Today I am so pleased to welcome K.J. Charles to Joyfully Jay. K.J. has come to talk to us about her latest release, Think of England. I reviewed this earlier in the week and totally loved it!  She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving K.J. a big welcome!

The Inexperienced Hero

If you read romance blogs, you’ll come across the topic of ‘What’s your pet hate?’ reasonably frequently. I think it’s a tribute to romance readers how civilised the subsequent conversations tend to be. Most of us understand that one reader’s annoying tropey nonsense is another reader’s chocolate-flavoured-crack habit, and to accept that we don’t all have the same tastes without having a row about it.

It is in that spirit of ‘each to her own’ that I present my own personal pet hate: the sexually inexperienced hero who’s brilliant at sex.

We all know this guy. He’s a virgin, or next door to one, he’s got to the age of thirty or whatever without putting his mouth anywhere his mother wouldn’t approve, and then the other MC comes along and suddenly our hero is taking it like a porn star/administering epic oral pleasure/giving his highly experienced partner the best seeing-to they’ve ever had, for half an hour by the clock. Which is nice for them, but it tends to jolt me out of the book. I mean, if there’s a single universal constant of human experience across the world and time, it’s probably that your first sexual experience was a bit crap.

I’m not pleading for total realism in romance. Real life has quite enough rubbish unsatisfactory sex without adding the fictional kind. I am sure that people have written brilliant romantic scenes where the inexperienced hero can’t get the condom on for ages and then comes before he’s half-way in, but I think we’d all be sorry if that became a standard thing. I understand why many people would rather skip to the good bit.

But the thing about the inexperienced hero is that there’s a lot of pleasure for the reader in his journey. Nerves, vulnerability, reluctance, the slow build of trust, the breakdown of internal barriers, the sheer terror of/need for intimacy, the unbearable nerve-wringing anticipation…ooh, it’s delicious. And I don’t want all that washed away in favour of superstud sex as soon as the zips are undone.

Plus, generally speaking, if your hero is a grown man who hasn’t had much sex, there’s probably a reason, and that reason probably isn’t going away overnight. And that’s going to feed into the sexual experience and affect how the scene plays out. (Unless you feel that all those personal and psychological reasons for his inexperience add up to a plot device that can be discarded once it’s served its purpose… in which case, go stand in the corner and don’t come back till you’re sorry.)

In Think of England, my hero Archie has reached the age of thirty with extremely limited sexual experience. That means he’s had maybe fifteen years’ experience of not having sex or of denying what he has had; of telling himself that the things he has done aren’t meaningful; of not kissing or being kissed.

Archie needs, not just to face his sexual feelings but, on a practical level, to find out what precisely he’s meant to do with them once faced. He’ll need to get used to intimate physical contact of a kind he’s never had in his life. That’s unnerving. Scary, even. Not something that you get over at the first sight of your Fated Mate.

Fortunately for Archie, in Think of England he meets Daniel da Silva, who is, let us say, in a position to help. But that doesn’t mean Archie’s sexual awakening comes entirely easily.

I mean, where would the fun be in that?


Think of EnglandLie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…


KJ charles avatarI’m a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both. I also have a contemporary thriller coming out soon. I like to mix it up.

I’m a commissioning editor in my daily life and I blog about writing and editing at

I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.


K.J. has a tour wide giveaway going on for one ebook copy of Think of England and a $25 gift certificate to your online book retailer of choice. Just follow the Rafflecopter link to enter. 

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