If you asked me how to define mature women who are confident in their sexualities and who choose to perform mutually satisfying acts of indescribably erotic pleasure for men in exchange for lavish gifts of jewels or money, I guess I'd call 'em, well, wives and girlfriends.   'Cause I think all women deserve the goods from the men who love them, from respect and consideration to the best little trinkets a guy can afford.

But maybe I live in a fantasy world.  Apparently, some chicks have the idea that what I take for granted as a woman's due - both in terms of her sexual power and her right to respect and bling - are part/parcel of fantasy; many women dream about being so hot and talented sexually that guys would clamor to spend time with them, and reward them extravagantly, should they choose to sleep with the men.

And I was kind of shocked when I learned this, because the idea of having a "hooker" fantasy seemed outrageous even to me, who's long gone on record as advocating a woman's right to any fantasy she can dream up, and to Hell with anyone else's opinion.  I think it's the idea of trying to equate power with a profession in which so many women are abused and taken advantage of that makes it hard to understand.

I can imagine how ridiculously tricky it would be to create an erotic romance that embraces the girl-for-hire scenario in the way erom taps into and celebrates women's desires. Yet Jasmine Haynes does so successfully and beautifully in her deliciously arousing "Yours for the Night," a fabulously erotic twist on the Cinderella happily ever after.  In "Yours," Haynes creates an escort service in which "courtesans" are trained to be charming companions, to understand men's fantasies, and to fulfill those sexual pleasures if the women choose to do so.  In return, the clients give courtesans gifts which show their esteem; clients are captains of industry and the world's wealthiest guys who understand the level of appreciation expected.

The courtesans' reasons for becoming paid companions differ, and in each of three short stories with strong romance that leads to intimacy and well-defined commitment, Haynes introduces us to a different slightly older heroing - even one gorgeous, but slightly insecure 45-year old -- who enjoys her work, but needs something more that doesn't necessarily mean a new job.  The clients whose lives the women change - and who alter the women's in return - are dynamic and multidimensional.  

So if you're looking to jump all "men who'd hire hookers are pigs, women who hook are downtrodden, and authors who'd glorify prostitution will single-handedly take down the Sisterhood," well, first, you probably should get over yourself because there are lots of ways to skin a cat in this discussion. And, second, you might want to give this thought provoking and thoroughly modern love-story collection a gander.  For my two cents, these kinds of storytelling and fantasizing are what feminism is all about.  

Writing about the subject of eroticizing prostitution could become a pretty hot topic, especially online, where discussions sometimes can get out of hand quickly.  If you'd like to know a bit about how to navigate the sometimes murky waters of cyberspace, please join me today at RomanceUniversity.org, where I'm a "visiting prof" discussing, "Staying Out of Hot Water: Developing an Appropriate Online Presence."

What novels have you enjoyed that have prostitutes as heroines? What the stories work? With whom did the power lie in the relationships and why?

 

Comments
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-26-2009 02:14 PM

Well, if we can step into the past, I think Anna Campbell's courtesans are fabulous! 

by Author JasmineHaynes10 on ‎10-26-2009 02:59 PM

Thank you for your wonderful comments on Yours for the Night, Michelle.  You "got" the premise!  I remember our discussion when we met at RWA in San Francisco.  I think you were shocked when I said I thought getting paid for sex might be a universal fantasy!  For some women, it can be a sexy fantasy, and that's what I've tried to show in the book.  Different women doing it for very different reasons, in a highly fantasized environment.  Nothing sleazy.  There are also male courtesans, too, in later books.  And yes, being able to fantasize about anything you want is what feminism is all about to me.

 

Berkley will be putting out two more anthologies about Courtesans, Hers for the Evening in May 2010 and Mine Until Morning.  I've had a lot of fun writing them.

 

I haven't read Anna Campbell's courtesans, but they sound fun.  I did read Her Ladyship's Campanion, a historical by Evangeline Collins about a male courtesan, and I loved it.

 

Jasmine

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-26-2009 03:33 PM

I've gotta tell you, Jasmine, you know I was skeptical when you told me the premise for the books you were writing, but intrigued nonetheless. I'd literally never thought of this as a fantasy -- and I thought I'd heard em all, all the fetishes, etc.  I understood the role play, but not the actual fantasy as a power exchange.  Anyway, I was jazzed when I saw the book in print and really happy to be able to tell folks about it. 

I guess we could say that "sleazy" is in the eye of the beholder -- and that for some of us, sleazy is a very good thing.  I'd wager even more women have the fantasy of hiring a male courtesan.  Um, I'm just guessing, of course, not from personal fantasy experience or anything...   

