Friends, Lovers, and Strangers

by Mary Jo

Years ago I read about a study that looked at the difference between meeting someone ONEPERFECTROSEART and having a crazed affair that burns out quickly, and passions that becomes life-long true love. Their conclusion: there IS no difference at the beginning.

A romance is about the courtship, the developing relationship, and a romance writer's job is to make that relationship believable so that when readers close the book, they can smile and know the couple is together forever. 

There are a number of popular tropes that can be used to build relationships.  Perhaps the most common is lightning bolt physical attraction–usually when the hero sees the heroine and thinks she's the hottest carbon-based life form on Planet Earth. (The heroine can be equally thunder-struck, of course, but it's more romantic when the hero is the one doing the running. <G>)

This makes sense men are usually so visual.  A historical romance writer friend once said she makes her heroines gorgeous because men see better than they think. <G>

How that fierce attraction plays out in any given story varies greatly and can go from traditional Regency gentility with emotions tightly buttoned under civilized exteriors to the far more graphic reactions of the super hot books, with most romances falling in between.  

Cover-winter-brideWhen I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.  Personally, I think it's more fun to have an average looking heroine who become increasingly beautiful to the hero.  THAT'S romantic!  And vice versa as Mr. Average becomes more and more fascinating to his lady.

Everyday people morphing into love segues into another trope, the friends-to-lovers romance.  Word Wench Anne Gracie is particularly good at this, and two of her Chance Sisters Quartet feature this dynamic: The Winter Bride and The Summer Bride..      

It's can be delightful to watch two characters who are non-romantic friends start seeing each other in a new light. I particularly like in The Summer Bride when Flynn is knocked endwise by realizing Daisy? DAISY?!!!!  

In my books I lean more toward the thunderbolt meeting, though not necessarily because SummerBrideLargethe heroine is gorgeous.  For my heroes, it's more apt to be a trait that's harder to define, like warmth, intelligence, or empathy, though they aren't really doing analysis when the lightning strikes.  They just think she's THE ONE and they'll worry about why later.

Yet though I'm not usually inclined to write friends-to-lovers stories, in fact my upcoming book, Once a Rebel, is exactly that.  The protagonists were neighbors in childhood who rode horses, played in the mud, and got into mischief together.  Then they went in different directions and didn't meet up again for many years.  Callie thinks of Gordon as a beloved brother; his view of her has changed. <G>

Another popular trope is the beloved Marriage of Convenience, which even has its own abbreviation as MOC.  These work particularly well in historicals where there can be powerful social and economic reasons to marry for convenience.  Because MOCs are so popular, there are a fair number of them in contemporary romance.  They may require more suspension of disbelief in a contemporary, but once that's in place, they can be great fun.

The dynamic of the MOC is two people who might be virtual strangers being locked together in the most intimate of relationships.  At the least, there is wariness, and there may be downright hostility if one or both feels trapped into the marriage.  The fascination is in how they come to know, trust, and care for each other.

Marriages of Convenience are WAY popular–Jo Beverley once said she was addicted to the Tvnawnewsm form, and I can think of half a dozen of them off hand, from her first Rogue books to her most recent romance, The Viscount Needs a Wife.  I'm pretty sure there are lots more. <G>  

I've done several MOCs myself, of which the first, originally called The Would-Be Widow and now available as The Bargain, has had enduring popularity and been reissued numerous times.  (The plot the heroine marrying a dying man in order to get her inheritance without being stuck with a husband, and then he hasn't the grace to die for her.)

One of the things that got me thinking about how courtships develop was recently seeing the movie Southside with You, which depicts the first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson, who is his mentor at the law firm where he is interning.  She insists it's not a date; he says it isn't until she says it is.

SouthsideWithYouPromotionalPosterThey start with a visit to an art museum, move to a picnic in the park, progress to a community meeting in the neighborhood where he had worked as an organizer, and finally ends with a sweet kiss over ice cream cones at a Baskin-Robbins.  I've read that the events are 90% accurate, which is pretty good for a docudrama.  

I like that the movie is so low key and realistic.  He's clearly interested in her, while she's wary.  As a young black woman in the white male legal profession, she's worked hard to get to where she is, and she doesn't want to blow it by getting distracted by a smooth talkin' brother.  But she does kind of like him…. 

In the course of their hours together, they learn more about each other: what they care about, what they dream about, what troubles them.  Just like a date with someone who might be important in real life.

So–are there any particular tropes here that you particularly like?  Some that I've missed? What are some of TheBargain Coveryour favorite romances of that type?

Mary Jo

145 thoughts on “Friends, Lovers, and Strangers”

  1. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, as you have described them above — two people now locked together, pretty much forever in that era, who have to find some way to at least coexist peaceably, and in best case scenarios, grow into a lasting love. My favorite of that kind is Heyer’s A Civil Contract.
    I’m also a sucker for a good governess story. I like the elements of a woman making her own way alone in the world, neither fish nor fowl in the social structure of great houses, and exposed to risks of various kinds — not the least of which is falling for the master of the house. The most enduring one I know of is Jane Eyre.
    But mostly, I can like any sort of romance between any kind of couple, as long as they’re both decent human beings and whatever forces may separate them aren’t silly or contrived or ahistorical.

    Reply
  2. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, as you have described them above — two people now locked together, pretty much forever in that era, who have to find some way to at least coexist peaceably, and in best case scenarios, grow into a lasting love. My favorite of that kind is Heyer’s A Civil Contract.
    I’m also a sucker for a good governess story. I like the elements of a woman making her own way alone in the world, neither fish nor fowl in the social structure of great houses, and exposed to risks of various kinds — not the least of which is falling for the master of the house. The most enduring one I know of is Jane Eyre.
    But mostly, I can like any sort of romance between any kind of couple, as long as they’re both decent human beings and whatever forces may separate them aren’t silly or contrived or ahistorical.

