AAR
Click here for full forums index
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
 
The Importance of the First Time
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:25 pm    Post subject: The Importance of the First Time Reply with quote

+IHS+

I've noticed something about Romances in which the heroines are not virgins when they meet the heroes. There is always (at least in my limited experience) something else that they haven't done that they do for the first time with the hero.

It doesn't have to be anything sexual--though that's an easy route for writers to take--but it is always significant. In a Harlequin Blaze I read recently, the sexually experienced heroine in her mid-twenties didn't have a real date until she met the hero. This strange twist comes about because she was in juvenile hall for much of her teenage life and struggling to make a fresh start during her early twenties.

It's as if, to properly the fairytale aspect of the Romance, the heroine has to be a "virgin" in something.

So when we have older non-virgin heroines who are also very seasoned and worldly, their heroes often turn out to be men they knew (and fell in love with) when they were younger, less seasoned and less worldly.

What do you think?
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Kerstin



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1124
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Re: The Importance of the First Time Reply with quote

I think it is an important ingredient to romance fiction. In fact it is important for real life romanticism too though the older you get the less likely it is to find some "first timer" with your new love. This is why youthful love (in real life) seems often so much more romantic to me than more seasoned love.

I recently read in an article about Patchwork families that one thing that can make this family constellation difficult is that you might have children by someone who already had children by someone else which makes the miracle of a life created together much less of a miracle the second time around with another partner. Nothing is really fresh and unused and you can't really share something with your new partner which he or she hasn't already shared with his/her former spouse. That often puts a strain on the new relationship because of spoiled romantic expectations.

When I read romantic fiction I also want the hero and heroine to find something new and fresh that they haven't shared with someone else before. Preferably not some kinky sex technique though. It is one of the reasons why we don't find so many divorced/widowed heroes (or heroines) in the genre. And if they are divorced/widowed they usually don't have children from previous relationships. But if they have they usually at least had bad sex with their respective ex-spouses and preferably didn't even love them (in a historical it would be a marriage of convenience only) Wink

But a hero who had a very good marriage, very good sex with his ex-wife and a child out of that marriage before he meets the heroine would probably spoil my romantic fantasy too. It was one of the reasons why "Midnight angel" by Lisa Kleypas didn't really work for me.

Kerstin
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
willaful



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 1552

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have also seen attempts to make it into some kind of first for the hero as well, though not as often as the scenario you mention.
_________________
"'Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,' Wren said. 'It's the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.'" -- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Kerstin



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1124
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

willaful wrote:
I have also seen attempts to make it into some kind of first for the hero as well, though not as often as the scenario you mention.


I think for the hero it is usually a first time too. Either he never was in love with a woman before or he never slept with a virgin before. His usually was not married before and mostly has fathered no children outside wedlock either (despite his wicked, rakish ways).


Kerstin
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:05 am    Post subject: Re: The Importance of the First Time Reply with quote

Kerstin wrote:
I recently read in an article about Patchwork families that one thing that can make this family constellation difficult is that you might have children by someone who already had children by someone else which makes the miracle of a life created together much less of a miracle the second time around with another partner. Nothing is really fresh and unused and you can't really share something with your new partner which he or she hasn't already shared with his/her former spouse. That often puts a strain on the new relationship because of spoiled romantic expectations.


That has happened to an uncle of mine, so I see what you mean. He managed to get a first time, though: only girls from his previous marriage and only girls from his new wife's previous marriage, so it was truly an event when they had their first son.

Kerstin wrote:
But a hero who had a very good marriage, very good sex with his ex-wife and a child out of that marriage before he meets the heroine would probably spoil my romantic fantasy too. It was one of the reasons why "Midnight angel" by Lisa Kleypas didn't really work for me.


Hmmmm. It sounds like an interesting case study.

We have the same situation with the hero of Susan Elizabeth Philips' Dream a Little Dream. It's my least favourite of her novels that I've read, and I know it's because of that--but I'm being completely subjective here. I'd say the plot was saved from being too prosaic by the heroine's cliched unhappy first marriage to a jerk (which helped to balance the hero's wonderful first marriage) and the fact that the hero's son died with his wife. So any child he'd have with the heroine would be even more of a magical miracle.

For a heroine like that, we can look in Elizabeth Hoyt's To Taste Temptation. She and her late husband loved each other very much and had a son together. In an ideal world, that shouldn't take away from her romance with the hero . . . but somehow it does. Confused

The heroine of Loretta Chase's Lord Perfect also loved her first husband deeply. We are told over and over and over again, however, that he was terrible at supporting their family and that she had to be the breadwinner. So when the very capable Carsington brother stepped in to save her, he certainly looked every inch the romantic hero.

