The pairing of a bad boy, tattoos, piercings, and all, with a ‘good girl’ librarian is a perfect blend of popular male and female fantasies, right? But what happens when the “girl” isn't quite so good? What if underneath all those “pearl-buttoned cardigans” lies the desires of real women, vixens even, ready to strut their stuff? Cara McKenna, Victoria Dahl, and Lauren Dane all take a look at this phenomenon in varying ways and show us just exactly what's possible when a librarian lets down her chignon-styled hair and decides to let loose.
In envisioning a librarian, her outward appearance typically comes across demure, or uptight even. It’s important to understand that a neatly coiffed up-do and modest-length pencil skirt are not merely elements of a professional facade though; the wardrobe also offers an element of protection from the outside world. In Dahl’s Looking for Trouble, Sophie Heyer has worked hard to maintain a certain image, fighting against the backdrop of a small town knowing her mother had run off with another woman’s husband. Determined to prove she’s a very different person, Sophie assembles herself daily in vintage style, including “dresses and kitten heels.”
It doesn’t mean that she isn’t fully aware of her own potential; far from it, in fact. She has a tantalizing mystery hidden just beneath those throwback outfits, one she’s quite willing to share if, no, when she finds a worthy man. Sophie decides that Alex Bishop is a good candidate for what she has in mind: great sex with a man who shaves his head and rides a motorcycle. Better yet, his short stay in town will mean no strings attached. As Alex takes her out for a long ride on his bike, as promised, Sophie gives him a taste of that little extra she has to offer:
‘Alex bunched her skirt in his hand and raised one side of it, sliding it up her leg, waiting for her to stop him. She didn’t. His hand touched bare skin, then the warm strap of her garter belt. Jesus.
“Do you wear these to drive men crazy?” he growled.
He felt her smile against his jaw. “I wear them to drive me crazy.”
Damn. He’d thought he was hard before, but now he was in pain. Yes, she was a secret, and his hand was on the hot skin of her thigh.
He gripped her there, and her knee rose, just a few inches...’
The thing that sets the librarian characters apart from others in romantic tales is the knowledge they’ve surely amassed with repeated exposure to books, including steamy tales of love. They understand the true power of words. McKenna’s Hard Time demonstrates this in spades as Eric Collier begins a series of letters to Annie Goodhouse, showing the depth of his desire for the woman he meets while he’s still incarcerated. His gentle nature, illustrated in his letters, combined with a super-toned body that’s hard to deny, convince Annie to continue their adventures in writing until he’s released.
It’s the respect that frames his (sometimes very) dirty words and his near worship of Annie that enable them to continue seeing each other on the outside. It’s understandable that Annie struggles with the ‘ex-con’ part of the equation. The strength she acquires through her dealings at the prison, as well as opening up to the possibilities with Eric finally allows Annie to unleash what she’s been holding back for so long. She finds power in her own voice and uses it wisely...and wickedly:
‘“You still touching yourself?” I asked , breathless...
...I knew this man too well. “Touch it just a little. Real light.”
When his pained groan came through the phone, I knew he’d obeyed. My pleasure drew tight as a knot from that alone. From this weird little kink I’d never known I’d had, my need to make a man weak. Especially one as strong as Eric. Five years he’d survived in a cage full of angry men, yet I had him writhing from a thousand miles away, from nothing but my voice, my desires. Another soft sound of desperation teased my ear, and my own hand sped, pleasure growing.’
With a myriad of wardrobe choices and the manipulation of the English language available to take our librarian heroines to new heights, all that remains sometimes is a little push from a best friend to get things moving in the right direction. Dane’s The Best Kind of Trouble sees Natalie Clayton wrestle with the notion of dating Patrick (Paddy) Hurley, a man she’d had a fling with years before, and despite his rock star status now, still remembers her vividly. Her best friend Tuesday tells her to “live a little,” encouraging Natalie to at least sample the goods happily being offered.
Despite her trepidations over the loss of control in any situation, Natalie allows the completion of her personal metamorphosis for Paddy. She becomes a force, matching Paddy’s own prowess in the bedroom, and gains a new found ability to shake him to the core:
‘“You’re so dirty. You wouldn’t know it from first glance. But holy shit, you make me hard as hell.”
She reached back and undid her bra, letting it fall down her arms. “No one else has to know about a secret, Paddy. That’s the point. I can be dirty here with you. Like this. No one at my job needs to know I’m wet for you. No one at the grocery store needs to know I chose my showerhead not only for the way it massages my back.”
He might have whimpered, but it was hard to hear over the roaring white noise in his head...’
Each of these women are struggling with family issues or situations from the past that continue to haunt them. And while they’re all scenarios that need to be dealt with and are integral parts of the characters’ conflicts, the beauty in their stories is that the librarians in question also realize life must still go on. They understand, with no small amount of help from their bad boy heroes, that a woman shouldn’t be kept from her potential, especially when it comes to sex. These women represent the dichotomy of stern librarian and sexual being, and through their experiences, transform it into an enviable way of life.
Jackie Lester imagines a day when she can make a living as a writer. Until then, she reviews eclectic books at My Ever Expanding Library and lives in small-town Ontario with her daughter.