There’s a unicorn in the forest and Princess Adaline will do anything to catch it, even if it means sneaking out of the palace grounds under cover of twilight.
When her midnight caper is interrupted by the burly village blacksmith, she makes him an irresistible offer – a single night to play with her lush, untouched body – in exchange for his silence and his help
People have this super macho mental image of the ancient world – a place where women were chattel and men fucked around at their leisure, often with hairless boys drenched in olive oil. So slippery.
Certainly, there have always been places in the world where that’s true. Hell, that’s going on right now in some of the more unsavory corners of the globe. The chattel part – boys drenched in olive oil feeding each other pitted figs is totally okay with me.
Anyway, I’m just saying the assumption is merited, but it’s a mistake to believe that just because our ancestors were from a more primitive time that all of them had the emotional intelligence of a half-eaten, olive-oil-smeared fig.
Romantic love was revered by the Egyptians. It appears so frequently in their art that even primitive, middle class tombs often depict departed spouses embracing again in the afterlife. Can you imagine being so devoted to someone, so wholly enchanted by their presence, that even in death, you intend to find and keep them?
It was the ultimate culture of passion and romance – the perfect setting for a heroine to get swept off her feet (and into a bed … or onto the floor or against a wall or … hm). In fact, there’s a wealth of truly naughty Egyptian art out there that dates back to several thousand years BC. A particular favorite is the one where the guy’s penis is so huge that it has basically decided to play the “you’re flying!” game with the woman he’s trying to bed.
This devoted, sexually-charged Egyptian comprehension of love and lust existed in stark contrast to their neighbors, the Greeks, whose men didn’t wed until they were around 30, and then only did so out of a sense of duty and to women around half their age. Presumably with a full range of options still happening on the side.
I know where I’d rather live.
So, with this knowledge, garnered from an undergraduate course many moons ago on anthropology and gender, sprang the concept for Another Man’s Queen – a story about a woman who knows she deserves more than some absentee Greek douche bag. I mean … remove his battle prowess and it kind of sounds like college, doesn’t it?
Our heroine, the Grecian beauty Isis, is not the only woman featured in this story. We also meet the pharaoh’s wife, a dominatrix queen with an assortment of obedient pets. Though she appears briefly, she raises an interesting question – would such a thing have been allowed?
Well, yes and no. Married women (outside of the royal family) had a title – “Mistress of the House.” They held equal political standing with the men in Egyptian society and just as much of a say in who their life partners were. Oddly, there exists no record, through several thousand years of Egyptian anthropology, of a wedding ceremony. Presumably, once you chose your partner and began living with him or her, that was that.
Due to this no-nonsense approach to matrimony, adultery was pretty severely frowned upon for women. Because some dudes had lots of wives. So long as they could provide for them. Seems unfair, but I get it. Pragmatism.
But I’m getting off track. The point here is that we’re not re-inventing the sexual wheel here in our innovative 21st century paradise. Sex, love, butt-stuff, it’s all been around for eons.
Chances are very good that women enjoyed a bit of BDSM at the dawn of the world, and the odds that a miserable bride imported from Athens with some unromantic ass-wipe of a husband might be considered “not quite” married by an Egyptian – a product of a culture that actually sought mutual attraction and affection. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that their pantheon of gods is substantially less rapey and wife-murdery than the one on Mt. Olympus.
In fact, the more I research Ancient Egypt, the more I kind of hope I accidentally touch a statue in the Brooklyn Musuem and end up transported there for a one-night fling with some sexy, Thebian courtier.
I have a timeline saved on my computer of underwear technology. No, you can’t see it. I just want you to know it’s there.
Ever think about the research that goes into writing a historically accurate sex scene? Probably not, because you are a fun person with a life and hobbies. Besides, your good friend Amelie does that stuff for you.
In Oathbound, I got around the question of underthings by having our fair princess stripped of everything but her chemise during her fainting spell. Her historically accurate underthings were a question for another day. But in reality, she probably was never wearing any to begin with. Medieval women liked to feel the wind in their bits. Kept them alert in the absence of Pornhub.
