Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today's Special - - Michelle Marcos

It's my pleasure today to welcome historical romance author Michelle Marcos to the Romance Dish.  A graduate of the University of Miami, this former middle school teacher now devotes herself full-time to her writing career, much to the delight of her readers. Her newest book, SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT (I don't know about you but any book that has "seducing" and "Scot" in the title is one I want to read!) was released August 2nd from St. Martin's Press.

One of the things I like best about Michelle's books is her unusual heroines.  As she says in a Q&A at her website, There’s a whole demographic that is entirely underserved in historical novels. I like to read about people who may not have had it so easy in life, and find out how they deal with their challenges. Some of my heroines even start out on the wrong side of the law. I just love to watch their lives unfold – and meet the hero who will turn their world upside-down.  

Please give Michelle a warm welcome as she ponders the question...

Virgin or Vixen?

“For the first time in a long time, I was nervous. Aidan and I were going to sleep together and it was going to mean something. I was no virgin, but this was definitely virgin territory.”
—Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City

I love a good deflowering. In romance novels, I crave to know how the heroine experiences her “first time” in bed. And I get that experience a lot—many historical romance novels, especially ones set during the Regency, feature a heroine who is still chaste when she meets the hero. We get to learn throughout the book how it feels for her to have sex for the first time—and how the hero feels about having been her first.

Writing about the first time is also a pleasure that romance novelists enjoy. With each heroine it is a journey of discovery. This is one of the reasons I don’t plot out stories…I relish how the characters reveal themselves as the story unfolds. If it were possible, I would prefer to read my stories instead of write them. I want to experience them just as a reader would.

One day, I was sitting at the computer writing a thrilling scene in SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT. Malcolm Slayter, a Scottish fugitive hunter who has been hired as a protector for Serena Marsh, the daughter of an English ambassador, is inspecting her bedroom for any potential weakness in security. He looks under the bed that Serena is sitting upon. Then he straightens and puts a large hand on the mattress on either side of her, effectively imprisoning her upon the bed. He comes right out and asks her. “Do ye have a secret lover? It’s best that ye tell me now.”

Suddenly, I paused, my fingers hovering over the keys. I hadn’t thought this part through. When I started writing the novel, I had just assumed Serena had not been with a man before. But Serena wasn’t exactly a parson’s daughter. She was a socialite—famous and beautiful, her fashions emulated and her witticisms celebrated. She attended every ball and rout, and her absence from a party was a shame upon the hostess. She chronicled her experiences in Society in a highly popular column for a London newspaper. And just like Carrie Bradshaw, the character who inspired the creation of Serena Marsh, I wasn’t entirely certain that Serena would be a stranger to the pleasure of a man’s touch.

In that moment, it was as if Serena herself drew me into her back story. I saw her years before at some party or other, a charming young buck seducing her with his honeyed words and golden smiles. I saw her slowly tumbling into temptation…letting him have just one kiss, and then just one caress, and then just one night. And after he had imprinted himself upon her as her first, he turned on her. He berated her, criticizing her as a lightskirt. She had given him her heart, and he took not only that, but her innocence as well. The charming young man had become Serena’s Great Mistake.

Slowly, my fingers tapped out Serena’s response to her brutish protector. Just then, Serena had taken on a whole new dimension for me—a third dimension. She had become real, leaping off the page as alive as any woman I know. The question of “virgin or vixen” seemed far too limiting, as Serena was neither. Somewhere in the vast spectrum between pure and promiscuous, there had to be a middle ground.

Years before, Serena had come to face to face with her own frailty. Her own shortcomings had made it easy for a man to ill-use her, and she was certainly never going to let another man do the same again. Her past journey would make her a stronger woman, and it is that strength of character that the handsome Highlander would find irresistible.

I want to know what you think. Must your heroines be white as snow, or do you delight in ones who are scarlet? What about all the shades in between? Which novel did you enjoy the most, and what was the heroine’s journey to sexual exploration? One commenter will win an autographed copy of SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT. And for an extra chance to win the book, enter the contest at

Michelle, thank you so much for visiting with us today!  Readers, for more information about Michelle and her books, visit her website, friend her on facebook and follow her at twitter.  


  1. I need to get this book I haven't read any of your books YET Michelle but I am sure that will change I do so love finding new authors.

    I don't mind whether the heroine is a virgin or not as long as I really like her I am happy a couple of my favourite books are Anna Campbell's Claiming The Courtesan and Tempt The Devil and neither one of those Heroines were virgins.

