The next chapter in my mess-in-progress is a deflowering scene. Yes, my heroine is a virgin and I feel a bit out-of-date, given the popularity of courtesan and widowed heroines. I enjoy those stories, but I can’t help it. The heroine of this story just is a virgin, though not for long. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about other “first time” scenes I’ve read in historical romances and also the comments I’ve read on review sites and reader discussion boards. They are all over the place! Some readers can’t believe scenes in which the heroine is nervous and traumatized and the hero apologetic. At the opposite end, some readers say it’s not believable for a heroine in a historical romance (or sometimes even any woman) to really enjoy her first time.

I’m guessing some of these attitudes trace back to those readers’ personal experience. Me, I have my usual response to any credibility issue: It depends.

The physical experience must have varied then as it does now.
As for the heroine’s emotions, that could depend on how much she knows. A while back we discussed the question of What did they know? and concluded there were some ways young women could learn about sex, though some likely came to the marriage bed ignorant. How the heroine would feel would also depend on how well she knows and trusts the hero, and how far they’ve gone already. Also on the spontaneity of the scene; in heat-of-the-moment sex, she wouldn’t have time to get nervous the way she might on a wedding night.

I find a little anxiety very natural. Even if the heroine hasn’t been warned it would hurt and advised to “think of England”, even if she trusts the hero and is hot for him, she might still have the normal fears anyone could have when doing something for the first time. Will it be fun? Will I be good at it?

I think a bit of nervous anticipation can make the sex more exciting. I can believe that a heroine is eager, but I find it harder to believe if she is bold and skillful, without some interesting explanation of how she got that way. A little vulnerability makes things more real and therefore hotter. And as for virginal heroes, they can be a blast. So horny and so very anxious to please… 🙂

I think some of this still applies to couples in which neither is a virgin. If it’s their first time, or even their first time after a long separation in a “second chance at love” type of story, there’s still that tension of how it will go and where it will lead. And there’s another kind of heat when people are good at it, and know it.

So what do you think? What sorts of first time sex scenarios do you find believable? Most hot? Or not?