Oathboundand my upcoming title, The Blacksmith’s Bargain, take place in an unidentified medieval time period and a mysterious unknown kingdom. Those ambiguous details gave me quite a lot of flexibility in the panty drawer because the evolution of underwear – particularly women’s underwear – has had a long and varied past.
Men (of course) have generally covered their junk. Starting around the 13th century, all the guys sat around a campfire and decided they should protect the family jewels with a primitive (but not much different than ours) version of boxer shorts called braies. Women had no time for campfire genital discussions what with the butter churning and the 19 consecutive pregnancies a piece, so they were still free balling (as it were) for the next few centuries.
It wasn’t until almost 500 years later that knickers were introduced into the picture. Corsets, bustles, bum rolls, and stockings all predated the simple idea of a pair of shorts to keep us womenfolk from making impulsive decisions with our nether regions. And it’d be another 400 years before bras came into play.
Boring, you say? Uninteresting? Well, it sure is important when a knight or a blacksmith is playing striptease with your fair damsel. I do take some liberties, of course. They were called “drawers” for the longest time, but that’s not a very sexy word, so my progressive medieval peoples have a leg up on terms like “knickers” and “panties.” I’m sure Chaucer would forgive me.
As it is, I appreciate the easy-access approach to historical lingerie. I’ve returned to the ancient world this week while I start crafting the sequel to Another Man’s Queen.
Loincloths and shendyts were de rigeur in the courts of ancient Thebes, but to be frank, Isis and Anubis spend more time out of their clothes than in them, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
No married woman should attract so much attention. She is a pale jewel in the glittering court of ancient Thebes, the obsession and desire of every man save one – her new husband.
She does her best to avoid the electric connection she feels with the pharaoh’s eldest son – a charismatic prince whose Sahara-colored eyes seem to see right through the farce of her marriage, and into her secret desires for his touch.
His intentions are clear. He intends to make the exotic, blonde foreigner his own. While she strives to maintain propriety, she can’t help but meet his gaze every time they cross paths.
He calls her Isis. To him she is a goddess of the night, a symbol of beauty and love. He tells her the truth about her husband’s indiscretions. He promises passion, romance – and most appealing of all – revenge against her despicable spouse.
How long can she resist the allure of his touch? Perhaps in the arms of the Egyptian prince, she will finally capture true love … and her husband’s undivided attention.
Now, to be totally honest, I imagine in the ancient world, most noble people who experienced true romantic passion did so outside of the bounds of their marriages. This sober reality extends to most of the time periods I write in, of course, so it’s a natural place for me to go.
My original intention was to write Isis, the Grecian princess who narrates our trip to the royal court of ancient Thebes, as a timid new bride. She certainly starts off that way.
But something happened after her first physical encounter with the pharaoh’s handsome son – something I didn’t plan on. She became empowered, almost aggressively so, and it worked out so well for the story.
As I was writing, I was delighted to learn from one of my beta readers (who happens to be a domme) that an entire community of fetishists center around men who love knowing they’re being cheated on. That humiliation factor, the stripping of masculinity – it really gets them going.
Isis’s husband, an unnamed second son of the Greek emperor, was such an afterthought for me (and let’s face it, for Isis), that I didn’t even stop to consider that his reaction might be anything other than indifference or outrage.
Let me tell you, writing him on the sidelines, aroused as can be at the idea that his little wife is getting it from this exotic, powerful Egyptian prince did things to my perception of romance that I’d never anticipated. It also grew into a story that is much longer and more emotionally charged than I’d ever planned for it to be.
Now, let’s put one thing on the table. Romance (not erotica) is an industry that really thrives on traditional relationships. Man, woman, marriage, sex, probably some babies. The romance novels I grew up with also included the virginal heroine trope. It’s a bright new world where tradition isn’t exactly right, but that singular duo of monogamous bliss remains a constant in the genre.
This book created an unprecedented question for me as a romance writer – does Isis want out of her marriage, or does this trio have exactly the right dynamic for everyone involved?
I’ve been thinking all day that it’s perfect that this story particularly will debut on Independence Day (US). It’s about a woman liberating herself, escaping the tyranny of her marriage for brighter horizons.
Appropriately, Another Man’s Queen is the first in an eventual trilogy. This idea is just too juicy not to explore in full. I’ll be thinking about it tomorrow night while I”m watching the fireworks.