Why a bisexual hero? Because gay guys are the absolute hottest! With all the “slash” and fan fiction out there, I know I’m not the only woman turned on by the idea of two men together. Of course, these days there are romances that feature two men instead of a man and a woman. There’s only one problem: they’re not interested in women—in us, the readers (and writers). But if the hero’s bisexual—problem solved.
Lovely as it is to think about two hunky guys making out, that’s not all we want from a romance. We want to imagine ourselves into the story, which means we want at least one of those hot, sexy men to desire us, or at least our stand-in, the heroine. For me, and for readers like me, a romance with a bisexual hero is a way to have a double slice of (beef)cake and eat it too, so to speak
That’s why I made my hero, Andrew, primarily gay in the beginning of the story. The gay/bisexual hero is an excellent excuse to take that same old domineering alpha male we all adore and make him more acceptable to independent, intelligent, 21st-century women readers. I didn’t think I could get away with having an old-fashioned, bodice-ripping, arrogant “top” for my hero—but make him a domineering, supercilious, pantaloon-ripping gay Regency buck and—wow! Smelling salts, please!
Most of us readers of romance novels like masculine, sexually active men, the rakes who conquer every attractive body, until they are finally conquered in turn by that one woman who inspires the previously unthinkable emotion in them—love. My bisexual hero is a rake—but with men—who discovers during the course of a marriage of convenience that he can love one woman—his wife. It’s a twist on the usual dilemma of the rakish hero’s having to scale back his amorous lifestyle to accommodate marriage. Here he’s expanding his considerable sexual repertoire, not diminishing it. And showing him to be an experienced Don Juan with men but clueless with women provides the necessary touch of light comedy without detracting from his virility.
Besides his obvious physical charms and his aristocratic hauteur, Andrew’s greatest romantic asset is his honesty. He’s upfront about his preferences from the beginning, which is why this MMF situation can become a love story. But it’s essential to find the right kind of wife for a bisexual man, and in the character of Phyllida I felt I created Andrew’s soul mate. Her innocent sensuality, along with her spirited self-respect and rational outlook are the perfect counterparts to his domineering masculinity, his integrity and sense of honor. Like all of us women whose hearts beat faster when we see our ideal man kissing his sexy boyfriend, Phyllida delights in knowing that, whatever he gets up to with men (and she, and we, can be sure it’s a lot) her husband will never betray her with another woman.
A word that keeps coming up in discussions of my novel is “ménage”—and that can sound a little scary. Because it’s a bisexual romance, ultimately my hero meets that one special man as well as woman. Now, there are many ways of being bisexual; and many bisexual people have relationships with only one partner at a time. The reason I chose to have my hero involved with both a man and a woman simultaneously is that, for some of us, the MMF situation is the ultimate fantasy: being that one special woman in a relationship with two men. I don’t like to give away the extremely happy ending, so I will only say that “Phyllida” isn’t too scary; there are no three-way romps and, strictly speaking, the arrangement is not a triangle. At the end of the story there’s just enough unresolved sexual tension to keep our hero’s marriage(s) interesting and vibrant.
Finally, making my hero bisexual adds an element of danger and a humanizing touch of vulnerability. Sodomy was a hanging offense in 1812, and even “attempted sodomy” brought a stint in the pillory—not as much fun as it sounds. All my gay and bi male characters are in danger of paying with their lives merely for expressing their sexuality. For these men, members of the moneyed upper classes (the traditional subjects of the Regency romance), used to doing precisely as they please and apologizing to no one, this one “weakness” makes them more sympathetic to us modern readers.