So if the hero or heroine isn't the first, does that mean that whoever got to be the first has to be diminished, somehow?
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1374

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think some kind of first time will be in most romances because a core aspect of the romance is that the couple are soul mates. That term may not be used, but the genre standard assumption is that the couple is unique and perfect together. Not that the couple is a pretty good match, where one person could pick any of several hundred or thousand nice fits, but that each has found the one and only possible perfect partner.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:57 pm    Post subject: Agree to Disagree Reply with quote

Here's a case where I must say I feel quite differently. I don't mind if a hero or heroine has had a good first marriage or even has children by that marriage. My feeling about love is that it is like candlelight: when you light one candle from another, it does not diminish the first candle but makes the light even brighter. No matter how much love there may have been in that first relationship, each person is different so each relationship is different, and I'm quite willing to believe that the new love is beautiful and special too. To my mind (and clearly others disagree), it is a sign of hope and grace that people can love again. Among my favorite romance novels, for example, are Carla Kelly's Mrs Drew Plays Her Hand and Linda Howard's Son of the Morning, two books that couldn't be more different but both of which had loving first marriages.

It's also why I disagree with Kerstin about the fact that having children in a blended family when one has other children isn't quite as wonderful as it was the first time. Each child is such a surprise in terms of who s/he is, no matter whether they are first or fifth children, no matter whether they are products of a first or second marriage. They come into the world with such definite personalities and you find that one of the miracles of parenthood is that they surprise you each and every day. That joy is undiluted by where they fall on the family tree.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:
My feeling about love is that it is like candlelight: when you light one candle from another, it does not diminish the first candle but makes the light even brighter. No matter how much love there may have been in that first relationship, each person is different so each relationship is different, and I'm quite willing to believe that the new love is beautiful and special too. To my mind (and clearly others disagree), it is a sign of hope and grace that people can love again.


That's a beautiful, even romantic image, Susan! It makes me curious about the titles you've mentioned, which I haven't read. It is easy enough to make new/fresh = romantic, admittedly, so how did Kelly and Howard do the same with their more seasoned characters? Are there any stand out romantic moments or scenes in those books?

Incidentally, I was discussing this thread last night with a friend, who is worried that she isn't feeling the expected romantic thrill with her new boyfriend. They have--and this is a direct quote--"great romantic and intellecual chemistry" together, but she's not reacting to that the way she usually does. It made her feel like her new boyfriend isn't the guy for her after all.

So I told her what I had learned from this discussion so far: that just because something isn't fresh, it doesn't mean that it's not loving and wonderful.
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Kerstin



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1124
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Agree to Disagree Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:
It's also why I disagree with Kerstin about the fact that having children in a blended family when one has other children isn't quite as wonderful as it was the first time. Each child is such a surprise in terms of who s/he is, no matter whether they are first or fifth children, no matter whether they are products of a first or second marriage. They come into the world with such definite personalities and you find that one of the miracles of parenthood is that they surprise you each and every day. That joy is undiluted by where they fall on the family tree.


This view of mine is largely shaped by all those parents who seem a lot more seasoned and less struck by a miracle the second or third time they become mothers or fathers. That doesn't say that they love their subsequent children less but they certainly appear less thunderstruck and awed by the whole process. The same goes for new love after a divorce or the death of a partner. I was talking solely of romantic love which for me has to have that miracle-like feeling. I liken it to my first view of the sea when I was ten. I was totally awed then, nothing before had prepared me for the spectacular view of the Mediterranean sea and I was running around in a daze for days after I first had watched that glittering, beautiful view in the sunlight. But though I still love the seaside I never have felt that absolute awe and wonder again. And with love it's the same I think-at least for most people. That does not say one can't enjoy love the second time around. It is just less lovely to read about for me because I just don't feel the miracle, the absolute wonder of it all anymore.


Kerstin


Last edited by Kerstin on Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2487

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Agree to Disagree Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:
Here's a case where I must say I feel quite differently. I don't mind if a hero or heroine has had a good first marriage or even has children by that marriage. My feeling about love is that it is like candlelight: when you light one candle from another, it does not diminish the first candle but makes the light even brighter. No matter how much love there may have been in that first relationship, each person is different so each relationship is different, and I'm quite willing to believe that the new love is beautiful and special too. To my mind (and clearly others disagree), it is a sign of hope and grace that people can love again. Among my favorite romance novels, for example, are Carla Kelly's Mrs Drew Plays Her Hand and Linda Howard's Son of the Morning, two books that couldn't be more different but both of which had loving first marriages.

It's also why I disagree with Kerstin about the fact that having children in a blended family when one has other children isn't quite as wonderful as it was the first time. Each child is such a surprise in terms of who s/he is, no matter whether they are first or fifth children, no matter whether they are products of a first or second marriage. They come into the world with such definite personalities and you find that one of the miracles of parenthood is that they surprise you each and every day. That joy is undiluted by where they fall on the family tree.


