Sep 20 2016 8:30am

The Double Standard of the Virgin and the Vixen, The Scoundrel and the Saint

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

Today we're joined by Sarah Maclean (A Scot in the Dark) on Heroes and Heartbreakers. For both the characters in Sarah's A Scot in the Dark, they're faced with the double standards of the world they live in—neither one being wanted for anything beyond how society sees them. Sarah is here today to discuss this very double standard, and asks the important question: why can't we have it all? Thanks, Sarah!

The Virgin & the Scoundrel. The Wallflower & the Rake. The Bluestocking & the Bastard. I can hear your happy romance novel sighs right now, Romancelandia. We love a rogue. And not just in books. We love a cad in the world. The sports star with the winning smile and the scandalous past. The Clooney-esque playboy who finally meets his match. The natural-born charmer, tall, dark and handsome, who can have any woman he wants. I should know, as I’ve written my fair share of scoundrels, and fallen hard and fast for every one of them.

SEE ALSO: Heroines Who Find Their Power: From Jane Eyre to Game of Thrones’s Sansa

But not all scoundrels are what they appear. In fact, one might argue that the best of scoundrels are the ones who, while the world see them as ne’er-do-wells, are not. They resist the label of rake or rogue, even as they live cloaked in it. But appearances count for so much in the world—now and in the 1830s’—and they shape who we are—and the best heroes struggle with labels just as heroines do.

And we know that heroines do struggle. No one is judged as much as the heroine of the story–too pretty, too smart, too tough, not tough enough, too smart mouthed, too mopey. Never perfect enough.

In my current book, A Scot in the Dark, Alec, whom everyone wants for his size and nothing more, and Lily, whom everyone shames for her beauty, meet. For my couple, their story means coming to terms with the perception of their past, the reality of their present, and the hope for their future.

While I was writing this book, I returned again and again to the same thought— that everything old is new again. We have always lauded the scoundrel, and lambasted the vixen. We pooh-pooh the good guy while we place the good girl on a pedestal. But why?

Why value the virgin and not the vixen? Why value the scoundrel and not the saint? And can’t we all have a little of both? Don’t we all have a little of both?

This book is about expectation. And perception. And desire. And love. It’s about friends and lovers and kindness and judgment, and it’s about the way the world sets us unreachable standards.

But mostly, it’s about the standards we set for ourselves—and how, through love, we somehow, suddenly, remarkably, meet them.


Learn more about or order a copy of A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean, available now:

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New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “gracefully furious.” Sarah lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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