it up the ass.

The discussion of what they do do to each other was apparently continued via e-mail to protect the innocent. (Spoiler: Hand jobs, ladies! Hand jobs! Mostly.) This, plus the reaction at, where the book is the featured dueling review of the month (hooray! Although it seems to have turned into a Kinsale-fest, but that's okay), sent Erastes (a future guest here at the Spiced Tea Party) into a rant about whether romance readers are such delicate flowers as they appear to be. Plus Erastes has an additional bonus rant on the same post on the use/misuse of the term menage, something I have complained about too.

I spent some time, and had some ponderings with critique partners, about who would be top/bottom and couldn't reach a conclusion. There's one character, March, who's definitely bisexual and in a state of groveling horniness for Allen, the man he's in love with; Allen, meanwhile, will do just about anything to be with Clarissa, but out of innate decency doesn't want to lead March on, and is mostly heterosexual. So the characters defined the level of sexual activity, and I think it works. Just because it's erotic romance doesn't mean everyone has to do everything to everyone else; the characters determine their actions, not an editorial checklist.

And off-topic, Colette and I had a blast reading in NY last week. I made them laugh; Colette had them spellbound (she read the mirror scene in Unmasqued and I read the sex next to the chicken coop scene of Forbidden Shores).

So what's your definition of a real man in erotic romance?

Today's illustration is from Popular Science magazine, January 1964, in an article headlined: Automated Caveman Gets a Rear-End Drive: Despite his wide-open situation, the caveman on the preceding page is feeling no pain.


Kate Pearce said...

Well I'm done for then, because both of the heroes in my Regencies for Aphrodisia have all kinds of sex with each other, with their lovers, with their lover's wives...

perhaps-I'm not writing romance at all? :)

I love your book Janet, and I'm glad it's made waves-and compared to mine it's remarkably discreet! Perhaps I'll just go and hide...

Erastes said...

I'm looking forward to reading your book, that's for sure!

I'm glad about the kerfuffle, not for your sake, it must be frustratig, but anything that raises the profile of m/m historical fiction (even if, as it seems that only m/f/m is really acceptable mainstream so far) is a Good Thing.

For me I like a man with flaws. He doesn't have to be the scarred Byronic type with dark secrets, but a perfect man is just DULL, and I read far far too many of them. I don't like him (and I'm speaking from the m/m perspective here) to be too feminine, either which many writers seem to like, but then a spitting ball scratching farting man isn't my type either. Sigh. I know I'm fussy.

Anal sex isn't compulsory of course, and I think you've done the right thing by the sound of it - NOT for the shielding of the fragile flowers that are the Romance Reader's minds - but in the setting, time and place.

Just because it's erotic romance doesn't mean everyone has to do everything to everyone else


Pam Rosenthal said...

Well, I'm just sitting and staring at that graphic, Jane. However did you find it?

Jane Lockwood said...

Pam, google image search is a wonderful thing... (I searched on "caveman" but now I can't remember why).

Pam Rosenthal said...

"Caveman," huh? Your mind works in mysterious ways, but there's no arguing with success. Amazing image.

Sharon Page said...

Great, thought provoking post, Jane! And it is an amazing image.

In Blood Rose, my two heroes do have sex, as part of the m/f/m relationship, but mainly because they have had a powerful emotional bond for years. As vampire hunters, they've saved each others' lives. As men, they were jealous of each other--one is the 'privileged' nobility, the other is tough and street smart. It seemed right that they have sex, because the intensity of their bond was so much, that it had to be dealt with as part of the relationship. I still feel it is a very romantic book, too, so Kate--if you feel you are writing a romance, I think you are. :-)
Interestingly my critique partner wrote notes through draft 1 of the book along the lines of: "Drake loves Jonathon, whee!" where the men are posturing together, and being combative--i.e. hiding the emotional bond. I really enjoyed adding that level to Blood Rose (and to Blood Red, though the relationship is between one hero and the villain).

Sharon Page said...

I apologize for weird sentence constructions in my previous post. Sigh.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Your book sounds fascinating, Janet.

Meanwhile, like Kate, I'm probably doomed, cause not only do my men have sex with each other while being part of a menage a trois, they're in love with each other.