Tag: JR Ward

Bad Boys Who Rev My Engine

herding cats & burning soup

Today as part of the Bad Boys of romance blog hop I’m going to talk briefly about the bad boys that rev my engine, and why.

First, from my own books (although it’s so, SO hard to pick favorites) I would have to say my favorite bad boy is probably Siddoh. The devil may care asshole playboy, who will maybe-probably be the hero of book four of the Chronicles of Yavn. Siddoh is, I suspect, hiding a lot behind that dickhead exterior, and I do so love a good puzzle. My other fave is Anton, the hero of Prince of Power.  Anton was raised to be a murderer, but he changed his stripes for the vampires he fell in love with. Still, lurking beneath the surface is what he used to be. The fact that he could backslide, and he wonders if he ever will…

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Guest Blog: The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

Note from Elisabeth: This is a controversial topic, and one that I don’t see discussed very often. As a writer and also as a survivor of sexual assault, I find the subject fascinating – thanks so much to Laura for guest blogging and sharing her opinions today.

The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

By Laura Kaye


What’s more erotic than a battle of wills between two characters whose every interaction drips with sexual tension?  I love a dynamic wherein characters are sexually attracted to one another despite strong animosities or real good common sense reasons to stay the hell away.  I devour pages for the moment when such a couple gives into those basic, primal urges in utter disregard of all the reasons why their having sex is just a bad idea.  The giving in is always so carnally delicious…

But what makes that moment so delicious, what makes me cheer and groan in satisfied fulfillment, is that they desire the sex—in whatever form it occurs—and give in to that desire.

That seems to me to be altogether different from what I’ve seen in some recent works in progress and published stories, both m/f and m/m.  What I’m talking about is what I’ll call the “Unwilling Man” phenomenon.

The story often goes something like this:  Powerful alpha male warrior is captured by rival tribe/alien race/immortal enemies.  As a captive, he becomes a sexual slave or concubine.  Said slave needs to be trained or prepped to fulfill his new function.  The proud warrior/slave fights and resists, warranting humiliating punishments.  Then, a new trainer takes over and wears him down with an erotic array of sexual acts, words, threats, punishments, perhaps even favors, until he “gives in,” often developing affection or even love for that person in return.

I understand others might not agree, but I consider this type of characterization to be the definition of non-consensual.  For me, the non-consensual elements include:

1)      His status as a captive and a slave clearly deprive him of the full ability to non-consent and to enforce his non-consent

2)      His resistance constitutes an expression of non-consent, even if it isn’t verbalized

3)      The use of humiliation, punishment, favors, or other means of cajoling or forcing acquiescence prevent that acquiescence from equaling consent

4)      The captive having an erection is not evidence of consent; fear is also a powerful stimulant

5)      The possible outcome of the captive orgasming is also not evidence of consent or desire for the sex act to have occurred, nor does it prove the person enjoyed the act.

Nonetheless, these stories often receive a positive response.  Bringing the big strong alpha male to his knees has a certain appeal.  The idea of having our way with him does too.  Flipping it around, with a male aggressor and a female “victim,” rape fantasies or “make-‘em-like-it” fantasies are common—the journal Psychology Today released a study in May of 2008 indicating 37-51% of women have rape fantasies—a likely lowball figure.  But these fantasies are usually imagined within an existing relationship, where some expectation of safety exists within the fantasy, or with a stranger who helps the woman act out “wanton” behavior or indulge in repressed desires, making her sexuality “okay” because someone “forced” her to do it.

But if we go back to our newly enslaved alpha male, that’s not the framework being used with the Unwilling Male.  The Unwilling Male is not playing hard to get and not in an established relationship—and any relationship formed while the man is unfree hardly counts as safe.

