The Road to Romance is Paved with Rebellion – Guest Blog by Author H.E. Curtis

The Arranged Marriage (173 x 136.5 cm The Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

As a writer, I think it is very important for those of the writing craft to have an understanding of the historical significance of what they do.  The world has come a long way since the printing press, when books were still a rare commodity and often times still copied out by hand with illuminated manuscripts, colored ink and special quills.  We progressed from the printing press, to typewriters, to copy machines, to computer and word processors and now we are going paperless in many domains.  The writer has had to adapt to all of these changes, adapting from shifting roles from honored guest, political rival, revolutionary, moral deviant, distinguished lecturer and idiosyncratic eccentric.

For Romance writers, the historical roots of the profession can be traced as far back as the troubadours, if not farther.  The significance of this period in history stands out in writing and romance because in this particular era, we see the beginnings of the idea that human beings have a choice about who they love and marry and the power to act upon that desire without repercussions from royal obligations or restrictions of the church.  As desirable and mysterious as arranged marriages may seem, the appeal for a free choice flew in the face of every teaching of the church and societal tradition pertaining to love and how love was defined.  It was a stirring that would not only change literature, but society itself.  In an arranged marriage, one could hope at best to be forced into eventually loving the person they were with.  The era of the troubadour, however, told society love was independent, free-willed and subject to no man or woman unless they willed it to be so, free of coercion and political benefit.  To the church this was tantamount to prostitution, adultery and even heresy, for control of sexuality shifted to the individual as opposed to the church.  It set the early foundations for the movements for issues concerning women’s rights over their own sexuality and body and later women’s rights over all.

This battle has not fully resolved itself unfortunately and has entrenched itself along political lines today in various forms.  While censorship itself is protected against, it doesn’t mean that it does not occur and while, at least in the United States we are a nation of freedom, it is still debated as to just how far that freedom is extended to target segments of society who do not conform to conventional morality.

Romance writers have seem to come to grips with this.  The field of romance writing encompasses traditional concepts of love all the way to alternate life styles, and in each the expressions of each aspect of romance and sexuality ranges from the tame to wildly erotic.  This genre has not remained stagnant at all, encompassing styles of western, historical, contemporary, science fiction and fantasy to name a few.  The authors have been both men and women, which in itself can be fascinating in that the field is largely dominated by women so to have a male author arrive on the scene provides a new and different dynamic.

True to form, in a genre born of rebellion, the struggle for romance to be established as a true form of writing has been a hard one.  Early on it took on the stigma of “dirty stories,” fit for only whispered conversations and inclusion in “nudie” magazines.  Romance and eroticism were equated as one and the same, a reflection more of the moral gauge of the prevailing moral culture than actual reality.  However romance writing has fallen victim to some of the stereotypical concepts as well.  Rarely have I seen illustrations of romance book covers depicting males beyond the ages of 35, or women beyond the age of 30.  Males are muscularly built or in some other way ruggedly handsome, none have been handicapped and almost all have a wind-swept look about them (there is never any disappointment that a man’s member is not as expected and no little blue pills to help it along).  The women are almost always buxom, always sensual, without flaw and a size ten or lower.  Any signs of child-bearing are non-existent, no freckles or other blemishes on the skin, no uneven breasts or badly shaved bikini lines or even underarm hair.  Fantasy and science fiction writing is more forgiving in this regard, as the expectation is for wild and “strange” with appearances and behaviors not quite what we are used to.

So perhaps in some ways romance writing has strayed from the path of rebellion.  While finding a voice of its own, it has discarded along the way those very people whom originally found the new love of the troubadours so releasing.  In the wake of rebellion are always refugees, but one of the key concepts most artists have held is to at least bring the plight of the refugees to the notice of society and provide some sort of advocacy.


Author H.E. Curtis

Author H.E. Curtis

H.E. Curtis resides in the Sierra Nevada Foothills where he spends most of his time barefoot among the wildflowers, oaks and pines. He dreams of returning to Scotland and Ireland with his manacle-wielding wife, three invisible children (Not me, I don’t Know and Nobody), three visual children and a twisted sense of humor and imagination.   He writes mostly Fantasy, Poetry and dabbles in Science Fiction, but will attempt almost anything once, twice if it isn’t illegal.   He has been published in Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Romantic Fantasy. Tribunal of the Rose is his latest release.


A quick excerpt from Variance: The Countdown – Urban Fantasy

The Countdown is available now at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid

Hot alpha males, evil shapeshifters, strong women, and the fight to save the world. Variance: The Countdown is available now at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid

If you enjoy shapeshifters, danger, kick-ass heroines and hot alpha heroes, intrigue and suspense, check out the first book of the Variance series!

**Currently #4 on the Best Seller’s list at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid!** 
What do you get when you mix:

A sadistic Sarion shapeshifting prince, determined to steal a woman to breed…


A yummy alpha male hell-bent on saving the one woman destined to be his mate


A kick-ass heroine who takes matters into her own hands…and then cuts it off?

You get the perfect blend of passion, suspense, murder, desire, mystery and mahem! The Countdown has begun. In order to save Wynne from the evil Sarion, Brent must put his own life in danger to save his mate.

But can he convince Wynne that she is his mate? Can he save her from the hoards of shape-shifting monsters who are after her?

The sound of glass breaking jolted Wynne out of a sound sleep. Her heart leapt up into her throat, lodging there until she remembered that breathing sometimes required effort. She listened, trying to figure out where the sound had come from, and heard quiet cursing coming from the bathroom next door to her bedroom. It was Brent.

