Monday, January 5, 2009

Men, arousal, and the MINE! thing: a DIW question of the day

I am still really enjoying Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas! I know I’ve said this before, but I just always feel so lucky that there is this sort of endless stream of fabulous books. Especially for me, coming late to historical romance. Sure, most of us are running out of money, but at least stories aren't running out!

Question of the day
Note: Not a spoiler. Nuthin here you wouldn't learn from the back blurb.

Okay, I have been thinking about this passage on page 85 (I’m actually way beyond that page, but I’ve been thinking about it for a day or two). It opened some questions to me.

Let me set the stage: Evie and Sebastian are travelling back from Scotland the day after the wedding and morning o’ sex, and this is that evening, another stop along the road to London. They’re in their room and Sebastian is bathing. Evie has already informed him they won’t be having sex anymore, just as they’d agreed. And then this:
He was pleased to observe that some of her composure had vanished as he bathed. Her color heightened as she took an undue interest in the patten of the quilted counterpane on the bed.

As she traced a pattern of stitches with her forefinger, the gleam of the Scottish-gold ring caught Sebastian’s eye. He experienced a strange reaction to the sight, a nearly overwhelming urge to go over to her, shove her back on the bed, and take her without preliminaries. To dominate her, and force her to admit his ownership. The rush of primal lust was more than a bit alarming to a man who had always considered himself civilized.
It was the way the ring played into everything that got my attention here. In this passage, part of his lust is sparked by the idea of their union, or his possession of her. I know our vampire, lykae and other friends get off on the mine concept, but I always chalked that up to a paranormal phenomena. Here, the sort of mine thinking plays a major part in arousal.

I read it to my husband and I asked him about the ring/lust connection:

Husband: Noooo.
: The glint of a ring would never play into a man’s lust for a babe.

: What if the man was on his way to falling in love with her?

No no no. Seeing the ring would have as little to do with lust as a unicorn flying across the sky.

What if it was in a time when men had more sort of ownership over women, they were more possessions or chattel?

I could see a mind working up to it, but not instantly, like,
Ring! then Sex! There’d be more steps.

Please don’t think I’m dogging Kleypas or this book. I frankly enjoyed this passage, and I am really loving the whole book. The day these books match up to reality is the day they start sucking. Even though that's sort of what this question is--does the ring/lust thing have any basis in reality, in male psychology.

Anyway, as my husband reminded me, does not speak for all men, and what's more, heroes come in all dispositions. But I wonder about other people’s take on the ring being hooked into Sebastian’s surge of lust.

Here are my possible explanations:
  1. The ring/lust thing is something specific to Sebastian’s character. After all, he also takes to the gambling hall once it’s his, whereas before, he couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything except be a rake. Maybe Sebastian just gets really activated by connections to things.
  2. This just shows the difference between the regency male and the contemporary male, and the how women were seen and treated, and the way the male was aroused. (But then, if that is true, is the ‘mine’ paranormal gang sort of regency in disguise?)
  3. It’s just part of the whole fantasy thing of romance. In romance, men just get off on their bond/link to women at a far higher degree than they do in real life.
  4. Men really do get into the mine thing, but the husband of CJ is naturally a far greater connoisseur of beauty and babe-ish-ness than other men. *ahem*
Please advise!


Anne D said...

If I remember rightly (I'm getting the urge for a reread now too) is there not an earlier scene about the ring in this story?

Carolyn Jean said...

Anne: Hi! Okay, well, the only scene about the ring before that was (I think) when they paid the blacksmith's exorbitant price for them. And she had a problem with the love saying inscribed, but he was like, no, we'll take it. But nothing in connection to lust.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Perhaps Sebastian became all lusty when he saw the ring because that means ownership and now he owns Evie and heand she can give into their lusty urges as often as they want.

JC said...

I asked my boyfriend, and he agreed with your husband. He doesn't get it. He says a ring isn't sexy.

Now, then I asked him, "But is the thought of you being mine or I being yours arousing? 'Cause there's times when the thought of you being mine is totally sexy, for me."

