<i>Primal Heat</i> Part 1: Exclusive Excerpt Primal Heat Part 1: Exclusive Excerpt A. C. Arthur "His lips took hers in a hungry connection..." <i>In the Fast Lane</i>: Exclusive Excerpt In the Fast Lane: Exclusive Excerpt Audra North "He could hear that strong feminine voice in his mind." <i>Do Not Forsake Me</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Do Not Forsake Me: Exclusive Excerpt Rosanne Bittner "He always knew there’d be the devil to pay." <i>The Perfect Bargain</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Perfect Bargain: Exclusive Excerpt Jessa McAdams "He was right—she was too prim for that."
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Showing posts by: Heather Massey click to see Heather Massey's profile
Thu
May 21 2015 12:30pm

Futuristic Breeder Romances in Sci-Fi Erotica and Erotic Sci-Fi Romance

Breeder by Cara Bristol

(Trigger Warning: This post involves references to rape and non-consensual sexual acts in SF erotica and erotic sci-fi romance.)

Breeder erotica is alive and well and has been around for many years. It's particularly a staple of SF/horror erotica. It also makes regular appearances in erotic sci-fi romance. A cursory check of Listopias on Goodreads will turn up packed-to-the-gills lists of “Mars Needs Women” and “impregnation” stories.

Breeder SFRs typically involve heroines who are captured for often non-consensual, forced impregnation (or at least that's the initial intention). These stories typically include graphic sex, dark content, and some romance. One of the more popular premises is that an alien species has lost all or most of its childbearing women and so require a fertile, compatible species in order to survive.

In a science fiction/SF erotica tale, it's a pretty horrific situation since women (usually from Earth) are kidnapped, raped, imprisoned, and forced to bear children. To what extent does adding a romance change or transform such stories?

Cara Bristol's Breeder is pretty transparent about its dark content. The society is one in which patriarchy runs amok. Men rule the world and they view women as subhuman.

[Men ruling the world, again?]

Thu
May 14 2015 4:30pm

Vampires of Future Past: Nina Croft’s Dark Desires Series, A Futuristic Twist on the Vampire Romance

Break Out by Nina Croft

Paranormal romances often feature centuries-old vampires, but stories featuring a (non-alien) vampire in a far future setting are few and far between. That kind of boggles my mind given how popular paranormal romance has been. Why, then, haven't we seen vampires migrate to science fiction romance in greater numbers? Is there a significant difference in plausibility between vampires in contemporary settings and futuristic ones?

Many vampire romances explore the dynamic arising from the pairing of an experienced hero lover and innocent/virginal/ordinary heroine. If that's the type of fantasy one wants, there may not be much point in setting such a romance in the future.

On the other hand, vampire romances in a technology-based world could easily offer other types of fantasies. A futuristic setting would lay the groundwork for a variety of romance pairings. For example, a science-fiction romance could feature a vampire who's so bored after living a thousand years that s/he decides to pioneer terraforming (making planets habitable for humans). This could lead to the vampire building an interstellar empire. What if someone discovered the CEO is a vampire? Would the public see him/her as a monster, or would the vampire's scientific achievement temper potential negative reactions? What kind of romance might evolve from a situation like that? What kind of themes could such stories explore?

Nina Croft's Break Out (Entangled Publishing) is one of those rare vampire-in-space sci-fi romances and it also offers a different spin on the vampire romance. (Others may consider this title PNR—and in this case we'd all be right!). Break Out kicks off the author's Dark Desires series. I'll discuss Deadly Pursuit and Death Defying in a bit.

[Take the futuristic ride one page at a time.]

Wed
May 6 2015 4:30pm

How Great Thou Art: Winged Heroes in Sci-Fi Romance

Breathe by Kelley HarveyWinged heroes are majestic, cool, mysterious, and, of course, hot. When a sci-fi romance features a winged hero, it does so with a twist. A few authors have taken the concept of winged heroes and planted them in sci-fi romance's futuristic and technology-based settings. Their efforts have yielded a crop of superhuman delights.

