My darling husband reads every one of my books – just once, right before publication, to help ensure I haven’t missed any egregious typos or made any other noticeable boo-boos. I love him for that (well, and for a zillion other reasons).
Last night, he finished A Scandalous Matter. When I asked him what he thought, his first response was, “It’s more explicit than the first two.”
I laughed. Partly out of nervousness – was that a good or a bad thing? Then I defended: “Yes, it is, a little, but that’s because of who the characters are, who the heroine is.”
And that’s the truth.
In fact, A Scandalous Matter‘s Amara Mattersley sprang out of my desire to create a heroine quite different from A Man of Character‘s Catherine Schreiber and A Matter of Time‘s Eliza James in regards to sex.
Both Cat and Eliza are a bit more conservative, for lack of a better term, in their approach. I hate to use that word, as it implies a judgment I don’t feel – if you can think of a better one, let me know! What I mean by it, is they’re not interested in sex for sex’s sake; Eliza, especially, can’t and doesn’t want to separate the emotional from the physical.
That was easy to write, because that’s how I am.
But as I was crafting A Man of Character and A Matter of Time and I realized Eliza’s view on physical pleasure just for the fun it was a basic, “No, thank you,” I thought to myself, “What would it be like to write a heroine more driven by physical desire? Who only wants the sex, and not the emotional attachment?”
I didn’t want readers to think, via Cat and Eliza, I was implying that such an approach to sexuality was wrong. I believe women can and should choose for themselves (as long as they’re being honest with themselves and not bowing to pressure or judgments from anyone else in either direction). If they want to wait until marriage to have sex, fine. If they want to have casual encounters, fine (but be safe!). If they choose somewhere in between, or their views evolve and change, more power to them. I know where I fall on that continuum, but I’m not going to say where anyone else should.
Thus, Amara was born, showing up as quite the spitfire as Deveric’s sister in A Matter of Time.
Of course, in truth, as I got to know her better, it became clear she was much more than her initial impression. That there were reasons behind her behavior – major hurts to overcome. And as A Scandalous Matter unfolds, emotions definitely come into play – I am a romance writer, after all, with a firm belief in love.
But I also made it clear physical passion has always driven Amara. Not necessarily an easy thing to deal with for a high-born woman raised in an era with fairly stringent expectations in regards to women’s sexual purity.
In real history, of course, tales abound of women engaging in scandalous affairs and all of that – I know the past is never as “pure” as many of us try to make it (thank you, Victorian ideals!). But by and large, the expectations Amara Mattersley faced in 1813 when it came to sex and sexuality were far different from 2016.
And therein lies part of her inner conflict.
And mine, in writing. This book is somewhat steamier (though not as steamy as many romances – I don’t want to raise expectations in the opposite direction! There’s still plenty going on outside of the bedroom). Will my audience be okay with that? I hope so.
Once you’ve read it, you tell me. 🙂