AAW — favorite themes

Anne here, and this month's "Ask-a-Wench" question is: Are there any particular subjects or themes that you often return to in your novels?

We start with Mary Jo: Themes I return to over and over are reconciliation and second chances.  I like characters who have faced great adversity, maybe even broken under the strain, yet manage to heal and become "stronger in the mended places."  This covers my many tortured heroes, and a goodly number of tortured heroines as well. SpiralPath

I suppose the most intense version that I've written is Kenzie Scott, the hero of my recently re-released contemporary novel, The Spiral Path.  He had a childhood that is described by another character as "about as bad as you can imagine."  In the world of illusion that is the movies, he's become a major star of action and adventure movies, a magnetic and enigmatic celebrity.

And then, because he's a celebrity and a target of resentment, his life shatters and he has to rebuild it again on a more solid foundation.   The woman he loves helps him, and he helps her with her own not insignificant issues.  They and their marriage create second chances as they come to terms with their lives–and a deeper happiness that will carry them through anything the future might bring.  

MagicInStarsPat says:  Underlying all my stories, in some form or another, there are themes about prejudice, keeping an open mind, and working together. I’m not sure it’s possible to write a romance without those themes showing up. My Malcolm witches may sneer at pragmatic Ives men and vice versa—until they’re forced to work together and realize that they’re better as one whole than two separate parts. My Mystic supermen disdain the weak chaos of war-torn Europe, but ultimately, they learn to appreciate the freedom necessary to reform.

My characters are sometimes scorned by society for their beliefs, their name, or their lack of wealth. They may think themselves short and frumpy or frivolous, weak, and of no importance—until someone comes along and shows them how important they really are, and that they really matter. Everyone is different. We all have flaws, but we need to be reminded occasionally of our strengths. Instead of tearing each other down, we ought to be reaching out and building each other up. Lady&TheLaird

And now for Nicola: Like a number of other Wenches I do like the theme of reconciliation. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve written where there is an element of old flames being rekindled. It’s a trope I first became interested in after reading Persuasion, by Jane Austen. I like the idea of second chances, and that you can change, grow and see things – and people – in a different light. Perhaps deep down I’m hoping that if we make mistakes they can sometimes be put right!

I also like exploring the idea that there is more below the surface than meets the eye. Sometimes my characters make judgements about each other based on assumptions and I love to challenge that and look at what lies beneath. My Scottish Brides trilogy featured a lot of the these I enjoy reading and writing about. The Lady and the Laird was an old flames story and One Night with the Laird was a look-beneath-the-surface story.

MurderBlackSwanAndrea/Cara says: I tend to write characters who don’t fit neatly into the conventions of their society and chafe against the rules and restrictions in order to stay true to themselves. It’s not easy being different—having an imagination that takes them to places others don’t go, or having dreams that don’t conform to the expected pathways proscribed by the usual order of things takes courage. And so rebellion can’t help but be a source of conflict, stirring self-doubt, fears, loneliness as they march to the beat of their own drummer. How they fight to find their place in the world is a theme that weaves into my books in a number of different forms. Love is, of course, the ultimate and elemental source of strength and redemption for them, no matter the trials they endure. Even in my latest release, Murder on Black Swan Lane, which is mystery where romance is a less obvious part of the story, love and friendship is a subtle thread that weaves through the story, giving strength and support to both the heroine and hero,as well as the secondary characters, and ultimately allowing them to triumph against adversity.

The "Second Chances” trope also is one I enjoy working with. I think few of us go through life without making mistakes, and I like to believe that happy endings don’t always have to follow a simple, straight path to happen. Sometimes the twists and turns and bumps in the road can make them that much sweeter when finally you overcome all the obstacles standing in the way. ForbiddenRose

Joanna says: Half on purpose, half unconsciously, I work with a couple themes again and again. I do distrust simple answers to complex problems.

Sometimes we give our support to imperfect people and institutions. I try to build ambiguity into my fictive world. Fr’insance, in Forbidden Rose, Hawker and Doyle come to a greenhouse at the ruined chateau that’s been ransacked by the Revolutionaries. The plants destroyed. The glass broken, pane by pane.

Hawker: “The boys in that stinking little village waited years to do this.”

Doyle: “Did they?”

Hawker: “They dreamed of it. They’d sit in those pig houses in the village with the shutters closed and the wind leaking in. When they were cold, they’d think about these fancy weeds up here, being coddled, all warm and happy behind glass. They were freezing in the dark. Up here, they were growing flowers.”

Doyle: “That’s solved, then. No more flowers.”

Sometimes there are no easy answers and men and women of good will disagree. I want to give the characters different and conflicting beliefs. It’s part of making them uncomfortable, which is good, from a writer’s point of view.

