Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IMHO welcomes Victoria Dahl!



IMHO is delighted to welcome one of my favorite new historical authors, Victoria Dahl. Victoria exploded onto the romance scene to rave reviews with her first book, To Tempt a Scotsman, her Golden Heart winning historical, in 2007, followed by her next historical, A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure, in 2008. In the interim, she also sold two contemporary romances (Talk Me Down and Start Me Up) and contributed to a historical anthology, Lords of Desire, featuring Virginia Henley, which she’ll be placing in the “I LOVE ME SOME HISTORICALS” basket today. Her fifth book, One Week as Lovers, will be released in July 2009, and she’s got several others simmering on the fire as well (lord knows when the woman sleeps). One thing both publishers and readers know about Victoria: this self-professed “naughty girl” can write (and write fast)!

Eloisa James and Connie Brockway sing her praises, while Romantic Times BOOKReviews says "Dahl brings a highly sensual, emotional and moving story to the pages with aplomb. Her clever plotting and engaging characters drive the story forward at a fast clip, and the depth of emotions will keep you enthralled."

IMHO: Right on. If you haven’t read Victoria’s sexy, emotional, heart-wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny books, now is your chance. I can’t recommend her enough. Welcome, Victoria, and tell us the story behind one of your bazillion stories!

ViD: Thanks, TJ, for giving me this chance to tell the story behind the story. I’ve chosen to talk about my anthology contribution to Lords of Desire, “Lessons in Pleasure.”

Some of you may have seen me online in the past, arguing with people about female sexuality in previous centuries. This is one of my hot-button issues. I love naughty girls, and I firmly reject the notion that a woman needs to find true love to feel desire. I also reject the argument that all Victorian or Regency women would have been blind to sexual desire until offered enlightenment by their husbands (in the form of the magical phallus of true love, of course). Ridiculous.

Female bodies were the same two hundred years ago as they are now. Some women had very healthy sex drives long before they ever married, just as they do now. And really, there wasn’t much to do at night back then. I expect there was plenty of “self-pleasuring” going on.

But I wholeheartedly acknowledge that there were many, many women who entered into marriage with no clue what to expect. In fact, the thought kind of haunts me. How terrifying it must have been to lose your virginity when you’d never even seen a man’s bare arms. Can you imagine? Eek! It makes me shudder (and not in the good way). Seriously, when you really think about it, the whole idea of sex is bizarre and slightly disgusting, even when you’re thoroughly enjoying it. I’d hate to have it sneak up on me unawares.

Before I wrote “Lessons in Pleasure,” the story had been on my mind for a long time. What would it have been like for an innocent Victorian woman to marry? Even assuming the husband was a wonderful man, how would a newlywed couple begin to work through this? Even if they loved each other, could she ever learn to be comfortable with a naked – and very aroused – man?

It could’ve been funny (and someday I might write that story too!), but all I could think of was the heartache of it. The mortification of the wife. The worry of the husband. And the guilt they’d both feel. I decided to put my heroine in this situation—with a true hero, of course—and find out if love could turn an imperfect start into a beautiful happy ending.

So I hope you’ll consider reading my first, honest-to-God, innocent heroine. It probably won’t happen again soon, so get this story while you can! I have four more releases in the next year, and not one of those girls is pure of heart or body. Write what you know, after all. But if you’ve read “Lessons in Pleasure,” please let me know if I managed to pull it off!

IMHO: You definitely pulled it off in my humble opinion, Victoria, and thanks for sharing your story with us. We’ll look forward to many more, but for goodness’ sake, try to get some rest! In the meantime, fangirls (and boys), leave a comment for Victoria. Do you prefer reading about the innocent heroine, or the heroine who knows what she wants and how to get it, too? Remember to leave a comment for at least one other author during the contest period as well—the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. That basket is looking mighty healthy, and I’m hoping to get a picture up of it this week.

TJB

44 comments:

Kimberly Killion said...

Excellent post, Victoria! I love your take on the sexual prowess of the historic woman. I couldn't agree more. :) I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the anthology. Keep writing...
~Kimberly

Margay said...

Victoria, I want to know what your secret is. How do you produce so many books in so little time and keep it all fresh and sorted out in your mind? I have a lot of story ideas myself, but I can't seem to get them down as quick as others!
Margay

JeanP said...

I can't wait to read this one.
I like to read about heroines who know what they want, enjoy reading about the strong characters.

Billie Jo said...

Hi Victoria,

I like to read heroines who know what they want and go after it. I can not do wimpy or timid characters.

I love the sound of this story and look forward to reading more of your work.

Billie Jo

Victoria Dahl said...

Good morning, everyone!

Thank you for the warm welcome Jean and Billie Jo! Hi, Kimberly!

