I always love when an author shares something a little unique on my blog! Thank you so much Anna Belfrage for this wonderful guest post!
About the Book
According to Helle Madsen, being the protagonist of a time-spanning epic love story has some things going for it, primarily Jason Morris. Because seriously, meeting up with your fated lover after 3 000 years apart is not bad–at all. Unfortunately, where Jason goes, there goes Sam Woolf, yet another very, very ancient acquaintance–with the fundamental difference that Sam is not into Happily Ever After. He’s into destruction, more specifically of Jason and Helle.
Helle may believe in second-chance love, but she sure doesn’t believe in reincarnation. Okay, she didn’t believe in stuff like that until she met Jason Morris a year or so ago. By now, she has accepted that sometimes impossible things are quite, quite possible–like an ancient princess being reborn as an ambitious financial analyst.
Finding Jason was like finding the part of her that had always been missing–a perfect match. But handling Sam Woolf, the reborn version of their ancient nemesis is something of a trial. No sooner do you have him well and surely beat, but up he bounces again. Sheesh, will it take an oak stake to permanently rid their lives of him?
Sam Woolf is a powerful adversary. Too powerful, even. Jason and Helle will need help from unexpected quarters to finally bring this tangled, ancient love-and-hate triangle to some sort of conclusion. Question is, will they survive the experience?
The Romantic hero – a victim of male objectification
Some time ago, I heard an interesting interview on the radio about the objectification of the male body. This, apparently, was major news, with the male presenter almost stuttering as he expressed just how upset he was by this new development. (The fact that women have been the unfortunate recipients of equivalent objectification since ages back was sort of glossed over)
That young male presenter had it wrong, IMO. Men have always been objectified. Take, for example, the depictions of the male body on ancient Greek urns—these are handsome, chiselled dudes with bulging muscles and narrow waists. Somehow, I think the majority of those ancient Greek men did not look quite like that, but they likely wanted to look like that, so they spent hours in the gym, oiled their hair and generally went about beautifying themselves as much as they could. Yup: clear case of male objectification.
The trend continues through history:
Roman statues may often depict graceful female nudes, but just as often virile, potent males with bulging muscles, profiles to die for and jawlines that show just how determined these men are—were.
Michelangelo’s Davide is yet another example of male perfection, and I wonder just how many Florentine youths stood in front of it and cursed the artist to hell and back for placing the bar so very, very high. How would a real man ever compare to this marbled perfection? (I dare say they were very relieved that Davide’s package is surprisingly modest)
To the Tudor gentleman obliged to sport hose all the way to the very, very short puff breeches, keeping his legs looking good was important. As were codpieces, even if I suspect the more exaggerated among these did not have women swooning in hope at the delights potentially offered, but rather giggling on the sly.
In the 18th century, gentlemen would pad their stockings so as to get the required muscular calf-profile. The handsome rakes of the Regency period worked out with boxing, riding and fencing – because wearing tight, tight buckskin breeches with no muscular thighs beneath was not on.
For most of recorded history, men have taken centre stage. It follows that they have groomed their bodies and adorned themselves in rich cloths, in jewellery and other accessories. Like preening peacocks, the males of our species have showed off, spending a lot of time and money to ensure they looked their best—all the way from their arranged locks to their muscles. Male objectification, dear peeps, has been de rigeur through the ages.
Male objectification is standard in romance novels – as is the female version. Rarely do we read of ugly, squat and overweight people being swept off their feet by love. One could argue there should be a niche here, as the number of people in the world who are not gorgeous, tall, well-muscled (if they’re men) or gorgeous, well-shaped and with masses of glorious hair (if they’re women) is relatively low. Writing a romance featuring a protagonist that is more like most of us—a woman who has to hold her breath to close her jeans and then goes about the entire day tugging at her sweater to ensure it hides the roll of fat above the waistline, alternatively a man with thinning hair and a slight paunch that strains against the buttons of his shirt—should lead to mases of readers identifying with the main characters, thereby driving sales. Yes? No.
You see, we read romance to escape. We read to pretend we’re somewhere else, someone else. As a fifty-plus woman I like pretending I’m a young gorgeous someone who has her whole life in front of her—and an equally gorgeous man by her side. Which does not mean I don’t read novels with a far more realistic depiction of life and the people who walk this world—but it sure doesn’t qualify as romance!
I shall continue indulging myself. In the romances I read, I like my male heroes tall, strong—maybe somewhat dark—and brave. In the books I write, my male protagonists tend to be of the same ilk: they’re men of integrity, of eyes that flash with conviction. They’re strong and muscled, they’d die for their lady-love (except that she is usually the kind of lady-love that would be really, really angry with him if he did something that stupid) and look surprisingly good when naked. Am I guilty of male objectification? Yup—and utterly unrepentant!
In my series The Wanderer (the third book being A Flame Through Eternity), my dashing hero is Jason. Tall? Tick. Muscled? Tick. Amazing eyes? Tick, tick. A profile to die for? Tick. Add to all that gorgeousness a sensitive and very, very, very experienced man—that’s what you get when you’ve lived through fifty-odd lives (well; unless you go totally crazy) and I’d say Jason is the perfect man. Except, of course, that while we want our romantic heroes hot, we don’t want them without flaws, and Jason has his fair share of those!
Anna has recently released A Flame Through Eternity, the third in her Romantic Suspense series, The Wanderer.
When she isn’t writing contemporary suspense with a time travelling twist, Anna is usually visiting her favourite historical periods, namely the 17th century and the 14th century. And yes, she is quite convinced people were as much about love back then as we are now!
Find out more about Anna on http://www.annabelfrage.com.
Or pop by her Amazon page and browse through her books, http://Author.to/ABG