CaptiveLadyBlueAnd back to Anne: Looking back over my books, I realize the theme I most often return to is "redemption thorough love." I might write about a character who can't let go of the past, a character who's been damaged by something they did or was done to them, perhaps something for which they can't forgive themselves. Sometimes a character is on a negative pathway in life because of the choices he's made or the situation he's found himself in and how he's reacted to that. Perhaps he's been judged (or misjudged) and decides to live up to that false view of himself — until he falls in love. 

Falling for the heroine (or hero) is the catalyst that begins this process of change.

Love for another forces them to confront the demons of their past, to try something different, to forgive—themselves as well as others—the past and move forward. As we all know, changing our behavior, our attitudes, our beliefs and our habits is not easy, simple or painless, but a true hero or heroine will try, struggle, and eventually succeed. It's one of the things about romance I love most — the celebration of hope and love and the courage to change our lives for the better. Probably the most intense example of this was in my book, His Captive Lady, which explores the power of love and redemption on several levels.

Over to you, wenchly readers— tell us a favorite theme of yours in romance (or any kind of literature) — and a book that explores it.

130 thoughts on “AAW — favorite themes”

  1. I don’t think I have a favorite theme. Although when I look at my comfort reads (books that I re-read when I want a sure thing), most of them do involve reconciliation or redemption. I do enjoy stories that are more character driven than high adventure. I even prefer the villains just be deeply flawed as opposed to truly evil.
    BTW Anne, HIS CAPTIVE LADY is one of my all time favorite comfort reads. The book that I am reading right now is similar in nature. It is AUTUMN ROSE by Marjorie Farrell. She is a new author to me although this book was written over 20 years ago (thank you ebooks). It is the story of a woman who feels abandoned when her mother dies and her father remarries. She runs off with her lover who dies before they can marry, but not before she becomes pregnant. The story picks up 20 years later when her daughter has fallen in love with an Earl (oh-oh).
    Great post you guys.

    Reply
  2. I don’t think I have a favorite theme. Although when I look at my comfort reads (books that I re-read when I want a sure thing), most of them do involve reconciliation or redemption. I do enjoy stories that are more character driven than high adventure. I even prefer the villains just be deeply flawed as opposed to truly evil.
    BTW Anne, HIS CAPTIVE LADY is one of my all time favorite comfort reads. The book that I am reading right now is similar in nature. It is AUTUMN ROSE by Marjorie Farrell. She is a new author to me although this book was written over 20 years ago (thank you ebooks). It is the story of a woman who feels abandoned when her mother dies and her father remarries. She runs off with her lover who dies before they can marry, but not before she becomes pregnant. The story picks up 20 years later when her daughter has fallen in love with an Earl (oh-oh).
    Great post you guys.

    Reply
  3. I don’t think I have a favorite theme. Although when I look at my comfort reads (books that I re-read when I want a sure thing), most of them do involve reconciliation or redemption. I do enjoy stories that are more character driven than high adventure. I even prefer the villains just be deeply flawed as opposed to truly evil.
    BTW Anne, HIS CAPTIVE LADY is one of my all time favorite comfort reads. The book that I am reading right now is similar in nature. It is AUTUMN ROSE by Marjorie Farrell. She is a new author to me although this book was written over 20 years ago (thank you ebooks). It is the story of a woman who feels abandoned when her mother dies and her father remarries. She runs off with her lover who dies before they can marry, but not before she becomes pregnant. The story picks up 20 years later when her daughter has fallen in love with an Earl (oh-oh).
    Great post you guys.

    Reply
  4. I don’t think I have a favorite theme. Although when I look at my comfort reads (books that I re-read when I want a sure thing), most of them do involve reconciliation or redemption. I do enjoy stories that are more character driven than high adventure. I even prefer the villains just be deeply flawed as opposed to truly evil.
    BTW Anne, HIS CAPTIVE LADY is one of my all time favorite comfort reads. The book that I am reading right now is similar in nature. It is AUTUMN ROSE by Marjorie Farrell. She is a new author to me although this book was written over 20 years ago (thank you ebooks). It is the story of a woman who feels abandoned when her mother dies and her father remarries. She runs off with her lover who dies before they can marry, but not before she becomes pregnant. The story picks up 20 years later when her daughter has fallen in love with an Earl (oh-oh).
    Great post you guys.

    Reply
  5. I don’t think I have a favorite theme. Although when I look at my comfort reads (books that I re-read when I want a sure thing), most of them do involve reconciliation or redemption. I do enjoy stories that are more character driven than high adventure. I even prefer the villains just be deeply flawed as opposed to truly evil.
    BTW Anne, HIS CAPTIVE LADY is one of my all time favorite comfort reads. The book that I am reading right now is similar in nature. It is AUTUMN ROSE by Marjorie Farrell. She is a new author to me although this book was written over 20 years ago (thank you ebooks). It is the story of a woman who feels abandoned when her mother dies and her father remarries. She runs off with her lover who dies before they can marry, but not before she becomes pregnant. The story picks up 20 years later when her daughter has fallen in love with an Earl (oh-oh).
    Great post you guys.

