Having looked at Experienced Women last time we updated the list, let’s consider their counterparts now: virginal men. What is so fascinating about Virginal Heroes? First and foremost that they confound all romance expectations. Romance heroes as such are expected to be suave, sure of themselves, confident in all matters – and that includes sex. How else, one may ask, will they be able to please the heroine so well that she experiences an orgasm the first time ever she has sex? How else can they pay the heroine the compliment that, although they have slept with dozens of women (or hundreds … take your choice), sex with her is more earth-shattering than anything they have ever experienced?
But let’s forget about the clichés of the genre for a minute and let’s consider real-life men. While many of them have sex with more than one woman during their lifetime, others are true to one woman only (just as it is the other way around). Which means that they are virgins when they meet their mate-to-be. So why not include the fictional counterparts of these men in the romance cosmos? Some of the heroes already on this list are utterly delicious – I am looking at you, Dr. Anthony Cook and Branden Kel-Paten, among others. So bring them on!
Another trope that is not that common in present-day romance is that of age disparity. There is a clear shift that has taken place over the last 80 years or so: Classic romances very often feature a couple in which the hero is 10-15 years older than the heroine – take a look at quite a number of Georgette Heyer novels, Arabella and The Corinthian among others. The age disparity is even greater in These Old Shades with about 20 years. But during more recently, these couples have been considered increasingly odd, as the standard in present-day Western society is that husband and wife be more or less of the same age. At the same time, similar to a current development in real life there is an increasing number of romance in which the heroine is actually older – sometimes a bit, sometimes many year – than the hero. We would like to ask you find both for us and all the other readers: May-December and December-May romances (and don’t ask which is to be the woman in these terms and which the man!)
We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Friday October 11 and going for the next two weeks ending Thursday October 24 at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted. Regarding the May-December and December-May romances, we would be very grateful indeed if you could include information on how large the age disparity is, and who is the older partner.
We hope you have read some wonderful books that fit these categories and we look forward to your submissions. You will find the criteria and submission ballot here.
– Cindy Smith, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Rike Horstmann