A Hero Who Can’t Get It Up
What was I thinking?
At its most basic level a romance is boy meets girl and sparks fly.
Those sparks can be heartfelt emotion, nervous excitement, casual indifference hiding burning attraction, love at first insta-sight, affection on steroids or dislike at ten paces. Those sparks can hide drama, surface fear and uncertainty, expose distrust and angst, or deliver the happy.
The boy, however he’s described is distractingly attractive to the girl. The girl, however she’s described is unforgettable to the boy. They are each other’s one. Even if they don’t initially recognize it. Even if they are tortured by it.
If you’re writing a sexier story, then you need to take that spark strip it naked, wet it down and make it hum and shudder.
I’m not talking about jacking a car if you know what I mean.
In it’s ready to rock form, the hero is never inadequate. He might be shy and inexperienced or even virgin. He might be scarred, missing a limb, memory defective or blind, but he’s never not got the goods to go when they’re required, because then we’d be writing either comedy or tragedy.
With this as the established storytelling rule book I decided in my infinitely questionable wisdom to write a hero who can’t get it up; who is by romance standards inadequate in the sex wizardry department that favours the mighty wang.
Owen’s peen is the unmightiest of them all. It’s borked. No longer functioning because of a spinal injury. He can’t get hard. He can’t be the penis in vagina guy.
Really. I did that.
And then I went and one-upped myself, because I must be some kind of deranged. My heroine, Cara, is a virgin who is gagging for it.
Because of course, these two are simply made to be together. Hah, hah, hah. Sob.
I wrote Owen and Cara’s story without thinking much about how it fit with genre or recognized tropes and when it was finished I got in my helicopter and looked it at as a finished product and thought OMG what the hell have I done. No one is going to want to read this because it doesn’t go where it’s expected to.
Case in point. This came past my timeline precisely as I was writing this.
Cecilia is not alone in the grand peen request department. And the book in question, Victoria Dahl’s cowboy erotic romance, Harlot, delivers big time.
I often write stuff that’s a little trope subversive, that’s enormous fun, but I’ve never written a romance where A does not fit B like it’s supposed to for the HEA so I stressed over that HEA. It could’ve gone two ways.
Damaged Goods, there could be no other title, went to beta readers and they survived. It went to editing and it got slapped about, tidied up and gold starred, but still it’s a story about what no one wants in their sexy romance; problems in the bedroom, where all other issues are meant to slide, if not magically repair, during the moment of passion.
Except it is.
It’s just a little different. Everyone is virgin at something.
Here is Owen telling his best friends that he feels like half a man.
He picked up his fork, stirred the vegetables and the beef. “I fucked up with a girl last night.”
Dev’s fork clanged on his plate. “No rubber?”
“No, no. Not that.” If only it was that. Wrong to think that way, but no condom was one thing. No future sex life was another. “I led her on. I can’t. Let her think.” He ran out of words. How did he tell them he was half a man? No one was eating.
“What did you do?” Reid’s voice was anger covered by flimsy restraint, imagining the kind of worse where Owen had hurt someone.
“Not anything you’re thinking. I can’t get hard.”
Reid laughed, relieved. “She wasn’t your type. Happens.”
He could let it go, but Dev watched him with those big brown knowing cow eyes of his. “No. That wasn’t the reason.”
Reid choked around a mouthful of rice, spluttering, “Bullshit.”
“Ever since the accident.”
Dev’s fork went down on the countertop. “Are you saying?”
“That I can’t get it up. Ever, not mornings, not with my hand, not with porn, not with a woman. Not with the woman last night and I wanted her.”
“But you’re still healing. Is it a pain thing?” Dev asked.
“It’s temporary, right?” Reid said, with a warble of horror.
“It’s nerve damage and they don’t know if it’s going to repair.”
Dev took up his fork again. “So it’s erectile dysfunction. There are pills.”
Owen looked at his food and knew it would go cold uneaten. “There are pills, pumps, sleeves and rings, but all of that stuff is to keep you hard. You have to be able to get some of the way there yourself. Useless for me.” He gave the expression limp dick a specific meaning.
“Shit,” said Dev.
“Jesus,” said Reid.
Now the words were there. The things he hadn’t said to anyone. Not even the drug counselors. A weight he’d been carrying like a huge St. Bernard around his neck.
“It’s fucked with my head. I might not be walking and I am. I’m grateful. I could be in a bad place and I’m recovering well, I’m going to be back on my bike again one day. I had an addiction but I’m not a long-term addict, or if I am, I know how to manage that. I know what I could become if I don’t. I’m a Lange, it’s what we do. We booze, gamble and overmedicate. But this, this is something else and it’s dark.”
Damaged Goods releases on August 1st.
It’s for sale on Amazon only.
You can read it as a standalone. But through till August 15 Offensive Behavior is on sale at .99c.