From Michelle: Our Bella Janice Maynard first visited after she made the erom scene w/ a lervely little number, "Suite Fantasy," which intro'd us to her sassy n'sweet style of HEA erotic romance. With her new "Mating Game," she's kinda kicking up the sexual stakes -- and the plot intensity -- some notches, as she explores what used to be forbidden territory in romance. I think she succeeds, and readers who've been clamoring for true contemporary heroines in 'trad' romance can rest a little easier tonight, know wha'm sayin? Please give Janice a big 'ol "I didn't think nice Southern girls did that" Bella buongiorno...
From Janice: A big, heartfelt thank you to Michelle for inviting me to guest blog today!! And an even bigger, good old southern howdy to all you wonderful Bellas!! I always love the interesting chit chat when I get to drop by…
I gave today’s topic long and hard consideration (get your minds out of the gutter!), and I want to us to talk about the good girl/bad girl dichotomy. Or to paraphrase, Disney – Lady and the Slut.
I have to be honest – I came by my sexual experience the old-fashioned way… I married my high school sweetheart at age nineteen (between our sophomore and junior years of college) and on May 30 we celebrated our 34th anniversary. (Yeah – now you know – I’m 53.)
Although I adored the "Sex and the City" series, those women and their antics were as foreign to me as pod people. I grew up in an area of the country known as the Bible belt, and one reason so many kids around here marry young is that living “in sin” or simply “sleeping around” were not (and maybe “are” not) considered to be the actions of well-brought-up young southern ladies.
So you can imagine my floundering when my editor and I put our heads together about a heroine who essentially “tries out” three potential mates in a rather short amount of time. The forced marriage is, of course, an old plot device, but in "Mating Game," the heroine really has no good alternative to her actions. The grandmother (who raised the heroine) has recently died and has imposed a seemingly cruel and manipulative restriction on the inheritance. The heroine has to be married in thirty days. If she is not, she loses the antebellum home where she grew up and hundreds of acres of land, all of which have been in her family for at least 150 years.
Nola, my heroine, is willing to consider the outlandish requirement, but she doesn’t want to get divorced immediately, so she wants to choose the man who has the best potential to be a lifelong mate. And that includes sexual compatibility… which she hopes will eventually lead to love.
There are three potential candidates: her current lover (who is a marriage-shy playboy), her high school sweetheart (who she later finds has reason to despise her), and a third man, a stranger (who seems to be manipulating her).
In the midst of all this sexual excess, Nola suddenly becomes the target of an unknown killer… and circumstances combine to show her that any one of the three men in her bed might be dangerous.
I certainly couldn’t write this heroine from any personal experience. She is willing to have sex with three men, all within a month. If you decide to read "Mating Game," you’ll have to be the judge of whether or not Nola falls into the lady or slut category, and whether or not the end justifies the means.
So I ask you - Can a heroine be “free” with her body and still be a traditional romance heroine? Is it realistic to think that a woman might be attracted to three different men for different reasons? Can a 21st century woman separate sex and love? And does a fictional woman get license to do things we wouldn’t???
I can’t wait to hear your answers!! -- Janice M.
***Encore! Way back when, we discussed at RBTB the phenomenon of the LiberTina. Definite food for thought in terms of this discussion and the reality of women gettin' they's own like the boys do...