Monday, March 6, 2017

Mistress, consent, and tea

It's happening! Mistress is now out for Kindle, and paperback should be following in the next day or two.

If you've read my other work and are considering this, you should know that it contains fairly explicit adult scenes -- several of them. It also contains a lot of other story, though; they definitely don't just jump into bed. This is a story where sex is central to the storyline, and part of my aim was to make that sex fairly realistic (up to and including a break to use the chamber pot). It's also a story about regrets; Persuasion is decidedly my favorite Austen story, and the autumnal hindsight of that story was very much an influence on this one.

It's probably come as a surprise to some that I'm even writing something that doesn't "fade to black," and I promise the Constant Love series will continue at its current level of chasteness. It wasn't even something I'd intended to do when I started in this genre, although I read some of it. What made me want to do it was the rather tremendous number of stories out at the time that put Darcy somewhere in the span between confident debaucher and out-and-out rapist.

The latter I have the biggest issue with, obviously. I'm fine with rough sex or even BDSM between consenting adults, but stories where the female doesn't consent (and even specifically says no, or to stop), and then ends up enjoying it later anyway, I believe contribute to rape culture. The message it sends is that it's okay to do this, because she'll wind up liking it. It is NOT okay.

My issue with the whole range, though, is that Pride and Prejudice already has a character who is a rake and a seducer of young women. His name is Mr. Wickham. The whole point of Wickham is to be the antagonist, and Darcy's opposite, so the absolute last thing I want to read is something where Darcy acts like Wickham. It would make a lot of sense for there to be stories where Wickham does these things, but I suspect not a lot of people would want to read them. We don't like Mr. Wickham, in large part because he does those things.

So the idea for Mistress was born out of, essentially, a counterpoint to those stories. Darcy's character arc in P&P is to change his behavior, and better show that he's actually a really considerate guy. At the risk of sounding like the fortune cookie game, Mistress shows that he's a really considerate bed.

And he has to be, because Elizabeth is a widow, and she's spent her (thankfully) short marriage getting poked every night by Mr. Collins. Ick, I know. I didn't want to go into detail on it, because, well, nobody wants to read that, but also because there's a real gray area as to whether what she went through was rape, and this really underlines the situation for women in her time.

Legally, it wasn't rape, because he was her husband, and in those days, technically his property. She went willingly, if reluctantly, to bed with him because it was her duty. This is easiest to couch in the tea consent analogy:

So using the tea analogy, she basically contractually obligated herself to drink a cup of earl grey every night, without ever having drank a cup of earl grey, and then found out bergamot is disgusting. Consent is, unfortunately, implicit in the marriage vow, and she's married an inept, inconsiderate (and due to the circumstances, domineering) man.

So what is Mistress, then? Well, I may as well continue the tea analogy. After absolutely loathing earl grey, let's just say Elizabeth has sworn off tea. And let's say someone returns to her life, and says I love you, please try English breakfast. It will be much better. And she says, okay, I'll try it, but just one cup. And he makes the tea, and he's like, here, make sure it's not too hot before you drink it. Would you like some milk? Or sugar? I made some scones, would you like to have a scone with your tea?

And that, folks, is how I want my Mr. Darcy to be. He's a gentleman, and he makes an amazing cup of tea, a cup of tea so damn good he doesn't need to force anyone to drink it, a cup of tea that is indeed so good that the next question is, of course, "May I have another cup of tea?"

Why yes, Elizabeth, of course. You may have as many cups as you choose to ask for. And no more.

I hope you all enjoy Mistress -- I know it's been a long time in development, and that's in large part because I used so much reader feedback from the online posting and other touchpoints to improve it. So for those who gave feedback, THANK YOU, and I hope you enjoy the finished product. You might want to give the Spotify playlist a listen as you read.

As always, if you enjoy the story and wish to help support my writing, Amazon and Goodreads reviews are much appreciated!

And if you're interested in winning a copy or just reading more about the series, I'll be embarking on an extended blog tour for this one, with opportunities to do so at every stop:

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