This week is the release of my 10th M/M romance title, After Vertigo, and while traditionally my books are more focused on a deep plot and romance than just eroticism on the page, I’m certainly no stranger to sex scenes in my stories.
After Vertigo takes an approach I haven’t before though, other than with my one Young Adult novel, Life as a Teenage Vampire, and a smattering of older fanfiction. In my new release, the protagonist, Ben Krane, is a virgin—a forty-year-old virgin to be exact with deep-rooted social anxiety—who lives vicariously through romance novels but gets courted and caught up in adventures with a very flirtatious and bold love interest, Grey Miller.
I think it was more my dabbling in fanfiction on the topic that made the idea of having an older virgin protagonist so appealing. When I’ve written loss of virginity in stories before, I always try to make it something very special, with a caring partner, because not everyone gets to experience that in real life. And readers have told me how hopeful and sweet that is for them, whether they are still a virgin themselves or not, because while the sex can be steamy, the focus is on connection and romance over the heat.
Because of Ben’s virgin status in After Vertigo, the heat of this story comes across more in the beginning through sexual tension between the characters, and then also through the M/F romance novel Ben is reading, lending to fantasies he has but no early sex scenes.
While it is stated that Ben reads M/M as well, he enjoys any romance as long as at least one male character is involved. It was purposeful that the romance novel the reader follows with him throughout this story is M/F to portray that who we identify with doesn’t always have to be a perfect reflection of ourselves. Inclusivity is an important part of my writing. Regardless, by the end, the sex is earned, a drawn-out courtship that I hope readers find enthralling and worth the wait.
Virginity can be a touchy subject. Some people are virgins later in life because of choice, sexual preferences, or just circumstance. Part of Ben’s reasoning is his issues with social anxiety and low self-esteem. He doesn’t understand how the mysterious and sensual Grey could possibly find him attractive.
I use a lot of juxtaposition in my writing, and the constant return to Ben reading his romance novel is obviously meant to create parallels with his own sexual experience and desires, helping him get closer to finally asking for what he wants and giving over to his cravings.
Conversely to After Vertigo, my NaNoWriMo project this year was focused on a much more erotic-heavy novel that I’m hoping to pitch to publishers before the end of the year, currently titled Public Enemy, Undercover Lover. There’s almost a sex scene in every chapter, the MCs exploring some very interesting dynamics of BDSM with a healthy amount of exhibitionism, and I’m loving every minute of working on it. There’s still a plot, emotionally and even with a mystery to solve, but it’s probably the most erotically focused piece I’ve ever done.
As a romance writer, as much as plot and storylines beyond just sex are important to me—such as tackling social anxiety and other deeper issues—how the romance plays out, how sexually charged it is, is always top of mind for me. I loved writing shy, virgin Ben. I also love writing my two amorously charges MCs in Public Enemy. I hope new and loyal readers alike will enjoy giving all the different ways I lead my characters through sexual exploration a chance and check out After Vertigo.