Apr 15 2011 9:00am

Purely Delicious: Top 5 Virgin Heroes

The Texan’s Wager by Jodi ThomasI adore virgin heroes. Adore. I love the reversal aspect; it’s so common for romance heroines to be virgins that’s it barely worth mentioning in a review (unless they’re a virgin widow!), but male virgins have always been few and far between. Given that the most common characteristic of a romance hero is his sexual skill, it takes a lot of skill to pull off a virgin hero.

A hero’s virginity can be a mere gimmick, but those types of books quickly fade from memory. For me, quality is shown by how creatively the author makes the hero’s virginity part of his characterization or vital to the plot.

Below are my top five favorites in this sub-genre. They are almost all American-set historicals. Perhaps this is because the Aristocratic Rake is a lot more rare in America, due to the lower numbers of Aristocrats. And, paradoxically, the percentage of male virgins seems to be higher! (By the way, judging from the male virgin books I remember, if you want to find a male virgin, your best hope is to look among cowboys. In Texas.)

5. The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas – I love this one because it combines “male virgin” with another of my favorite sub-genres, the Marriage of Convenience. The setting is 1870s Texas. The heroine, Bailee, ends up married to the hero, Carter, after he “wins” her in a lottery (there are complex plot reasons for this which I won’t go into here). Carter’s always been solitary and bookish and not skilled at interacting with people. Bailee is much more outgoing, but she’s also in a very uncertain situation. In this short category novel, the plot is very focused, and it’s lovely to watch them coax each other into a relationship. It’s a sweet, touching book.

Untouched by Anna Campbell4. Untouched by Anna Campbell – this is the first novel I read by Campbell, and it remains my favorite because the plot is so gloriously wacky, resulting in incredibly high levels of narrative tension. It’s set in Regency England. The hero, Matthew, has been declared insane and held captive by his uncle since the age of 14 (for nefarious purposes, of course!). Grace, the widowed heroine, has been kidnapped for Matthew in order to keep him quiet. Matthew doesn’t realize that Grace is there under duress; Grace doesn’t immediately realize Matthew is not insane. The conflict is heightened when the uncle threatens Grace if she doesn’t seduce Matthew within a week, so Matthew’s virginity, and his reasons for it, are a big part of the tension. It’s definitely a book for those who love wildly emotional stories.

The Way Home by Megan Chance3. The Way Home by Megan Chance – I’m a big fan of the so-called “beta hero,” and the virgin hero of this book, Aaron, is an excellent example. This book is set in 1876 Texas. The heroine, Eliza, initially gives her virginity to Aaron’s brother, Cole, who abandons her and leaves her pregnant, all her dreams crushed. Reclusive, responsible Aaron marries her to protect his brother and falls desperately in love with her. He secretly writes her poetry because he is so shy that he can hardly bear to speak to her. Eliza has had few options for a better life until now, but because of her past, it takes her a while to accept Aaron’s loyalty and his love for her. It’s definitely worth the journey; this is a long, complex novel with wonderful characterization.

Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi2. Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi – this book’s hero, Jesse Best, suffered cognitive impairment from a childhood accident. The book is set in Arkansas in 1906. The others in the town where he lives call him “slow;" his issues are more with thinking quickly and with expressing himself than thinking in general. It’s a terrific virgin hero story because virginity is just one of the things Jesse has to overcome; he has to prove himself to himself as well as to his future wife and to the rest of the town. Jesse has been blocked all his life from having the things he wants: respect, a home, and a wife. He has the opportunity to obtain all three when the heroine, Althea, needs someone to help her prepare her farm for the winter. Jesse wins her over with his honesty and his loyal and determined hard work, especially notable in comparison to her other suitors. He’s a person who sticks by what he knows is right, regardless of the opinions of others, and that’s one of the major things Althea begins to love about him. The resulting romance is sweet and unique.

Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney1. Wild At Heart by Patricia Gaffney – of all the books on this list, I think this is the most complex thematically and has the most richly imagined setting. The hero, Michael, was a “wild boy,” taken in by an anthropologist in 1890s Chicago who wants to study him. The heroine, Sydney, is the anthropologist’s widowed daughter, who’s being courted by her father’s research assistant. Michael is a virgin because, well, he lived alone in the woods from childhood until his capture in adulthood; his virginity in sex is part of his overall virginity in dealing with other human beings. His “wild” state gradually changes with his experiences in the novel, and as he regains lost memories. Even in the face of terrible treatment, he’s honest, empathetic, and insightful. There’s so much going on in this book, so much more than Michael being a virgin; in a way, losing his virginity is just another way he rejoins the community of humanity.

