Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Mess Welcomes Giselle Marks

Giselle Marks
Good morning, My Messy friends. Today I am pleased to bring you another great author. Giselle Marks has been writing for many years.  She has written two Regency Romances and a Fantasy/ Sci-fi series with erotic content.  Her first published novel The Fencing Master’s Daughter was published by Front Porch Romance in September 2013.  Her second Regency Romance, The Marquis’s Mistake, was released by them in November 2013.  Her Fantasy series, The Zeninan Saga, is currently being edited by Nevermore Press and should start appearing in the near future.  Giselle is currently working on an erotic fantasy novella called Lucy, which she hopes will be available in the New Year.

I came across Giselle on Twitter, where I have met some pretty creative people. Her novel, The Fencing Master's Daughter, is also on my list of books to read ASAP. I know you will enjoy sharing your morning with her. Afterward, please check out her novels and enjoy a great read.

Thank you, Giselle, for joining us at the Mess. We are pleased to have you and appreciate your support and friendship. Feel free to come back anytime.

And now, settle back with your morning cup of java and meet Giselle Marks.

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One of the less talked about problems of writing Regency Romances is many of the traditional readership of the genre disapprove of anything more than a chaste kiss between your exquisite heroine and gorgeous hero. Many older readers feel nothing more should happen until they have visited the altar together and even after the ceremony and they have benefit of clergy, that any rumpy-bumpy action should be conducted behind a closed bedroom door.

This readership hope new Regency and other Historical Romances will be written to the same formula as Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer and are disappointed when modern writers include bedroom scenes. Georgette Heyer refused to write sex scenes even though she overlapped her writing time-span with Ian Fleming who included some fairly tame sex scenes by today’s standards. Her middle class up-bringing and respectability made the idea of writing sensual scenes anathema to her.

However many younger readers feel short-changed when there are no sex scenes in their Regency romances. They also expect a lot more emotional input than either Georgette Heyer or I include about my characters.  I argue my British aristocratic heroes and heroines will keep their feelings to themselves and not create embarrassing scenes. I find over emoting a bit wet.

I also think the sex should be right for the characters involved. Books where virgin heroines behave like well-trained courtesans seem unbelievable to me. If the heroine was a widow or former courtesan, then that would be immodest but just about acceptable.  But a well brought up girl would not behave so.

Regency women did not get much of a sex education before their wedding nights and then they were frequently told to submit to their husband’s desires and basically grit their teeth and endure. I have read a number of modern Historical Romances where the sex scenes dominated to such an extent; there was virtually no space for a story for them to cling to. Most of those so-called historical romances miss out almost all facts and details from their stories. When they do include “period details” they are often wrong and anachronistic!

So how should an author unite the two groups of readers with their different hopes and expectations?  I cannot state categorically that either side is right or wrong. The readers are our customers and it is up to writers to provide them with books they want to read. However as writers we must decide what we wish to include or exclude in our stories. If writers are not comfortable writing bed scenes then they should not be pressured into including them in their books. I suspect many writers discover their raunchier books get more sales which will encourage more writers to add them.

I am definitely a traditionalist about getting the details right historically in my Romances, so you might expect me to feel strongly that raunchy scenes should be excluded from Regency romances. I adore Georgette Heyer and have no complaints about the absence of sex scenes in her books, because she was writing from a more innocent point of view.  However I feel the world has moved on a little and if she was writing today, I believe she might well have included slightly sexier scenes. But I have used that argument with serious Heyer fans before and I got shouted down as my views failed totally to convince them.

Yet in modern Regency Romances I have no objection to such scenes, if the storyline requires sex scenes and they are well written; then they need to be there. The behaviour of the hero and heroine during those scenes should be in character with their established personalities. They should be tender and romantic if at all possible and should emotionally affect both hero and heroine. But if you are going to get your hero and heroine to do a strip tease, then the author had better get the details of the costumes they are removing accurate. And if she is wearing a corset and has back buttons, then he’ll need to help her redress!

My first Regency romance “The Fencing Master’s Daughter” has no direct sex scenes and the most my lovers get up to is cuddle and kiss before marriage. So if you do not like sex scenes in your Regencies it is a book that should please you. My reasons for not writing sex scenes in the book were not because they destroy books’ integrity but I felt in the specific case of “The Fencing Master’s Daughter” any sex scene would be inappropriate. My heroine Madelaine fell in love with Edward’s loyalty and determination rather than his handsome looks or sexual prowess. She took some time coming to terms with the idea of physical intimacy and her erstwhile groom understood her fears and was prepared to be patient.

