When I run out of current romances to read, I sometimes try books from the seventies when bodice rippers burst onto the scene. One book that stayed with me is Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s Shanna.

Why? In the other erotic historicals, the hero broods, snarls, and is generally unpleasant. Try that with a modern woman and he’d be walking funny for days. I suspect even in medieval times women didn’t go for that stuff. They gravitated toward guys who were commanding but also playful, ones they could trust.

That’s what I loved about Shanna. The hero seemed reasonable to me. He and Shanna didn’t argue constantly as a plot device to keep them apart. There was genuine motivation for their conflict.

In writing Loving Lies, an erotic historical set in medieval Spain, I knew Fernando would be a warrior-knight with muscles to die-for and drool-worthy looks. Think Jason Momoa. More importantly, I wanted Fernando to be decent, loyal, reasonable. In other words, a guy with a mature attitude who’d listen rather than argue with Isabella. That’s not to say they don’t disagree, but there’s always a strong reason, the major one being Isabella’s deception that could risk her life and his. I won’t get into that here. This post is about guys with bad attitudes.

For a beginning writer, it’s easy to confuse a commanding presence with one that’s intractable and possibly abusive. I learned how playfulness goes a long way in a romance even with an Alpha male.

To illustrate: In this scene, they’ve just escaped danger, both of them covered in grime. Since Fernando mistakenly believes Isabella is his betrothed, he suggests they bathe. Here’s what happens next:

He lifted his robe and approached. “Come.” He took her hand and led her toward a stream in the distance. “You need a bath to wash the dirt and blood from you.”

She held back and made a face at the brownish stains on her robe, then touched her cheek where blood had splashed her.

He nearly smiled at the face she made. “No need for alarm. The blood belonged to a lamb and will wash away easily. Come.”

Again, she held back. “As I bathe, what will you do?”

“Assist you, of course.”

She yanked her hand free.

Despite her rude move, he refused to be offended. She simply needed more wooing. He easily reclaimed her hand and kissed her fingers. “Come now, señorita. As my betrothed, I fully intend to have you stripped bare at some point, so it may as well be now. And a bath is what you need.”


He paused. “You hardly realize how filthy you are. From the tip of your nose”—he kissed it—“to the soles of your feet.”

Her lids fluttered. “The same as you.”

He grinned and straightened. “How true. So you do see the wisdom of bathing together. After I wash you, you can wash me.”


For me, Fernando’s teasing is far more fun than a brutal command.


LovingLiesSm copyLoving Lies

Deception knows no limits. Passion knows no bounds.

When she’s kidnapped, Senorita Isabella knows the men have been sent by her uncle in a murderous attempt to control her family’s fortune. But when she is rescued by a dashing and mysterious warrior, Isabella can’t imagine why a stranger would risk his life for her—until she discovers her rescuer believes she’s someone else….

Fernando de Zayas loves nothing more than the cry of battle. Defying death is his way of life. But when he discovers his betrothed has been kidnapped, he rushes to her aid—never suspecting that spirited beauty would soothe his warrior heart…

With her uncle’s minions close on their heels, Isabella finds herself drawing closer to Fernando. But as the desire between them builds, her secret could keep them apart forever…

Available at:

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About Tina Donahue

Tina is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Kensington, Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Booktrope, Luminosity, Decadent, and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic novels (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover) were Readers’ Choice Award winners. Another three (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the EPIC competition. Sensual Stranger, her erotic contemporary romance, was chosen Book of the Year at the French review site Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for her erotic romance Lush Velvet Nights. Two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.


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