Have you read any of these? Do you appreciate a virgin hero? What others would you recommend?


Victoria Janssen is the author of three erotic novels and numerous short stories. Her latest novel is The Duke and The Pirate Queen from Harlequin Spice. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more

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Deanna Lynn C
1. Deanna Lynn C
I am SOOOO excited about this post. I also adore virgin heros! I agree that it is so hard to find them in our lovely books of romance and it's always a refreshing thought to think of a man who has waiting so long to sleep with the right woman. It's just romantic and unique and amazingly awesome! LOL. I am so happy that you have listed your top 5 favorites because they will ALL be going on my TBR list to check out! One of my favorite authors was writing a series and one of her characters was a male virgin...the problem is she changed publishers and wasn't able to get to his book. :-( I was really curious about him and I still am. LOL. But I don't think my questions and curiousity will be answered. I honestly have never read another book with a virgin hero but ever since that one was introduced I have been missing something in my reading and I do believe it will be fulfilled with these books and more! :-D
Keira Gillett
2. Keira
Yay virgin hero love! I adore Karl from Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer. Favorite scene is probably the two of them snuggling after the deed on top of a tick mattress that makes lots of noise and they're discussing the size of her breasts in hushed voices to avoid waking the younger brother. Blueberries vs vatermelon. ;)
Deanna Lynn C
3. Lucky4
I love the virginal hero. I will definitely be looking to add these books to my TBR list.

Kresley Cole had her inexperienced vampires (Sebastian and Conrad) in IAD series. It somehow makes them all the more appealing. Sex is power and giving that power to the female makes it so sexy!
Victoria Janssen
4. VictoriaJanssen
@Deanna! I hope you enjoy these.

@Keira, I haven't read that one yet, so will add to my list.

@Lucky4, Conrad almost made this list! It was very close.
Deanna Lynn C
5. Kristen Painter
I'm adding some of these to my TBR pile! I have a virgin hero in Dark Kiss of the Reaper. You'd think the Angel of Death would get around more, but no, not so much. (You can find the book here if you're so inclined.)
Kate Nagy
6. Kate Nagy
You left out my favorite virgin: Jamie Fraser in Outlander. Jamie's virginity is part and parcel of his appeal -- he's younger and more inexperienced than world-weary Claire (who is, for the record, married, but her husband lives two hundred years in the future so it's technically okay). But of course, he turns out to be...more than adequate between the sheets.

It never would have occurred to me to look for virgins among the cowboys of Texas, but you learn something every day. ;-)
Carrie Strickler
7. DyslexicSquirrel
I can only remember one off the top of my head: Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor. Him being a virgin only added to his appeal. I loved that book.

Cowboys in Texas you say? I've always appreciated a man in a tight pair of jeans and a Stetson. May have to plan a trip to go visit my friend. Hmm...
Louise Partain
8. Louise321
What about Jo Beverly's hero, Francis Haile, Lord Middlethorpe, in Forbidden? An integral part of the tension of the plot is his inexperience pitted against her enforced sensual knowledge.
Deanna Lynn C
9. Nif
Wow, these all sound fantastic.
Cheryl Sneed
10. CherylSneed
One of my faves is in a Regency Trad by Karen Harbaugh called The Reluctant Cavalier - a lovely beta hero. The epilogue is a hoot - it's the morning after the wedding night and our hero had gotten a book to help him with the evening's festivities. The h/h both seemed pleased with the results.
Janet Webb
11. JanetW
Here's an excellent description of a wonderful Regency virgin (from the Good Ton website). It's Barbara Metzger's
Snowdrops and Scandalbroth. Fawcett, 1997.
Characters: Courtney Choate, Viscount Chase & Miss Kathlyn
Summary: Virgin tries to prove he's a rake by hiring a poor
lady to play his mistress.
Rating: excellent
I always chuckle at how they meet, how his servants treat her, and how it all unfolds so amusingly in a way that only Barbara Metzger can pull off!