    Reply
  3. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, as you have described them above — two people now locked together, pretty much forever in that era, who have to find some way to at least coexist peaceably, and in best case scenarios, grow into a lasting love. My favorite of that kind is Heyer’s A Civil Contract.
    I’m also a sucker for a good governess story. I like the elements of a woman making her own way alone in the world, neither fish nor fowl in the social structure of great houses, and exposed to risks of various kinds — not the least of which is falling for the master of the house. The most enduring one I know of is Jane Eyre.
    But mostly, I can like any sort of romance between any kind of couple, as long as they’re both decent human beings and whatever forces may separate them aren’t silly or contrived or ahistorical.

    Reply
  4. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, as you have described them above — two people now locked together, pretty much forever in that era, who have to find some way to at least coexist peaceably, and in best case scenarios, grow into a lasting love. My favorite of that kind is Heyer’s A Civil Contract.
    I’m also a sucker for a good governess story. I like the elements of a woman making her own way alone in the world, neither fish nor fowl in the social structure of great houses, and exposed to risks of various kinds — not the least of which is falling for the master of the house. The most enduring one I know of is Jane Eyre.
    But mostly, I can like any sort of romance between any kind of couple, as long as they’re both decent human beings and whatever forces may separate them aren’t silly or contrived or ahistorical.

    Reply
  5. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, as you have described them above — two people now locked together, pretty much forever in that era, who have to find some way to at least coexist peaceably, and in best case scenarios, grow into a lasting love. My favorite of that kind is Heyer’s A Civil Contract.
    I’m also a sucker for a good governess story. I like the elements of a woman making her own way alone in the world, neither fish nor fowl in the social structure of great houses, and exposed to risks of various kinds — not the least of which is falling for the master of the house. The most enduring one I know of is Jane Eyre.
    But mostly, I can like any sort of romance between any kind of couple, as long as they’re both decent human beings and whatever forces may separate them aren’t silly or contrived or ahistorical.

    Reply
  6. “When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.”
    I always appreciate when it’s done that way, because it’s true.
    People today still seem to think it’s okay to run down attractive women. Every second or third book I read happily and openly uses “blonde” as shorthand for “stupid cow”, and nobody seems to think it’s misogynistic.
    Same goes for women with good figures.
    I am crazy about reunion stories, but I think they are often easier to write in contemporary books than historical romances.

    Reply
  7. “When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.”
    I always appreciate when it’s done that way, because it’s true.
    People today still seem to think it’s okay to run down attractive women. Every second or third book I read happily and openly uses “blonde” as shorthand for “stupid cow”, and nobody seems to think it’s misogynistic.
    Same goes for women with good figures.
    I am crazy about reunion stories, but I think they are often easier to write in contemporary books than historical romances.

    Reply
  8. “When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.”
    I always appreciate when it’s done that way, because it’s true.
    People today still seem to think it’s okay to run down attractive women. Every second or third book I read happily and openly uses “blonde” as shorthand for “stupid cow”, and nobody seems to think it’s misogynistic.
    Same goes for women with good figures.
    I am crazy about reunion stories, but I think they are often easier to write in contemporary books than historical romances.

    Reply
  9. “When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.”
    I always appreciate when it’s done that way, because it’s true.
    People today still seem to think it’s okay to run down attractive women. Every second or third book I read happily and openly uses “blonde” as shorthand for “stupid cow”, and nobody seems to think it’s misogynistic.
    Same goes for women with good figures.
    I am crazy about reunion stories, but I think they are often easier to write in contemporary books than historical romances.

    Reply
  10. “When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief and victimization that beautiful women often endure.”
    I always appreciate when it’s done that way, because it’s true.
    People today still seem to think it’s okay to run down attractive women. Every second or third book I read happily and openly uses “blonde” as shorthand for “stupid cow”, and nobody seems to think it’s misogynistic.
    Same goes for women with good figures.
    I am crazy about reunion stories, but I think they are often easier to write in contemporary books than historical romances.

    Reply
  11. I couldn’t cite a Regency plot I haven’t liked, but after so many—over a thousand, believe it or not—it’s refreshing to sometimes find one that turns the social order on its head. One I read recently had the hero as a kept boytoy (and financial adviser) to a wealthy widow to whom he owed a lot of money. Needless to say, that gave the author lots of plot complications to work with!

    Reply
  12. I couldn’t cite a Regency plot I haven’t liked, but after so many—over a thousand, believe it or not—it’s refreshing to sometimes find one that turns the social order on its head. One I read recently had the hero as a kept boytoy (and financial adviser) to a wealthy widow to whom he owed a lot of money. Needless to say, that gave the author lots of plot complications to work with!

    Reply
  13. I couldn’t cite a Regency plot I haven’t liked, but after so many—over a thousand, believe it or not—it’s refreshing to sometimes find one that turns the social order on its head. One I read recently had the hero as a kept boytoy (and financial adviser) to a wealthy widow to whom he owed a lot of money. Needless to say, that gave the author lots of plot complications to work with!

    Reply
  14. I couldn’t cite a Regency plot I haven’t liked, but after so many—over a thousand, believe it or not—it’s refreshing to sometimes find one that turns the social order on its head. One I read recently had the hero as a kept boytoy (and financial adviser) to a wealthy widow to whom he owed a lot of money. Needless to say, that gave the author lots of plot complications to work with!

    Reply
  15. I couldn’t cite a Regency plot I haven’t liked, but after so many—over a thousand, believe it or not—it’s refreshing to sometimes find one that turns the social order on its head. One I read recently had the hero as a kept boytoy (and financial adviser) to a wealthy widow to whom he owed a lot of money. Needless to say, that gave the author lots of plot complications to work with!

