I don’t need any charts to tell you that one of the essential components of MC smut is that the heroes are extremely domineering. It’s fun because the heroes (many, but not all) might be terrible womanizers who are allergic to the word “relationship,” but when they meet the woman they want, it’s DONE.
Actually it’s probably more like:
Thus, we are typically looking at a certain level of one-sided courtship. The areas where there is still contention in the relationship tend to revolve around “What does this relationship actually involve?” and “Is it monogamous?”
Point the first: Biker dudes do not go on dates (I mean, some do, but not really). Relationship development centers on clubhouse parties and men showing up (uninvited) for meals and drinks at the heroine’s house. The romance romance is…seriously low key.
Now, on to those other questions, which are explored during the relationship development that does not occur on romantic dates…
I have found it interesting that most of the time the hero – willingly or unwillingly – wants a monogamous relationship. (It seems like there’s no question that the heroine always expects a monogamous relationship.) Even the two or three heroes I can think of who explicitly at first said they didn’t want to promise fidelity also don’t want anyone else after they’ve met the heroine. This is usually because there’s something about the heroine’s personality that they find intriguing (i.e. it’s not all about sex). Be she feisty or mousy (and it’s definitely mostly feisty), she’s got his attention, and he’s got eyes for no one else.
Therefore, most of the tension surrounding the question of “is it monogamous” tends to derive from citizen heroines being introduced to the club for the first time and seeing the debauchery that occurs. Instead of delving into this, I’ll simply say that this is one area where these books tend to buy into the idea that women need to prevent men from succumbing to their sexual animal natures. Because if a scantily clad woman is traipsing around the clubhouse, he just won’t be able to control his horniness (obviously). In the end, the hero and heroine do get to the point where she trusts him to be faithful to her because they really love one another. But until they get there, the “boys will be boys” perspective that some of these heroines have is extremely…off-putting. (Please see also the women vs. women relationships discussed in last week’s post…)
Jumping back up to the “she’s mine” mentality and the question of “what does this relationship actually involve?” it’s maybe not fun because, even when a moment is kind of swoonworthy, there’s a cringe factor when the hero categorically refuses to take no for an answer from the heroine. What the relationship involves is: he’s decided they’re together, he’s probably decided she’s his property (if the author gets into that language, which not all do), and her opinion on the matter doesn’t really factor.
No, that’s not quite right. This type of romance definitely uses the she-says-no-but-doesn’t-really-mean-it gambit, and of course when she says no, the hero knows she’s not being honest. It’s something that’s fallen out of favor in other areas of romance, given the consent and respect issues associated with it, but not in MC romance. Depending on the author, the hero might back off for a little while, because the heroine’s a citizen and she needs to get used to the idea of the club mentality, but it’s definitely a strategic retreat. He’s not really going to let her go. It’s all about bringing her around to his viewpoint and culture. There is almost never a grovel. In fact, I can’t think of one off the top of my head.
Usually there are some other dangerous shenanigans going on, so the hero and the club need to provide protection to the heroine. She might shy from this, but especially in the case of citizens engaging with criminal MCs, the counter-argument is typically something along the lines of, “Woman, you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, you are way out of your depth, and I am in a position to protect you. And I’m going to protect you.” In which case there’s also a bit of forced proximity that will keep the heroine with the hero while she becomes accustomed to the idea of belonging to a domineering biker dude.
As I said when talking about MC heroes, this is definitely a romance that speaks to the wish fulfillment of being the one special woman who can tame the bad boy hero.
This relationship scene is probably also the best place to talk about the property patch.
As many of us would, almost all of the citizen women who become involved with the MC balk at wearing a property patch, so it’s no surprise that this is a conversation in the books that include women wearing property patches. These heroines don’t even necessarily buy into the idea after other old ladies explain the situation to them, but they always come around to feeling honored to become the hero’s property. As it were.
The idea is this: any woman who wears the property patch both reflects on the club and is protected by the club. Only women who are worthy of representing the club and having that protection will become old ladies and get the patch, and everyone will know what it means just by looking at the woman wearing the property patch. This is often especially important in club culture, because women wearing patches are protected from bikers in other clubs or from other chapters of the same club. Which is its own kind of problematic, considering that women really shouldn’t need a property patch to feel safe at a party, but this is not an in depth discussion of property patches, so I won’t get into that.
Anyway, I guess we can think of the property patch as a much more visible version of getting a guy’s class ring.
In short, even if there’s an instant connection, the romance still evolves such that the hero realizes that he not only wants the heroine, he loves her, and he wants a monogamous relationship with her, while the heroine realizes that she wants the hero the way he is, trusts him, and will love him for who he is.
Next time, we’ll talk sexytimes! See you then!
The rest of Erin’s series on MC romance can be found here.