@CherylSneed Another title for my positively groaning To Be Bought pile! Thank you!
Deanna Lynn C
12. njoireading
A few more to add: Pleasure Me with the added bonus of a younger man/older women. I also remember Eloisa James' Duchess series and the couple who had been married as young children and he "kept" himself for his wife in When the Duke Returns.
Deanna Lynn C
13. Cammy
Try Secondhand Wife by Chery St. John. Beauty & the Beast + virgin hero. Love that one. Just finished rereading it this morning! Also, All about Romance has a reader's listing for this. The reader listings haven't been updated in over a year, but this list is a good place to start.
Deanna Lynn C
14. RoseInRosebear
Oh, I love Ferdinand in No Man's Mistress, by Mary Jo Putney. Tight leather riding breeches, hard fists, and a sensitive soul ... yum!

I, too, like the virgin hero ... I'll be searching for these!
Victoria Janssen
15. VictoriaJanssen
Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Some of them I have read, and some are favorites, but I had to keep it down to five, which was really difficult!

@Louise321, I considered Francis, but decided since he lost his virginity pretty early in the book, that he didn't fit the category exactly. Even though his virginity/lack of is a big issue in the plot.

@CherylSneed, I haven't read that one! And it sounds right up my alley!

@JanetW, I think I read that one, way back, but don't remember any of the details. *makes a note*

@Cammy, HIS SECONDHAND WIFE almost, almost made this post, but then I decided 3 Westerns was too much. I've been getting more Cheryl St. John books thanks to that one.

@RoseinRosebear, I confess I totally forgot about Ferdinand. It's been so long since I read that one! Time for a re-read!
Deanna Lynn C
16. Johanna J
YAY! I love virgin heros!!!!
Mary Balogh's No Mans Mistress is one of my favs! It's on my keeper shelf with the rest of Balogh's books!
Miranda Neville's The Dangerous Duke is a awesome hot story.
Eloisa James' When the Duke Returns is smokin'.
Monica Burns Pleasure Me is supposed to be very good too.

Thanks ladies for all the other recomendations!!! Adding to my wish list now!!!!
Deanna Lynn C
17. Alpha Lyra
I've read Wild At Heart--that book was a lot of fun. I like this (rare) trope too, and my favorite is Games of Command, by Linnea Sinclair, a science fiction romance in which the hero is not only a virgin, but he's kind of a cyborg (which is the reason for his lack of previous romantic encounters).
Deanna Lynn C
18. Celticreeder
I have actually been keeping a list of my own of all the Virgin Heroes that I've come across either by reading them myself or coming across sites like this! So far, I've listed 134 virgin heroes spanning from adult romance, fantasy and YA books. I'm sure there are more out there! My all time favorites are a toss up between 'The Naked Duke' by Sally Mackenzie and "How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire" by Kerrilyn Sparks. Both are soo sweet and you just can't help falling in love with the characters! Although, "Kiss Me, Annabelle" by Eloise James and "Story of Son" a short story by J. R. Ward in the anthology "Dead After Dark" are really close contenders as well. I hope to come across more and I hope more authors will decide to add to this small catagory. I'm even working on my own Virgin Hero story!
Deanna Lynn C
19. kochouran
My favorite virgin hero is Wren from Unleash the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. He never showed an interest in women until he met Maggie, and he ends up being a tiger in bed in more ways than one.
Deanna Lynn C
20. Antoinettemm
Wow I never realized there were so many virgin heros. I Loved
"Story of Son" a short story by J. R. Ward in the anthology "Dead After Dark" Michael is amazing. I also like the three sherrilyn kenyon/ kinley magregor heros Wren, Sin and Zerek. Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't ther hero of Linda Howards Son of the Morning a virgin? I can't believe there were so many I had not read better start reading!
Deanna Lynn C
21. Joss
Unveiled by Courtney Milan was a great book about Sir Mark Turner, brother of a duke and acclaimed author of a "practical guide to chastity." He's also a virgin. The novelty, his powerful family, and his good looks make him a great catch. Jessica Farleigh is a courtesan determined to catch him nd prove he's not the man everyone thinks he is (for a tidy sum, of course). Sir Mark is a strong passionate hero and it was touching to see how he demonstrated his love and respect for Jess in a way that is rare even to this day.
Deanna Lynn C
22. Suebirdlover
Linda Howard's "Son of the Morning" was definitely NOT a virgin... but he was still pretty awesome. My favorite virgin above all is Jamie Frasier -- whoo!!! I absolutely ADORE those books and am waiting on pins and needles for the next one
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