Wynne opened the door to her bedroom, cringing as the hinges squeaked. Damn, I have to remember to oil those! Tiptoeing down the hallway, the light coming from behind the partially opened bathroom door spilled out like fresh milk from a dropped carton. The cursing coming from inside, however, had obviously spoiled.

“Brent, are you ok?” She asked quietly.

She heard more cursing, as well as something heavy falling against the door slamming it shut.

“Hey, are you ok? Do I need to call someone?”

“No, I’m fine. Do you have any tweezers anywhere?”

“Tweezers? What do you want with tweezers? Are you going to pluck your eyebrows?” She laughed.

“No, I need something to get this glass out of my foot; I can’t get a good hold of it with my fingers.”

“Glass? What did you do? What happened? Open that door and let me in there, I know some first aid, and I can help.” Wynne tried the door, which was unlocked, but blocked by an immovable object.

“Brent, open this door right now! You might be here to fight the bad guys, but this is my house and what goes on inside it is my business!” Wynne yelled at the closed door, willing it telepathically to open. Yet again, the abilities she didn’t have failed. The door remained closed.

“Please?” She tried again.

The door opened slowly, and Wynne gasped at the amount of blood on the floor and counter in the bathroom.

“Sorry about the mess; I’ll clean it up in a bit.”

“Brent, what happened?”

“Your damned cat, that’s what happened!” He complained, pressing a cloth against the bottom of his foot.

“George? What did George have to do with your foot? Don’t tell me he tried to bite it off? I’ve had to talk with him before about eating strange men.”

“He got in my way, yowling at me in the kitchen. I tripped over him, and dropped the glass I was carrying. Some of it ended up in my foot when I tried to keep my balance and not fall on your idiotic cat! Lucky for him, I think I missed him for the most part.”

Wynne’s eyes got huge as she ran out of the bathroom towards the kitchen, calling George’s name and leaving the bleeding man cursing contrary women and their cats.

“HEY! What about me?” He yelled after her.

Wynne came back down the hallway from the kitchen, carrying an indignant George upside down in her arms, crooning to him with baby talk.

“What a poor kitty you are. Did that bad man hurt you? Is my little Georgie-worgie ok? He just doesn’t understand that you like your midnight snack, does he? He comes into your house and tromps all over you. Did you get any glass in your feet, Sweetie? Oh, what a poor kitty.”

“Oh my God, you’ve got to be kidding! Here I am, almost bleeding to death all over your floor because of that damned animal, and you’re worried that he might be hurt?”

“Well, of course. I didn’t know how badly you might have injured him when you tripped on him. Obviously you only care for your own well-being, but George here only has me to count on, and care for him if he gets hurt.”

“Okay, I guess that makes sense, at least on your part. Can you help me get this glass out of my foot now that you’ve assured yourself that George still has a couple of lives left to him? I’ve only got the one, and I’d hate to bleed it out all over your pretty white bathroom floor here.

Wynne watched the blood soaking into the cloth he had placed on his foot, and put George down after petting him one last time. She washed her hands, and retrieved the tweezers from the drawer. She noticed something else, now that she wasn’t occupied with saving her cat’s life.

Brent’s pants were undone. Not just the button at the top of the jeans, but all the way undone, and slipping low on his hips. He was shirtless, and the muscles that his shirt had hinted at before stood out in stark definition under the harsh bathroom light. His chest hair spread across the muscles, and led down his stomach, pointing the way down into his loosened jeans. All the way towards what looked to be a huge surprise.

With a gulp, she redirected her eyes and thoughts, looking for antiseptic and bandages.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital for this, Brent? I know first aid, but if you need stitches, I’m just not the sewing type.”

“No, it’s not that bad, and if I can just get the glass out of it, I think it should be fine. If it needs stitches, we’ll take care of that then.”

Wynne bent down, taking the bloodied cloth off his foot. “Can you bend it up here a little bit so I can see underneath it?”

He lifted his foot, crossing it over his other leg so she could reach the bottom of it. She poured some warm water over it to wash away the blood, catching it in a small basin she set underneath. Looking at the cut, Wynne saw a small slice, with a piece of glass embedded in it. She poured disinfectant into the wound and over the tweezers, and then dug into his foot to grab hold of the glass.

“Stop jumping, will you? How am I supposed to get hold of it if you keep moving?”

“I didn’t ask you to do surgery on me, woman. Especially not without anesthesia! What are you using, anyways? A pry bar?” Brent jumped again as she hit a tender spot.

“Oh, stop being such a baby! Goodness sakes, for such a big, strong man, you don’t have much tolerance for pain, do you?” She glanced up at him, her gaze only going so far as his undone pants. They’d slipped just a little lower while she had been working.

Brent cleared his throat loudly. Her gaze jumped up to his face, and the smirk there mortified her. Oh great, just what I wanted to be caught staring at!

Wynne firmly grasped it and pulled, watching it slide out slowly, the fluids welling up at the tip. It was longer than she thought. And much wider at the base than what it first appeared to be.

“Finally! I thought you’d never get it out of there. It was really starting to hurt” he complained at her tardiness.

“If you hadn’t kept distracting me, I would have pulled it out much sooner.”

Wynne dropped the piece of glass she’d pulled out of his foot and after putting antiseptic on it, she placed a bandage over the top, finishing up her sojourn into the First Aid field for the night. “There you go, you’re as good as new, and it doesn’t look as if you’ll need stitches. Try not to step on any more glass tonight, will you?”