Like your book, Campbell explored the reality of prostitution/courtesanship (?), as well as the level of power and independence acheived by women in history who were successful courtesans.  Her depiction of power balance is very interesting, especially as it speaks to the courtesan/protector relationship.  Even while writing this post, I was reminded of years ago when some feminists talked about marriage as a type of prostitution which, like just about anything, one can make a case for when painted in the right hues.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-26-2009 03:44 PM

Becke, I'm sorry to say that I have never read Anna Campbell. No hitting, please.

Jasmine, I concurr SOME women might have fantasies. And, Michelle, yes, they may also have THOSE fantasies, as well, hehe. Especially about Chester Bennington and...but, of course, Not me! Cough

I love what you brought out, too, Michelle, how there are different views on things. What is BAD to one person might be perfectly acceptable. And, indeed, those courtesans had to have more courage than most women, especially then, when women weren't considered more than chattel, really.

Jasmine, I also wanted to point out that to me, your courtesans couldn't resemble prostitutes, not if, as Michelle described them as having the decision to sleep with said client or not. If they decided not to, they could do so, as applied. They wouldnt' HAVE to at the end of the evening. So, to me, that's a big difference. And, it sounds very classy and not at all 'sleazy'. Love the cover, by the way! HOT HOT HOT

by Author JasmineHaynes10 on ‎10-26-2009 03:50 PM

I'm so glad you were jazzed!  And that you liked what I did with the fantasy.  The power exchange is definitely a big part of it.  And I definitely agree about women doing the hiring of the male courtesan is probably very popular.  Which is why in the other books, I've included male courtesans as well.  I wanted to explore the different angles.

 

I've also watched the Showtime series Confessions of a Call Girl and found that interesting as well.

 

I'll have to get one of Anna's books, they sound great.  You're right, depending on the hue you wish to paint a subject in, you can make case for or against however you'd like.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-26-2009 03:59 PM

I've got Jenna Petersen's LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN in my TBR pile. I'll have to read that soon, along with Anna's new one AND Jasmine's book!

by Author JasmineHaynes10 on ‎10-26-2009 04:32 PM

I haven't read Jenna's book.  I see I have a lot of books to add to my TBR stack!  And I hope you enjoy Yours for the Night, Becke!

by on ‎10-26-2009 07:02 PM

Ok this is creepy. Who been looking over my shoulder?

 

Seriously I just got hooked last week on a true guilty pleasure of a TV show "Satisfaction". Australian Showtime show, escort service brothel. I streamed all of season one in two big bites, that good.

 

 

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-26-2009 09:18 PM

Really? I'll have to check it out. Pulled Jenna Petersen's book from the TBR pile and I'm almost finished with it! Jasmine, I ordered yours today.

by 1lovealways on ‎10-26-2009 10:28 PM

Hi Everyone!

 

I've never read a book with the courtesan premise, but I did see a movie one time.  Mayflower Madame was a true story about  a lady of fine lineage who was descended from travelers on the Mayflower, hence the title.  Exactly why she decided to run a high price call girl operation, I don't recall.  It was all about power and money.  Her clientele, as in Jasmine's books were big time money. The women in her employ commanded big bucks and did it for many reasons, the least of it being sex.  Among her employ were housewives and college students.  It was definitely a business and one that she chose to operate. What was interesting about this movie, was that she actually turned the tables on the men in this profession.  It was a classy operation and she ran it that way, even though she was raked over the coals worse than a man, in my opinion when she was brought down.

 

To read about a male courtesan in a romance, now that is going to be totally interesting!  It's got my attention!  Never thought of that fantasy.  I can't wait to read about it!  I agree with the Princess. A courtesan and prostitute may both peddle their wares for money, but the courtesan has the upper hand when it comes to choice and the prostitute doesn't.  BTW Princess, this is the second time I've seen Chester Bennington's name in your post.  Care to share (smiling)?  I am so wondering who he is (waggling eyebrows)!  :smileyhappy:

 

 

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-27-2009 09:32 AM

1love, I am so glad you agree! Courtesans definately seem classier! Oh, and Chester Bennington is the lead singer for Linkin Park! He is definately yum yum! For deets, check out their "New Divide" video on youtube. Hubba Hubba!

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎10-27-2009 10:11 AM

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I never have understood why "prostitution" was illegal. A woman should have a right to do with her body as she sees fit. Legislating morality seems a bit puritanical, especially when there are so many other bad dudes out there who need to be caught. Inefficient. That said, I LOVE courtesans in romance, primarily because a) they’re confident in their own sexuality b) they’re experienced like the guy and c) they’re independent. They don’t need a man, but they can love a man enough to be with him.

