Despite having read hundreds of Regency-set romances, my story for Me and My Boi: Queer Erotic Stories, “Measure of a Man,” is the first time I ever attempted to utilize that time period myself. Being me, I chose to do so with a twist or two–or three–on a trope-y plot.
“Measure of a Man” is a story of discoveries, acceptance, and happy endings.
Here’s how the story begins:
Jerusha Pettifer desperately needed this position.
He checked the fall of his breeches to make sure everything was fastened and in place, smoothed a hand over his waistcoat, and twitched his cravat, hoping the shabby shirt beneath wasn’t obvious. He couldn’t do anything about his age, or his face. He bit the inside of his cheek, hard; the momentary pain distracted, then calmed him. He lifted his gloved hand to the knocker and rapped.
Ten minutes later, he sat in a sober library, gaping at the woman of the house and wondering if he should suddenly pretend another appointment.
Mrs. Lambert said, calmly, “Your expression, Mr. Pettifer! So droll. You are suspicious of our desires? Tell me what you think. What you truly think.” The words rolled from her mouth rich and inflected as an actor’s, in direct contrast to her staid afternoon gown, lavishly trimmed in lace that matched the cap over her greying red hair. When she stopped speaking, Jerusha found himself wishing she would say something else. Anything else.
The other woman in the room, introduced to him only as Lilias, licked her lips. She had been the first clue these women were not looking for an ordinary footman. She lounged on a settee in the corner, wearing a man’s silken banyan and, so far as he could tell, nothing else. He’d been trying very hard not to imagine that nothing else, nor to imagine what she’d been up to before he’d arrived, and failing miserably.
A recklessness he’d never felt before tingled through his muscles. “Yes, I am suspicious,” he said. He touched his crooked nose, indicated his rough brawniness. “A man like me?” Bluntly, he added, “Going through the Registry to find yourself a man-whore, you could’ve found a lot younger and prettier.”
The silence seemed to vibrate.
Victoria Janssen has written three novels for Harlequin, including The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover, as well as short stories. Her recent work may be found in Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire: Lesbian Historical Military Erotica from Lethe Press.
Links to the complete Blog Tour, and book giveaway details:
June 12—Sacchi Green— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 13—Annabeth Leong– http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2016/06/me-and-my-boi-not-just-hair.html
June 14—Anna Watson— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 15—Sinclair Sexsmith– www.sugarbutch.net
June 16—Jove Belle– https://jovebelle.com/
June 17—Tamsin Flowers– www.tamsinflowers.com
June 18—Victoria Villasenor— https://breywillows.com
June 19—J, Caladine—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 20—Victoria Janssen– http://victoriajanssen.com
June 21—Dena Hankins– http://denahankins.net/my-summer-of-boi/
June 22—D. Orchid— http://sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 23—Pavini Moray– https://emancipatingsexuality.com/
June 24—Melissa Mayhew—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 25—Jen Cross— http://writingourselveswhole.org
June 26—Kyle Jones– www.butchtastic.net
June 27—Gigi Frost–www.facebook.com/gigifrostwww.facebook.com/gigifrost
June 28—Aimee Hermann— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 29—Sommer Marsden—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 30—Axa Lee—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
July 1— Kathleen Bradean— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
Anyone who comments on any of the posts will be entered in a drawing for one free copy of the anthology. You can comment on more than one post and be entered more than once. The winner will be announced and notified by July 5, if not sooner.
This week, I’ll be attending World Fantasy in Arlington, Virginia.
You can find me on the following program item:
The Great Game in History and Fiction
3pm-4pm, Nov. 8, Tidewater 2
Ian Drury (M), David Drake, Jim Fiscus, Jennifer Povey, Victoria Janssen
Before World War I, there was the Great Game, as from 1813 to 1907, the British and Russian empires vied for supremacy. The geopolitical machinations of this period influenced the politics of many fantastic novels, coloring the colonialism of The Blue Sword to post-colonial River of Gods, or Ghosts of the White Nights for their alternate depictions of the later Cold War. The panel will explore the literary impact of the Great Game on fantasy writers of the period as well as today.
I’m attending WisCon this weekend! Here’s my panel schedule. The full schedule for WisCon and the Science Fiction Research Association Conference is here.
The Once and Future Badass: Historical Women Who Inspire, Challenge and Unsettle Us
Kate Bachus; Victoria Janssen; Madeleine E. Robins; Patty Templeton
Fri, 2:30–3:45 pm, Senate A
From “Badass Women in History RPF” as a Yuletide fandom to tumblrs like historicalheroines and the Reconstructionists project, fans have a hunger for (re)discovering and celebrating women who go to extremes to Get Shit Done. Who are our favorite Badass Women in history, past or present? How do they conform to or subvert (or perhaps blatantly blast to smithereens) current tropes about “strong” women in fiction and the news?
Join the Mod Squad: Enhance Your Moderation Skills
Christopher Davis [moderator]; Gerri Balter; Alan Bostick; Liza Furr; Victoria Janssen
Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm, Conference 4
Ever go to a panel and spend your time thinking, “With a good moderator, this would be a much better panel?” We will review several ways to be that good moderator, offer tips and tricks, and generally work on improving WisCon’s already high standards for panel moderation. We strongly encourage you to attend this panel if you are moderating at WisCon, especially if it’s your first time. It’s also a great experience if you ever have, or think you ever will, be a panel moderator anywhere.
