Nan De PlumeParticipant03/28/2021 at 3:27 pmPost count: 24
I got off on a tangent on AAR’s review of A Figure of Love by S.M. LaViolette on the subject of asexual romance heroes and heroines. Just as a recap, Marian mentioned her irritation with the cliché of “the caricature of a scientist as someone with no social skills.” And I replied,
“I find that cliché annoying too, but for a different reason. If a character is set-up as being a sexually disinterested mathematical genius (or scientist or whatever), how come authors almost never follow-through with the idea that the character might exist on the asexual spectrum? I think it would be fascinating to follow an asexual or demisexual scientist character who cares for someone based on mutual scientific prowess and then has to work through the story to navigate a healthy balance among physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy. ”
This sparked an interesting side conversation that Dabney suggested we move over to the Agora. I totally agree.
So what do you all think? Do you have any interest in reading romances starring asexual heroes and heroines a la Let’s Talk About Love? What about asexual side character such as in Cat Sebastian’s A Delicate Deception? Why or why not? I await your responses!
P.S. For those interested in asexual characters in general, I recommend The AroAce Database, compiled by speculative fiction author Claudie Arseneault. Her database of asexual spectrum characters used to be largely science fiction and fantasy, but recently she has added a significant number of contemporary romances to her catalog.
nblibgirlParticipant03/28/2021 at 10:21 pmPost count: 27
How to Be A Normal Person by TJ Klune and His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto are two examples of romances with asexual characters that I enjoyed, and found be to quite romantic. The Klune is a complete story but my memory is that the Soto was quite short and I had hopes she would continue with the characters and their story but its been four years so . . . .
Caz OwensKeymaster03/29/2021 at 2:12 pmPost count: 46
I’m sure you and I and others have touched on this before, but m/m books are the only ones so far where I’ve found characters on the asexual spectrum. Wes in Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet describes himself as being on the “asexual spectrum” although he does have a sexual relationship with his partner. But the author makes it very clear that he needs emotional investment in order to want or have sex, and that his emotional closeness to his partner doesn’t always lead to sex. Trucker in Annabeth Albert’s Feel the Fire worked out he was demisexual (and bisexual) in his thirties, and in her Squared Away (one of my favourite Out of Uniform books) one of the leads is demi or grey ace. In Anna Zabo’s Syncopation, one of the leads is aromantic – it’s the first book I’ve read with an aromantic character – and it worked for me There were some reviews criticising the book because he and his partner are in a relationship by the end, but I felt the author wrote their emotional connection so well that it made sense. And as is clear, we’re talking about a “spectrum” here and that it’s very much NOT a one-size-fits-all thing.
I don’t read a great deal of m/f romance**, but until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t aware of a single one – a mainstream one at least – that featured leads who were not completely heterosexual. The upcoming Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall features a bisexual heroine (although her romantic partners in the story are men). It’s being published by a big mainstream publisher (Hachette’s Forever imprint), But otherwise, it seems it’s been left to m/m books and authors to blaze the trail on these issues.
** so I’m making a judgment based on a very small sample of books I’ve read or read reviews of. Please feel free to correct me!
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Caz Owens.
Nan De PlumeParticipant03/29/2021 at 3:54 pmPost count: 24
That’s a really good point about m/m books blazing the trail for mixed-orientation relationships, including asexual/demisexual spectrum relationships. I may have mentioned this before too but I think part of the reason for this is because- until recently- m/m romance existed as an almost counterculture (or at least niche subculture) genre where authors got to play by their own rules instead of by the main genre’s established standards. Now that m/m is becoming more mainstream among romance fiction publishers, I hope that doesn’t mean a flattening out of these nuanced dynamics in favor of stringent corporatized formulas.
As for m/f romance, I have read a couple of HRs with bisexual heroines, but not asexual ones yet. I loved the asexual side character Georgiana and her relationship with the gay duke “Lex” in Cat Sebastian’s A Delicate Deception. This probably won’t happen due to the nature of romance reader expectations, but I would love a sequel that focuses on Georgiana and Lex’s mixed-orientation relationship. True, it would be more of a lavender marriage than a romance in the traditional sense. As an asexual female and a homosexual male, they wouldn’t be falling in love with each other in the traditional romance way. But since they both need each other in a kind of beard marriage- Georgiana because it’s tough being a single Regency female, and Lex because as a duke he needs heirs- it would be interesting to see how their lives would play out. Would Georgiana bring another man into the mix for Lex? What kinds of domestic troubles might Georgiana and Lex encounter? How would they navigate having to be intimate for the sake of producing an heir (hopefully with understanding and kindness despite the mutual awkwardness!)? Maybe this couldn’t be marketed as a capital R-romance for the reasons I mentioned, but it would still be a great companion story to A Delicate Deception, especially if Lex takes a lover and the focus is on that. (Are you reading this Cat Sebastian?)