In this genre, the resemblance to paranormal or fantasy winged heroes is generally in name only. Sci-fi romance winged heroes have a variety of origins. Some are alien-based, some are created from bio-engineering, and some have technological origins. Despite being the heroes, they aren't all exactly angelic in nature—a few are quite the bad boys.

I've rounded up some sci-fi romances featuring winged heroes for you to check out, based on books I've read. If you know of others, tell me about them in the comments!

Kelley Harvey's angst-ridden Breathe (Devastation #1) is the first episode of her New Adult series (please note, it ends in a major cliffhanger). This story falls in the “alien hero who fell to Earth” category, but with an angelic twist. The setting is contemporary and offers a friends-to-lovers romance. The hero and heroine are college-age and face major family changes. Breathe also features superhuman elements and an additional twist, which, of course, I shall not breathe (!) a word of, in order to avoid spoilers.

[+More reading suggestions...]

Thu
Mar 5 2015 5:30pm

If You Like Science Fiction Romance: What to Read After Linnea Sinclair

Games of Command by Linnea SinclairAuthor Linnea Sinclair was one of the game changers in science fiction romance for two reasons. One, she infused her books with as much science as romance and achieved a balance many readers found satisfying. Two, she was a relentless advocate and marketer of the genre. In fact, for a few years, she was the face of sci-fi romance. And her influence over the genre is still felt today.

Linnea Sinclair's first book with Bantam, Accidental Goddess, was published in 2005. During and after the appearance of her sci-fi romances, digital publishing exploded. This has meant more interest in sci-fi romance as well as many more choices for readers who enjoy it.

It was easy to find and pick Linnea Sinclair's books since they came out at a time when it seemed like all the sci-fi romances in existence could be counted on one hand. These days, readers have hundreds of books to choose from. But where's a reader to start if Linnea Sinclair was her main gateway to sci-fi romance?

To make the search easier, I'm going to build a bridge between some of Linnea Sinclair's most popular contributions to SFR and the genre's current offerings by presenting you with an array of titles that have elements in common with her books.

Games of Command

The least you need to know: Admiral Branden Kel-Paten is a tough “biocybe” military soldier with a heart of gold. During a mission to protect the galactic Alliance, he tangles with Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian, a woman who finds a way into his heart despite his strict anti-emotion programming.

[Let the recommendations begin...]

Fri
Feb 27 2015 3:30pm

Comedic Sci-Fi Romance: Sex, Jokes, and Science in Space

Knight of a Trillion Stars by Dara JoyOne of life's literary challenges involves the combination of science fiction, romance, and comedy—three genres competing for center stage in a single story. Blending these three genres well is no small feat—I imagine it’s like trying to juggle a watermelon, a pineapple, and a kiwi fruit.

Despite my interest in all three of these genres, I harbor some fears about them in combination. What if a story winds up lacking strong emotional impact or depth? Funny and meaningful aren't mutually exclusive. Or a story might fall into campy territory and fail to offer any satire or humorous social commentary. I don't always want to turn off my brain just because a story is humorous.

I take my sci-fi romance seriously in that I have a general preference for serious fare. That's not to say I avoid reading SFR with humorous elements or situations. Such scenes can provide crucial balance in an otherwise dark story. But all-out comedy? That's another matter.

Also, as in the case of parody, the story is inviting me to laugh at my favorite genre. Sometimes I can do that and do so with glee; other times I have difficulty suspending my disbelief over a comedic approach to serious issues. This area, of course, is where execution is key, because I also know that compelling stories will draw me in despite any misgivings I may have.

There are really only a handful of comedic sci-fi romances. It's not a big surprise, given the literary juggling act involved in writing them. But they're out there. Here are a few that, despite my doubts, made a memorable impression on me. They're listed in order of publication date.

[Read on for a good time...]

Thu
Jan 15 2015 5:45pm

An Intimate Sense of Wonder: Genetically Engineered Characters in Science Fiction Romance from Leigh, Dohner, and More!

