One of my old favorite books was a Debbie Macomber called STARLIGHT. I had the great fortune to meet her at a Fort Lauderdale conference three years ago and told her it was my favorite of hers. She laughed and then told me it was her very first published book. We talked about how nowadays the book probably wouldn’t be published or at least not without some big changes. Why? Because the hero was legally blind and was a bastard (figuratively). But that wasn’t necessarily the reason. There were two scenes that involved the hero being under the influence of alcohol and doing things unacceptable. I can’t remember if the hero smoked--it’s been a long time since I read it--but when it was published in the 80’s, it wasn’t unusual to read a cowboy or two who did.
Have you noticed you rarely read a romance where the hero or heroine gets drunk or smokes? Sure you can probably come across one or two out of hundred or more books where the hero drinks or smokes but rarely the heroine. I admit I read more paranormal and historical than anything. So maybe that’s the reason. And I figure authors are trying to be PC and not romanticize such bad habits.
Anyway, this all came to mind because of a wonderful book I recently read, the hero smoked a cigarette whenever he was stressed out. Then I realized in all the books I’ve written, not one character drank to an excess or smoked. What a great device to use on occasion to create tension or make a point. How strange I never thought to use it. Hmmm.