We’ve just celebrated Valentine’s day, so Jenny Macaire is here to talk about romance in books.
I write historical fiction with a dash of science fiction (time travel), fantasy (Greek and Nordic mythology), and romance (my heroine, Ashley, shares her life with two men – Alexander the Great and his lover, Hephaestion). When I started writing this story (believe me) I had no idea it was going to turn into a steamy, sensuous series. It started out as a short story commissioned by a magazine about time travel. But the fact is, when I started researching and found out most of what we know about Alexander the Great is hearsay and that I could let my imagination run wild – it went wild!
Alexander mistakes time-travelling journalist Ashley for the goddess Persephone and kidnaps her, stranding her in 333 BC. They fall in love and she accompanies him on his trek across half the world. But I had a modern woman from the future and a man from ancient Greece (Macedonia) thrown together, and they had nothing in common. What happens when a young man and woman get together? Do they discuss the politics? Do they talk about the weather? What common ground did they have? Well, most of you are probably nodding sagely and imagining all sorts of different…positions. Yes, you’re right. Falling in love usually means lots of sweaty, bouncy sex full of giggles, sighs, moans, and body parts moving in various directions at various speeds.
What happens when one of the partners is unabashedly bi-sexual and his lover also happens to be bi-sexual, and sex is considered a natural part of life such as eating, breathing, or learning to swim? Yes, that’s right – the pair turns into a threesome. So, reader beware – (although I don’t write about it in as much detail as some would like), there is a spicy side to some chapters (if you want, you can just skip over those parts, they don’t last very long, just a paragraph or so) but here’s what I’ve discovered: reviewers will always comment on that part of my book. If they approve, they will say “Read about Ashley’s sensuous journey across ancient Persia”, and if they don’t approve, they will say, “A very interesting book except for too much sex and marching”.
This brings us back to the question “How much sex is too much sex in historical fiction?”
If you consider ‘Clan of the Cavebear’, or the Outlander series historical fiction, you would think that my books are fairly tame compared to the caveman sex in the Clan books or the spankings and punishments in the Outlander tales (I loved both series, btw!) So I’ll go out on a limb and say, “I think that if the sex takes away from the story, it is too much sex, and if it fits with the characters and setting, it’s fine (and you can always skip over those parts).” At any rate, I’d call my books “sensual” and leave it at that. And since it’s February, and it’s the month of romance, I thought I’d dig out a love scene from my book “The Soul of Time”, which was published on January 31, so you can get it as a late Valentine’s gift and enjoy the whole story, which is about Ashley and Alexander the Great.
In this book, they are in the far north, in the Land of the Eaters of the Dead, and they are trying to get Alexander’s soul back. The druids have it, and they want to use it to save their world. The story is set (historically) in the Iron Age, in what is modern-day Denmark and Norway. Fictionally, it’s based on the theory that if the Celts had been able to unite their tribes, they would have been able to repeal the Roman invaders and our world (Europe, at least) would be vastly different now if they had. From around 750 BC to 12 BC, the Celts were the most powerful people in central and northern Europe. The word Celt comes from the Greek word, Keltoi, which means barbarians. They spoke a vaguely common language, but they were not a united group and the Romans easily conquered the tribes and imposed their rules, religion, and roads on them.
Excerpt from “The Soul of Time”
(Ashley is sleeping in a hammock in a forest glade, resting after being wounded. The healer sent Alexander to fetch her.)
‘So you waited until I woke up. How long ago did she tell you to fetch me?’
He shrugged. ‘A few hours ago? I don’t know, but you were too peaceful to disturb. I love watching you sleep.’ His voice lowered and he grinned. ‘You looked so…harmless.’
I clambered out of the hammock and hit him on the arm. ‘Harmless?’
He chuckled, ducking away. ‘That’s what I said, my volcano princess. Do you remember I called you that once? You nearly drowned me. I still laugh when I think of it.’
I eyed him sourly. ‘You called me a “volcano princess”?’
‘Yes, it was in a river. We were swimming, and you told me that you were called the Ice Queen.’
‘That was just something some horrible boy once wrote on the bathroom wall in high school!’ I cried.
He put his finger across my lips. ‘Hush. Then we made love. Do you remember the first time we made love?’ We stopped beneath the sweeping branches of a willow tree. ‘We were in my tent. You were drunk, I think, on unwatered wine. You threw yourself on me.’
‘Well, we sort of threw ourselves on each other.’ He sighed and I heard a shiver in his voice. ‘And then we made love. You were crying and saying all sorts of silly things, like how much you wanted to stay, and how you hated to leave me. Then we went swimming in the river and you put your face in the hollow of my throat, right here.’
I moved towards him as if in a dream. Our lips touched, so softly, then I pressed my cheek against his throat. I traced his collarbones with my finger, then closed my eyes and breathed in his warm scent. My face did fit perfectly into the hollow of his neck. ‘I remember everything except being called a “volcano princess”,’ I said.
‘When you sleep, your face is so soft you look like a young girl. There is something almost painful about the joy I feel when I watch over you, knowing you’re carrying a baby inside your belly, knowing that you’re mine. I took you from the Time-Senders, and I’ll never let you go.’ He trembled as he spoke, holding me so tightly my bones cracked.
Universal buy link: getbook.at/Soul-of-Time
Jennifer is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.
Jennifer’s website: https://authorjennifermacaire.wordpress.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/
Instagram (for those who like pretty pictures): https://www.instagram.com/jennifermacaire/