    Thanks Gals for inviting Michelle along today I love it

    Have Fun

  2. Congratulations on the new release. Can't wait to read this one.

    As to virgins or not, I don't want always to read about virgin heroines. I really enjoy novels where a heroine is not ashamed of her sexual desires, lack of virginity or her sexual past. "Winter Garden" by Adele Ashworth is one of my favourites.

    Please enter me if it's international.
    natalija (dot) shkomare (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. I like both, a non virgin (once burned twice shy) can give a hero a run for his money because she doesn't want to go there again.
    A virgin that thinks she is strong and doesn't see what the fuss is about is fun too when she finds out different.

  4. Hi Helen! I haven't read Michelle's newest book yet but you can be sure I will. As I said in my intro, when you put "seducing" and "Scot" in the title it's a book that's sure to grab my attention. *grin*

  5. Natalija said, I really enjoy novels where a heroine is not ashamed of her sexual desires, lack of virginity or her sexual past.

    I like those too! If well written, I enjoy both types of heroines. It would be very boring for me as a reader if I was always given vanilla (though I like vanilla). Sometimes, I want a heroine who's bold, sassy and yes, experienced.;-)

  6. Hi, Michelle!

    I'm going to be odd-man out so far on this post....I do like my heroines to be virgins; although, I don't mind if the heroine was deflowered as is Serena's situation and is nervous about (another) sexual encounter with the hero.

    I enjoy reading romances when the hero is a Scot. Sexy is a man in a kilt, I say! :)

  7. Madeline Hunter's Sinful In Satin featured Celia who was the daughter of a courtesan and raised to become one herself. She flees that life... She takes over a house she inherited and eventually falls in love with Jonathan the evasive tenant.

    Niccola Cornick has many books with courtesans and scarlet woman.

  8. I don't have a preference concerning the heroine's level of experience. I just want to believe in the character. In historical romance, I have a difficult time believing that innocence is the same thing as ignorance, that the earth moves for every deflowered virgin, that widows are virginal, and that aristocratic young ladies can be as sexually free as young women post-birth control pill. So long as none of these buttons are pushed, I'll be happy reading about heroines who range from pristine innocent to experienced courtesan.

  9. Dianna, I enjoy both of those types of heroines too!

  10. Deb said, I'm going to be odd-man out so far on this post....I do like my heroines to be virgins;

    That's why I love romance fiction. There are enough different types of heroes and heroines out there to satisfy every reader!

    Thanks for stopping by today, Deb. I'm sure you're crazy busy this week!

  11. LaurieG, I love that Hunter series! I have some of Nicola Cornick's books but haven't read them yet. Must remedy that. :)

  12. Janga said, I just want to believe in the character.

    That's the critical point for me too, Janga. If I believe in the character then her level of experience doesn't matter.

  13. Welcome to TRD, Michelle! It's lovely to have you with us today.

  14. As long as the deflowering is realistic, I don't mind. There can be such sweet dialogue in those scenes that really show the heart of the hero.

  15. Michelle's book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read it.

    I don't really care if the heroine is a virgin or not as long as I can identify with her. My favorite book is whichever one I am reading at the time, so can't name just one or two.

  16. I love the cover! Your books are new to me but not for long. I'm very fond of Scotland as a setting in historical romances.

    I have met many heroines and they come in all shapes, sizes and circumstances. Their level of bed experience doesn't matter to me. What does is their personality. I like a heroine who is believable, strong and deserving of the hero, as well as the hero derserves her. Personality is key and so long as it suits the story I will like her.

  17. The simple answer is no. I think every character is different and it appears your heroine is not the shrinking flower retiring miss sort.

  18. Hi Michelle, and welcome to The Romance Dish!!

    I have to admit I am a lover of anything having to do with a Scot! LOL! I'm a sucker for those guys. Your book sounds as delicious as the cover :-)

    In all honesty, the heroine's past really doesn't matter to me. I just have to believe in her. It all boils down to the writing for me.

  19. I have to admit that i have yet to read this particular arthur. I would lovr to ein this contest. I am in love with the cover.

  20. I have not read your books yet but will be looking for this one. I love reading new authors to me.

    I like both types of heroines, I don't like the perfet ones though they have to have flaws. Its hard for me to pick a favorite book because its usually the one I am reading at the time. Kaki Warner, Elizabeth Hoylt, Anna Campbell, Jane Porter are some of my favorite authors.

    thanks for sharing your books with us today.

