Dec 16 2014 2:25pm

Happy V-Day!: Virgin Heroines from Kenyon, Quinn, and More!

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLeanHonestly, I’m a sucker for the virgin heroine. When done well, there’s something about the Dance of the Deflower that draws me in and keeps me captive through the night until I have my HEA. Why are virgins so ubiquitous when according to the CDC, 85% of all women have had vaginal intercourse by the age of 24*? By the time we are 30, we virgin femme fatales are almost non-existent. I have my theories why this trope remains one of the most popular and hence I present to you, my completely biased analysis, along with a few of my favorite books that do it so well.

1) We had such an awesome de-virginization process that we love to relive it over and over again.

2) Our first romp on the beach was so terrible it left permanent mental scarring of too much sand in all the wrong places. With these romance novels, we can claim amnesia of our first time and invent a new history of our foray into carnal pleasures.

3) The excitement! Even if our first time felt like lemmings jumping off a cliff, most of us daydreamed about losing it to some person who probably didn’t even know we existed—Yeah, I’m talking to you, Andrew McCarthy (I think I just aged myself)—and what it would be like: the tenderness, the romance, the adrenaline, the anticipation, and finally understanding what the Big O is all about. (I will never think about tires the same again).

4) The innocence—we as a society still like to tout: Save it till marriage. Or at least save it for someone special. And in the books, this is usually the case.

5) If we are still a virgin we can take notes. Ladies…don’t be afraid to do your research and keep a list of all the things you desire. Just remember, when you read about the ultimate lover who caters to your every whim and desire and knows your body and what you want before even meeting you by reading your mind? They are a unicorn. Communication with your future lover is key.

I personally gravitate toward women who have a believable reason for their sexual inexperience. These women are able to grow as a character—not because the male saves her and opens her up sexually, but because she takes charge and decides what she wants in life, sex being a great metaphor. She might struggle but ultimately she is the one who “heals” herself and has a squee-worthy partner along for the ride. No slut-shaming here, folks.

Without further ado: A few of my favorites by subgenre…

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia QuinnHistorical
There are so many virgins in this genre because women weren’t supposed to have sex until the wedding night.

Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Terrible title. Awesome heroine. Tired of being a timid wallflower, Calpurnia Hartwell makes a list of nine things she would do without societal restrictions. The first: to be kissed. Which leads her to seek out the gorgeous, rich, and rakish Marquess of Ralston. I read this book 4 times in a row flying from Seattle to Seoul. (Yes I had other books, no, I wasn’t interested in them).

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Penelope Featherington is witty, independent, and an entrepreneur. She finally gains the affections of one Colin Bridgerton, handsome rake and travel-fiend (flight-risk) extraordinaire. While he may be experienced in the bedroom, she is the one that ultimately helps Colin find himself.

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Beatrix Hathaway is an eccentric wallflower more comfortable with animals than people. She ends up penning a letter for her friend Pru’s love interest, Captain Christopher Phelan, who quickly succumbs emotionally to the horrors of war. Only he doesn’t know it is Beatrix and Beatrix can’t stop writing to him. What unfolds when he returns is a beautifully written story about Post-war PTSD, trust, and healing.

New Adult
Why oh why did they not have this genre when I was a teen and young adult?

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Olivia is an American who moves to Scotland to live with her biological dad. She becomes “one of the guys” and best friend to drool-worthy model-esque Nate Sawyer. What starts out as a platonic contract for Nate to teach Olivia about physical intimacy ends up in an emotional entanglement. They both help each other work through the loss of a loved one and in the end, find the courage to love one another.

Foreplay by Sophie Jordan Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Pepper is a college student who has been crushing on her best friend’s newly single brother, Hunter, for years. Self-conscious about her inexperience, Pepper’s roommates decide she should practice on the local bartender rumored to be hot and easy. The only caveat, Reece is anything but a player. I’m ashamed to say I avoided this one for a year and kick myself for being stubborn. The chemistry, tension, and buildup alone make this book worth it.


Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This one made me cry. Warning- it makes more sense when you can read it in order than as a stand-alone, and the first half of the book is his backstory which is heavy. The romance doesn’t enter until the second half but so worth it. Dr. Soteria Kafieri is a professor of anthropology determined to prove Atlantis is real. Acheron, a God, Final Fate and Dark-Hunter, knows that if the professor is successful, he will be humiliated and destroyed. And thus begins their dance.

SEE ALSO: Acheron Fantasy Casting!

*(you can check out this report from the CDC to see all sorts of interesting facts on sexual behavior).


Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean  
Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn  
Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas  
Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young  
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan  
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon  








Tanya is a fanatic of romance and teaches sociology part time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Suzanne Noll
1. zannerina
One of my favorite virgin heroes is Sir Mark Turner from Courtney Milan's Unclaimed. Love his philosophy for saving himself.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I have a seriously deep affection for all the books you mentioned! And I love your theories, keep 'em coming!
3. TanyaLK
Zannerina, I'll have to read that one---Always looking for really fun virgin heroes and heroines.
4. TanyaLK
Thanks Jenn :)
Do you have other virgin heroine books that you love?
Katie G
5. Katie G
Another excellent book featuring a virgin hero is Archer's Voice. I love the storyline and the hero is vulnerable without being emasculated.
6. Bianca
I've never (not) read or (dis)liked a book because the heroine was (not) a virgin. Or the hero for that matter.

For me it all depends on the rest of the story. If there's a pretty, successful, happy and well-adjusted 30 year old woman who miraculously never had sex that falls in love/list with a guy and has her first time with him, I'm very likely to shake my head and move on to another story, but if there is a reason for her still being a virgin (As long as it makes sense for the heroine I'm okay with it.) like a bad experience, shyness, religious reasons, being in love with just that one guy and waiting for him or something...

What's more important is that their first time TOGETHER is good for both of them. Not necessarily perfect because that's just not very likely, but good and satisfying and in no way embarrassing for either of them.

The sex life and the previous sexual encounters have to fit the characters for me to enjoy it.
7. TanyaLK
Hi Katie,
Loved Archer's Voice! Great hero virgin for sure. Would be fun to do another blog post on virgin heroes again. (I think one was done a few years back).

And Bianca, I'm like you in that there needs to be a realistic reason for the virginity and then I can buy the story. And yes, I LOVE when the first time together is amazing. :)
Jennifer Proffitt
8. JenniferProffitt
@Tanya, I'm a big Kresley Cole fan and she has quite a few virgin heroines including from book 1 A Hunger Like No Other. Pleasure of a Dark Prince, Lothaire, and Dark Desires After Dusk also have virgin heroines (those four pretty much round out some of my faves in the series too). And their virginity/chastity is actually pivotal to the story telling.
9. TanyaLK
@JenniferProffitt, Thanks Jenn! I've read one of them but will have to check out the others- Have read a bunch in that series but haven't gotten through all of them yet. :)
Katie G
10. lizzie18
I still like virgin heroines in novels and I know exactly why.

I like the build up, the anticipation, to the sex scenes. I don't like a book where they end up in bed in the first 50 pages. I like the tension, the will-she wont-she and, in modern books, I also like the guy's reaction, usually a mix of surprise and confusion. I also think it adds a touch of tenderness on the hero's part during that first encounter. I do like raunchy but not one the heroine first time with a lover, whether she's a virgin or not.

All this being said, a thirty year old virgin is quite a bit out of the norm for a contemporary novel but try Lynn Kurland's first book, Stardust of Yesterday, one of the most romantic but also quirky and even hilarious novel I've ever read (wore out my initial copy and had to replace it).
11. TanyaLK
Hi lizzie18, I'm with you too- I love the slow buildup and often get put off if the two are having sex right away unless the storyline works really well.
I'll definitely check out Lynn Kurland's book, thanks for the rec!
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