My experience with f/f is limited, partially because there are fewer options to choose from, but an asexual spectrum f/f would be an interesting pairing as well.
chrisreaderParticipant03/29/2021 at 4:51 pmPost count: 26
In Melissa and The Vicar by S.M. LaViolette, the heroine Melissa is bisexual and the only lovers she has had in the past few years before meeting the hero have women.
As it’s a historical romance, during the course of the book the only lover she has is the hero- but as the owner of a brothel at one point she is going to take up clients again after she and the hero have gotten together (as she thinks it was a one time thing and he won’t be able to track her down).
In one of Jill Sorenson’s books Dirty Eleven the heroine engages in a threesome with her boyfriend and another woman and I think the threesome part is all or mostly f/f although the heroine doesn’t identify as bisexual.
Other than those I can’t think of any historical or contemporary romance off the top of my head that feature a bisexual heroine although I am sure there are others out there.
Nan De PlumeParticipant03/29/2021 at 9:01 pmPost count: 24
“Other than those I can’t think of any historical or contemporary romance off the top of my head that feature a bisexual heroine although I am sure there are others out there.”
In the HR category, I have two Cat Sebastian recs for bisexual heroines: A Duke in Disguise and A Little Light Mischief. The A Duke in Disguise is a Regency m/f romance with a cinnamon role hero and a prickly heroine who had a relationship with a woman who might have been a character in an earlier story (I’m not sure; it’s been a while since I’ve read it). A Little Light Mischief is a nice Regency f/f novella that is way, way too short in my opinion. One of the heroines is an earthy lady’s maid who has had relationships with both men and women, and the other heroine is a companion who only has eyes for other women.
Oh! Then there’s The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite, an f/f that features one heroine who is a widowed middle-aged mother who befriends and later falls in love with a beekeeper who is married to a gay man. I highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it already, largely because a lot of it feels so believable for the time period. Also, it is a nice change of pace from a lot of the instalust plots out there in that the heroines start off in a strictly business relationship, become friends, and then ease themselves into a lovely, slow burn secret romance.
For CR, one of the two heroines in the f/f frenemies-to-lovers road trip romance Hairpin Curves is bisexual. Also an enjoyable read.
Carrie GParticipant03/29/2021 at 5:36 pmPost count: 23
Hi All! Thanks to Dabney I now have a log in.:-)
I agree with Caz that the best representations I’ve seen so far of asexual and demisexual characters have been in m/m romances. It seems authors who feel comfortable with LGBTQ romances are more likely to include a mix of orientations. I’d love to see more variations, like pan sexuals. I thought the asexual character in Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke was very well done. Asexuality is a spectrum, like everything else, and I love how his partner was sensitive to what he needed.
I’ve read very few contemporaries lately, but I did read Ice Cream Lover by Jackie Lau, which has a biracial,bisexual lead character. The romance here is m/f, but there the representation was good, and included a bisexual aunt. Lau’s stories don’t really do much for me,but I appreciated that part of the book.
Nan De PlumeParticipant03/29/2021 at 7:56 pmPost count: 24
Yay, glad you got into the Agora again! I felt bad putting Dabney to all that trouble for me, and I hate to say I was glad whatever computer glitch that was causing the problem wasn’t something on my end. :-)
On the subject of queer romances-including asexual/demisexual- I’m glad to say you might see more contemporary variations soon. I was poking around Harlequin’s Submittable page the other day and noticed they are now accepting LGBTQ+ romances for their Harlequin Medical Romance and Harlequin Romance lines. Harlequin Medical Romance’s submission guidelines page now says, “We are looking for stories with a diverse range of characters, and are happy to see romances between LGBTQ+ characters.” Harlequin Romance recently added this bullet point on their page: “We are also happy to see LGBTQ+ romances that deliver the same feel of sweep you away romances in wonderful locations around the world.” So far, these notes only appear for those two lines, and they weren’t there at all when I looked before. It looks to me like they’re finally testing the waters a bit rather than keeping all non-m/f queer romances under the Carina Press and Avon imprints, but slowly. Eventually, they might open up some of the other lines too. Roan Parrish, for example, is set to do an m/m for Harlequin Special Edition that should be released in 2022, IIRC.