    Reply
  16. I like all the plot devises. More important is the development of the characters and the love story itself. I love love stories!
    I prefer historical romance to contemporary. I’m not a purist, but I do appreciate authors who honor the facts and mores of the times their story is set in.
    If I have one bone to pick it is that some heroines have attitudes that seem way too modern for the times the story is set in. I’m not talking about sex itself. Sex, married or otherwise has been around since the beginning of time. But I’m old enough to remember what life was like for a woman before the Pill.

    Reply
  17. I like all the plot devises. More important is the development of the characters and the love story itself. I love love stories!
    I prefer historical romance to contemporary. I’m not a purist, but I do appreciate authors who honor the facts and mores of the times their story is set in.
    If I have one bone to pick it is that some heroines have attitudes that seem way too modern for the times the story is set in. I’m not talking about sex itself. Sex, married or otherwise has been around since the beginning of time. But I’m old enough to remember what life was like for a woman before the Pill.

    Reply
  18. I like all the plot devises. More important is the development of the characters and the love story itself. I love love stories!
    I prefer historical romance to contemporary. I’m not a purist, but I do appreciate authors who honor the facts and mores of the times their story is set in.
    If I have one bone to pick it is that some heroines have attitudes that seem way too modern for the times the story is set in. I’m not talking about sex itself. Sex, married or otherwise has been around since the beginning of time. But I’m old enough to remember what life was like for a woman before the Pill.

    Reply
  19. I like all the plot devises. More important is the development of the characters and the love story itself. I love love stories!
    I prefer historical romance to contemporary. I’m not a purist, but I do appreciate authors who honor the facts and mores of the times their story is set in.
    If I have one bone to pick it is that some heroines have attitudes that seem way too modern for the times the story is set in. I’m not talking about sex itself. Sex, married or otherwise has been around since the beginning of time. But I’m old enough to remember what life was like for a woman before the Pill.

    Reply
  20. I like all the plot devises. More important is the development of the characters and the love story itself. I love love stories!
    I prefer historical romance to contemporary. I’m not a purist, but I do appreciate authors who honor the facts and mores of the times their story is set in.
    If I have one bone to pick it is that some heroines have attitudes that seem way too modern for the times the story is set in. I’m not talking about sex itself. Sex, married or otherwise has been around since the beginning of time. But I’m old enough to remember what life was like for a woman before the Pill.

    Reply
  21. Friends to lovers is my favorite. I love that they know each other very well which leads to complications other relationships don’t. You can’t omit information, the other person already knows and potentially knows more than any other human about you. Trust is big as is figuring out how to be both friends and lovers. I also like the ones where the arrogant alpha male realizes he’s not all that because the one woman won’t succumb to his charm until he gets over himself. You know, the Pride & Prejudice effect. 😉

    Reply
  22. Friends to lovers is my favorite. I love that they know each other very well which leads to complications other relationships don’t. You can’t omit information, the other person already knows and potentially knows more than any other human about you. Trust is big as is figuring out how to be both friends and lovers. I also like the ones where the arrogant alpha male realizes he’s not all that because the one woman won’t succumb to his charm until he gets over himself. You know, the Pride & Prejudice effect. 😉

    Reply
  23. Friends to lovers is my favorite. I love that they know each other very well which leads to complications other relationships don’t. You can’t omit information, the other person already knows and potentially knows more than any other human about you. Trust is big as is figuring out how to be both friends and lovers. I also like the ones where the arrogant alpha male realizes he’s not all that because the one woman won’t succumb to his charm until he gets over himself. You know, the Pride & Prejudice effect. 😉

    Reply
  24. Friends to lovers is my favorite. I love that they know each other very well which leads to complications other relationships don’t. You can’t omit information, the other person already knows and potentially knows more than any other human about you. Trust is big as is figuring out how to be both friends and lovers. I also like the ones where the arrogant alpha male realizes he’s not all that because the one woman won’t succumb to his charm until he gets over himself. You know, the Pride & Prejudice effect. 😉

    Reply
  25. Friends to lovers is my favorite. I love that they know each other very well which leads to complications other relationships don’t. You can’t omit information, the other person already knows and potentially knows more than any other human about you. Trust is big as is figuring out how to be both friends and lovers. I also like the ones where the arrogant alpha male realizes he’s not all that because the one woman won’t succumb to his charm until he gets over himself. You know, the Pride & Prejudice effect. 😉

    Reply
  26. I tend to agree with Mary T; I like all the plot devices. And character development and plot twist are more fun than the specific tropes.
    I am not so sure she’s quite on track with her assessment of early women, though. The Kinsey report (which came out when I was 20 or 21) told us that women were more promiscuous than anyone had admitted. (I know that the first report studied men, but it made that fact clear — at least insofar as the information trickled into the public mind.)
    I can’t think of anything you forgot; but this is a common “twist” (or maybe it IS a a trope); they meet; she hates him! Sometimes she is also trusting a smooth-talking villain. Very early in my reading I learned to go for the guy she hates.

    Reply
  27. I tend to agree with Mary T; I like all the plot devices. And character development and plot twist are more fun than the specific tropes.
    I am not so sure she’s quite on track with her assessment of early women, though. The Kinsey report (which came out when I was 20 or 21) told us that women were more promiscuous than anyone had admitted. (I know that the first report studied men, but it made that fact clear — at least insofar as the information trickled into the public mind.)
    I can’t think of anything you forgot; but this is a common “twist” (or maybe it IS a a trope); they meet; she hates him! Sometimes she is also trusting a smooth-talking villain. Very early in my reading I learned to go for the guy she hates.