His reply? "The thought that you are mine, and only mine, and that, *grins* no one else can lay their hands on you the way I can" is arousing. "Especially when you're looking all sexy and beautiful."

But he also said he wanted me to add another note. If Evie said no sex, that means no sex, and the ring in that circumstance wouldn't make him think sex.

Interesting things. It makes me think of an essay in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women. I can't remember by which author, but it's talking about how women read and relate to both the characters- both the hero and the heroine in the book. So perhaps it's that women get more aroused by the idea of that connection and of being "owned."

Lori said...

Hmmm.... I have to admit, there is a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing my man feels so strongly possessive of me. And if that man was Sebastian? Well...

But as to whether that's truly the case? I'd have to get back to you on that after getting the hubby's opinion after work. I *can* tell you that he seems to get an inordinate amount of pleasure, even after all these years, of twisting and playing with my wedding ring, especially after (whispers) (sex). And I also get a tremendous amount of pleasure just seeing him clothed in his wedding ring and nothing else. So maybe there is something to be said for it.

Renee said...

Not that I can quote any other books, but that does seem a common romance convention (reagardless of hero "sprecies"-oh god, I did not just say that! lol)
I know I've read other romances with the same mine/ring (or mine/just had sex) kind of thing.

I think it's much more of a woman (reader) thing, something that the reader will enjoy.

However, it is alsoconsistent with Sebastian's own make-up. He's lost so much, and never had anyone belong to/rely on him. One of the things I love about him as a hero is that he rises to the situations around him, and all that good stuff inside him is finally brought out. Oh man, I'm such a dork about him. :-P

Great topic, CJ!

Ok, I've got an egg timer I need to go set!

Kati said...

CJ - I have a couple of guy friends who both constantly refer to "MY wife." It's a possessive thing. But I'd have to agree with your hubby that the ring is less likely to arouse arousal than say, the low cut nature of her dress or possibly just her ankle. But I'll have to go to one of the guys and ask.

I'll be back.

Anne D said...

Renee, it's okay, I'm a big dork for him too :)

CJ: I was trying to remember if there was a big fuss or not. I think I like Renee's point. It was just a very physical, visible reminder that unless he chose it, she was his. I would suggest too, it would also be the challenge - they married, consummated, and here she is throwing down the gauntlet, to so speak, about it never happening again...

I do think, though, it might be a female sensibility, and I'm okay with that. Romance heroes are not real, that's why they are romance heroes. We aren't reading these stories for plausibility, we are reading them to enjoy them, and if to enjoy them the most we sometimes have the men do things we want them to do, though it might not be 'real', that's okay.

Just the same way a man's fantasy might be all about 6ft tall Amazons with boobs the size of watermelons... it's their fantasy, proprietary reactions to rings are ours :)

Carolyn Jean said...

KB: That's sort of what I was men in real life feel this?

JC: ooh! Another expert opinion. How sweet of a thing for him to say! That is interesting. And that essay sounds interesting, too. I think there is some merit to that idea. I should google the essay.

Lori: I love that he plays with your ring like that. I get that possession pleasure, too. Also, it can be pleasurable to be possessed, and I wonder if that's where it comes from a bit.

Renee: You make a great point. I like bringing it back to character like that. My egg timer went off like an hour ago!

Kati: Oh, do check back. Not like I think the possession thing doesn't exist, but how linked is it to arousal?

Anne: The challenge of it - that's an interesting aspect. I like that.

Tracy said...

I think that the passage is more about his ownership of her than lust itself. Now I’ve not read the book so I can’t say for sure but it sounds like Sebastian’s version of ownership lies in the sexual arena. If forcing her to admit his ownership can only be done by sex and she’s put the big fat kibosh on that it would probably make him hornier than that unicorn you mentioned.

My hubby doesn’t get into the “mine” thing in general but he does make sure that I’m always wearing my wedding ring in public just to make sure everyone knows and there is NO confusion! lol

RfP said...

"is the ‘mine’ paranormal gang sort of regency in disguise?"


Sarai said...

I have no idea. And I have to say that I didn't even catch it. Maybe I should do a re-read myself. I am however, interested to see what the final verdict is..