An Ellora’s Cave story I read not too long ago had a different non-consensual set-up.  It was a m/m “gay for you” construct within the science fiction romance genre.  The two male characters had enormous sexual chemistry, despite the fact that one struggled with the realization that he had, for the first time in his life, sexual desire for another man.  His slow process of giving in was erotic as hell.  But then the author jumped the gun, as it were, and created a situation where the outwardly gay character (OGC) “had” to have sex with the GFY character in order to survive a crisis moment within the scifi worldbuilding (I realize this is probably making you scratch your head, but I hesitate to call out a specific author with clarifying details… Wuss?  Maybe. 😉 ).  The GFY character was telling OGC not to do it, that he didn’t want it like this or in this way, and then, in protest, the GFY character demanded—if OGC was going to do it against his will, GFY didn’t want him to use lubrication.  So, he didn’t.  And, of course, it hurt like hell, because, as well all know, our bodies don’t produce any natural lubrication back there.  [NOTE: Every time a romance author writes an anal sex scene without lubrication, a kitten dies.  Jus’ sayin’.] Now, at least the author gave the GFY character the dignity of breaking off the relationship and ending their former friendship…for a while.  Because, of course, they reconcile and live happily ever after in the end.


For me, some of these premises border on rape as titillation.  And leave me wondering, how would we react if the “victim” was female?  If it was a female who was turned into a submissive against her will?  If it was a female who was captured and torn away from everything she’d ever know, and then “trained” to be a sexual slave?  If it was a female who had to be fucked against her will to save the universe?  If it was a female whose family had sold her to someone to use as they pleased?  These are all premises I’ve seen in recent months—as contest entries I’ve judged, works in progress authors have blogged about, or published books I’ve read.

Often, when I read or hear of these stories, I can’t help thinking of one of my all-time favorite alpha male warrior characters:  Zsadist, from J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened (Signet, 2006, Book 3 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series).  ZOMG.  Total, epic, don’t-you-even-think-of-wanting-him-for-yourself LOVE for Zsadist, the bad-ass vampire warrior literally and emotionally scarred from a century of being imprisoned as a sex slave to a female vampire and being forced to sate her sexual and nutritional needs with his body.  He hates that his body reacted to her against his will (often, literally—they used a herbal salve on the skin of his penis to force him to become erect).  He grew to hate “the thing” / “the it” between his legs.  He bears the humiliation of the thick tattooed slave bands on his neck and wrists.  Once freed by his brother, he is totally dysfunctional in almost every relationship in his life, but especially with women, whom he can only fuck from behind so he can be in control, dominant, and not have to see them.  He’s plagued by nightmares, sleeplessness, severe weight loss, and considered sociopathic even by those who love him.  The story of how he finally gives in and falls in love is thus incredibly compelling and sweet because he finally gets to choose.  To me, it’s all the difference in the world.

Clearly, because rape fantasies exist, the line is not as hard and fast in fiction as it might be in the courts (of course, even there it’s not as black and white as you’d think it would be).  But, at the least, authors writing on the edge of consent should make an effort to get other eyes on their work before considering it ready for public consumption.

How do others weigh in on this? Am I in the ballpark or totally being too sensitive?

Holy #%*t! My Zipper is Down.


Been feeling overwhelmed, so I decided to post something lighter today, that I wrote awhile ago and saved for just such an I’m-too-busy-to-blog kind of occasion:

So. I am one of those annoying people who FREAKS when they meet someone famous. They don’t have to be mega famous like the President or Madonna, just someone I respect and admire and do not know personally.

My friend Katie has a saying: “Donald Trump poops too”. Apparently reminding herself that all beings great and small go to the bathroom helps her keep things in perspective when she’s about to encounter somebody famous.

I think it’s a great philosophy.

I have been fortunate enough to meet a reasonably sized handful of well known individuals whom I admire, and with a couple of exceptions I handled them okay. A couple, not so much. When I managed to make my mouth open I walked away going “What the fuck was that, I sounded so stupid!” The times that I didn’t, I think were because I was too drunk to know better. So instead I hugged them, because I am very outgoing when I’m drunk.

Perhaps I should be drunk more often.

Anyhoo, I have mentioned before in previous posts about how much I love JR Ward. I mean, I love many authors (not in the creepy way, mind you), but reading JR Ward’s dark, sexy, and humorous style of storytelling was what opened my eyes and made me want to write my own novel. In my ignorance, I had previously thought that romance novels all involved flowery language and horseback-riding women in very large dresses. It never occurred to me, for example, that a bisexual Dom vampire could be the hero of a love story.