    Reply
  28. I tend to agree with Mary T; I like all the plot devices. And character development and plot twist are more fun than the specific tropes.
    I am not so sure she’s quite on track with her assessment of early women, though. The Kinsey report (which came out when I was 20 or 21) told us that women were more promiscuous than anyone had admitted. (I know that the first report studied men, but it made that fact clear — at least insofar as the information trickled into the public mind.)
    I can’t think of anything you forgot; but this is a common “twist” (or maybe it IS a a trope); they meet; she hates him! Sometimes she is also trusting a smooth-talking villain. Very early in my reading I learned to go for the guy she hates.

    Reply
  29. I tend to agree with Mary T; I like all the plot devices. And character development and plot twist are more fun than the specific tropes.
    I am not so sure she’s quite on track with her assessment of early women, though. The Kinsey report (which came out when I was 20 or 21) told us that women were more promiscuous than anyone had admitted. (I know that the first report studied men, but it made that fact clear — at least insofar as the information trickled into the public mind.)
    I can’t think of anything you forgot; but this is a common “twist” (or maybe it IS a a trope); they meet; she hates him! Sometimes she is also trusting a smooth-talking villain. Very early in my reading I learned to go for the guy she hates.

    Reply
  30. I tend to agree with Mary T; I like all the plot devices. And character development and plot twist are more fun than the specific tropes.
    I am not so sure she’s quite on track with her assessment of early women, though. The Kinsey report (which came out when I was 20 or 21) told us that women were more promiscuous than anyone had admitted. (I know that the first report studied men, but it made that fact clear — at least insofar as the information trickled into the public mind.)
    I can’t think of anything you forgot; but this is a common “twist” (or maybe it IS a a trope); they meet; she hates him! Sometimes she is also trusting a smooth-talking villain. Very early in my reading I learned to go for the guy she hates.

    Reply
  31. >>>>>When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief …”<<<<<<< Somehow I think you are quite right. Beautiful women have it a lot more easy and lot more choices to choose from. But I do think if they pick the wrong ones there is a lot of regrets and wishing they had picked the other. Giving rise to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But the ordinary women have to work with the options they have. They can work harder and reach their contentment and happiness.

    Reply
  32. >>>>>When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief …”<<<<<<< Somehow I think you are quite right. Beautiful women have it a lot more easy and lot more choices to choose from. But I do think if they pick the wrong ones there is a lot of regrets and wishing they had picked the other. Giving rise to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But the ordinary women have to work with the options they have. They can work harder and reach their contentment and happiness.

    Reply
  33. >>>>>When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief …”<<<<<<< Somehow I think you are quite right. Beautiful women have it a lot more easy and lot more choices to choose from. But I do think if they pick the wrong ones there is a lot of regrets and wishing they had picked the other. Giving rise to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But the ordinary women have to work with the options they have. They can work harder and reach their contentment and happiness.

    Reply
  34. >>>>>When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief …”<<<<<<< Somehow I think you are quite right. Beautiful women have it a lot more easy and lot more choices to choose from. But I do think if they pick the wrong ones there is a lot of regrets and wishing they had picked the other. Giving rise to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But the ordinary women have to work with the options they have. They can work harder and reach their contentment and happiness.

    Reply
  35. >>>>>When I make one of my heroines gorgeous, I usually also give her a lot of the grief …”<<<<<<< Somehow I think you are quite right. Beautiful women have it a lot more easy and lot more choices to choose from. But I do think if they pick the wrong ones there is a lot of regrets and wishing they had picked the other. Giving rise to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But the ordinary women have to work with the options they have. They can work harder and reach their contentment and happiness.

    Reply
  36. Sonya, beauty is a blessing and a curse, which is far more interesting than stereotyped “stupid cows.”
    I also love reunion stories, and I think you’re probably right–easier to set them in contemporary times. The baggage between them can be piled much higher. *G*

    Reply
  37. Sonya, beauty is a blessing and a curse, which is far more interesting than stereotyped “stupid cows.”
    I also love reunion stories, and I think you’re probably right–easier to set them in contemporary times. The baggage between them can be piled much higher. *G*

    Reply
  38. Sonya, beauty is a blessing and a curse, which is far more interesting than stereotyped “stupid cows.”
    I also love reunion stories, and I think you’re probably right–easier to set them in contemporary times. The baggage between them can be piled much higher. *G*

    Reply
  39. Sonya, beauty is a blessing and a curse, which is far more interesting than stereotyped “stupid cows.”
    I also love reunion stories, and I think you’re probably right–easier to set them in contemporary times. The baggage between them can be piled much higher. *G*

    Reply
  40. Sonya, beauty is a blessing and a curse, which is far more interesting than stereotyped “stupid cows.”
    I also love reunion stories, and I think you’re probably right–easier to set them in contemporary times. The baggage between them can be piled much higher. *G*

    Reply
  41. Mary T, I remember those times, too, and smart girls were darned cautious. That was even more true before birth control became more reliable. I’m with you on heroines who are really 21st century women. All ages have people of more liberal views, but that’s not the same as being modern.

    Reply
  42. Mary T, I remember those times, too, and smart girls were darned cautious. That was even more true before birth control became more reliable. I’m with you on heroines who are really 21st century women. All ages have people of more liberal views, but that’s not the same as being modern.

    Reply
  43. Mary T, I remember those times, too, and smart girls were darned cautious. That was even more true before birth control became more reliable. I’m with you on heroines who are really 21st century women. All ages have people of more liberal views, but that’s not the same as being modern.

    Reply
  44. Mary T, I remember those times, too, and smart girls were darned cautious. That was even more true before birth control became more reliable. I’m with you on heroines who are really 21st century women. All ages have people of more liberal views, but that’s not the same as being modern.

    Reply
  45. Mary T, I remember those times, too, and smart girls were darned cautious. That was even more true before birth control became more reliable. I’m with you on heroines who are really 21st century women. All ages have people of more liberal views, but that’s not the same as being modern.