Sayuri said...

I think it's probably a mixture of all the reasons you gave. A little of everything!

Carolyn Jean said...

Tracy: I like that. Putting it to his character as a recovering rake, ownership as sexual.

RFP: well aren't you succinct! LOL.

Sarai: Maybe I should do a poll. But I think it's too late.

Sayuri: It sounds like that from the comments.

Lori said...

GASP!! TRACY!! Get thee ass out and get this book!!!!

Srsly. Sebastian rocks. (Not as much as Nick, but he rocks nonetheless)

Ana said...

I don't know the Whys or the hows but just by reading that passage I get all fuzzy about Sebastian all over again.

Carolyn Jean said...

Lori: I know!

Ana: Gloat on.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

PFFT on Sebastian. Derek is the real man!! Derek rose from the gutter ad has a way with a pool table. Sebastian just has nice hair.

Liza said...

I haven't read Devil in Winter, but must give it a shot. I don't know of many men that would get all hot over a ring, but I guess it could happen.

Carolyn Jean said...

KB: you have nice hair too. Maybe you should rethink your position on Sebastian.

Liza: Another who hasn't read it!

Kristie (J) said...

KatieB said what I was going to *g* Derek is The Man! Though I do love some Sebastian too. And Cam, and Merripen, and Jack, and Nick...........

Ladytink_534 said...

I haven't read any historical romances in a few months (my favorite authors are Brenda Joyce and Teresa Medieros) but now I kind of want to...

I get where the passage came from. It's the same thing as a guy seeing you in his T-shirt in the early stages of your relationship. Even if you're wearing sweatpants underneath, you're still wearing something that belongs to him and in a somewhat primal way it's a way of claiming. It turns some men on, some it doesn't.

Lori said...

So I asked my husband and his reaction was pretty much the same as any of the other guys'. "Babe, it wasn't the ring that got him all hot and bothered. She was in the bathtub. Duh. Naked woman."

And there my friends, is the difference between men and women. We're busy looking for the romance and the thought behind it all. Nope. It's just about naked babes.

Jace said...

Hey CJ, glad to know you're enjoying this book. :-) I read this one a long time ago so memory's a bit foggy. I read the 4 Wallflowers books and my faves were this one and the next one, Scandal In Spring. :-)

Carolyn Jean said...

KJ: this is the first I have read of this series, and I was thinking Cam might get his own book.

LT: Ah, the man's shirt thing! It is sort of like that.

Lori: I'd totally agree but it was Sebastian who was bathing. Otherwise, yeah, naked in the bathtub trumps any ring.

Jace: thanks for the rec. That's one people don't talk about!

Tracy said...

GASP!! TRACY!! Get thee ass out and get this book!!!
LOL I'll work on it! I can only read so many books a week. :)

Tumperkin said...

It's (3). 'Mine' is a romance cliche that appears in EVERY sub-genre. Personally speaking it does absolutely zilch for me.

But speaking about rings and Scottish gold, how about this for romantic? My husbag works with a guy who went panning for gold regularly for TWO years to collect all the gold needed for his wife's wedding ring. Sweet.

Jessica said...

ree with Tumperkin that the "mine" thing is everywhere. I used to think it was paranormal -- alpha heroes closer to their animal or demon natures.

but then I read Laura Kinsale -- and she used it in 1992's Flowers From the Storm.

Jessica said...

Ugh -- I meant "I agree with Tumperkin".

Not sure what "reeing with Tumperkin" would involve, but our partners probably don't want to share us in that way. "Mine" and all that. ;)

Kwana said...

CJ what a good discussion and no I haven't read the book either. Ouch! I'll get on it. I'm sure the tub had lots to do with the reaction in the male mind, but maybe there is something to the whole male possessiveness thing. My husband notices my ring quite a bit. And it is a huge symbol of she's mine all mine and look what I got for her. I know, men.

If I'm not wearing it for some reason it may take a moment, but when he notices he always brings it up with a hint of jealousy, like what's going on? And I could be going to the grocery or something? Very funny.

naida said...

hmmmm...I dont really know what the passage about the ring means, but now I want to read this book :)