But he can, and that is AWESOME.

So, I decided a few months ago to take a trip to meet JR Ward (she doesn’t fly so we adoring masses come to her). The trip, sadly, was a total clusterfuck. I had to bring my youngest and flying with a 10 month old is no picnic. The airline rescheduled me several times, ultimately putting me on a flight that didn’t leave until AFTER her Lover Mine book signing. Then we bitched and complained until they agree to put me on a flight leaving, oh, RIGHT NOW which resulted in a mad dash to the airport with a migraine in my head and a screaming child in the backseat, only to be told they wouldn’t let me check in because it was too close to departure time. We wound up having to buy another ticket on another airline and pay for an extra hotel night, thus turning a reasonably priced trip into a ridiculously expensive trip.


So, the dust finally settles, and I’m in line at the signing, AND MY ZIPPER IS DOWN. I had chosen to wear a pair of pants that a friend had given to me because “They don’t fit anymore.” Mmmhmm…or maybe she didn’t want them because of the faulty zipper?

So I check and recheck, and I tug at my shirt because I do NOT want to be the sicko fan who approached JR Ward with a gaping hole in their pants. Of course by the time it is my turn to meet her, the freakazoid deer in headlights is back, so when she very graciously smiles at me and says “Hi”, which is generally the thing to say when you meet somebody, I’m stuck in place, too damn worried about that stupid zipper to move, and everyone is staring at me expectantly. Probably thinking “Move, you idiot!”.

I wind up propelling myself forward, and I think I managed to mumble a hello or maybe a thank you. I don’t remember. I spent the whole rest of her Q&A time checking and rechecking my zipper, to the point where I’m reasonably certain her security guard was keeping an eye out to make sure I didn’t do anything freaky. “Better watch that one, she keeps messing with her pants.”

Luckily my mom lived nearby, and had come with to hang onto the baby for me, or someone might have called child services.

So the whole thing was fun, Ms. Ward was gorgeous, charismatic and SO entertaining with her creative use of salty verbiage. Totally worth the trip, and if I can I will do it again in a heartbeat, presuming her security folks don’t have me on a watch list.

And next time, maybe I’ll just wear sweat pants. Or a skirt. Definitely something zipper-less. Which one, do you suppose, would be safer?

(Author note, updated July 4, 2012. I wrote this post before selling King of Darkness. I think perhaps even before I finished writing it. I have since become better at acting normal when I meet authors who are well-known, and I have also since met…JR Ward’s assistant. LOL. She appeared at RT 2012 and as both a good and bad thing, I was too busy promoting a book of my own to be able to wait in line to meet her.  A lot has changed! But it’s kinda cool to read back and remember.)

So, You Want to Publish Your Romance Novel?

Step one, join the Romance Writers of America. This advice was given by JR Ward in her BDB Insider’s Guide. Damn good advice it was. Seriously, the good decision that has lead to all other good decisions.

The RWA is a cornucopia of information for all romance writers, both published and unpublished. There are a bazillion subchapters both geographical and related to specific subgenres, and they host contests and workshops, both of which can play a HUGE role in helping to improve your craft, and get your work looked at by industry professionals who might not otherwise take the time give your work so much as a passing glance. Some subchapters even let you take their workshops for free if you join the chapter. RWA National also publishes a monthly magazine called the Romance Writers Report that contains TONS of useful info. It’s one of the only magazines that I have ever read literally cover to cover. They’ve also recently started something called RWA University, currently the focus of that is to teach all about the various publishing avenues in the industry but it looks like there will be more topics in the future.

Best of all there is an annual conference where magical things happen (especially since this year it’s at Disney World!) like live workshops, opportunities to pitch your books to real live agents and editors, and rubbing elbows (or so I’ve heard) with some of your favorite writers. I’ve never been, but it’s my goal to go next year.

Although, as a pre-published writer, I have this sneaky suspicion that the RWA Published Author Network is some sort of special, magical place where you get all sorts of perks much like the First Class section on British Airways (where you get not only a real bed to sleep in but also special jammies!). I don’t yet have proof, but as soon as I get published, I’m asking for my jammies.