The Role of People of Color in Urban Fantasy
Jackie Gross [moderator]; Victoria Janssen; Daniel José Older
Sat, 8:30–9:45 am, Conference 1
Urban Fantasy is often lauded for the large number of women writers in the genre. Yet, despite being set in the inner city (real or fictional) the presence of POC is often limited to the Magical Negro, Wise Indian, Sketchy Gypsy, or other dehumanizing stereotypes. How urban can fantasy be when it centers on white/white-passing leads and POC appear largely as plot devices or servants (sexual or otherwise) to white leads? Let’s talk about race in urban fantasy and the erasure of POC from the places where they are living in these alternate realities.
Sorry for the long break – I’ve had some hosting issues, which I am now resolving. I’ll be back online soon!
I’ve also had more book previews go live.
A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant – a really excellent historical romance.
The Doll by Taylor Stevens – a thriller with a heroine who reminded me a bit of James Bond.
Twilight is Not Good For Maidens by Lou Allin – contemporary mystery set on Vancouver Island, with a female RCMP officer.
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill – a hardbitten police procedural set in Barcelona.
Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper, AKA Carrie Lofty – a brutal new paranormal romance series featuring gladiatorial combat for both hero and heroine.
True Love by Jude Devereaux – now I would like to visit Nantucket.
Anything But Sweet by Candis Terry – there is a startlingly large number of romance novels set in Texas. But it is hot there so I was not inspired to desire a visit.
Dare to be Tempted by Eden Davis – erotica featuring an older couple.
The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli, a noir novel about a family of criminals.
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols, a YA romance set amid the contemporary Nashville music scene.
The Deepest Night by Shana Abe, second in a YA paranormal series set during World War One.
I’ll be at Readercon this weekend, July 11 – 14.
You can find me on the following program items:
Saturday July 13, 9:00 AM, RHODE ISLAND
“The Works of Patricia A. McKillip.”
Brian Attebery, Shira Daemon (moderator), Victoria Janssen, Faye Ringel.
In a long and lauded career Patricia A. McKillip has questioned the shapes of genre stories, taking an egalitarian and polyphonic approach to point of view. In harmony with this questioning has been her thoughtful examination of identity, land, and time, from the classic Riddlemaster trilogy to The Bards of Bone Plain. Through all her works, lyrical storytelling has invoked the ties between language and magic: the way that magical transformations find their mirror in language rich with metaphor, the way that riddles in the text mirror the riddle of the text. These elements working in concert provide a consistently high level of reader interaction. An hour isn’t long enough to even summarize the McKillip oeuvre, but we’ll do our best to tour its many highlights as well as some choice gems that are often overlooked.
Saturday July 13, 10:00 AM, MAINE
“Making Love Less Strange: Romance for SF/F Writers.”
E.C. Ambrose, Paula Guran, Victoria Janssen (leader), Natalie Luhrs, JoSelle Vanderhooft.
When authors who aren’t familiar with romance-genre tropes incorporate romantic elements into speculative fiction, the resulting hybrids can look quite peculiar to romance readers. (Bruce Sterling’s Love Is Strange is a particularly striking recent example.) There can also be an aspect of reinventing the wheel; why struggle with the pacing of relationship development when romance authors have it all figured out? Our panel of envoys from Romanceland will explain the central themes and expectations of the romance genre, from “happily ever after” to physical and literary climaxes, to help SF/F authors looking for a wider audience hit all the notes that romance readers expect while avoiding the genre’s pitfalls.
Saturday July 13, 12:00 PM, MAINE
“Unraveling the Unexamined Privilege of Safety.”
Liz Gorinsky, Victoria Janssen, Mikki Kendall, Shira Lipkin, Daniel José Older (leader).
When we talk about power and oppression, we often spend a lot of energy tailoring the tone and language so that privileged people stay “comfortable.” This happens in the context of a larger system already built to keep the powerful comfortable, and it comes at the cost of a deeper, truer conversation. Meanwhile, sexual harassment and oppressive behavior run rampant at cons and in online discussions, leading to emotionally and physically unsafe environments for people who are already struggling to feel a sense of belonging in the SF/F community. How do we craft our literature and our larger community in an inclusive, anti-oppressive way that creates more safety for those who lack it while encouraging those with more power and privilege to embrace vulnerability?
Saturday July 13, 4:00 PM, Concierge Lounge
Kaffeeklatsch, Cecilia Tan, Victoria Janssen
A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macnamara, a historical romance.
What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris, a historical mystery (Regency period).
Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes, a contemporary mystery, with houseboats and pole dancers.
The Jezebel by Saskia Walker, a historical erotic romance.
Lord of Secrets by Alyssa Everett, a historical romance.
Darius by Grace Burrowes, a historical romance.
Sinner’s Heart by Zoe Archer, a historical paranormal romance.
Headed for Trouble, a collection of shorts by Suzanne Brockmann.
Fantasy for Romance Readers – in particular, a bunch of classic authors you can glom.
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway – time travel from the Regency era!
I have some more recent posts up at Heroes and Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element.
Artistic Liberties: Heroes and Heroines Who Are Artists in Historical Romance.
A post on Again by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, an older romance set amidst the production of a soap opera, “My Lady’s Chamber.”
And many previews:
Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe, a contemporary romance.
Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd, latest in a series of WWI historical mysteries.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, second in a Young Adult science fiction series that references fairy tales.
Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, fifth in a historical series about a preteen detective who’s also a chemist.
A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry, a contemporary mystery set in and around Lake Placid, NY.
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord – science fiction with romance.