Tempting the Beast by Lora LeighThe beauty of having scientifically enhanced characters in sci-fi romance is they bake a “sense of wonder” right into the romantic relationship. It's a clever way to streamline a story's science fictional elements as well as integrate them with the romance.

The technique makes the featured technology very, very personal. Intimate adventures from kissing to intercourse take on new meaning and allows for an exploration of a variety of issues through the lens of a romance. After all, it's not a stretch to imagine the existence of enhanced humans in real life at some future point. Given enough time, funds, and research, genetic engineering may become a part of our daily lives. SFR allows readers to explore such possibilities as well as how they might impact our romantic relationships.

Genetic engineering elements and lab enhanced characters can be adapted for many stories and settings, whether near future or far future, on Earth or a distant planet. It involves the fantasy of gaining superpowers, but ones more subtle than those of Superman. Enhanced abilities include increased strength, bio armor, telekinetic powers, healing powers, or the ability to experience the life aquatic on other planets.

Many SFRs feature heroes and heroines who were enhanced in a laboratory as a result of genetic engineering or other types of scientific experimentation, often of the sinister kind. Lora Leigh’s erotic series The Breeds is one of the earlier ones and it features heroes who were bred, without their consent, with the DNA of predatory animals like lions. You'll find a similar premise in Laurann Dohner's steamy New Species series. And in Sharon Lynn Fisher's The Ophelia Prophecy, the hero is part of a genetically engineered race of humans who share traits with Earth insects.

[Certainly not your usual type...]

Thu
Jan 23 2014 5:30pm

Missing in Action: Alien Heroines

Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena ShowalterInterspecies science fiction romances aren't new, but those with an alien heroine and human male pairing seem to be fairly uncommon. Today's Big Question: Why is that?

By “alien heroine,” I mean an alien who is markedly distinct, biologically, from human women in some way (admittedly, the distinction isn't always a significant one, usually in the interest of making the character accessible).

Not every sci-fi romance has aliens, but of those that do, I go in expecting either the hero or the heroine to be one (or even both). I don't have an expectation for just one type of alien character. So if the heroine is an alien, cool.

Perhaps I'm an outlier, though. It's interesting to note that Goodreads has a list of “Outer Space Heroes Sci-Fi Romance” and “Best Alpha Male Alien Meets Human Heroine Romance,” but for the life of me I can't locate a similar list for alien heroines. Something's telling me that alien heroines aren't familiar enough to readers. I wonder why?

[Calling all alien heroines...]

Mon
Jan 6 2014 2:15pm

More Than Meets the Eye: Book Covers in Sci-Fi Romance

The Empire by Elizabeth LangIt's been said—a lot—that a book's cover is one of the most important marketing tools. A good quality cover will intrigue readers to pick up a book and read the blurb (or in the case of an ebook, click through to the blurb).

Despite this wisdom, many covers bend and even break the rule of strategic packaging. Over the years there have been some awful, jaw-dropping covers in all genres. Sometimes this means a sharp disconnect between a cover and the story. In other words, a cover isn't always the best indication of how entertaining a story actually is.

I was reminded of this phenomenon while reading BuzzFeed's 13 Fantasy Novels That Are Good Despite Their Covers. As a big fan of science fiction romance, I've seen my share of less-than-stellar covers for stories that are more entertaining than the packaging would suggest. I worry some readers might pass over a fun read because the cover isn't up to snuff.

Therefore, I thought I'd do a similar roundup of SFR books that, for me, are entertaining despite their covers. (Art, of course, is subjective, so your mileage may vary.)

The most technically flawed cover I've ever seen for a story mixing SF and romance was the original cover for Elizabeth Lang's The Empire (SF military space opera with a light romantic subplot). The cover design for that book made me question what I truly want in SFR covers. Is it better to accurately represent the story, even if the end result is of questionable quality? Or is a simple approach more effective when one doesn’t have the resources of a mainstream print publisher?