Margay, are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants? I'm a big-time pantser, but I've been forced to write synopses for the past couple of years. (Apparently publishers want to know what you're planning to write when you're under contract. *g*) So even though I HATE to do it, I have been writing down the bare bones of the story before I start. And I definitely find myself going back to check when I forget where I was headed!!!

Victoria Dahl said...

Btw, the synopses have been especially helpful this year, because I've been turning in proposals with a synopsis, but then working on another book. For example, I turned in a synopsis for my next historical idea in October, but I won't start WRITING that book until July.

Margay said...

I am usually a heavy plotter - so detailed, in fact, that I jokingly refer to the outline as my first draft. I think it's kind of scary to fly by the seat of your pants.
Margay

Victoria Dahl said...

So do you just find yourself not getting into the story sometimes? I have this problem a lot. If I leave it too long and then sit down to write... I'm just not feeling it. But it can be forced!!! Make yourself start writing again, and it'll all snap back into place within a couple of days. (Okay, sometimes 3 or 4.)

Margay said...

Good advice. I'll have to put it to work for me so I can get these characters out of my head and onto the page!
Margay

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Victoria - congratulations on having such a great year. And it's only March!

My first requirement in a heroine is that she be smart and capable. After that, I'm fine with her being either sexually innocent or more experienced. As a writer, though, I do find it a bit more of a challenge if I have a sexually innocent heroine. But it can be a fun challenge.

Colleen said...

Hi Victoria - thanks for taking the time to do this for us today :)

I think that in most historicals it's actually more appropriate to have a heroine be sexually inexperienced but it can become quite tedious when they are completely clueless. As you said, women are the same now as they were then and I can't believe that women didn't talk amongst themselves about such things. I think that having a heroine who might have have the experience but who at least knows the mechanics of sex is a fair balance, even for the most sheltered of women.

Have a great Wednesday!

Colleen said...

Sorry, I mean to say "having a heroine who might not have the experience but who at least knows the mechanics of sex is a fair balance..." :) It's still kind of early here on the west coast and I haven't had my coffee yet :)

jcp said...

I don't mind either innocent or experience but I can't tolerate a heroine who is clueless or completely disregards the mores of the era or doesn't seem to care what people think.

Raven99 said...

When I read contemporary romances, I want my heroines to have experience and to go after what they want. When I read historical romance, I can take both experienced or innocent heroines. Humans are sexual by nature, so I can understand characters who have strong desires and act on them. I also understand, though, that there was a lot of pressure on women to remain virginal and pure during certain times in history. So innocent characters don't bother me too much. However, I do think that even innocent heroines should know the basics of sex and what to expect.

Virginia said...

Hello Victoria, nice to see you here. I have never read any of your books, but I would love too. I love historical romance books and have been reading them for years. Its the only way to go. I really like the idea of having innocent characters, you don't see this to often. I am looking forward to reading one of your books.

Meljprincess said...

I like an experienced woman. It drives me crazy when the hero's had many lovers but the heroine is a virgin. While I'm on the subject of sex and btw "I expect there was plenty of “self-pleasuring” going on." LOL! It seems in every romance I read, the hero's penis is so large it won't fit through the front door! Puhlease! Victoria, I'd love to read one of your books. Now that's my self-pleasuring.

Mel K.
Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

Tracey Devlyn said...

Hi Victoria!
I'm looking forward to reading Lessons in Pleasure.

I agree. I think women, even two hundred years ago, would have been curious about sex. Sisters would have overheard their brothers discussing things with their friends. Heck, some brothers would have take great delight in filling their sisters' ears with the forbidden. :)

Victoria Dahl said...

Thanks to everyone for coming by!

I think girls who lived in the country would be especially aware of at least the mechanics of sex. Those sheep and horses didn't make themselves, after all. Stallions never seem very shy about relaxing in the paddocks I've passed by. *g*

Plus, in the country there are so many lovely, private places to go strolling. And if gentlemen were too gentlemanly to even steal a kiss (as I've been told before), why the need for constant chaperoning??? Puhlease. Keep in mind that these girls were teenagers. Teenagers not often known for wisdom or obedience.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments.
I prefer reading about heroines who are self-motivated and not weeping lilies.
JWIsley AT aol.com

Suzan Harden said...

ROFLOMA - Thanks for the realistic look at sex. Growing up on a farm, you figure out the basics real quick. As for heroines, lack of experience doesn't bother me. Lack of knowledge does.

Jody F. said...

Wow, you are a super fast writer! I'm in awe. I wish you lots of writing awards for all your hard work.

And I prefer a heroine who's been around the block a bit. Her emotions are more realistic to me and after finding so many frogs, she's better able to recognize her prince once she finds him.

TJ Bennett said...

