Guest Author & Giveaway: Mia Marlowe featuring Improper Gentlemen

Friday, July 29

Today we're talking about improper sex in Historical Romance.  Want to find out what author Mia Marlowe has to say about it and terms such as "ruddy tower of power"?  Then read on my book loving friends!


My novella in the IMPROPER GENTLEMEN anthology (July 26, 2011) with Diane Whiteside and Maggie Robinson is not your grandmother's historical romance read. It starts right out with a couple's frantic, forbidden joining on a sultry Bermudan night. Not surprisingly, my topic today is about improper behavior. 

In straight talk--sex scenes. Writers work with nothing but ink on a page and somehow hope to breathe life into our characters. We play on their hopes and dreams. We exploit their triumphs and failures. Nowhere are these things more evident than in our character’s bedrooms.

My literary first time was not in a romance book. It was from a highly respected literary genius--John Updike. I was a junior in high school, an extremely naïve junior, when I read Rabbit Run. The scene where Harry Angstrom coerces a hooker into giving him oral sex while his wife is giving birth was a shock to me. First, because I had no idea people did such things. Told you I was naïve. And second, because the relationship in which the oral sex occurred was so cold and devoid of joy. But did it deepen my understanding of the characters and propel the story? Like a runaway locomotive.

It also convinced me that every scene—especially the sex scenes—should deepen my characters or propel the story. Preferably both.

If they’re so important, why are sex scenes so hard to write?

Probably because writers need to get over themselves. We worry that someone will think our sex scenes are autobiographical, sometimes with good reason. When I first started writing, my DH used to go to the Romantic Times Convention with me. One day a woman who’d read my work came up to him, gave him the once over and said, “You must really be something.”

The wicked man just smiled and said, “Thank you, ma’am, I am.”

Part of what makes writing a sex scene difficult is puzzling over what language to use. Which brings us to “purple prose.” If you’ve ever giggled over something as ridiculous as “the ruddy tower of his power” you know what I mean. Beauty of language is one thing, but let’s not lose our heads. There’s no room in any scene for, pardon the pun, flaccid prose. I need to keep it crisp or the story will be lost in Victorian silliness. Unless of course the story is set in the Victorian era, but even then it’s best to keep the euphemisms down. Or better yet, let the characters laugh over their verbal coyness.

I always try to call it what my characters would call it. When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense. Technical terms may not sing, but they don’t confuse anyone either. And it is possible to write a totally hot sex scene and not mention any body parts at all.

Mark Twain said “A successful book isn’t made of what’s in it, but what’s left out of it.” I promise to leave out purple prose.

What “purplism” frustrates you? My mother hates the word “groin.” Any time we write about body parts or sexual acts, someone will be offended by the words we use. What term do you wish your favorite author would leave out?

Unsuitable. Forbidden. Oh-so-seductive. These gentlemen are hardly respectable. But they are the very, very best…

“Talbot’s Ace” by Diane Whiteside

He rules Colorado’s most glittering, anything-goes gambling palace. And Justin Talbot never does something for nothing. But if daring Boston aristocrat Charlotte Morland needs his protection from a dangerous enemy, he’ll have no choice but to make her business his pleasure…

“To Match a Thief” by Maggie Robinson

Ex-pickpocket Sir Simon Keith can finally afford the best of everything. But London’s most-desired courtesan is his lost love Lucy. Now Simon will need his wits and his considerably large…wiles to win his way back into her bed—and into her heart.

“A Knack for Trouble” by Mia Marlowe

Lord Aidan Stonemere didn’t go from prison to a title playing by society’s rules. If he wants something, he takes it, and Rosalinde Burke didn’t object to being taken. Once. To keep her from marrying a staid viscount, Aidan’s about to remind her how deliciously good being bad feels…

Congratulations Mia!  I have to admit that I love both proper and improper heroes, because I firmly believe that there is a time and place for everything...after all even rakes need to have some manners in the bedroom :)

Right now, Mia's publisher is running a special a Brava Kindle bundle with IMPROPER GENTLEMEN, TO TOUCH A THIEF,  and MISTRESS BY MISTAKE for only $16.49 which is an absolute steal on these fantastic romances, since it would cost you more than 33.00 if you bought them in print individually.  That's a whopping off 60% of the cover price of $42.00 when you buy the Kindle bundle.  That's the kind of deal that I LOVE!  If I didn't already have two out of the three books I would be jumping on this in a major way...not that that should influence you at all (pssst buy it!)