    Reply
  46. StephanieL, that’s a good description of Pride and Prejudice. *G* In my Once a Rebel, being childhood friends did mean they knew all about each other and they had complete trust–but so much had happened to each of them that there were a whole lot of changes to negotiate.

    Reply
  47. StephanieL, that’s a good description of Pride and Prejudice. *G* In my Once a Rebel, being childhood friends did mean they knew all about each other and they had complete trust–but so much had happened to each of them that there were a whole lot of changes to negotiate.

    Reply
  48. StephanieL, that’s a good description of Pride and Prejudice. *G* In my Once a Rebel, being childhood friends did mean they knew all about each other and they had complete trust–but so much had happened to each of them that there were a whole lot of changes to negotiate.

    Reply
  49. StephanieL, that’s a good description of Pride and Prejudice. *G* In my Once a Rebel, being childhood friends did mean they knew all about each other and they had complete trust–but so much had happened to each of them that there were a whole lot of changes to negotiate.

    Reply
  50. StephanieL, that’s a good description of Pride and Prejudice. *G* In my Once a Rebel, being childhood friends did mean they knew all about each other and they had complete trust–but so much had happened to each of them that there were a whole lot of changes to negotiate.

    Reply
  51. Sue, I didn’t forget the “mutual hatred” trope, I just skipped it because I don’t like it very much. *G* Often it seems very contrived. My characters generally like each other just fine; they just have to figure out how to be with each other.

    Reply
  52. Sue, I didn’t forget the “mutual hatred” trope, I just skipped it because I don’t like it very much. *G* Often it seems very contrived. My characters generally like each other just fine; they just have to figure out how to be with each other.

    Reply
  53. Sue, I didn’t forget the “mutual hatred” trope, I just skipped it because I don’t like it very much. *G* Often it seems very contrived. My characters generally like each other just fine; they just have to figure out how to be with each other.

    Reply
  54. Sue, I didn’t forget the “mutual hatred” trope, I just skipped it because I don’t like it very much. *G* Often it seems very contrived. My characters generally like each other just fine; they just have to figure out how to be with each other.

    Reply
  55. Sue, I didn’t forget the “mutual hatred” trope, I just skipped it because I don’t like it very much. *G* Often it seems very contrived. My characters generally like each other just fine; they just have to figure out how to be with each other.

    Reply
  56. Prema, you’re right that most of us have to work with the rather average material we possess *G*, which is generally not a bad thing. Beautiful women may have life easier, but they are also prone to exploitation and predation. The famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson starts her memoirs with something to the effect of ‘I will not tell you the circumstances under which I was debauched and seduced from my father’s home,’ but she was about 14 if I recall correctly. By age 15 she was the mistress of an earl. THe family must have had great genes because three of her sisters became courtesans as well. THey were working with what God had given them, but it didn’t generally end well.

    Reply
  57. Prema, you’re right that most of us have to work with the rather average material we possess *G*, which is generally not a bad thing. Beautiful women may have life easier, but they are also prone to exploitation and predation. The famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson starts her memoirs with something to the effect of ‘I will not tell you the circumstances under which I was debauched and seduced from my father’s home,’ but she was about 14 if I recall correctly. By age 15 she was the mistress of an earl. THe family must have had great genes because three of her sisters became courtesans as well. THey were working with what God had given them, but it didn’t generally end well.

    Reply
  58. Prema, you’re right that most of us have to work with the rather average material we possess *G*, which is generally not a bad thing. Beautiful women may have life easier, but they are also prone to exploitation and predation. The famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson starts her memoirs with something to the effect of ‘I will not tell you the circumstances under which I was debauched and seduced from my father’s home,’ but she was about 14 if I recall correctly. By age 15 she was the mistress of an earl. THe family must have had great genes because three of her sisters became courtesans as well. THey were working with what God had given them, but it didn’t generally end well.

    Reply
  59. Prema, you’re right that most of us have to work with the rather average material we possess *G*, which is generally not a bad thing. Beautiful women may have life easier, but they are also prone to exploitation and predation. The famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson starts her memoirs with something to the effect of ‘I will not tell you the circumstances under which I was debauched and seduced from my father’s home,’ but she was about 14 if I recall correctly. By age 15 she was the mistress of an earl. THe family must have had great genes because three of her sisters became courtesans as well. THey were working with what God had given them, but it didn’t generally end well.

    Reply
  60. Prema, you’re right that most of us have to work with the rather average material we possess *G*, which is generally not a bad thing. Beautiful women may have life easier, but they are also prone to exploitation and predation. The famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson starts her memoirs with something to the effect of ‘I will not tell you the circumstances under which I was debauched and seduced from my father’s home,’ but she was about 14 if I recall correctly. By age 15 she was the mistress of an earl. THe family must have had great genes because three of her sisters became courtesans as well. THey were working with what God had given them, but it didn’t generally end well.