    Sandra Sookoo

  21. I enjoy either one as the heroine, virgin or non-virgin. I like a widow or a young lady who made a mistake and thinks she'll never do that again, although a feisty virgin who knows what she wants is fun too. One of my favorite themes is the second chance at love, and my favorite book of that type is Sherry Thomas' Private Arrangements.

  22. PJ, in your opening paragraph, you took the words right out of my mouth! "I don't know about you but any book that has "seducing" and "Scot" in the title is one I want to read!)" LOL!! ;)

    Hi Michelle!
    I'm looking forward to reading Serena's answer to Malcolm in regards to the "secret lover" question! Hahaha!

    I don't think it really matters too terribly much for me if the heroine is a virgin or not. It depends on the story... It's more important to me to "like" the heroine and really believe in her character.

  23. Hi, Michelle! I'm so sorry to be so late checking in.

    I have to say if I see the word "Scot" in the title, I'm immediately sucked in. *g* Can't wait to read your book.

    I don't really mind if the heroine is a virgin or not---as long as it fits the plot, it's all good.

  24. There is no one preference for the "shade" of a heroine in a book. Again, it depends on who she is. Some nee to be virginal white, nothing else would be right. Others have had events in their lives that have left them less than chaste. For some it would be a memory to be treasured. For others a scar upon their heart and reputation. The scarlet woman gives an author many possibilities for story development. It all come down to who she tells you, the author, she is.
    I don't know if I have only one favorite story or heroine. I will say that the first romances I read were Julie Garwood's historicals and her heroines were virgins. It was what the stories called for.

    Thank for an interesting post. Best of luck on the release of SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT.

  25. Hi Michelle, it's great meeting you here and seeing that your book has Scot in the Title. It's my favorite read. A man in a kilt gets me every time.It doesn't matter to me if she's a virgin or not as long as I've connected to her. Thank you for sharing with us.I'll have to look up your books now because this one is DEFINITELY on my wish list.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  26. Hi Michelle

    Congratulations on your latest release and wishing it all the best!

    For me it doesn't matter whether the heroine is a virgin or a vixen or any shade in between. It's just that her character must match the circumstances and the plot. For instance i don't think a vixen would be the heroine of choice in a sweet romance.


  27. I enjoy all types of heroines and definitely don't want all of them to be virgins. Loretta Chase has a wonderful story where the heroine isn't a virgin but you don't know that right away and her story was very moving when you read it.

  28. While I admit to liking a good novel with a chaste heroine, sometimes that can be a bit boring. A book about a "fallen" heroine is great. Sometimes, her deflowering is from a mutual sexual encounter and sometimes she was seduced. To ignore the fact that many women during that time period were sexually active before marriage would be folly. I don't care to read about a slut of sorts and I do want my heroine to be a woman with a healthy attitude toward sex.
    Connie Fischer

  29. I don't think the issue is confined to virgin/non-virgin but rather how an author approaches a sensitive issue (i.e. virginity, alcohol, abuse, parental infidelity, etc.). Having read many different authors from Anna Campbell to Candace Camp I found that each one treats the subject of virgin/non-virgin)from a different perspective.

    Maybe I'm more tolerant than others since I was a teenager in the 60's. It was a time of self-evaluation and personal growth where we learned to make our own decisons and learn that any consequences were solely our own responsibility. No excuses allowed.

    I enjoy a happy ending but like real life I think the struggle to get there should be addressed as well not only by the characters actions but the consequences involved as well.

    I fell in love with Michelle's books when I read Wickedly Ever After and each book since has gotten even better. I can't wait to read Secrets of Seducing a Scot (I do love those kilts) and know the next book in the series is going to be her best one yet - just wait and see!

  30. Hi Michelle, this sounds like a book I just have to read. I think the virgin/non virgin issue has to depend on the heroine's backstory just as you found in describing your descision for this book. It fits the character and enhances the story.

    One scene I absolutely love in another kilt classic is in Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander." Claire and Jaime are being forced to marry and she asks if he minds that she is not a virgin. He responds that he does not mind as long as she does not mind that HE is!

  31. Hi Michelle, your book sounds great!

    I always love a story in which the heroine gets a second chance at love & so I don't mind if the hero is her first or not. Sometimes her having prior "experience" is even prefered (by me) as it allows her to see the difference. It's also a bit more realistic as not every guy who's your first will be your final.