“He made love with a sort of unflagging joy that made me think that male virginity might be a highly underrated commodity.” ––Claire Randall, Outlander heroine.
Ever since reading OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, I have been fascinated by the concept of the virgin hero. First of all, as a writer, creating a male protagonist who is both alpha and sexually inexperienced is a huge challenge. Let’s face it, most women prefer a bold love maker to a hero who has a learning curve in the bedroom. But a part of me keeps wondering if we aren’t missing an interesting complication, of sorts.
Lessons in love are just as stimulating and romantic, if the roles are reversed. In OUTLANDER, Jamie Fraser is not only an enthusiastic student, he’s a fast learner who is eager to pleasure Claire. Gabaldon writes some wonderfully entertaining scenes, including a first experience with fellatio and a lesson in “rough play.”
Eloisa James is the only other writer I can think of who has recently tackled the subject in WHEN THE DUKE RETURNS. Here’s a three sentence synopsis: Simeon Jermyn, English adventurer has recently returned to England. Having spent years studying various Eastern religions he has learned to control his emotions as well as his libido. Married to the duke by proxy years ago, the heroine has to figure out a way to seduce her virgin hero or the marriage will be annulled.
Both Jamie and Simeon are very different characters with the same complication, their virginity. In OUTLANDER, Jamie’s loss of innocence plays a solidifying role in his physical bonding to Claire and profoundly affects their emotional ties to one another. In the case of WHEN THE DUKE RETURNS, the hero’s sexual abstinence is the principal conflict in the high concept romance.
So, what are some of the shared character traits of the typical virgin hero? At random and not necessarily in order of importance, I will list a few:
1. With every breath they take, they are effortlessly masculine.
2. They exude a quiet, stoic kind of strength. They have nothing to prove to anyone.
3. They don’t posture (too much) and never abuse their power.
4. They are protective but also nurturing.
5. They are men in control of themselves. And in particular, their little man.
Up until now, I have not mentioned looks. Assuming our virgin hero is a fit, attractive man, and considered very desirable to women, control becomes a defining character trait for the virgin hero.
Trait number five demonstrates something very special about him. A man who has had many opportunities, but has chosen to remain inexperienced sexually. His reasons why can vary, but one inherent promise is his future fidelity. And oh yes, a man who shows that kind of control over his manhood has the makings of a very adept lover.
Ultimately, the male virgin protagonist is the quintessential innocent hero and that purity of spirit infuses all of his thoughts and actions. Oh, he is bound to fall from grace occasionally, torturing himself over his human failings, but that makes him all the more lovable, doesn’t it?
Hm-m, so how to go about creating a virgin hero? There are myriad ways a writer could chose to build him. I get weird tingles down my spine when I dream up interesting and odd complications and back story for my characters. Not only do these complexities add layers to the plot, but they allow characters to react to story events in interesting, unexpected ways.
And what about all the juicy possibilities there are in a dark, virgin hero. At the moment, the only one that comes to mind is Edward Scissorhands (Movie tagline: His scars run deep). And that leads to Johnny Depp. But then I always think of Johnny Depp when I create male characters. I’ll save that discussion for another blog on another Monday.
I think the main reason I have not written a virgin hero is because I haven’t found the right man for the job, as yet. One day, I’ll be taking a shower as I mull over a new hero idea in my head. I’ll squeeze out a dollop of hair conditioner and work it in. Make him a virgin, my muse will whisper, and that will be exactly right for both his character and the story. I look forward to that shower.
Has anyone out there read another virgin hero you’ve enjoyed? Please do share him.
G. Jillian Stone
There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.
Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website
G. Jillian Stone