    Reply
  61. Thanks for those very kind words about my books, Mary Jo. I must admit, I hadn’t thought of The Winter Bride as a friends-to-lovers story, probably because in my mind, Freddy had experienced the “coup de foudre” in the previous book and had worked hard to hide and deny it. But you’re right — there is a strong element of friends-to-lovers.
    Like Janice, I’m a sucker for a Marriage of Convenience story. Re Heyer’s A Civil Contract, I wanted the heroine to have a real romance, to be loved passionately, instead of having just contentment. I know it’s realistic, and contentment is not to be sneezed at, but I wanted the whole fantasy, the complete romance for her.
    I also have difficulty with the blithe and careless sexual freedom shown by some heroines in some modern historicals. In my view, the consequences of being discovered or falling pregnant at that time were so severe that there has to be a Very Good Reason for blithe and happy bonking while unmarried, and while I know that lust can explain a lot, I prefer my heroines to be more cautious. Or married. *g*

    Reply
  62. Thanks for those very kind words about my books, Mary Jo. I must admit, I hadn’t thought of The Winter Bride as a friends-to-lovers story, probably because in my mind, Freddy had experienced the “coup de foudre” in the previous book and had worked hard to hide and deny it. But you’re right — there is a strong element of friends-to-lovers.
    Like Janice, I’m a sucker for a Marriage of Convenience story. Re Heyer’s A Civil Contract, I wanted the heroine to have a real romance, to be loved passionately, instead of having just contentment. I know it’s realistic, and contentment is not to be sneezed at, but I wanted the whole fantasy, the complete romance for her.
    I also have difficulty with the blithe and careless sexual freedom shown by some heroines in some modern historicals. In my view, the consequences of being discovered or falling pregnant at that time were so severe that there has to be a Very Good Reason for blithe and happy bonking while unmarried, and while I know that lust can explain a lot, I prefer my heroines to be more cautious. Or married. *g*

    Reply
  63. Thanks for those very kind words about my books, Mary Jo. I must admit, I hadn’t thought of The Winter Bride as a friends-to-lovers story, probably because in my mind, Freddy had experienced the “coup de foudre” in the previous book and had worked hard to hide and deny it. But you’re right — there is a strong element of friends-to-lovers.
    Like Janice, I’m a sucker for a Marriage of Convenience story. Re Heyer’s A Civil Contract, I wanted the heroine to have a real romance, to be loved passionately, instead of having just contentment. I know it’s realistic, and contentment is not to be sneezed at, but I wanted the whole fantasy, the complete romance for her.
    I also have difficulty with the blithe and careless sexual freedom shown by some heroines in some modern historicals. In my view, the consequences of being discovered or falling pregnant at that time were so severe that there has to be a Very Good Reason for blithe and happy bonking while unmarried, and while I know that lust can explain a lot, I prefer my heroines to be more cautious. Or married. *g*

    Reply
  64. Thanks for those very kind words about my books, Mary Jo. I must admit, I hadn’t thought of The Winter Bride as a friends-to-lovers story, probably because in my mind, Freddy had experienced the “coup de foudre” in the previous book and had worked hard to hide and deny it. But you’re right — there is a strong element of friends-to-lovers.
    Like Janice, I’m a sucker for a Marriage of Convenience story. Re Heyer’s A Civil Contract, I wanted the heroine to have a real romance, to be loved passionately, instead of having just contentment. I know it’s realistic, and contentment is not to be sneezed at, but I wanted the whole fantasy, the complete romance for her.
    I also have difficulty with the blithe and careless sexual freedom shown by some heroines in some modern historicals. In my view, the consequences of being discovered or falling pregnant at that time were so severe that there has to be a Very Good Reason for blithe and happy bonking while unmarried, and while I know that lust can explain a lot, I prefer my heroines to be more cautious. Or married. *g*

    Reply
  65. Thanks for those very kind words about my books, Mary Jo. I must admit, I hadn’t thought of The Winter Bride as a friends-to-lovers story, probably because in my mind, Freddy had experienced the “coup de foudre” in the previous book and had worked hard to hide and deny it. But you’re right — there is a strong element of friends-to-lovers.
    Like Janice, I’m a sucker for a Marriage of Convenience story. Re Heyer’s A Civil Contract, I wanted the heroine to have a real romance, to be loved passionately, instead of having just contentment. I know it’s realistic, and contentment is not to be sneezed at, but I wanted the whole fantasy, the complete romance for her.
    I also have difficulty with the blithe and careless sexual freedom shown by some heroines in some modern historicals. In my view, the consequences of being discovered or falling pregnant at that time were so severe that there has to be a Very Good Reason for blithe and happy bonking while unmarried, and while I know that lust can explain a lot, I prefer my heroines to be more cautious. Or married. *g*

    Reply
  66. >>>>they are prone to exploitation<<<< A decade ago I visited a really poor working class family in a rural town in India. Two very ordinary looking people who made their living as cooks had produced an extraordinarily beautiful child. She was 16 and so beautiful. Both parents were so fearful of leaving her alone at home for fear of her being molested. I saw these parents and this beautiful child and had tears in my eyes. It is true beauty can sometimes be a burden. I have never forgotten their unique struggle.

    Reply
  67. >>>>they are prone to exploitation<<<< A decade ago I visited a really poor working class family in a rural town in India. Two very ordinary looking people who made their living as cooks had produced an extraordinarily beautiful child. She was 16 and so beautiful. Both parents were so fearful of leaving her alone at home for fear of her being molested. I saw these parents and this beautiful child and had tears in my eyes. It is true beauty can sometimes be a burden. I have never forgotten their unique struggle.

    Reply
  68. >>>>they are prone to exploitation<<<< A decade ago I visited a really poor working class family in a rural town in India. Two very ordinary looking people who made their living as cooks had produced an extraordinarily beautiful child. She was 16 and so beautiful. Both parents were so fearful of leaving her alone at home for fear of her being molested. I saw these parents and this beautiful child and had tears in my eyes. It is true beauty can sometimes be a burden. I have never forgotten their unique struggle.

    Reply
  69. >>>>they are prone to exploitation<<<< A decade ago I visited a really poor working class family in a rural town in India. Two very ordinary looking people who made their living as cooks had produced an extraordinarily beautiful child. She was 16 and so beautiful. Both parents were so fearful of leaving her alone at home for fear of her being molested. I saw these parents and this beautiful child and had tears in my eyes. It is true beauty can sometimes be a burden. I have never forgotten their unique struggle.

