Barbara Ferrer (aka Caridad Ferrer) emailed me a link to her recent rant about the Rules of Romance after Selah March ranted on her blog regarding appropriate rules of behavior for a hero in a romance.
Describing what she calls the “magic hoo-hah” rule (which Candy and I LOVE. Who wouldn’t wish for a magic va-woo-hah?) which dictates (har) that the hero cannot have sex with anyone else during the course of the story, even if he hasn’t met the heroine yet. Seems a writing friend of Selah’s received scathing feedback regarding her allegedly humpy-eager hero and his inappropriate schlong-wanderings because he dared boink another woman in the course of his love story.
Is that a huge no-no? I don’t think so for my own reading tastes but in terms of writing, I’m not sure. We’ve written much about the redeemable hero and how far he can sink before we can’t accept his deserving of a happily-ever-after, most particularly in the mondo discussion of rape in romance.
But off the top of my head, I can think of several books wherein the hero boinks another woman even after meeting the heroine, but they are, as Selah points out, rather old-school. The one that pops to the forefront of my crapful memory is Catherine Coulter’s Midsummer Magic not only does Lord Hero have a mistress (who is a bluestocking, natch) but in the end I believe the mistress and the heroine MEET each other and join forces to do something rather dastardly humorous to the hero while saving his humpy behind. Granted this hero had other issues that damaged his credibility with me, but having a mistress wasn’t one of them.
Is this a newer standard among the unspoken rules of romance, that the hero can’t shake his tailfeather with anyone but the heroine? I know there’s some question as to whether the heroine can have a happy sexual past without regrets, even in a contemporary novel, but the hero? I’m not advocating for Lord Slut of Humpinghershire to make a rapeful comeback (please, no), but have you encountered this cautionary scolding?