[Please DON'T judge these books by their covers...]

Sun
Dec 1 2013 4:30pm

Is Orange Is the New Black Paving The Way For Prison Romances?

Orange Is the New Black posterThe comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black was a surprise hit few saw coming. The 13-episode Netflix original series is based on a memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman. In Kerman's book, she chronicles her experience as an inmate at the minimum-security prison FCI Danbury. The show itself focuses on the prison “adventures” of protagonist Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as she navigates the treacherous waters of a fictional federal prison in Litchfield, NY.

Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) features a multicultural, ensemble cast. In fact, the characters surrounding Piper represents the show's greatest strength. My personal favorite is Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), a transgender woman who runs the hair salon. I about died of happiness when the camera invited me, the viewer, to take the first revelation of her transgender nature seriously (as opposed to it being played for laughs). OITNB is a very female-centric show, but one with immense cross-over appeal.

OITNB is superbly written and acted. It also delves into a subject that's traditionally been explored mainly in film. I use the term “explored” loosely since I'm referring to the history of “women in prison film.”
The show has its share of inmates duking it out before leering guards and T&A titillation, but it presents a far more nuanced—and at times gut-wrenching—portrayal of incarcerated women.

It also features a lesbian love story. Emphasis on story, not romance. The relationship between Piper and her old flame, Alex (Laura Prepon) is complicated, messy, hot, and angst-ridden. The show has elements of romance, but doesn't follow romance genre conventions.

[How has the romance genre tackled prison love?...]

Sun
Nov 17 2013 4:30pm

Romancing the Video Game

Ambrov XRomance in video games range from subtle, sometimes unrequited romantic relationships to a romance that's a prominent subplot. Games where a romance is an integral part of the plot, however, are few and far between.

I was reminded of that fact when I learned about Ambrov X, a role-playing video game based on author Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s Sime~Gen Universe. It's currently in development at Loreful.

According to the official site:

Set in the award winning Sime~Gen Universe by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, Ambrov X casts players in a far distant future as leaders of an unlikely but elite crew tasked with planting space beacons which allow for faster than light space travel. The Ambrov X saga unfolds into an action-packed story of first contact. Complete with epic battles and emotional decision making, Ambrov X brings to life the single-player, story-driven RPG through a thrilling space opera adventure. Ambrov X is scheduled for a 2015 release on Windows, OS X and Linux. With alternate releases for XBOX, PS4, iOS and Android to be released at a later date.

When Loreful announced that Bioware’s Jennifer Brandes Hepler had joined the team, a significant sci-fi romance related detail about the game emerged:

“Ambrov X” is a science fiction RPG focusing on a future humanity that has split into two separate and symbiotic races, forcing players’ characters to enter a tight, emotional, both predatory and romantic relationship with a single bonded companion character.

[You had us at “romantic relationship”...]

Wed
Nov 13 2013 4:45pm

Are We Ready for Tentacle Romance Yet?

Tentacles of Love by Margaret CarterThanks to the wonders of the Internet, we have access to things like dino erotica and lizard man heroes (e.g., R. Lee Smith's The Last Hour of Gann and Barbara Karmazin's The Huntress). In fact, there have been many such unique scifi and paranormal romance characters. I'm not sure if we'll be seeing dino-shifter heroes in romance anytime soon, but heroes with tentacles strike me as having superb potential.

More Than a Man by Emily Ryan-Davis and Elise Logan is a futuristic erotic romance with a wildly fantastical premise: the heroine mixes up her holiday gift shopping list with her list for the Manporium, a place where a woman can order the man of her dreams. The kicker? Noelle had ingredients for gingerbread men cookies on her shopping list.

After Noelle's new lover shows up, she discovers he has a few…unique qualities. Spoiler alert: one of them involves tentacles. The tentacle sex is simply one of many, many techniques the hero uses to pleasure Noelle during the course of the story (which makes sense given that it's heavy on the erotic elements). Yet upon reading how sensually his tentacles came across, I wondered why there weren't more romances featuring heroes with tentacles.

