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    Pure of Heart As Well As Body by Kate Garrabrant
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  • Published: Dec 10th, 2008

sinclair_games.jpgWhen it comes to a romance with a hero that is a virgin, I find those books to be extra special reads. There is just something so great about a male character, especially the main one, who has never been intimate with another woman, until he meets the heroine. Knowing he is pure in both his heart, as well as his body, that he is only meant for her, and her alone, makes for a sweet story. Isn’t it great for a change to have the man unsure of the technicalities of sex much like the heroines we all read about?

One author who has done this is Linnea Sinclair with Admiral Branden Kel- Paten, a.k.a., the “Tin Solider” from the Sci-Fi romance, Games of Command. When I first picked up Games of Command, I had no clue that Branden was a virgin. Branden was so in love with Commander Tasha Sebastian, also known as Lady Sass. He has loved her from afar for twelve years, and she has no clue. Sass thinks Branden is cold and ruthless, and is less than thrilled to be serving under him. Of course Branden loves that Sass is under him, (ha-ha to those play on words) but since he doesn’t think he has any chance of being with her other than as her superior, he treats her with politeness, even though he wants her as any hot blooded man would want a woman they desire.

As the story continues, both Branden and Sass form an interesting relationship, and Sass comes to realize that Branden is not the icy individual she first thought him to be. Sass teaches him about intimacy. She teaches him to kiss, even though she has no idea that he has never kissed a woman before. Once she does that, he becomes quite the willing student, and soon all he wants to do is kiss. Even when they reach the point where Sass wants Branden in her bed, he enjoys the kissing aspect. Like all first time lovers, Branden is afraid that Sass will turn away from him because he doesn’t know what he is doing. He feels his body is ugly, that he is not fully a man, because he is made with parts that make him much like a robot. Branden is ashamed.

Sass won’t let him run away, and takes control of things. The scene where they finally make love is so very perfect:

“Tell me what you like,” She said, her voice throaty.
“What I like? Just you. With me.” He touched her cheek.
“Nothing… special?”
… “I wouldn’t know,” he said finally, honestly. Because even if he could lie, his body couldn’t. “I never…” and he let the sentence trail off.
… “You mean-“
“You’re the only one.” His voice rough from desire and shame. “My whole life, you’re all I’ve wanted.”
She closed her eyes, briefly, that impish smile returning when she looked at him, something twinkling in her eyes. “Don’t worry, love. I won’t be gentle”

If Branden had been experienced or quite the lover in the bedroom, Games of Command would be a very different story indeed, and the bond Branden and Sass have with one another wouldn’t be the same. I was very interested to see why Linnea decided to make Branden inexperienced, and Linnea so graciously answered some questions I had:

Kate: What made you decide to make Kel- Paten a virgin?

Linnea: That’s a long and complicated answer, and one I blogged about  after a recent discussion. The short of it is that it was never my intention to create a virgin hero. It was my intention to create Branden Kel-Paten, a bio-cybe, half-human, and out of that logical characterization came the realization that he was more than likely extremely sexually inexperienced based on the character as I knew him. It was a logical outflow from who and what he was. That is, I didn’t say, oh, let’s do this virgin guy and hmm, now what should he be like and what kinds of things have happened to him in the past? Rather, it was this was his childhood and background and experiences and oh, gosh-golly-gee, he’s a virgin.

Kel-Paten was sheltered. He was also ostracized. He was not unlike someone’s exotic prized pet, only he was also very deadly. His lethal skills were far more encouraged than his social skills. And he was, essentially, the only one of his kind (or so he was always told). So it wasn’t as if he could find acceptance in someone like him. There were no others like him. When you add to that the fact that emotions were programmed out of him—or at least control of emotions was a huge part of his programming, that created a character with not only no ability to get involved in a relationship, he wouldn’t know how to get involved if he found a relationship (as GAMES OF COMMAND rather neatly details.)

Of course, since a relationship-especially with Sass—was something he desperately wanted, he spent a lot of time circumventing all that programming and all that training.

He did a lot of reading. But theory is often a far cry from practice.

Kate: What’s your opinion on virgin heroes? Do you have any favorites?

Linnea: Kel-Paten’s the only virgin hero I know of, honestly.

Overall as a point of characterization, I think it’s an interesting twist and not unrealistic, even today. There are people today who opt for abstinence until marriage—or forever—because of religious, ethical or medical reasons. Our views of virginity, sexual experience or promiscuity are strictly and solely cultural. Why should we assume other planetary cultures would hold our same views?

I also don’t view sexual intimacy as the epitome of a relationship or of love. I think it’s a valuable part or can be a valuable part of a relationship. But it’s far from the only part. If given the choice between a relationship with a man who loved me, respected me and honored me—but there would be no sexual intimacy—and one with a man who was a veritable sex machine but didn’t love, honor or respect me, I’d gladly take the former.

Actually, Sully in Gabriel’s Ghost—while not a virgin—was a monk for many years and was celibate during that time. Hmm. Maybe I see a trend…

Kate: Thanks Linnea! Perhaps this will be a trend we will see more so in the future.

