Reading Jilly and Justine’s recent posts on romance and attraction led me to thinking about the point in my own stories where my hero and heroine and finally get together, in an up close and naked kind of way.
In my mystery story, Cassie and Nicolai are (relatively) mature, experienced individuals, so when lust finally propels them together, they know what they like and just what to do. They may think, “oh, hell,” afterwards, but in the moment, they have a great time, as the blindfold dangling from the chandelier attests the next day.
In my contemporary story, Maddie and Sam were actually together years before, so their first time is really not a first time at all. They have the comfort level of knowing what to do and knowing each other, but they also bring along emotional baggage and uncertainty that adds vulnerability to the interaction on both sides and makes it about more than just two people having a couple of hours of fun together.
Abigail and Michael in my Regency story are very different. Abigail has no experience and was raised by her widowed father so there was no “birds and bees” talk for her. Even if she’d had a mother around to give her the talk, it’s not likely that there would have been many helpful details. She’d probably have been told that “submitting” to her husband was her wifely duty and to “lie still” and “think of something pleasant.” The 19th century wasn’t big on believing in sexual fulfillment for women, so it’s unlikely that there would be any discussion about her own needs or enjoyment. It’s very likely that she would approach her first sexual encounter with a fair amount of trepidation, no matter how much attraction there might be.
Michael would have sown his wild oats while off at school and in the army, so he’d bring experience to their first encounter. Unfortunately, he’d probably bring along disease as well, a fact Regency stories happily ignore. When they get together, he is the one taking the lead. The trick is making the scene believable and fun, while keeping the story and tension in place. As currently written, this still needs some work.
To get some ideas about how to address the inexperienced woman / experienced man scenario, I went to my bookshelves and did a little research. I found many cases where the couples had phenomenal sex the first time they got naked together, both in contemporary and in historical stories, but had to dig deep to find examples where things didn’t run quite so smoothly or where there was a distinct imbalance in experience levels.
Amanda Quick has many stories where the first time the hero and heroine get together isn’t exactly fairy tale perfect. Her heroines’ make post coital comments like “we don’t have to do it again anytime soon, do we” and her heroes sometimes lose their cool in the moment and wind up apologizing, “sorry, I meant to take things a little more slowly,” afterwards. What the scenes lack in the best-sex-anyone-ever-had department, they make up for in humor and realistic, how-is-this-supposed-to work, bumbling about that makes them endearing and engaging.
Jo Beverley’s An Arranged Marriage is another example of an experienced man and an inexperienced woman. In this case, the wedding-night interaction is additionally complicated by the fact that the heroine (mistakenly) thinks she has married the man who previously ruined her. Plenty of trepidation to go around there, but the hero is kind and patient and all works out well in the end. More importantly, the scene is written in a way that is convincing and believable.
I think the infusion of a little humor with a side of patience in Michael and Abigail’s first encounter may be just what’s needed to perk things up. Guess I know what I’ll be working on this week.
So, what’s your preference for fictional “first-times” – phenomenal sex right out of the gate or a little realistic bumbling to begin with? Any recommendations for books with great first-time scenes (for research, of course)?