It’s interesting to me that Harlequin is starting to accept queer romance submissions just for those two particular lines, though. I have heard at least one Harlequin Medical Romance author complain the line isn’t as popular or promoted as the others, and I haven’t seen much pushing of Harlequin Romance either. In light of this, is it possible that Harlequin is trying to breathe some new life into their less promoted lines? Or are they testing out queer romances in two lesser known lines specifically because the threat of backlash would cause less of a dent in the bottom line than if they suddenly accepted LGBT+ entries for the more prominent Harlequin Historical, Desire, Presents, Intrigue, and Romantic Suspense lines? This is all just speculation on my part, but I’ll be curious to see how this plays out. Does anybody else have some follow-up thoughts or insights on this?
Caz OwensKeymaster03/30/2021 at 12:46 pmPost count: 46
Maybe it’s a mixture? Trying the breathe new life into older lines while also testing the waters? I find it so hard to get my head around the idea of a backlash against queer romances that I honestly can’t believe that would be an issue – but then I suspect us Brits are a bit more tolerant of such things.
Caz OwensKeymaster03/29/2021 at 7:59 pmPost count: 46
Although they end up in relationships with men, both Garrett in Annabeth Albert’s High Heat and Bacon in TIght Quarters identify as pansexual. Those are two I can come up with off the top of my head, but I know I’ve read other pan characters – again, exclusively in m/m.
I agree with what Carrie says about authors who write queer romances probably feeling more comfortable including a variety of sexual identities in their stories. And of course, some of the authors share those identities which undoubtedly helps.
ETA: Adrian in Anna Zabo’s Counterpoint also identifies as pan, although again, his relationship and HEA is with a man.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Caz Owens.
Carrie GParticipant03/30/2021 at 7:37 pmPost count: 23
For some reason I was thinking Garrett in High Heat was demisexual, but you’re right, of course, he’s pan. I haven’t read Tight Quarters yet. I need to add a shelf to goodreads for books with lesser known sexual orientations like asexual, pansexual, demi, etc. If it’s not written down I forget,plus it’s a great way to find books when people ask for recommendations. What should I call it? Alt-sexual-identities?
elaine smithParticipant03/30/2021 at 5:56 amPost count: 11
I suppose if an author cared to write about a very late in life romance – say two people in their late 70s, 80s or even older, they would have largely “asexual” characters. People do fall in love very late in life – I’ve seen that with my late father-in-law – so writing about this would be a challenge but might even find an audience. After all, we all get older, love and affection, closeness and comfort don’t have to disappear from one’s life; the need can even grow greater in advancing years as time starts to run out. Oldies may not feel the need to be bonking all the time but the other needs are still there. I have reflected on this myself during the pandemic. My DH and I are not spring chickens for sure and the loss of a year of our retirement time is sad to us. We recognise how much younger people have lost and we are grateful we are in a good financial position but there are far, far fewer years ahead for us!
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by elaine smith.
WendyFParticipant03/30/2021 at 9:26 amPost count: 3
Apart from the Cat Sebastian’s that Nan has already mentioned, the only book I can think of is The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter by KJ Charles. It’s a trans f/m asexual short story written as a prequel to the two Lilywhite Boys books.
Anne MarbleParticipant04/01/2021 at 12:30 pmPost count: 3
There is a YA novel called “Tash Hearts Tolstoy” with a heroine described as “a romantic asexual.” Many of the asexual characters I’ve found on lists are in YA novels; m/m romance; or fantasy and SF. For example, lists have suggested some of the following in SF and fantasy: the MC of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch; Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire; Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith; and probably Paksenarrion in Elizabeth Moon’s “The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.”
In recent SF reads, I have read almost all of the Murderbot stories by Martha Wells. The narrator is Murderbot, a security unit (SecUnit) designed without gender. Murderbot hacked into its governor module and gained control over itself. But instead of killing humans, it continues to do its job and save them from themselves. :) When it has a choice, it would rather just watch its favorite soap operas (particularly “The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon”), fast-forwarding through any sex scenes. I think Murderbot might count as asexual, although you could argue that it did not have a choice in that.
There is also a Jughead graphic novel that acknowledges his asexuality. Many fans were upset that Riverdale changed that aspect of the character.
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