Jennifer Denys Asks Why is the Hero Always Handsome and Hunky?
One of the fabulous writers I met for the first time at Smut by the Sea was the very talented, very quirky Jennifer Denys. Her reading from Friendly Seduction had her audience gripped and in stitches. I couldn’t wait to have Jennifer on my site to share a bit of Friendly Seduction and tell us why the hero is always handsome and hunky. Jennifer, welcome!
It’s one of the unspoken rules of erotic romance that the hero and heroine are good looking with great figures (and young as well!). In my book Friendly Seduction the hero, Matt (handsome, of course!) is a sci-fi writer who has been told to add more romance to his stories, so he enlists the help of a friend, Lissa, who reads lots of erotic romances. When he asks what the heroes are like in the stories, she states,
“Apart from tall, good-looking, and hunky?”
“You mean short, ugly, and fat guys don’t get written into stories,” Matt asks humorously.
“I haven’t read one erotic book yet where the hero is short, ugly, and fat.”
This is not only in books but films and TV as well. Think of Michael Douglas in ‘Romancing the Stone’ where little Danny de Vito was the bad guy. And ALL the men that the girls in ‘Charmed’ fell in love with – not a single ugly one amongst them. And don’t forget adverts too like the current advert in the UK for coca cola where a bevy of young women eye up a gorgeous half-naked man (or, if you are old enough to remember, the Levi jeans advert where the attractive guy takes off his jeans in a launderette).
I rest my case.
And why? Well, in essence we read these books/watch these programmes because we don’t want realism, we want fantasy. We put ourselves in the shoes of the characters and for a while we can forget we are middle aged, on a diet, with greying hair that needs a new dye (at least that describes me!). And who would want to fantasize that you fall in love with the short, ugly, fat one?!
Similarly the hero is often a member of royalty, nobility, a great warrior, leader, millionaire, CEO, or top of their profession – never the man who cleans out the sewer.
Lissa goes on to say,
“He never shows negative attributes like cruelty, laziness, picking his nose, having a hairy back, and so on. Those are reserved for the bad guys.”
Of course the sex in erotic romances is always fabulous and the hero always seems to lift the girl effortlessly. In the book, when Matt tries he stumbles!
“Okay, I can see there is no hope for the human race if women have such a high standard. We men won’t be able to supply it,” Matt declares forlornly.
So true. I have a writer friend, fairly new to writing, who is getting back into the dating game after her ex left her a year ago and she recently commented that she finds herself measuring her ‘dates’ against the heroes in her books. Bad thing to do! No-one will ever compete with our fantasy heroes.
These mythical men also have no problem getting the girl’s clothes off.
“Okay, where the hell is the clasp of your bra?” Matt gestured to her front.
Lissa burst out laughing.
He crossed his arms. “What is so funny?” This was very irritating, particularly as it had been going so well.
Calming down, she wiped her tears off her face. “Oh, that’s a good one. Has every girl you’ve been out with had a bra with a clasp at the front?” she asked.
Realizing his error, he flushed. “Ah. Sorry. All the women have front clasps in the books you gave me.”
God forbid that the heroine would wear a sports bra! And have you ever wondered why the female sub in BDSM stories doesn’t wear any underwear? Lissa tells Matt,
“There’s a very good reason why the woman is always told not to wear panties in any BDSM stories! It’s so the writer doesn’t have the problem of getting the heroine’s panties off.”
“You could always use the line ‘her clothes fell away from her body’ where the characters have no problems undoing anything. Or even better, the old chestnut when the writer has the character suddenly noticing they are naked with no idea of how they got there. I always groan when they use that one.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want my number one reader to groan, so I’m going to fall back on a sci-fi classic convention of being able to press a button on the clothing and it all comes apart in one go.”
Needless to say, Lissa did groan at that point!
Along the same lines have you ever sat in disbelief when the guy manages to get the girl to where he needs her to be because she is too busy struggling, looking around her, or distracted by something?
When Lissa points this out Matt responds,
“I’ll just have to spend time describing her gorgeous body as she is tied there. I think the readers will forgive this slight transgression if I do that.”
Unfortunately this is true. If we are in the shoes of our heroine and the hunky hero is describing the heroine aka the reader, as having a stunning figure we will forgive anything.
Having tied the heroine up Matt tells Lissa the hero then whips her.
“Whipped her… Um, why?”
He looked at her, chagrined. “Well, it features in some of those books you gave me, and you mentioned punishment of some sort goes down well with female readers.”
Too true. Throw some BDSM into a story and you’ve got a winner. Bondage at the very least and a spanking.
But why does the reader enjoy this so much? A great deal has to be because you are reading from the comfort of your armchair, bed (or bath, depending on your favourite reading spot!). You can imagine the pain of being tied up and whipped, flogged, spanked, etc, without actually feeling it and therefore it becomes erotic. The heroine is, after all, usually naked. And don’t forget the hero doing this to you is very good looking and you are already lusting after him.
In ‘Friendly Seduction’ Lissa does more than just discuss erotic romances with Matt. The ‘seduction’ of the title is him pretending he needs help practising certain scenes in the book he is writing. Lissa, (she has had a crush on Matt for some time), is happy to help – particularly when she is delighted he named the heroine after her. At this point in the story he has removed her clothes and put a blindfold on.