    Reply
  6. If I must think about a favourite theme I believe I prefer a turning point in life, like in Chance Sisters’s series, I find it very comforting, to think in whatever moment it could happen something special, marvellous that turns one’s life upside down. Then of course every romance book it’s about it, about finding finally true love and living happily ever after ( so differently and better )

    Reply
  7. If I must think about a favourite theme I believe I prefer a turning point in life, like in Chance Sisters’s series, I find it very comforting, to think in whatever moment it could happen something special, marvellous that turns one’s life upside down. Then of course every romance book it’s about it, about finding finally true love and living happily ever after ( so differently and better )

    Reply
  8. If I must think about a favourite theme I believe I prefer a turning point in life, like in Chance Sisters’s series, I find it very comforting, to think in whatever moment it could happen something special, marvellous that turns one’s life upside down. Then of course every romance book it’s about it, about finding finally true love and living happily ever after ( so differently and better )

    Reply
  9. If I must think about a favourite theme I believe I prefer a turning point in life, like in Chance Sisters’s series, I find it very comforting, to think in whatever moment it could happen something special, marvellous that turns one’s life upside down. Then of course every romance book it’s about it, about finding finally true love and living happily ever after ( so differently and better )

    Reply
  10. If I must think about a favourite theme I believe I prefer a turning point in life, like in Chance Sisters’s series, I find it very comforting, to think in whatever moment it could happen something special, marvellous that turns one’s life upside down. Then of course every romance book it’s about it, about finding finally true love and living happily ever after ( so differently and better )

    Reply
  11. Appearances are deceptive theme is always interesting to see how a skillful author can present a character in circumstances that show the person in either a good or not so good light. As the story unfolds the the core values show up for better or worse.
    Examples: Darcy and Whickham in “Pride and Prejudice”, the abusive couple in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” who present themselves as the “Christian benefactors” of a group of boys in an orphanage. The late Jo Beverley’s character, Rothgar, in her Malloran series who sometimes looks like the villain because he is so exacting and will not take any interference in any form toward himself or those he loves. He’s a killer when necessary, but it comes from clearing his life of vicious manipulation.

    Reply
  12. Appearances are deceptive theme is always interesting to see how a skillful author can present a character in circumstances that show the person in either a good or not so good light. As the story unfolds the the core values show up for better or worse.
    Examples: Darcy and Whickham in “Pride and Prejudice”, the abusive couple in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” who present themselves as the “Christian benefactors” of a group of boys in an orphanage. The late Jo Beverley’s character, Rothgar, in her Malloran series who sometimes looks like the villain because he is so exacting and will not take any interference in any form toward himself or those he loves. He’s a killer when necessary, but it comes from clearing his life of vicious manipulation.

    Reply
  13. Appearances are deceptive theme is always interesting to see how a skillful author can present a character in circumstances that show the person in either a good or not so good light. As the story unfolds the the core values show up for better or worse.
    Examples: Darcy and Whickham in “Pride and Prejudice”, the abusive couple in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” who present themselves as the “Christian benefactors” of a group of boys in an orphanage. The late Jo Beverley’s character, Rothgar, in her Malloran series who sometimes looks like the villain because he is so exacting and will not take any interference in any form toward himself or those he loves. He’s a killer when necessary, but it comes from clearing his life of vicious manipulation.

    Reply
  14. Appearances are deceptive theme is always interesting to see how a skillful author can present a character in circumstances that show the person in either a good or not so good light. As the story unfolds the the core values show up for better or worse.
    Examples: Darcy and Whickham in “Pride and Prejudice”, the abusive couple in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” who present themselves as the “Christian benefactors” of a group of boys in an orphanage. The late Jo Beverley’s character, Rothgar, in her Malloran series who sometimes looks like the villain because he is so exacting and will not take any interference in any form toward himself or those he loves. He’s a killer when necessary, but it comes from clearing his life of vicious manipulation.

    Reply
  15. Appearances are deceptive theme is always interesting to see how a skillful author can present a character in circumstances that show the person in either a good or not so good light. As the story unfolds the the core values show up for better or worse.
    Examples: Darcy and Whickham in “Pride and Prejudice”, the abusive couple in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” who present themselves as the “Christian benefactors” of a group of boys in an orphanage. The late Jo Beverley’s character, Rothgar, in her Malloran series who sometimes looks like the villain because he is so exacting and will not take any interference in any form toward himself or those he loves. He’s a killer when necessary, but it comes from clearing his life of vicious manipulation.

    Reply
  16. I like many themes, but these two are my favourite: May/december & marriage-on-the-rocks. The latter one is similar to the second chances or reconciliation, and I enjoy them as well, but there is just something about a married couple working out their problems that appeals to me.