Oddly enough, Victoria, I reflect on the heroines I've written, and they all have had experience. Two widows and one "sham" marriage. However, they've gone without for a while, so the hero's arrival on the scene is, shall we say, timely? LOL!

TJB

Suzanne said...

I like to read about heroines who have to overcome obsticles to love-whether it be innocence, innocence lost, or what have you. To me, that makes the HEA all the sweeter.

Margie said...

Hi Victoria! I don't mind an innocent heroine especially in historicals. However, like others have commented, it's not the lack of experience that's irritating, but the lack of knowledge. Thanks for such a fascinating blog!

TJ Bennett said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments, and thanks to Victoria for her wonderful post. Keep those comments coming, folks, and remember to comment on at least one other guest author's post this month to be eligible to win the basket (contest rules are on my website, www.tjbennett.com/contests). The more you post, the better your chances of winning.

And come back NEXT Wednesday, March 25, for our final hostest with the mostest, Stacey Kayne, western historical romance author. Gotta love those cowboys, eh? :-)

Pam P said...

I'm with you, Victoria, women have had those basic desires for centuries. I don't believe all those regency misses never got carried away when lured off by those bucks, lol. Sure, more probably weren't so adventurous, but more than people think were I'd think.

Tai Shan said...

Wonderful post, Victoria; humorous and to the point. I also like smart and capable, and as long as the female isn't simpering, I'm ok if she's an innocent (that sense of discovery can be fun!)

Maureen said...

I have read and enjoyed both the innocent and the experienced heroine. While I think young women would be curious I think it was much easier for parents to keep them ignorant in the past.

Mona said...

I liked your post, Victoria. You do have a point there. Actually I did enjoy reading the innocent and experienced heroines. Though I liked innocent heroine more, it's somehow refreshing from other contemporary heroines and perhaps that's why historiacls were made to create innocent heroines ;)

mammakim said...

I love historicals, you have a great post. I like the heroines, to be feminine but also smart, independent and sassy

Cheri2628 said...

Very interesting interview! I have had my eye on Lords of Desire for a while now. I love anthologies, and this one in particular sounds wonderful.

Deborah said...

Enjoyed the interview! I love historicals! It's alright with me if the heroine is innocent but I like them strong and spirited as well.

Jackie P. said...

OK...you've got me now.I have to read Lords of Desire"Lessons in Pleasure".

Happy Spring!

sarabelle said...

I cant wait to read this book, I got an Arc of Kristo Astor's story is this one and it is awesome so I cant wait to read the other ones.

aromagik said...

Hmmm... innocent heroine or not... I guess that depends on my mood, but more so on the overall personality of the heroine!

Love your books, Victoria, keep writing!

~Lindy

Judy said...

I came across this exact "dilema" in a book last night. Julie Garwood's The Secret. The new wife had no idea what to expect and was very scared but her husband was so kind to her and made it special.

housemouse88 said...

I haven't read your "Lessons in Pleasure" but it does sound interesting. I feel helpless when reading a heroine has no clue about sex. Most of the heroines I've read about knew what was happening and took an active role in their own pleasure. Have a great day.

clynsg said...

I suspect that much of the lack of knowledge about sexual activities in the past, especially the farther back in history you go, is more in expectation than in reality. This would be especially true in the 'lower' echelons of society. Families lived in very small homes and it would be virtually impossible for children not to hear what was happening between their parents. Possibly, a girl who was of a wealthy family, pretty well isolated from everyone around her and quite young, would be truly innocent, but probably most had at least a reasonably good idea of what was involved when they married. I think the most frightening thing would have been the fact that in many cases they didn't know their new husband at all, since even in poorer families, marriages were frequently arranged for family gain rather than for the benefit of the woman herself.

clynsg at yahoo.com

Tracey said...

I cannot wait to read this book as I like the idea about a woman who takes charge and is aggressive and also that the book has a lighthearted approach to it

Patricia Barraclough said...

Sounds like I'd enjoy your story "Lessons in Pleasure". There is something charming about an innocent heroine, someone who has appeal and hasn't a clue. What more to drive a man nuts?

flip said...

Your book sounds great. I like innocence in the appropriate situation. Let's be honest, we were all innocent at one time. In a coming of age story, an innocent heroine (and hero!) is appropriate. But I love a heroine who enjoys her sexuality.

Cheri2628 said...

Victoria, I loved your book A Rake's Guide to Pleasure, so I am really looking forward to reading another one of your stories in this anthology!

flchen1 said...

Victoria, I LOVE anthologies so I'll definitely be picking yours up. You bring up an interesting point--I do think that at various times in our past, women could go into marriage knowing very little. I'm glad things are not quite so kept under wraps these days!

Emma said...

Hi Victoria - Enjoyed the interview.Have a good week.