“Of course, at this auction Felissa appears half-naked so the potential owners can view her delicious body.” “The men at this auction need more than her just being naked.”
“Yeah—sooo?” Lissa asked very cautiously.
Moving away from her to get something, he then returned standing behind her. She shivered in his arms as he plucked at a hardening nipple. He had to push her hands down as they
automatically came up to cover herself. “The auction staff put clamps on their slaves.”
This now begs the question, why do we find the idea of auctions so arousing? Or any situation where the heroine is kidnapped? These are termed the ‘forced seduction’ type stories. The alien abduction plot is a common theme to sci-fi erotic romance. The reader knows quite well that the heroine will always end up with the hero so it is perfectly ‘safe’.
And the idea that the gorgeous hero has kidnapped her to be his one and only true ‘mate’ as destined by some prophesy or instinct is thrilling. It appeals to our sense of having a soul mate somewhere out there who will find us (having not found a mate, soul or otherwise, reading about it is my only option so I am a sucker for the alien kidnap stories, particularly if the stories involve a race of beings who are desperate for women because of some catastrophe to their people).
Lissa sums it up nicely,
“And the aliens in those circumstances are always humanoid.” She laughed. “I’ve never come across a story yet where the girl falls in love with a ten-armed, purple, blobby-like monster.”
Quite often the woman is expected to be in a ménage relationship in this situation. Even better! The idea of having two (or more!) hunky heroes lusting after you, and only you, is enough to bring the reader to their knees (well, it does me!).
Naturally Matt included a ménage in his story as well as a kidnap, an auction and some BDSM.
“Here come your new owners. You wait with bated breath, listening with all your being to every sound.” He moved to her side so he could whisper in her ear. “Do they sound
heavy-footed? Do they sound heavy-breathing? Do they carry chains? The footsteps stop by her swinging body, and she gasps as one touches a breast, tugging on the chain.”
I’ve been dotting around the story to pull out extracts, but one thing I have always laughed at when watching sci-fi is that nobody hits the wrong button. Think about all the times you hit the wrong key on the keyboard and all your work gets wiped or you end up on a page you didn’t know existed and have no idea how to get back. What happens if you are hurtling through space at the time? You could end up on the other side of a black hole. Or your machine closes down suddenly, and there is no one in the sci-fi version of the IT department to come and help which is disastrous when you are in the middle of a fight with the Klingons and need the button to fire the phasers!!
Sorry, that was an aside, although Lissa does raise this at one point in the story.
But sticking with the future Matt tells her that the heroine,
“Doesn’t want to be taken because it will mean being sent back to her owner.”
Lissa turned in his arms, her face showing her astonishment. “Her owner! What sort of future is this?”
Grinning at her fierce expression, he quickly invented a story. “She put herself into servitude to pay off debts but then ran away from her cruel and ugly master who wants her back—hence the bounty hunter.”
“Okay, so she doesn’t want to be taken, then. Particularly if her owner is ugly,” she retorted with a mocking tone. “Therefore she’ll be screaming blue murder and continually struggling to get free.”
The great thing about writing a futuristic story is that you can make up whatever you like and have fun ‘world-building’! One of my plans is to actually write the sci-fi story that Matt and Lissa conceive whilst falling in love.
And so to finish this article with a quote from Matt,
“If I understand correctly, you—and every other female reader possibly—like reading about manly heroes with beautiful heroines.” He counted these off on his fingers. “The hero
has to be a leader of some sort and be dominant but caring, and there has to be some sort of conflict or misunderstanding, maybe even a kidnapping. If there is some BDSM involved, and even a ménage a trois, that would be even better.”
“That’s it in a nutshell.”
Buy ‘Friendly Seduction’ here:
About Jennifer Denys:
Jennifer Denys writes erotic romance with Siren Publishing and Evernight Publishing. Her first book came out in 2011 and she has written another ten books since then (they are mostly novellas, although she is the first to admit the initial impetus has faded and it takes her longer to write these days!)
She flits from one sub-genre to another wherever the muse strikes. She has written a trilogy of romantic comedies, several BDSM stories, two in a sci-fi futuristic ménage series, and two paranormal menage books (one with a co-author which was a whole different experience!).
Her best seller is Submissive Training. She reckons it is down to the title, as she has had several communications from people asking if this is a good book to learn about BDSM. She has had to explain that this is just ‘fiction’ where the hero is always handsome and there is always a happily ever after!
If you want to know more about Jennifer’s work her blog/website is http://jennifer-denys.blogspot.com/
Review of Friendly Seduction from Coffee Time Romance :
I loved, loved, LOVED Friendly Seduction! At times I found myself sighing because of the pure pleasure Matt took in discovering Lissa’s body. Other times, Ms. Denys had me laughing so hard at the less-than-stellar sexy performances that the words seemed to be jumping around on my eBook Reader. Reading this book was such a pleasure and I enjoyed each erotic encounter, whether it was pure sexual or had the humorous scenarios that made me fall in love with this tale. I want to read more by this author and I can only hope that her other stories will grip me from the getgo