What about you? Do you have any favorite love scenes with virgins or inexperienced characters?

21 Responses to “Pure of Heart As Well As Body by Kate Garrabrant”

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  1. Marisa
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 7:12 am

    Kate, this is great and thanks Linnea for taking the time to answer the questions! I agree with you – if I had to choose, I would definitely pick the relationship with a man who loved, respected and honored me. I’d hope that he was a veritable sex machine – BUT, if it was a choice between the man who loved me and the man who didn’t love or respect me – well having love and respect will win hands down every time.

    I’m not sure I can remember a favorite love scene with an inexperienced character off the top of my head, however, I do love Matthew and Grace’s (Untouched) first time. I usually find the arc of the H&H’s journey and their relationship with each other is what makes the love scenes exciting for me. If I’m invested in them than I’m certainly invested in how they come together.

    I haven’t read Games of Command – but it’s certainly going on my TBP pile – Branden sounds like the kind of hero I’d like to know more about.

  2. Gannon
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 7:57 am

    Great blog, Kate! Isn’t Linnea great? PJ and I had the pleasure of meeting her at Celebrate Romance earlier this year, and I thought she was a hoot! I haven’t read Games of Command yet, but now that I know a little bit more about the story, I’ll definitely have to read it. Branden sounds like a really intriguing hero.

    Favorite love scene with a virgin? I’ll have to go with Jamie–more in my blog this afternoon. Although, Jamie had never made love before, he had experience with kissing, unlike Branden. It was great to see Claire become breathless from “virgin” Jamie’s kisses. 🙂 Never underestimate the power of kissing.

  3. Stacy ~
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:03 am

    OMG, I just have to read this book! Kate, what a fabulous review you’ve written, and I’m fascinated by Branden and his long-time love for Lady Sass. I think it speaks about the talent of an author if she can take a virgin who’s felt so strongly about someone for so long, and make that virgin the hero instead of the heroine. The idea of such a hero might come across as weak, make him sound insipid, but not in this case. He sounds wonderful, and it’s now at the top of my TBB list.

    Thanx Kate & Linnea for your wonderful post on virgin heroes. You both did an amazing job of conveying the level of caring and intimacy Branden felt for Tasha, and how he’s happy just to be with her any way he can get her. As for favorite scene, I can’t think of any particular one that sticks out in my mind other than Matthew’s from “Untouched”, mostly because I just re-read it. I do like William Montgomery’s experience in Jude Deveraux’ “The Invitation”, mostly because he was like a kid in a candy store LOL. He totally loved it, and it was fun to read about.

  4. Buffie
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:03 am

    Wow, Kate, what a great blog!!! I haven’t read any of Linnea’s books, but this has sure peaked my interest 😉

    My favorite love scene with a virgin would have to be the first time Sin and Callie make love (from BORN IN SIN). The tenderness that Sin exhibits while trying to cage his passion is just so breath taking. The love literally lifts right off the page and into the reader’s heart and soul. Needless to say, Sin in my favorite virgin hero and you will read more about him tomorrow.

  5. Stacy ~
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:17 am

    Is “Games of Command” part of a series?

  6. Kati
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:37 am

    Terrific blog and interview, Kate! I like the Linnea created Branden as a virgin because it was what rang true to her about his character. Sounds like she created a wonderful hero!

    Favorite love scene with a virgin? Heh, The Needing with Zsadist and Bella. Which is why I wrote about him. Love that scene.

  7. katiebabs
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:41 am

    Games of Command is a stand alone book. I loved how Branden was very much into kissing Sass. Rather than him coping a feel, he rather do some major lips action instead.
    Also I must mention that Sully in Gabriel’s Ghost was a monk and abstained from sex for a long time. So that is another book with a hero who isn’t an inter space man ho.

  8. Andrea
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 8:55 am

    What a great blog, Kate! I’ve never read a Sci-Fi romance before (never had an interest), but you’ve made this one really appealing. I like that Branden has loved her for so long and waited for her. Wow, what a guy! I will look for this book the next time I’m at the bookstore. Thanks, Kate! 🙂

  9. Ana
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 9:36 am

    All of Linnea’s heroes are awesome but Kel-Paten has a special place in my heart. Games of Command is so good , one of my favorites sci-fi romance books. Maybe it is time for a re-read.

    Great post, Katie.

  10. Mistress
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 10:08 am

    My favorite virgin hero is Taj from Exiled by Kaitlyn O’Connor. Makes perfect sense for the alien ruled society he lives in and heightens the delicious sexual tension as the the plot thickens. It’s beautiful the way Danica becomes; his friend, his salvation, and his love. I haven’t delved any deeper into Sci-Fi Romance then O’Connor, I’ll have to acquaint myself with some of Linnea’s titles post haste. Awesome blog Katie.

  11. Marisa
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 10:14 am

    Mistress, I haven’t read Exiled so thanks for the heads up – I’ll have to check it out. I haven’t read much sci-fi romance so I’m excited about delving into this sub-genre.

