At the start of my career as a romantic comedy author, I vowed I would never
write a TSTL heroine.
For those unfamiliar with the lingo, TSTL is not some sort of bondage-related
acronym (though for the record, I’d cheerfully write a heroine with those
TSTL stands for “too stupid to live,” and trademarks of a TSTL heroine include
stamping her pretty little foot in anger, tiptoeing alone in a negligee into a
dark basement to find a serial killer, and bumping uglies with her new beau
after forgetting to wrap the kielbasa.
I’m committed to portraying safe sex in all my books, but the fact that my
characters sometimes get busy in unpredictable places forces me to be creative
with my placement of love gloves.
My first book in the Front and Center series with Entangled Publishing
was MARINE FOR HIRE, and
the initial sex scene took place in a shower after the hero rescued the heroine
from a shrapnel attack that turned out to be a kitchen mishap with a blender and
Because nothing says “romance” like beet puree.
At any rate, I initially wrote the shower sex scene with the heroine explaining
she’d gotten an IUD following the birth of her twins. Realizing that didn’t
protect her from various forms of crotch cooties, I went searching for a spot to
stash a box of baby batter blockers.
My hunt took me all the way back to the first chapter, where the heroine was
having coffee with her brassy best friend, Kelli, (a woman who got her own book
with Fiancée for Hire). I left Kelli in charge of ensuring Sherri stayed safe
100 pages later:
“No way.” Sheri shoved her mug away. “The last guy you
tried to fix me up with asked me to starch his dress whites
on the first date.”
“Lesson learned,” Kelli said. “No more military men for you, I swear.”
“No more men, period. Not right now.”
Kelli shrugged. “Sooner or later, you need to get
your mojo back. I stashed a box of super-magnum-jumbo
condoms in your medicine cabinet for when the time comes.
“You’re hopeless.” Sheri grinned. “I promise I’ll let
you know when I’m ready to embrace my inner slut.”
So that took care of business for Sheri.
But when the time came to write the third book in the series, things got more
complicated. BEST MAN FOR
HIRE was just released December 29, and as luck would have it, the book
includes a scene where Grant and Anna decide to get frisky in the ocean. Writing
that interlude required several Google searches I encourage you not to perform
at work unless you enjoy seeing ads for crotchless panties and nudist resorts.
But I persevered, and learned that several fashion designers make bikini bottoms
with pockets. I also discovered that salami slings are effective in saltwater,
given the right set of circumstances:
“So conscientious,” Anna murmured, kissing his neck.
“Such a responsible, upstanding citizen.”
“Who’s about to do something highly illegal,” Grant
murmured, not caring all that much.
She drew back again, fingers laced behind his neck as
Grant slid the condom on as discreetly as possible. Was this
even safe in saltwater? He wasn’t sure, but part of him didn’t
“I googled it, in case you’re wondering. As long as you
maintain an erection the whole time so the condom doesn’t
slip off, we should be safe.”
“Leave it to you,” he murmured, not sure if he meant the
preemptive research or her frankness about the whole thing.
“Are you complaining?” she asked.
“God, no. Though I sure as hell hope those people on
the beach don’t complain to the police.”
Voila! Safe sex.
Now for the next order of business. Where shall I stash the willie warmers in a
remote mountain cabin for the next book in the series?
Tawna Fenske is an author of quirky romantic comedies, including newly-released
BEST MAN FOR HIRE from
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