    Reply
  17. I like many themes, but these two are my favourite: May/december & marriage-on-the-rocks. The latter one is similar to the second chances or reconciliation, and I enjoy them as well, but there is just something about a married couple working out their problems that appeals to me.

    Reply
  18. I like many themes, but these two are my favourite: May/december & marriage-on-the-rocks. The latter one is similar to the second chances or reconciliation, and I enjoy them as well, but there is just something about a married couple working out their problems that appeals to me.

    Reply
  19. I like many themes, but these two are my favourite: May/december & marriage-on-the-rocks. The latter one is similar to the second chances or reconciliation, and I enjoy them as well, but there is just something about a married couple working out their problems that appeals to me.

    Reply
  20. I like many themes, but these two are my favourite: May/december & marriage-on-the-rocks. The latter one is similar to the second chances or reconciliation, and I enjoy them as well, but there is just something about a married couple working out their problems that appeals to me.

    Reply
  21. By far my favorite theme is second chances/rekindling old flames. I’ve found some wonderful new authors because of my knee-jerk inclination to click on the buy button whenever I see the right key words…like “old flame,” “childhood sweetheart,” variations of the one who got away, and so on. Fun topic!
    Cheers, Faith

    Reply
  22. By far my favorite theme is second chances/rekindling old flames. I’ve found some wonderful new authors because of my knee-jerk inclination to click on the buy button whenever I see the right key words…like “old flame,” “childhood sweetheart,” variations of the one who got away, and so on. Fun topic!
    Cheers, Faith

    Reply
  23. By far my favorite theme is second chances/rekindling old flames. I’ve found some wonderful new authors because of my knee-jerk inclination to click on the buy button whenever I see the right key words…like “old flame,” “childhood sweetheart,” variations of the one who got away, and so on. Fun topic!
    Cheers, Faith

    Reply
  24. By far my favorite theme is second chances/rekindling old flames. I’ve found some wonderful new authors because of my knee-jerk inclination to click on the buy button whenever I see the right key words…like “old flame,” “childhood sweetheart,” variations of the one who got away, and so on. Fun topic!
    Cheers, Faith

    Reply
  25. By far my favorite theme is second chances/rekindling old flames. I’ve found some wonderful new authors because of my knee-jerk inclination to click on the buy button whenever I see the right key words…like “old flame,” “childhood sweetheart,” variations of the one who got away, and so on. Fun topic!
    Cheers, Faith

    Reply
  26. Reconciliation and redemption themes are my favorite, particularly those that involve reunited lovers. I’m also a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. But in the hands of the right author, almost any theme works for me. I say that amnesia, love triangles, and billionaires are tropes I don’t like, but all of those are represented on my keeper shelves because the the author told a story that was larger than my biases.

    Reply
  27. Reconciliation and redemption themes are my favorite, particularly those that involve reunited lovers. I’m also a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. But in the hands of the right author, almost any theme works for me. I say that amnesia, love triangles, and billionaires are tropes I don’t like, but all of those are represented on my keeper shelves because the the author told a story that was larger than my biases.

    Reply
  28. Reconciliation and redemption themes are my favorite, particularly those that involve reunited lovers. I’m also a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. But in the hands of the right author, almost any theme works for me. I say that amnesia, love triangles, and billionaires are tropes I don’t like, but all of those are represented on my keeper shelves because the the author told a story that was larger than my biases.

    Reply
  29. Reconciliation and redemption themes are my favorite, particularly those that involve reunited lovers. I’m also a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. But in the hands of the right author, almost any theme works for me. I say that amnesia, love triangles, and billionaires are tropes I don’t like, but all of those are represented on my keeper shelves because the the author told a story that was larger than my biases.

    Reply
  30. Reconciliation and redemption themes are my favorite, particularly those that involve reunited lovers. I’m also a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. But in the hands of the right author, almost any theme works for me. I say that amnesia, love triangles, and billionaires are tropes I don’t like, but all of those are represented on my keeper shelves because the the author told a story that was larger than my biases.

    Reply
  31. As many have said here, any theme is great when the author does it well. I tend to like second chances quite well. But there is one situation not mentioned here: When the over-manipulative, self-centered woman (frequently an older woman) gets her downfall.

    Reply
  32. As many have said here, any theme is great when the author does it well. I tend to like second chances quite well. But there is one situation not mentioned here: When the over-manipulative, self-centered woman (frequently an older woman) gets her downfall.

    Reply
  33. As many have said here, any theme is great when the author does it well. I tend to like second chances quite well. But there is one situation not mentioned here: When the over-manipulative, self-centered woman (frequently an older woman) gets her downfall.

    Reply
  34. As many have said here, any theme is great when the author does it well. I tend to like second chances quite well. But there is one situation not mentioned here: When the over-manipulative, self-centered woman (frequently an older woman) gets her downfall.

    Reply
  35. As many have said here, any theme is great when the author does it well. I tend to like second chances quite well. But there is one situation not mentioned here: When the over-manipulative, self-centered woman (frequently an older woman) gets her downfall.