    Reply
  70. >>>>they are prone to exploitation<<<< A decade ago I visited a really poor working class family in a rural town in India. Two very ordinary looking people who made their living as cooks had produced an extraordinarily beautiful child. She was 16 and so beautiful. Both parents were so fearful of leaving her alone at home for fear of her being molested. I saw these parents and this beautiful child and had tears in my eyes. It is true beauty can sometimes be a burden. I have never forgotten their unique struggle.

    Reply
  71. Anne, I’ve known many women who had the “real romance” you speak of, with all the euphoria and passion … and wound up alone, because that’s just a mood and it can wear off in a very painful way for the one who is left. I have much more confidence in a marriage based on mutual respect, kindness, common interests and a willingness to turn toward the other person, rather than away.
    Fantasy is okay in a book but in reality, it’s a broken reed.
    I totally agree with your point about the current fad for Sex Before Marriage historical romances. My hunch is that these are popular because younger readers, who grew up with available birth control and less restrictive social rules, don’t worry about what might happen if they got pregnant. It just doesn’t cross their radar. Or they wouldn’t buy a book thst seemed to criticize their own personal choices. A hundred years ago, it would have been an important point. It’s a generational thing, and in my opinion, makes many historical romances ahistoric and misleading.

    Reply
  72. Anne, I’ve known many women who had the “real romance” you speak of, with all the euphoria and passion … and wound up alone, because that’s just a mood and it can wear off in a very painful way for the one who is left. I have much more confidence in a marriage based on mutual respect, kindness, common interests and a willingness to turn toward the other person, rather than away.
    Fantasy is okay in a book but in reality, it’s a broken reed.
    I totally agree with your point about the current fad for Sex Before Marriage historical romances. My hunch is that these are popular because younger readers, who grew up with available birth control and less restrictive social rules, don’t worry about what might happen if they got pregnant. It just doesn’t cross their radar. Or they wouldn’t buy a book thst seemed to criticize their own personal choices. A hundred years ago, it would have been an important point. It’s a generational thing, and in my opinion, makes many historical romances ahistoric and misleading.

    Reply
  73. Anne, I’ve known many women who had the “real romance” you speak of, with all the euphoria and passion … and wound up alone, because that’s just a mood and it can wear off in a very painful way for the one who is left. I have much more confidence in a marriage based on mutual respect, kindness, common interests and a willingness to turn toward the other person, rather than away.
    Fantasy is okay in a book but in reality, it’s a broken reed.
    I totally agree with your point about the current fad for Sex Before Marriage historical romances. My hunch is that these are popular because younger readers, who grew up with available birth control and less restrictive social rules, don’t worry about what might happen if they got pregnant. It just doesn’t cross their radar. Or they wouldn’t buy a book thst seemed to criticize their own personal choices. A hundred years ago, it would have been an important point. It’s a generational thing, and in my opinion, makes many historical romances ahistoric and misleading.

    Reply
  74. Anne, I’ve known many women who had the “real romance” you speak of, with all the euphoria and passion … and wound up alone, because that’s just a mood and it can wear off in a very painful way for the one who is left. I have much more confidence in a marriage based on mutual respect, kindness, common interests and a willingness to turn toward the other person, rather than away.
    Fantasy is okay in a book but in reality, it’s a broken reed.
    I totally agree with your point about the current fad for Sex Before Marriage historical romances. My hunch is that these are popular because younger readers, who grew up with available birth control and less restrictive social rules, don’t worry about what might happen if they got pregnant. It just doesn’t cross their radar. Or they wouldn’t buy a book thst seemed to criticize their own personal choices. A hundred years ago, it would have been an important point. It’s a generational thing, and in my opinion, makes many historical romances ahistoric and misleading.

    Reply
  75. Anne, I’ve known many women who had the “real romance” you speak of, with all the euphoria and passion … and wound up alone, because that’s just a mood and it can wear off in a very painful way for the one who is left. I have much more confidence in a marriage based on mutual respect, kindness, common interests and a willingness to turn toward the other person, rather than away.
    Fantasy is okay in a book but in reality, it’s a broken reed.
    I totally agree with your point about the current fad for Sex Before Marriage historical romances. My hunch is that these are popular because younger readers, who grew up with available birth control and less restrictive social rules, don’t worry about what might happen if they got pregnant. It just doesn’t cross their radar. Or they wouldn’t buy a book thst seemed to criticize their own personal choices. A hundred years ago, it would have been an important point. It’s a generational thing, and in my opinion, makes many historical romances ahistoric and misleading.

    Reply
  76. Hard on the girl, even harder on the parents because they know more about the world’s evil! I hope she manage to grow up safely and live well.
    Another problem for being beautiful is that if you’re self definition is of being beautiful, you’re invested in a declining commodity. Safer to rely on kindness or intelligence or other non physical qualities.

    Reply
  77. Hard on the girl, even harder on the parents because they know more about the world’s evil! I hope she manage to grow up safely and live well.
    Another problem for being beautiful is that if you’re self definition is of being beautiful, you’re invested in a declining commodity. Safer to rely on kindness or intelligence or other non physical qualities.

    Reply
  78. Hard on the girl, even harder on the parents because they know more about the world’s evil! I hope she manage to grow up safely and live well.
    Another problem for being beautiful is that if you’re self definition is of being beautiful, you’re invested in a declining commodity. Safer to rely on kindness or intelligence or other non physical qualities.

    Reply
  79. Hard on the girl, even harder on the parents because they know more about the world’s evil! I hope she manage to grow up safely and live well.
    Another problem for being beautiful is that if you’re self definition is of being beautiful, you’re invested in a declining commodity. Safer to rely on kindness or intelligence or other non physical qualities.