 

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎10-27-2009 10:14 AM

Ok, that came out as gobbely **bleep**! - This should be easier to read! Damn Microsoft Word!

 

I never have understood why "prostitution" was illegal. A woman should have a right to do with her body as she sees fit. Legislating morality seems a bit puritanical, especially when there are so many other bad dudes out there who need to be caught. Inefficient. That said, I LOVE courtesans in romance, primarily because a) they’re confident in their own sexuality b) they’re experienced like the guy and c) they’re independent. They don’t need a man, but they can love a man enough to be with him.

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎10-27-2009 10:59 AM

Michelle, I can't wait to take a look at this now! Thanks so much for bringing this book, and this, dare I say, new genre, to our attention! Looks fascinating and I'm loving the fact that all the heroines are older...

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-27-2009 11:03 AM

Jasmine, I just realized I've read a novella of yours -- in the UNLACED anthology. A great author line-up in that one: Jasmine Haynes, Jaci Burton, Denise Rosetti and Joey W. Hill!

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-27-2009 04:41 PM

That's right, becke, and that anthology won an RBTB Year's Best Award last year. I never made the connection until you just wrote that!  holy cow.  I think Jasmine's was paranormal, maybe?

 

Mon, I remember cheering when one city started arresting guys and not just prostitutes.  And I'm kind of with you, though I like the idea of the industry being regulated.  That said, i think it might be a tough lifestyle choice and, in the case of this novel, the 'courtesans' are 'high class,' not girls working the street.  I found an article not long ago about ivy league chicks who've decided the feminist thing to do is get guys to pay for sex, to attribute value to it as a commodity.  Interesting how many different ways one can look at whether selling sex is powerful or desperate, and I guess part of it depends upon who's selling and keeping the mon-tay.

 

hi, 1la!  It seems that women in those positions do get "raked" worse than guys, no? Martha Stewart, for example.  The courtesan has been a character in romances for a long time, and many authors use her as a heroine, not just the other woman.  Mary Balogh uses the courtesan at least once, maybe more. There are lots of historicals with courtesans who end up marrying their protectors.  Or, they're able to lead non-traditional lives of great power and wealth, and this may not be accurate, but it seems to appeal to contemporary readers who maybe don't go for the more traditional historical heroine as she would have lived 'in history.' Oh, no! You're not getting Principessa started on her Linkin park/3 doors down fixations are you?  no good  can come of this...

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-27-2009 04:45 PM

awesome, tiggerbear!  I was kind of hooked, no pun intended, in the past on the hbo series about the brothel in Nevada.  Anytime documentaries/programs are shown about the sex industry, I'm on em, because it's fascinating on both the "human" and "business" levels.

 

Yeah, Melanie, that was very cool. And they're all in it for different reasons, and have different feelings about it, which really is appealing; they kind of mirror what a lot of readers may be thinking/feeling while they're reading.

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎10-27-2009 05:13 PM

I'm trying to think of authors featuring courtesan characters, and my sluggish brain can only seem to hone in on Elizabeth Hoyt. The heroine in The Raven Prince takes a job as a courtesan because she wants to sleep with the hero (I love this plot twist.) What others are there?

by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎10-27-2009 05:20 PM

In Lori Foster's Secret Life of Bryan, is the heroine a former prostitute? Or does she go undercover as a prostitiute? Somebody please help my memory...

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-27-2009 05:57 PM

Yes, I think it's the Secret Life of Bryan -- this is from Lori's website:

 

Bounty hunter Bryan Kelly has a few rules. Rule #1: Women are for fun, not commitment. Rule #2: He'll do anything for his twin brother, even switch places in order to find out who wants to sabotage the naive preacher's charity organization. Playing benefactor to a bunch of sassy, flirtatious prostitutes means that Bryan will have to be his brother — in every way that counts. But then, he hadn't counted on Shay Sommers. Keeping his cool around the luscious lady of the night with the big heart is doing nothing to keep his thoughts pure, which brings him to instant Rule #3: If you can’t avoid temptation, succumb with abandon...

Being mistaken for a hooker. Well that's certainly a new one for Shay. The society pages icon has made her name in charity work. Still, this could be her chance to help these girls from the inside out, if she can play the part just right. It certainly won't be hard to act the street siren with the gorgeous preacher who runs the place, even if he does seem less like a shepherd and much more like a wolf in a clerical collar...one with a hungry look that's making Shay feel she might be his next dinner...

 

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