“The Marquis’s Mistake” is slightly more explicit but the heroine still reaches St. George’s, Hanover Square less innocent than most Regency brides but definitely a virgin. My reason for the different level of sexual content between the books is not because I am gradually building myself up to writing erotic scenes. When my Fantasy series “The Zeninan Saga” emerges in spring published by Nevermore Press, you might realise I am not prissy about writing sex scenes and that I have written a large number of them.  However, I did not consider a full on sex scene right for the plot of either story. I am writing more Regency Romances and some will have sex scenes and others may not, and how raunchy they are will depend on the characters and plot. Regency romances ought to be given a rating according to their sensual content so those who do not want to read such scenes can avoid them. 

If you read Regency Romances then you should reach your own conclusions as to whether you want erotic scenes included in the stories you buy. If what you are looking for is straight erotica then there are many historical erotica books available for you to select from. If you are seeking romance, perhaps you might consider reading well written stories that tell a love story with accurate historical details and allow yourself to use your imagination for how they consummated their romance?

“The Marquis’s Mistake” and “The Fencing Master’s Daughter are published by Front Porch Romance and are available on Amazon in paperback and e-books! 

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About The Fencing Master’s Daughter by Giselle Marks

Edward, Earl of Chalcombe, walking home, is attacked by footpads.  He attempts to defend himself but is bludgeoned to the ground.  Death seems inevitable when a fat ugly man carrying a stick and a beautiful slender young lady appeared.

The young lady stumbles and picks up his dropped foil, dispatching one footpad and injuring another.  The fat man belabours a third with his stick.  The footpads flee, leaving their deceased comrade behind.  The rescuers bundle Edward home.

The young lady, Madelaine summons the Bow Street runners.  Refusing reward she provides no address.  But Edward fascinated by both Madelaine’s beauty and swordsmanship intends to pursue the acquaintance.  Edward seeks his rescuers and the culprits who wish to terminate his life.  Offering the elusive Madelaine marriage but she repeatedly declines.  Her father accepts an invitation to visit his estate with her over Christmas as he takes a liking to Edward. 

As Edward pursues Madelaine, the attempts on his life continue.  The sinister French spy, Major Furet, discovered as the arch nemesis in both Edward and Madelaine’s stories.  The mystery intertwines as their romance progresses and Madelaine eventually reveals the secret making her refuse to marry him. 

Did you enjoy what you read? Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

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  1. I'm in agreement with you in regards to not including sex scenes save for the chaste kisses between the hero and heroine.

  2. I think the key is to be true to your characters. Those who grew up with today's mores can't even conceive of the restraint and modesty that were taught to women, which leaves readers unprepared for stories with no sex scenes. But really, people, if you like historicals, you should make an effort to get into the mindset of that time. Understanding how people of the past (or of any different culture) thought and behaved is part of what makes a reading experience so rich. So just realize that a properly brought up young lady would not fall into bed (or into the bushes!) with a man on first meeting and go with that. Writers should not compromise their characters just to make sales or cave into perceived reader demands.

    1. I agree with you, Judith. Sex sells and so many just jump on that, pardon the play on words. However, as you say, the writer should be true to the characters and the story. Make it real to what you are trying to share.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. This is a great article. I've had the privilege to read both of Ms. Marks novels The Fencing Master’s Daughter and The Marquis Mistake. They were both superb regency romance. They both had different levels of sex scenes, but so very appropriate to the characters. I admit that I tend to love historical with the more risqué scene, but lately I have been wondering how realistic they are really? Some books are written with the correct blend brilliantly, and even belonging to the younger generation of readers that may appreciate more sex in their books; I have come to love them.
    I enjoyed this article. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Stacy. Finding that balance is truly a writer's task and sometimes a challenge.

  4. May I just say I love your blog? I ran across it today via FB link and was just captivated by this post.
    I agree with Judith about being true to the characters. I was dinged (not unkindly) by a couple of reviewers who were disappointed because they'd expected more sex in my book. I'm not at all adverse to sex scenes in historical novels, but they need to be in some context. And Robbie, you are spot on about realism. It also irks me to read a passage detailing a virgin's foray into sex where he or she know exactly what to do, or where everything is completely perfect in a way we all know it rarely is.
    My other quibble is sex thrown in simply for the sake of. It's as if the writer panics and thinks, "Oh no! I'm on Chapter Twelve and there's been no sex since Chapter Three!" And suddenly there's a sex scene where it doesn't fit, or where it feels artificially set up.
    I like sex and romance to come along for the characters when they're not looking for it, but while on their way to doing something more interesting. Then it's a nice surprise then, and - if it's thought through - it works for the writer, the characters and the readers.
    I'd rather disappoint the readers, though, than compromise my characters or the historical integrity of the novel.

    1. Thank you, Sidney. I'm glad you found us and even more glad you joined the conversation. I agree with you about some scenes being forced. If it's not natural it should not be put in. Your characters will tell you when they are ready. Be true to them and to the story.