I embarked on various searches for more titles like More Than a Man, but came up woefully short. I did find Song from the Abyss by Margaret L. Carter. The hero, Dean, “…has spent years in another dimension. Sinuous tentacles are only the most visible mark of his alien transformation. Who is he now? What is he?” Dean sounds sinister, but also intriguing, yes? And the author also has a title with Ellora's Cave called Tentacles of Love.

[So basically what it says on the tin...]

Thu
Nov 7 2013 4:00pm

Can Sci-Fi Romance Give Readers a Fresh Twist on New Adult Stories?

Maven by S.A. HuchtonSome readers have been lamenting the sameness of New Adult titles, particularly the “bad boy hero meets innocent heroine,” dynamic. Therefore, I started wondering if the ones with a science fiction setting might offer a different twist. In my reading experience, that's certainly the case with S.A. Huchton's Maven, which launches her Endure series.

I first learned about Maven after blogging about my love of undersea adventure stories. I'd expressed a wish to read science fiction romances set beneath an ocean (on any planet). Subsequently, author S.A. Huchton gave me the heads-up about her book. Here's the blurb:

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

Maven is a strongly character-driven book. The story takes place aboard the Endure, but the characters don't deep sea dive for exploration purposes or embark on wild undersea submarine chases. Rather, it's a type of “lab lit” tale.

The heroine and hero are up against a corporate-style villain and there are mild suspense/mystery elements (including a scene of sexual jeopardy). The science in the story is extremely accessible but doesn't feel dumbed down.

[How about some SFR with your New Adult?...]

Tue
Jul 16 2013 9:30am

Close Encounters of the UFO Erotic Romance Kind

Lucy in the Sky by Barbara ElsborgUFO sightings and alien abductions are generally described as eerie, often terrifying encounters. There are countless reports about people being taken aboard alien spaceships and subjected to strange exams and experiments. In many of the scenarios, the aliens have complete control and seemingly god-like powers. It's the ultimate fear of the unknown at work.

Yet some UFO accounts are much milder in nature, and even seem to have erotic undertones. For example, in 1897, a St. Louis-Post Dispatch newspaper article relayed the report of one W.H. Hopkins, a man who claimed to have seen not only an unusual airship in Springfield, Missouri, but also its crew. Intriguingly, the woman and bearded man were nude. Both were gorgeous, according to Mr. Hopkins, and also possibly from Mars. During this alleged encounter, he reportedly kissed both of their hands in greeting.

Given such sensual details, was Mr. Hopkins’ account a thinly veiled erotic fantasy? If so, how wild that the newspaper printed it!

Most accounts describe UFO encounters that aren't so benign in nature. Yet through the power of erotic romance this abduction narrative has been transformed into steamy sexy times for modern readers. Science fiction has the “Mars Needs Women” trope, which is targeted at a heterosexual male audience. In erotic romance, it has taken on a new life to become “Women Need Hot Alien Lovin'.”

[They're not from around here...]

Tue
Jul 9 2013 9:30am

Royalty in Space: Science Fiction Princes and Princesses

Leia Organa, the Original Space PrincessSo y'all remember Science Fiction Saiyuki Starzinger, right? The anime show that aired in Japan from 1978-79? It featured a princess who joined forces with three cyborg warriors to restore balance to the universe. Ring a bell? Half a bell? No?

Well, Starzinger, which aired under the name Spacekeeters (ha ha, get it?) in the U.S., was my first introduction to a character of royalty in a space opera setting, namely, Princess Aurora. I'm a longtime fan of anime like Starzinger and Voltron, both of which feature princess characters. Decades later, I'm still very curious about the choice, and even more so the way similar characters make appearances in science fiction romance.