    Reply
  36. I especially enjoy friends to lovers, married folks working it out, and second chances. HEA are required, but the journey of discovery and the work it takes to attain that HEA are what is interesting to me.

    Reply
  37. I especially enjoy friends to lovers, married folks working it out, and second chances. HEA are required, but the journey of discovery and the work it takes to attain that HEA are what is interesting to me.

    Reply
  38. I especially enjoy friends to lovers, married folks working it out, and second chances. HEA are required, but the journey of discovery and the work it takes to attain that HEA are what is interesting to me.

    Reply
  39. I especially enjoy friends to lovers, married folks working it out, and second chances. HEA are required, but the journey of discovery and the work it takes to attain that HEA are what is interesting to me.

    Reply
  40. I especially enjoy friends to lovers, married folks working it out, and second chances. HEA are required, but the journey of discovery and the work it takes to attain that HEA are what is interesting to me.

    Reply
  41. Thank you, Mary — I think the books we keep and reread probably do contain themes that resonate deeply within us. I’m glad you reread my Nell and Harry — it was a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Thanks, too for the Marjorie Farrel recommendation — I’ll check it out.

    Reply
  42. Thank you, Mary — I think the books we keep and reread probably do contain themes that resonate deeply within us. I’m glad you reread my Nell and Harry — it was a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Thanks, too for the Marjorie Farrel recommendation — I’ll check it out.

    Reply
  43. Thank you, Mary — I think the books we keep and reread probably do contain themes that resonate deeply within us. I’m glad you reread my Nell and Harry — it was a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Thanks, too for the Marjorie Farrel recommendation — I’ll check it out.

    Reply
  44. Thank you, Mary — I think the books we keep and reread probably do contain themes that resonate deeply within us. I’m glad you reread my Nell and Harry — it was a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Thanks, too for the Marjorie Farrel recommendation — I’ll check it out.

    Reply
  45. Thank you, Mary — I think the books we keep and reread probably do contain themes that resonate deeply within us. I’m glad you reread my Nell and Harry — it was a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Thanks, too for the Marjorie Farrel recommendation — I’ll check it out.

    Reply
  46. Laura, I also enjoy finding the turning point in character’s lives. I can trace back several turning points in my own life, where I *know* with absolute certainty that my life changed in significant ways, and had that not moment not come, I would have been a different person.
    As well, it’s a common fantasy isn’t it, to be able to make a whole new start and live the kind of life you want to live. I never thought of it like that before I started writing — for me, the story and characters come first and the themes emerge.

    Reply
  47. Laura, I also enjoy finding the turning point in character’s lives. I can trace back several turning points in my own life, where I *know* with absolute certainty that my life changed in significant ways, and had that not moment not come, I would have been a different person.
    As well, it’s a common fantasy isn’t it, to be able to make a whole new start and live the kind of life you want to live. I never thought of it like that before I started writing — for me, the story and characters come first and the themes emerge.

    Reply
  48. Laura, I also enjoy finding the turning point in character’s lives. I can trace back several turning points in my own life, where I *know* with absolute certainty that my life changed in significant ways, and had that not moment not come, I would have been a different person.
    As well, it’s a common fantasy isn’t it, to be able to make a whole new start and live the kind of life you want to live. I never thought of it like that before I started writing — for me, the story and characters come first and the themes emerge.

    Reply
  49. Laura, I also enjoy finding the turning point in character’s lives. I can trace back several turning points in my own life, where I *know* with absolute certainty that my life changed in significant ways, and had that not moment not come, I would have been a different person.
    As well, it’s a common fantasy isn’t it, to be able to make a whole new start and live the kind of life you want to live. I never thought of it like that before I started writing — for me, the story and characters come first and the themes emerge.

    Reply
  50. Laura, I also enjoy finding the turning point in character’s lives. I can trace back several turning points in my own life, where I *know* with absolute certainty that my life changed in significant ways, and had that not moment not come, I would have been a different person.
    As well, it’s a common fantasy isn’t it, to be able to make a whole new start and live the kind of life you want to live. I never thought of it like that before I started writing — for me, the story and characters come first and the themes emerge.

    Reply
  51. I like that theme, too, Patricia — there’s an element of that in the book I’m writing at the moment. The hero actually says something like “Nobody is who they seem to be–nobody.” (He’s trying to warn the heroine off himself.)
    I think that was why Rothgar was such a hugely popular hero in the end — all through the previous books, where he was all grim and autocratic and seemingly cold to the bone — and all the while romance readers everywhere were aching for his redemption, for him to find the woman who would release the inner hero in him.

    Reply
  52. I like that theme, too, Patricia — there’s an element of that in the book I’m writing at the moment. The hero actually says something like “Nobody is who they seem to be–nobody.” (He’s trying to warn the heroine off himself.)
    I think that was why Rothgar was such a hugely popular hero in the end — all through the previous books, where he was all grim and autocratic and seemingly cold to the bone — and all the while romance readers everywhere were aching for his redemption, for him to find the woman who would release the inner hero in him.