For more about Mia and her upcoming books, visit While you're there, be sure to enter her contest and visit her very active blog, or you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

To celebrate the release of IMPROPER GENTLEMAN author Mia Marlowe would like to giveaway an ARC copy of the anthology to one lucky Musings follower.  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory:  Answer the question Mia asked readers in her post and/or leave a comment or question for Mia (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory: You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • This contest is open to US & International addresses
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on July 30th at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice
Good Luck!
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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


JenM July 29, 2011 at 12:40 AM  

Okay, I'll go first. One example off the top of my head - "turgid" nipples. Turgid? Really? Just the sound of that word puts me off.

GFC follower
jen at delux dot com

Linda July 29, 2011 at 1:07 AM  

Hi Mia
I laughed when I read your husband's reply! He must be a real gem. Did he make YOU blush?!

GCF follower

Tamsyn July 29, 2011 at 3:23 AM  

Enjoyed the post. I do not really take exception to purple prose as long as its not overly done. I did have trouble understanding "love dew" at first but caught on later. Mia, have you ever written purple prose in your books before or have you always taken care to leave them out?
GFC follower/international

Lexi July 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM  

Quim, sure it may have been used ages ago but it's still not good.

I would love the chance to be reminded why being bad is so good....

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 6:59 AM  

JenM--Turgid? I only think of that word when my celery stalks are limp and need to spend a little time in water. LOL! Not sexy at all.

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 7:02 AM  

Linda--He is and I'm too lucky a girl to have him to blush over it! We've been married much longer than either us was single and we're still having so much fun together. Love that man.

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 7:04 AM  

Tamsyn--I try very hard not to get too flowery in my sensual descriptions. However, everything is subjective. Someone else may very well think I've strayed into the land of Purplisms, so I can't say definitively that I've never been guilty of it.

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 7:06 AM  

Lexi--When people learn that I'm a romance novel, they sometimes give me a sideways glance and I know they are thinking I know more about having sex than the average person. However, as the old Gershwin song goes, "It ain't necessarily so." For example, I have no idea what quim is, but I agree that it sounds rather nasty.

gamistress66 July 29, 2011 at 9:45 AM  

one that gets me is mature modern heroines referring to their "girlie parts". About the third time I read that in a book my eyes are definately rolling.

Anonymous,  July 29, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

Manhood--I may be alone in that, but seriously, manhood? I didn't read romances with sex scenes until after I had explained sex to five kids (some of them extremely curious), so euphemisms make me want to laugh out loud.

Incidentally, Mia, you write sex scenes quite well. Love your books.

PS I don't remember my Google password, so had to sign in as Anonymous.

Tore July 29, 2011 at 10:43 AM  

I am a follower and email subscriber. I don't mind the descriptions and words as long as they don't over due it. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read the book.

penthree July 29, 2011 at 10:58 AM  

When I came out of the closet to my family, admitting that I was writing a romance, my niece(28)hesitantly asked me if I had to use the... P*n*s...I laughed because that is the most unsexy word so I embarrassed her in front of her new boyfriend and told her I used...shaft or rod! Ugh! When she reads my book or any great romance she'll realize sexy and seductive have little to do with body parts! HA! Besides I have three sons so the p-word is just part of the parenting package!

Maria July 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM  

Fantastic post! Lol at Mia's husband - he sounds like a gem!(of course I can say this since he's not my husband and I don't know his reading historical romance, I really don't mind the purple prose I've seen so far...though as someone said "turgid" nipple just doesn't sound right - when I read a more erotic historical I do get upset over seeing the "c" word - I hate that word and have always hated it and if it's used more than once in a book - I grit my
Thanks for the giveaway!

GFC Follower

ClaudiaGC July 29, 2011 at 12:37 PM  

I have to admit that I don't like the p*nis word itself. It sounds so clinical. But besides that I'm fairly open minded as long as it is not to overdone. I can still remember reading my first romance novels as a teen (mostly by authors like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss or Johanna Lindsey) and they were full of purple prose and my still fairly virgin-like brain sometimes thought:"What do they mean exactly here?" lol

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:11 PM  

gamistress--Girlie parts doesn't offend me as much as one I recently ran across--"her vat of love pudding." Ew!

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:12 PM  

Thanks, Maurine! I do give it my all. ;-)

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM  

Tore--Consider yourself entered. Good luck!