Space opera characters of royal descent are an interesting co-op of fantasy tropes. As a fan of both SF and fantasy, I sometimes experience doublethink regarding such characters. On the one hand, I totally understand the appeal, because I've been swept away by the characters myself (Starzinger seemed positively obsessed with Princess Aurora taming Jesse Dart, a wild warrior Alpha male. Highly entertaining!).

On the other hand, I feel ambivalent about sci-fi princes and princesses because their association with fantasy/fairy tale settings is super glue strong. Sometimes, when reading a book or watching a film/TV show, I get the feeling a sci-fi prince or princess has been displaced, or actually belongs in a fantasy romance. The occurrence isn't always easy to reconcile.

Why are princes and princesses so prevalent in sci-fi romance? Is it an attempt by authors to create stories with cross-over appeal, or are there other reasons?

[Once upon a time, in galaxy far, far away...]

Fri
Jun 7 2013 9:30am

Have Tech, Will Travel: Big List of Tech-Based Time Travel Romances

Love Story 2050 film posterThere are two general modes of travel in time travel romances: magic/paranormal (e.g., magic amulet; portal) and scientific devices (e.g., time machine). As a fan of science fiction romance, I gravitate toward the latter. The ability to manipulate the sands of time using mechanical devices is a fun concept. And placing that kind of technology in the context of a romance doubles the entertainment. Tech-based time traveling devices can provide a romance with all kinds of interesting challenges.

I'm always on the lookout for new (or new-to-me) titles in this category. While perusing the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror links at SF Signal recently, one post about Time Travel Romances by author C.E. Murphy caught my eye. I became excited and hoped I'd learn about some new titles.

Here are the titles she mentions:

  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Doctor Who (the show)
  • The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  • The Walker Papers series by C.E. Murphy (begins with 2005's Urban Shaman)

Umm…wahh! I'd expected quite a few more books. Perhaps C.E. Murphy and I have different definitions of a post involving “time travel romances.”

[What would you choose?...]

Sun
Apr 14 2013 11:30am

Vampires...In Space! Why Such a Rare Breed?

Break Out by Nina CroftSeemingly ages ago, author and Star Trek guru Jacqueline Lichtenberg wrote about alien vampires in her books Those of My Blood (1988) and Dreamspy (1989). Given their mix of science fiction, fantasy, and romance, the stories are among the forerunners of paranormal romance.

Fast forward to 2012: Nina Croft’s Break Out (Entangled Publishing) hits the virtual shelves. Break Out features a supernatural-based vampire hero in a futuristic setting. It’s a lighthearted action-adventure space opera romp about a space pirate vampire who joins forces with the heroine to rescue her brother from the maximum security prison of a powerful corporation.

As a vampire living in the far future, Rico has emotional baggage, but he’s not highly angst-driven. Given his history, he’s a Friend of Old Earth, so there are quite a few Old Earth references. At one point he plays poker with actual cards—no holographic card deck for him!

In terms of mythology and the cultural mindset toward vampires, Rico is still a mythical being in that world. He’s a known space pirate, but people like Skylar, the heroine, have only heard whispers about his true nature. On the other hand, his crew knows exactly what he is. He bares his fangs a time or two and has glowing eyes. The fact that he seems only mildly concerned about hiding his true nature raises the question about how humans from a technologically advanced culture would react to an ancient vampire in their midst. Would they even fear him?

[That's a good question...]

Thu
Mar 28 2013 12:00pm

Love and Death: Noir Sci-Fi Romance

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb“A woman doesn't care how a guy makes a living, just how he makes love.”

—Rita (Helen Stanton) in The Big Combo (1949)

Even if you’ve never heard of the term “film noir,” you’ve probably read a book or have seen a movie in that genre. Film noir refers to “…stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.” With roots in 1930s crime fiction, film noir’s first major wave was during the 1940s and 1950s.

This genre encompasses a broad category of films. It’s strongly associated with a private eye or law enforcement officer as one of the main characters. Other well-known elements are the femme fatale leading lady and an urban setting. It’s also important to note that “Thematically, film noirs were most exceptional for the relative frequency with which they centered on women of questionable virtue.” Noir even extended to science fiction, with films like Blade Runner and Dark City being notable examples of “science fiction noir.”