I agree with you on all issues and have to say I love the example of "Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand". A really wonderful book.

"Dream a Little Dream" didn't work for me either but I think it was more the characters than anything else. I couldn't quite understand the character of Rachel who seemed to be a bit all over the place in terms of personality. Gabe struck me as someone who needed to be healed by something other than love (say a swift kick to the behind). I didn't really like the religious aspect of it; don't mind religion in books but in this one it felt very fake. The romance of the minister brother and church secretary OTH I would have enjoyed seeing more of.

maggie b.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Agree to Disagree Reply with quote

Kerstin wrote:
Susan/DC wrote:
It's also why I disagree with Kerstin about the fact that having children in a blended family when one has other children isn't quite as wonderful as it was the first time. Each child is such a surprise in terms of who s/he is, no matter whether they are first or fifth children, no matter whether they are products of a first or second marriage. They come into the world with such definite personalities and you find that one of the miracles of parenthood is that they surprise you each and every day. That joy is undiluted by where they fall on the family tree.


This view of mine is largely shaped by all those parents who seem a lot more seasoned and less struck by a miracle the second or third time they become mothers or fathers. That doesn't say that they love their subsequent children less but they certainly appear less thunderstruck and awed by the whole process.


As a mom of three and stepmom of two, I'm with Susan on this. Every birth, every child is an absolute wonder. And honestly, it's easier to enjoy second and third children because you've got a better grip on what you're doing and you're no longer convinced that every phase is going to last until the kid's 20, because you've lived through it before. Maybe second loves are similar - you can be less tentative because you already have an idea about what works and what doesn't in relationships.
_________________
Binocular vision, no need to hop, and an ever-so-much easier time of it climbing ladders.
- James Cobham in Freedom & Necessity
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:59 am    Post subject: Re: Agree to Disagree Reply with quote

MrsFairfax wrote:
Kerstin wrote:
Susan/DC wrote:
It's also why I disagree with Kerstin about the fact that having children in a blended family when one has other children isn't quite as wonderful as it was the first time. Each child is such a surprise in terms of who s/he is, no matter whether they are first or fifth children, no matter whether they are products of a first or second marriage. They come into the world with such definite personalities and you find that one of the miracles of parenthood is that they surprise you each and every day. That joy is undiluted by where they fall on the family tree.


This view of mine is largely shaped by all those parents who seem a lot more seasoned and less struck by a miracle the second or third time they become mothers or fathers. That doesn't say that they love their subsequent children less but they certainly appear less thunderstruck and awed by the whole process.


As a mom of three and stepmom of two, I'm with Susan on this. Every birth, every child is an absolute wonder. And honestly, it's easier to enjoy second and third children because you've got a better grip on what you're doing and you're no longer convinced that every phase is going to last until the kid's 20, because you've lived through it before. Maybe second loves are similar - you can be less tentative because you already have an idea about what works and what doesn't in relationships.


I've never had children and it seems to me that comparing second and third romantic loves to second-born and third-born children isn't a very good analogy. I'm the eldest of eleven cousins; each of them is a miracle to me. What I feel for them is not the same as romantic love.

As long as we're drawing on personal experience of many loves, my most significant one has been with my mother's boyfriends. When I was younger, I was really excited about two of them, thinking first one, then the other would be my stepfather. After that, I just stopped getting excited. When she finally married, to a really nice guy, I honestly didn't mind one way or another. I mean, I was happy for her, but there was no thrill in getting a new dad in it for me.
_________________
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obviously, we want the h/h feel something wonderful and fresh with each other but evil former spouses are such a cliche I'd prefer to see something else.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for young love, it's overrated. It only seems more romantic in hindsight, much like childhood appears to be much happier than it really was when you were a kid. Yes, feelings are more fresh, but you have to deal with inexperience and unrealistic expectations. That's why you don't see many heroes (and heroines, in contemporaries) who are in their teens or even early twenties.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Allyson



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 567

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually really like widows and widowers in romance novels--whether the first spouse was evil or not. I definitely think there should be something *different* in the new relationship, in that it shouldn't be just a substitute for the old love. I like reading about books where the relationship was maybe, affectionate but not in love, or in love but with someone unwise (like Bathsheba from Lord Perfect) or whatnot. However I could live without the 'they weren't good in bed' cliche. It's not as offensive as the 'it's really love this time because she gets pregnant when she thinks she's infertile' plot though.

Virginity is really unimportant to me--I know some people think this is weird but it's just not a big deal. maybe it's because for me my 'first time' didn't really make me feel *different* at all. And the obsession with female virginity from both men and women seems a bit odd to me.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group