Deep Point of View Homework

I’ve been taking some online writing workshops, for those of you who are looking to beef up your abilities or perhaps learn more about the business of writing I highly recommend this. In particular, if you ever have the chance to take a class on POV from the AWESOME Carrie Lofty, DO IT!! I’ve taken a lot of workshops and many have been helpful, but her perspective has caused me to look at my work in an entirely new way. She’s wicked smart, her books rock, and she makes a mean Apple Brown Betty (Okay, I have no clue about that last part, I just wanted to indulge in the momentary fantasy of being invited over for dessert by someone so awesome. I also dream nightly about making hamburger helper with JR Ward while we watch old episodes of Six Feet Under).

Anyhoo, the passage below is my crack at a young heroine who was a survivor of rape, first when she meets a man who will later be her love interest, and later when he declares his love for her:


Nellie’s eyes flicked around the restaurant, hastily roving over the gaggle of dreadlocked hippies, past the geeks and nerdlingers, before lighting oh-so casually on the table of rugby players who sat across from her. Intensely dark eyes met hers from across the way, and hot embarrassment crept up the back of her neck as she watched his hand brush a stray lock of ebony hair from his forehead. Oh God, did he know she was looking? She couldn’t help but chance another peek moments later, and the loveliest mouth she had ever seen was curled into an amused smile and seemed to be aimed in her direction along with its partners in crime up above. Yikes.

Her friend Bryan nudged with her toe, a movement she barely registered because she was busy wondering if the guy’s skin had that same smooth chai latte color up close. “I think he’s checking you out,” her friend whispered. Nellie’s heart skittered in her chest, jack-rabbit style, but she shook her head and bent with renewed interest over her tofu scramble. “Nuh-uh, probably checking our waitress out.” she gestured vaguely behind herself. Ah, but yet…hunk ho! He has risen from his table and was striding towards them, that cute little smile still perched upon his face, all rippling biceps and casually slung Diesel jeans which seemed -if she were being honest with herself- to be heading right her way. “Hey there,” he said with a voice that was clear and husky all at the same time. A smoker maybe? She glanced up tentatively at those dark eyes, that now seemed to smolder and dance, and the lips parted to show off a set of pearly whites that would make any dentist proud. The thin cotton of his t-shirt strained and stretched under the movement of a marvelously sculpted bicep as he reached into his back pocket for…a bright orange flyer. “You like Weezer?”

Ah, he was a party promoter. The breath she didn’t realize she had been holding wheeshed out of Nellie in a long stream, taking some of her nervous energy with it. The frenetic pace of her heart slowed down. She indulged in one final glance at those crazy-sexy eyes before smiling and taking the flyer from his long fingers. Turned out his skin did look just as smooth up close.


Rick poised on the brink of entering her. Hovering, he seemed to float effortlessly, but she could see a slight tremor in those biceps she loved so much. Hands that were calloused from his summer construction job caressed her face, dragging one dark, reassuring finger across her jaw in an almost reverent manner. He had been biting his nails again, she would have fo ask him why later.

He brought his face close, as if studying her, and she did the same, focusing carefully on his deep chocolate eyes. The little flecks of green and gold around his iris glittered in the dim lamplight, shining from what looked to be a little sheen of extra moisture. Nellie had never seen him so emotional. Running her hands up his arms and across his back, she absorbed the detail in each ripple of muscle, the straining stretch of his traps while he fought to stay poised on this precipice they were preparing to jump over.

“God, I love you,” he breathed raggedly, as he slid home, and Nellie’s heart hammered. Her entire body trembled like crazy. Her fingers gripped tight to his shoulders, she focused on the movement of his muscles as he made love to her, never letting her eyes leave his face. Memorizing the fall of dark hair that dipped over his nose, his perpetual five-o-clock shadow…those glittering eyes. Everything that made Rick, Rick. She thought inanely about that  afternoon’s engineering lecture on aerostatic flutter, the vibrational force that caused the collapse of that huge bridge in the forties. Jesus, there was love and passion all over his face as he moved in and out of her, and all she could think about was hoping that she didn’t break apart just like that bridge.