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:15 PM  

Pentree-- I have tried on occasion to write as hot as I can without naming specific body parts. It can be done by focusing more on the senses and what's going on inside the character's heads.

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:18 PM  

Maria--I'm put off by the "C" word referring to women. It seems derogatory. I'm less offended by the one used for men, especially if the scene is written from the guy's POV. It's how he thinks about that part of his body, so it works in that case.

MiaMarlowe July 29, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

Claudia--I think lots of us who read Woodiwiss at a tender age came away from it scratching our heads in befuddlement from time to time. ;-)

jeanette8042 July 29, 2011 at 2:15 PM  

I dislike when authors use the words cunt or "steel rod" because one is derogatory in my opinion and the second one always kinds of ruin the scene for me.

GFC follower

Kathleen O July 29, 2011 at 4:27 PM  

This was a great post. I don't think I can say I dislike any terms used in books. I think some of them are very amusing. But if I did it would be when body parts are refered to as "nether regions"...

I am a follwer of GFC..

chey July 29, 2011 at 5:59 PM  

As long as no words get overused, the purple prose doesn't usually bother me.

chey July 29, 2011 at 5:59 PM  

As long as no words get overused, the purple prose doesn't usually bother me.

gfc follower

Barbara E. July 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM  

I prefer using either the name of the body part or a common description, such as penis or cock, rather than words like rod or shaft. A description for a woman can be a little more vague, but not things like honey pot, or c*nt, that takes me out of the story for sure. I prefer more talk about what the characters are feeling than which body part is going where.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

June M. July 29, 2011 at 8:20 PM  

I have to say that I prefer more common terms than those of manhood, honey pot, shaft, rod, etc. Other than that, nothing really bothers me.

manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

glittergirl July 29, 2011 at 10:14 PM  

I don't like c*nt, cl*t, and f*ck. The last one seems to be every other word these days. True romance is about love not SEX and the f word is just dirty not sexy sex. If the prose is too descriptly prosiac I can't figure out what they're up to. I cant think of specific phrases right now. Sorry. LOVE YOUR BOOKS!


Anonymous,  July 30, 2011 at 12:04 AM  

I have to agree with Mia and say that I don't like the "c" word referring to a woman. It's not sexy at all, and I cringe a little when I read it.
This is an awesome post! I've never read any books by any of the authors so I would definitely love to.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2011 at 12:08 AM  

I have to agree with Mia and say that I don't like the "c" word referring to a woman. It's not sexy at all, and I cringe a little when I read it.
This is an awesome post! I've never read any books by any of the authors so I would definitely love to.

(I forgot my email on my first comment. Just delete it, please!)

Sheree July 30, 2011 at 3:59 AM  

Some phrases that made me laugh: nether lips, woman's fleece, and nether curls. I'm okay with pretty much any term as long as it's reasonable from the character's point of view. "Cunt" is really dependent on the specific character (alpha male - yes, shy virginal heroine - probably not) and genre (historical - not). I give more leeway to "fuck" because it's used so widely nowadays in regular conversation so most likely rare in a historical.

GFC follower
ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

Sheree July 30, 2011 at 4:01 AM  

Also, I seriously don't want to know that the heroine's vaginal secretions are "pungent". Ew!

Artemis July 30, 2011 at 8:03 PM  

Reading all of these posts were an education. What was that pudding one again? I'm sure there were some I have come across but at the moment I can't remember what they are. I'm not put off by the harsher, coarser words when they're used in context.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2011 at 10:10 PM  

I have to smile when I think of all the terms that have been used in romances, especially the historical variety. Actually, the term that annoyed me the most was in a a western written for men. I read it after a male patron made a snide comment about "romance books" being worthless junk. This particular series book wasn't worth much more than the paper it was written on. Anyway, the hero rides into town, Sees the lovely saloon girl with the great set of MELONS, just waiting for him.
A term I hadn't heard before was used by the husband of a romance author (Zoe Archer) in an interview. Asked what the word ball brought to mind he said "trouser marbles."

This sounds like it will be a most enjoyable anthology. I hope it is doing well.

Thanks for an interesting post. I could not agree more with Mark Twain's post.

GFC Follower, librarypat.

MiaMarlowe July 31, 2011 at 7:12 AM  

Thanks to the Seductive Musings gang for having me here and thank you everyone who left a comment. I loved chatting with you today!

My randomly drawn winner is Jeanette 8042. Please contact me through my website with your snailmail info and I'll send your book pronto.

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