Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is a Rake’s Sacrifice Truly a Noble Thing?

I finished reading a truly wonderful a historical romance a few weeks ago that showcases the typical hero rake, or rather, the one that decides to abstain from sex out of respect for the heroine, since she is the love of his life.

Part of me thinks this is so romantic. That’s quite a sacrifice on the hero’s part to give up on such an exercise that has brought him incredible pleasure and joy, so he essentially can be pure again when he is finally intimate with his true love. Another part of me wants to gag, because honestly, why is it such a hardship for the hero to give up sex? The heroine has no qualms about not giving into her lusts. And in this book, she was actually married to a man she loved and enjoyed having sex with.

Why is it so important for some authors who write historical romances, to keep going with the stereotype that the hero must be a lover to hundreds of women, and finds nothing wrong with it? Personally, I rather not know about the hero’s bed hopping. But for some reason, it is assumed, that we, the reader think it more romantic when the Wilt Chamberlain type hero suddenly cuts off all sexual interaction with other women just because the heroine seems so different from all the rest.

This has begun to annoy me more often in the historicals I have been reading. Is it just me? Should there be a change when it comes to these rakish heroes? Does the term “rake”, mean the amount of women the hero beds or just the appearance and lifestyle he must uphold?

Katiebabs (KB)


Leslie said...

Interesting questions. I've always took rake to mean the lifestyle, not necessarily that he sleeps around, he could have a mistress. I think the indulgences in the various vices are what make a rake. That's not to say that he wouldn't sleep with a lot of women just that it's not the only factor.

As for the hero abstaining from sex ~ I don't know why such a big deal is made. And I'm like you and don't need to know the hero's entire sexual history unless it pertains directly to the plot. I'd prefer a hero with more discriminating taste rather than one who goes for quantity. lol

Marianne McA said...

I think I read Boswell's 'Life of Johnson' at an impressionable age, and came away with the notion that gonorrhoea was rife in those days - so if the hero has a lot of lovers, makes me feel a bit queasy.
Also, I'd want to think both partners would be faithful after the HEA, and it's harder to believe that someone who naturally seeks out many sexual partners would place a premium on fidelity later in the marriage when the sparkles have subsided.

Stacy~ said...

I guess I always thought of a rake as the "bad boy", the one who broke all the rules. He'd drink his buddies under the table, gamble regularly and enjoy the hell out of it, ride his horse recklessly, and of course there would be the ladies, but not an endless parade of them.

Like Marianne I can't help think of disease, so I'd hope he'd be a little more discriminating. I remember reading a book (can't remember the name of it) and the hero was famous for being a man whore, and it so completely turned me off because it was more embarrassing than anything else. Not my kinda rakish behavior.