    Reply
  53. I like that theme, too, Patricia — there’s an element of that in the book I’m writing at the moment. The hero actually says something like “Nobody is who they seem to be–nobody.” (He’s trying to warn the heroine off himself.)
    I think that was why Rothgar was such a hugely popular hero in the end — all through the previous books, where he was all grim and autocratic and seemingly cold to the bone — and all the while romance readers everywhere were aching for his redemption, for him to find the woman who would release the inner hero in him.

    Reply
  54. I like that theme, too, Patricia — there’s an element of that in the book I’m writing at the moment. The hero actually says something like “Nobody is who they seem to be–nobody.” (He’s trying to warn the heroine off himself.)
    I think that was why Rothgar was such a hugely popular hero in the end — all through the previous books, where he was all grim and autocratic and seemingly cold to the bone — and all the while romance readers everywhere were aching for his redemption, for him to find the woman who would release the inner hero in him.

    Reply
  55. I like that theme, too, Patricia — there’s an element of that in the book I’m writing at the moment. The hero actually says something like “Nobody is who they seem to be–nobody.” (He’s trying to warn the heroine off himself.)
    I think that was why Rothgar was such a hugely popular hero in the end — all through the previous books, where he was all grim and autocratic and seemingly cold to the bone — and all the while romance readers everywhere were aching for his redemption, for him to find the woman who would release the inner hero in him.

    Reply
  56. Natalija, the May/December marriage used to be more popular, didn’t it, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it came back in, though with a different slant on it. I’m thinking of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reversing the traditional May/December pairing.
    As for married couples working through their difficulties, I think that’s a perennially popular theme, as well as a useful one. Very few marriages succeed by accident.

    Reply
  57. Natalija, the May/December marriage used to be more popular, didn’t it, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it came back in, though with a different slant on it. I’m thinking of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reversing the traditional May/December pairing.
    As for married couples working through their difficulties, I think that’s a perennially popular theme, as well as a useful one. Very few marriages succeed by accident.

    Reply
  58. Natalija, the May/December marriage used to be more popular, didn’t it, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it came back in, though with a different slant on it. I’m thinking of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reversing the traditional May/December pairing.
    As for married couples working through their difficulties, I think that’s a perennially popular theme, as well as a useful one. Very few marriages succeed by accident.

    Reply
  59. Natalija, the May/December marriage used to be more popular, didn’t it, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it came back in, though with a different slant on it. I’m thinking of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reversing the traditional May/December pairing.
    As for married couples working through their difficulties, I think that’s a perennially popular theme, as well as a useful one. Very few marriages succeed by accident.

    Reply
  60. Natalija, the May/December marriage used to be more popular, didn’t it, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if it came back in, though with a different slant on it. I’m thinking of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reversing the traditional May/December pairing.
    As for married couples working through their difficulties, I think that’s a perennially popular theme, as well as a useful one. Very few marriages succeed by accident.

    Reply
  61. Thanks, Faith — yes, I think that knee-jerk reaction is a good indication of the themes that speak to you most clearly. I can’t resist a mail-order bride story, but have never written one because I don’t write westerns. There might, I suppose be a possibility for Regency England — I’ll give it some thought.
    As for the childhood sweetheart/ one that got away theme, I have that for a book -in-waiting — Maruc’s sstory (from the Devil Riders series)

    Reply
  62. Thanks, Faith — yes, I think that knee-jerk reaction is a good indication of the themes that speak to you most clearly. I can’t resist a mail-order bride story, but have never written one because I don’t write westerns. There might, I suppose be a possibility for Regency England — I’ll give it some thought.
    As for the childhood sweetheart/ one that got away theme, I have that for a book -in-waiting — Maruc’s sstory (from the Devil Riders series)

    Reply
  63. Thanks, Faith — yes, I think that knee-jerk reaction is a good indication of the themes that speak to you most clearly. I can’t resist a mail-order bride story, but have never written one because I don’t write westerns. There might, I suppose be a possibility for Regency England — I’ll give it some thought.
    As for the childhood sweetheart/ one that got away theme, I have that for a book -in-waiting — Maruc’s sstory (from the Devil Riders series)

    Reply
  64. Thanks, Faith — yes, I think that knee-jerk reaction is a good indication of the themes that speak to you most clearly. I can’t resist a mail-order bride story, but have never written one because I don’t write westerns. There might, I suppose be a possibility for Regency England — I’ll give it some thought.
    As for the childhood sweetheart/ one that got away theme, I have that for a book -in-waiting — Maruc’s sstory (from the Devil Riders series)

    Reply
  65. Thanks, Faith — yes, I think that knee-jerk reaction is a good indication of the themes that speak to you most clearly. I can’t resist a mail-order bride story, but have never written one because I don’t write westerns. There might, I suppose be a possibility for Regency England — I’ll give it some thought.
    As for the childhood sweetheart/ one that got away theme, I have that for a book -in-waiting — Maruc’s sstory (from the Devil Riders series)

    Reply
  66. Janga, I think you were one of the people who made me aware, early in my career, that though I wasn’t deliberately writing to a theme, there were strong themes in my books, regardless. I love discussions of themes and tropes now — I’m like a kid in a candy shop — I want to write that one — and that one, and ….