  12. Maria Lokken
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 10:33 am

    Funny – you know I’m thinking about virgin heroes and in my mind, couldn’t remember all of them. Marisa just reminded me that Tobin in Jodi Thomas’ “Texas Princess” was a virgin. I read the book, and I loved the book – and yet, I couldn’t remember that he was a virgin – and I think the point here is that – the writing, the love story, the relationship sometimes makes me forget that the hero was a virgin, because in the end the story is about their love for each other.

  13. Linnea Sinclair
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 11:14 am

    Kate, thanks so much for introducing Branden Kel-Paten to all these people! I’m thrilled with the interest in his story and hope that many of you who’ve not read SFR before are willing to give it a try. Branden’s an AWESOME hero–he’s an interesting contrast of extreme power and total innocence. And then there are those love letters he wrote to Sass for almost eleven years–but never sent to her. ::sigh:: They were tagged to be sent to her only upon the occasion of his death. ::sigh::

    I think this is much to be said for a male protagonist who, in bed, doesn’t have all the textbook answers but rather views the intimate experience with the woman he loves as THE intimate experience. I mean, there’s nothing romantic about “Well, Suzy, Janie, Kate ;-), Lisa and Samantha all loved it when I touched them like that…why don’t you?”


    One of the fun things about SFR is that when you write other worlds, other alien cultures, you get to explore the possiblities of people like Branden Kel-Paten without readers going…Oh, that couldn’t happen here today. Because “today” and “here” are dependent fully upon the story–not upon what we know.

    If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Matrix, Men in Black ;-)…you’d like have no problem with any of the settings in my SFR books or others by Susan Grant (DO READ MOONSTRUCK!), Colby Hodge, Isabo Kelly, Robin Owens or others you can find on my lnks page on my site.

    Actually, I often get a grin when I do book signings and a reader will look at one of my books and say, “Oh, I can’t read science fiction and all that technical stuff.” So I ask her (or him): Do you have an iPod? (Yes.) Cell phone (Yes.) Garmin or Nav system in your car? (yes) DVD player? (Yes) Microwave oven (Yes). Laptop or computer? (Yes). And YOU THINK YOU CAN’T DEAL WITH THE TECHNICAL STUFF? Baby, you’re living the technical stuff. 😉

    Anyway, I have first chapters and sneak peeks of all my books on my site. Including some free short stories with Kel-Paten and Sass. Please do go say hello to my characters. They can’t wait to meet you all. ~Linnea

    PS: GAMES OF COMMAND was also a RITA award finalist last year for Best Paranormal. And GABRIEL’S GHOST (not a ghost story) won the 2006 RITA for Best Paranormal. So if you think SFR ain’t romantic enough, think again. 😉

  14. PJ
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 11:14 am

    Terrific blog, Kate! I haven’t read Linnea’s books yet (still working my way through the tbr mountain) but, as Gannon mentioned, we had a great time hanging out with her at CR. She’s an incredibly smart, sassy, fun and funny woman. I’ll look forward to reading this book!

    Btw, Kate, you aren’t the only one who loved Games of Command. It was a RITA finalist and won the 2007 PEARL award!

  15. PJ
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 11:16 am

    Hi Linnea! You were posting while I was typing! 🙂

  16. Maria Lokken
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 11:40 am

    Hi Linnea – thanks so much for stopping by. I’m actually one of the people who thought she couldn’t get involved with SciFi – then, about four years ago, my husband insisted I read one of his books. It was love at first page. Your books sound right up my alley – scifi and romance. Great combo.

  17. Marisa
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 11:41 am

    I think this is much to be said for a male protagonist who, in bed, doesn’t have all the textbook answers but rather views the intimate experience with the woman he loves as THE intimate experience. I mean, there’s nothing romantic about “Well, Suzy, Janie, Kate ;-), Lisa and Samantha all loved it when I touched them like that…why don’t you?”

    So true Linnea! I couldn’t agree more. And the thing I’ve been hearing all week about heroes – virgin or experienced – is that we love them that much more when they are a combination of, as you so eloquently put it, “extreme power and total innocence”.

  18. Carolyn Jean
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 12:23 pm

    Great post, and I love this hero and this fine book!

    It makes perfect sense that his being a virgin grew out of his character rather than a decision to just “make” him that way. Because he totally works–sexual inexperience felt so realistic for him, and I love how it showed his devotion. Sigh. I have to read this book again.

  19. Karin
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 4:11 pm

    This book sounds really fascinating. I have to agree that some of the best heroes are those who combine ‘extreme power and total innocence’. There’s just something so appealing about them.

  20. Maria Lokken
    on Dec 10th, 2008
    @ 5:04 pm

    Karin – ‘extreme power and total innocence’ some one should put that in a bottle and sell it.

  21. KristieJ
    on Dec 11th, 2008
    @ 9:20 am

    I loved, loved, loved Games of Command and one of the reasons is Branden – in fact I believe he’s one of ‘mine’ on the island 🙂 And I have to agree with Linnea. I’ve long been a fan of SFR!! I add my Hearty Thumbs Up to Games of Command and Branden

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