Given the scope of film noir and crime fiction, it’s no wonder the genres made their way into science fiction romance. J.D. Robb’s In Death series is one prominent example. In a nutshell, it’s noir-flavored crime fiction in a near-future setting. Beginning with Naked in Death, the series follows heroine Lieutenant Eve Dallas as she solves various crimes and embarks on an intense, complex romance with wealthy businessman Roarke. Eve’s character refreshingly subverts the typically male lead in this genre.

[There's something about Eve...]

Sat
Feb 9 2013 11:00am

Can Heroes of One Size Fit All Readers?: How Heavyset Heroes Can Rock Your World

Seth RogenYou may recall a post here about the physical attributes of romance heroes: Authors Elle Kennedy and Vivian Arend on Hot Bods in Romance. Two passages in particular stood out to me:

The moment he’s back in action, he’s toned and muscly again—and let’s be honest, that’s the way we like it. Because, come on, we read to escape.  To fantasize. ...

When I’m reading a romance, I don’t want my hero being described as chubby or overweight. I don’t want to read about potbellies, love handles, back fat, or double chins.  I don’t want him getting out of breath after carrying the heroine five feet to the bed.

I read those parts with keen interest. Why? Because in all honesty, I'm a reader who enjoys reading about heroes with non-traditional bodies and in particular, heavyset/chunky heroes. While I understand the appeal of sculpted flesh, I feel strongly about challenging the broad assumption that “...and let’s be honest, that’s the way we like it.”

Can we really paint all romance readers with such a broad brush? Seems to me the definition of “hot” varies across readers. Some of us love heroes with beards or mustaches. Others don’t. Some like tall heroes while others prefer heroes of average height. Then there’s differences of opinion about hair color, skin color, facial features, etc. I find it difficult to believe one-size hero fits all.

In fact, some of us gravitate to the Seth Rogens and Jonah Hills of romance heroes. Heavyset heroes are perfectly valid characters, even though the publishing marketing machines would have us believe otherwise.

[Big guys need love too...]

Sat
Jan 5 2013 12:00pm

Feels Like the First Time: Virgin Heroes in Sci-Fi Romance

Games of Command by Linnea SinclairSexually experienced heroes are a traditional aspect of romance stories. It’s a great fantasy because they’re masters of their lovemaking craft. Every touch of a skilled hero is guaranteed to set the heroine’s skin ablaze.

Sexually experienced heroes aren’t going to vanish anytime soon, but virgin heroes can certainly give them a run for their money—for one thing, they’re equally passionate about sex. They’re simply waiting for the right partner.

Whether heroes are virgins by choice or by destiny, they’re often mature and demonstrate a world of self-restraint despite strong cultural expectations that they engage in copious amounts of copulation. There’s also a unique intrigue associated with the raw, primal passion of a man who simultaneously claims his heroine and makes love for the first time.

We often discuss memorable heroine “deflowering” scenes, but what about those of virgin heroes? Which ones stand out the most against the romance landscape?

[You always remember your favorite first time...]

Mon
Dec 10 2012 5:30pm

Extraordinary Heroines—and the Heroes Who Love Them—in Sci-Fi Romance

Alpha by Catherine AsaroThere are many, many romance stories wherein the hero is a creature of the paranormal world and he’s paired with a human heroine. But what about the reverse scenario? That is our $64,000 question of the day!

Science fiction romance titles frequently feed my appetite for heroines with special abilities. Since sci-fi romance features more tech-based/non-human characters (as opposed to those with preternatural abilities), I like to call them “extraordinary heroines.”

Extraordinary heroines fascinate me not only because of their special qualities, but also because the characters tap into my own need for empowerment. I admire extraordinary heroines who push gender boundaries and challenge stereotypes. The cooler they are, the harder my crush.

[Warning: Dangerously high levels of awesome ahead...]