    Reply
  67. Janga, I think you were one of the people who made me aware, early in my career, that though I wasn’t deliberately writing to a theme, there were strong themes in my books, regardless. I love discussions of themes and tropes now — I’m like a kid in a candy shop — I want to write that one — and that one, and ….

    Reply
  68. Janga, I think you were one of the people who made me aware, early in my career, that though I wasn’t deliberately writing to a theme, there were strong themes in my books, regardless. I love discussions of themes and tropes now — I’m like a kid in a candy shop — I want to write that one — and that one, and ….

    Reply
  69. Janga, I think you were one of the people who made me aware, early in my career, that though I wasn’t deliberately writing to a theme, there were strong themes in my books, regardless. I love discussions of themes and tropes now — I’m like a kid in a candy shop — I want to write that one — and that one, and ….

    Reply
  70. Janga, I think you were one of the people who made me aware, early in my career, that though I wasn’t deliberately writing to a theme, there were strong themes in my books, regardless. I love discussions of themes and tropes now — I’m like a kid in a candy shop — I want to write that one — and that one, and ….

    Reply
  71. You’re right, Sue — a lot of the early romances depended heavily on the hero being in the toils of an overly sophisticated, possibly mean, woman who clearly didn’t deserve him. And the younger, more unsophisticated heroine who did. I think that’s dropped out of favor these days — maybe because it was overused for a while, and also maybe because it’s an easy conflict — blame it all on the other woman. I must say I sometimes got impatient with those heroes who were so clearly being led by the nose. *g*
    It’s a very popular trope, still, I think.

    Reply
  72. You’re right, Sue — a lot of the early romances depended heavily on the hero being in the toils of an overly sophisticated, possibly mean, woman who clearly didn’t deserve him. And the younger, more unsophisticated heroine who did. I think that’s dropped out of favor these days — maybe because it was overused for a while, and also maybe because it’s an easy conflict — blame it all on the other woman. I must say I sometimes got impatient with those heroes who were so clearly being led by the nose. *g*
    It’s a very popular trope, still, I think.

    Reply
  73. You’re right, Sue — a lot of the early romances depended heavily on the hero being in the toils of an overly sophisticated, possibly mean, woman who clearly didn’t deserve him. And the younger, more unsophisticated heroine who did. I think that’s dropped out of favor these days — maybe because it was overused for a while, and also maybe because it’s an easy conflict — blame it all on the other woman. I must say I sometimes got impatient with those heroes who were so clearly being led by the nose. *g*
    It’s a very popular trope, still, I think.

    Reply
  74. You’re right, Sue — a lot of the early romances depended heavily on the hero being in the toils of an overly sophisticated, possibly mean, woman who clearly didn’t deserve him. And the younger, more unsophisticated heroine who did. I think that’s dropped out of favor these days — maybe because it was overused for a while, and also maybe because it’s an easy conflict — blame it all on the other woman. I must say I sometimes got impatient with those heroes who were so clearly being led by the nose. *g*
    It’s a very popular trope, still, I think.

    Reply
  75. You’re right, Sue — a lot of the early romances depended heavily on the hero being in the toils of an overly sophisticated, possibly mean, woman who clearly didn’t deserve him. And the younger, more unsophisticated heroine who did. I think that’s dropped out of favor these days — maybe because it was overused for a while, and also maybe because it’s an easy conflict — blame it all on the other woman. I must say I sometimes got impatient with those heroes who were so clearly being led by the nose. *g*
    It’s a very popular trope, still, I think.

    Reply
  76. Kathy, that’s so true — whenever a non-romance person says to me, “But what’s the point? You know from the first chapter that these two people are going to end up together.” And I always say, it’s the journey they take to reach that HEA that’s the real story.

    Reply
  77. Kathy, that’s so true — whenever a non-romance person says to me, “But what’s the point? You know from the first chapter that these two people are going to end up together.” And I always say, it’s the journey they take to reach that HEA that’s the real story.

    Reply
  78. Kathy, that’s so true — whenever a non-romance person says to me, “But what’s the point? You know from the first chapter that these two people are going to end up together.” And I always say, it’s the journey they take to reach that HEA that’s the real story.

    Reply
  79. Kathy, that’s so true — whenever a non-romance person says to me, “But what’s the point? You know from the first chapter that these two people are going to end up together.” And I always say, it’s the journey they take to reach that HEA that’s the real story.

    Reply
  80. Kathy, that’s so true — whenever a non-romance person says to me, “But what’s the point? You know from the first chapter that these two people are going to end up together.” And I always say, it’s the journey they take to reach that HEA that’s the real story.

    Reply
  81. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I guess I like the second chances trope. It happens in real life for a lot of us. I also love time travel books so maybe it’s the idea of escaping and totally starting over again that appeals to me in these and that kinda ties up the two types of books I like to read. Interesting post.

    Reply
  82. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I guess I like the second chances trope. It happens in real life for a lot of us. I also love time travel books so maybe it’s the idea of escaping and totally starting over again that appeals to me in these and that kinda ties up the two types of books I like to read. Interesting post.

    Reply
  83. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I guess I like the second chances trope. It happens in real life for a lot of us. I also love time travel books so maybe it’s the idea of escaping and totally starting over again that appeals to me in these and that kinda ties up the two types of books I like to read. Interesting post.

    Reply
  84. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I guess I like the second chances trope. It happens in real life for a lot of us. I also love time travel books so maybe it’s the idea of escaping and totally starting over again that appeals to me in these and that kinda ties up the two types of books I like to read. Interesting post.

    Reply
  85. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I guess I like the second chances trope. It happens in real life for a lot of us. I also love time travel books so maybe it’s the idea of escaping and totally starting over again that appeals to me in these and that kinda ties up the two types of books I like to read. Interesting post.

    Reply
  86. Thanks, Teresa — I recently reread Persuasion, and each time I do, I like it more.
    I think being able to repair the mistakes of the past is such an appealing idea.

    Reply
  87. Thanks, Teresa — I recently reread Persuasion, and each time I do, I like it more.
    I think being able to repair the mistakes of the past is such an appealing idea.

    Reply
  88. Thanks, Teresa — I recently reread Persuasion, and each time I do, I like it more.
    I think being able to repair the mistakes of the past is such an appealing idea.

    Reply
  89. Thanks, Teresa — I recently reread Persuasion, and each time I do, I like it more.
    I think being able to repair the mistakes of the past is such an appealing idea.

    Reply
  90. Thanks, Teresa — I recently reread Persuasion, and each time I do, I like it more.
    I think being able to repair the mistakes of the past is such an appealing idea.

    Reply
  91. My comfort reads are books which are character driven. And I am a fan of second chances. Or at least a relationship which grows because each of them find new things to admire in the other. Understanding the other person’s intentions and perspective can lead to respect and that can lead to caring and love.
    Right now, I wish that in real life people would be able to look at someone with respect and caring.

    Reply
  92. My comfort reads are books which are character driven. And I am a fan of second chances. Or at least a relationship which grows because each of them find new things to admire in the other. Understanding the other person’s intentions and perspective can lead to respect and that can lead to caring and love.
    Right now, I wish that in real life people would be able to look at someone with respect and caring.

    Reply
  93. My comfort reads are books which are character driven. And I am a fan of second chances. Or at least a relationship which grows because each of them find new things to admire in the other. Understanding the other person’s intentions and perspective can lead to respect and that can lead to caring and love.
    Right now, I wish that in real life people would be able to look at someone with respect and caring.

    Reply
  94. My comfort reads are books which are character driven. And I am a fan of second chances. Or at least a relationship which grows because each of them find new things to admire in the other. Understanding the other person’s intentions and perspective can lead to respect and that can lead to caring and love.
    Right now, I wish that in real life people would be able to look at someone with respect and caring.

    Reply
  95. My comfort reads are books which are character driven. And I am a fan of second chances. Or at least a relationship which grows because each of them find new things to admire in the other. Understanding the other person’s intentions and perspective can lead to respect and that can lead to caring and love.
    Right now, I wish that in real life people would be able to look at someone with respect and caring.

    Reply
  96. Thanks, Annette. I think the characters being open to each other, and having to work and compromise and learn in order to achieve their HEA — as opposed to it happening with magical ease, is one of the things I enjoy in a romance.

    Reply
  97. Thanks, Annette. I think the characters being open to each other, and having to work and compromise and learn in order to achieve their HEA — as opposed to it happening with magical ease, is one of the things I enjoy in a romance.

    Reply
  98. Thanks, Annette. I think the characters being open to each other, and having to work and compromise and learn in order to achieve their HEA — as opposed to it happening with magical ease, is one of the things I enjoy in a romance.

    Reply
  99. Thanks, Annette. I think the characters being open to each other, and having to work and compromise and learn in order to achieve their HEA — as opposed to it happening with magical ease, is one of the things I enjoy in a romance.

    Reply
  100. Thanks, Annette. I think the characters being open to each other, and having to work and compromise and learn in order to achieve their HEA — as opposed to it happening with magical ease, is one of the things I enjoy in a romance.

    Reply

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