    Reply
  80. Hard on the girl, even harder on the parents because they know more about the world’s evil! I hope she manage to grow up safely and live well.
    Another problem for being beautiful is that if you’re self definition is of being beautiful, you’re invested in a declining commodity. Safer to rely on kindness or intelligence or other non physical qualities.

    Reply
  81. Anne, you’re the one who told me that The Winter Bride was friends-to-lovers when you were writing it. *G* I hadn’t heard the term before, but I liked it and kept it.
    In A Civil Contract, she had the passion, and she new she was loved even if she didn’t have the stardust period. Having the beauty appear, pouting, was great plotting. *G*

    Reply
  82. Anne, you’re the one who told me that The Winter Bride was friends-to-lovers when you were writing it. *G* I hadn’t heard the term before, but I liked it and kept it.
    In A Civil Contract, she had the passion, and she new she was loved even if she didn’t have the stardust period. Having the beauty appear, pouting, was great plotting. *G*

    Reply
  83. Anne, you’re the one who told me that The Winter Bride was friends-to-lovers when you were writing it. *G* I hadn’t heard the term before, but I liked it and kept it.
    In A Civil Contract, she had the passion, and she new she was loved even if she didn’t have the stardust period. Having the beauty appear, pouting, was great plotting. *G*

    Reply
  84. Anne, you’re the one who told me that The Winter Bride was friends-to-lovers when you were writing it. *G* I hadn’t heard the term before, but I liked it and kept it.
    In A Civil Contract, she had the passion, and she new she was loved even if she didn’t have the stardust period. Having the beauty appear, pouting, was great plotting. *G*

    Reply
  85. Anne, you’re the one who told me that The Winter Bride was friends-to-lovers when you were writing it. *G* I hadn’t heard the term before, but I liked it and kept it.
    In A Civil Contract, she had the passion, and she new she was loved even if she didn’t have the stardust period. Having the beauty appear, pouting, was great plotting. *G*

    Reply
  86. I do like the bolt of lightning better than friends to lovers in my books. And I never get tired of MOC…and other great plot devices like lady in distress(Mary Jo’s “Never Less Than a Lady” is a favorite) and Cinderella stories and road trip books(“Angel Rogue” is a great one).

    Reply
  87. I do like the bolt of lightning better than friends to lovers in my books. And I never get tired of MOC…and other great plot devices like lady in distress(Mary Jo’s “Never Less Than a Lady” is a favorite) and Cinderella stories and road trip books(“Angel Rogue” is a great one).

    Reply
  88. I do like the bolt of lightning better than friends to lovers in my books. And I never get tired of MOC…and other great plot devices like lady in distress(Mary Jo’s “Never Less Than a Lady” is a favorite) and Cinderella stories and road trip books(“Angel Rogue” is a great one).

    Reply
  89. I do like the bolt of lightning better than friends to lovers in my books. And I never get tired of MOC…and other great plot devices like lady in distress(Mary Jo’s “Never Less Than a Lady” is a favorite) and Cinderella stories and road trip books(“Angel Rogue” is a great one).

    Reply
  90. I do like the bolt of lightning better than friends to lovers in my books. And I never get tired of MOC…and other great plot devices like lady in distress(Mary Jo’s “Never Less Than a Lady” is a favorite) and Cinderella stories and road trip books(“Angel Rogue” is a great one).

    Reply
  91. Karin, like you, I love a good plot device! Can I add amnesia to your list? Yes, it’s a cliche, but I’ve done several and they’re always fun. Especially when the amnesiac is surrounded by people who -think- they know what the amnesiac is like. Meanwhile, the real person is emerging when freed of other people’s expectations. IF that makes sense!

    Reply
  92. Karin, like you, I love a good plot device! Can I add amnesia to your list? Yes, it’s a cliche, but I’ve done several and they’re always fun. Especially when the amnesiac is surrounded by people who -think- they know what the amnesiac is like. Meanwhile, the real person is emerging when freed of other people’s expectations. IF that makes sense!

    Reply
  93. Karin, like you, I love a good plot device! Can I add amnesia to your list? Yes, it’s a cliche, but I’ve done several and they’re always fun. Especially when the amnesiac is surrounded by people who -think- they know what the amnesiac is like. Meanwhile, the real person is emerging when freed of other people’s expectations. IF that makes sense!

    Reply
  94. Karin, like you, I love a good plot device! Can I add amnesia to your list? Yes, it’s a cliche, but I’ve done several and they’re always fun. Especially when the amnesiac is surrounded by people who -think- they know what the amnesiac is like. Meanwhile, the real person is emerging when freed of other people’s expectations. IF that makes sense!

    Reply
  95. Karin, like you, I love a good plot device! Can I add amnesia to your list? Yes, it’s a cliche, but I’ve done several and they’re always fun. Especially when the amnesiac is surrounded by people who -think- they know what the amnesiac is like. Meanwhile, the real person is emerging when freed of other people’s expectations. IF that makes sense!

    Reply
  96. Karin, ditto on road trip books. I agree “Angel Rogue” is one of the great ones, and I love that in that book there are TWO couples on the road! I also like Jo Beverley’s “A Lady’s Secret” and Tessa Dare’s “A Week to be Wicked” in that category. Speaking of Jo, I just ordered what is her last book, I supppse, and it seems to be a MOC, at least in part.

    Reply
  97. Karin, ditto on road trip books. I agree “Angel Rogue” is one of the great ones, and I love that in that book there are TWO couples on the road! I also like Jo Beverley’s “A Lady’s Secret” and Tessa Dare’s “A Week to be Wicked” in that category. Speaking of Jo, I just ordered what is her last book, I supppse, and it seems to be a MOC, at least in part.

    Reply
  98. Karin, ditto on road trip books. I agree “Angel Rogue” is one of the great ones, and I love that in that book there are TWO couples on the road! I also like Jo Beverley’s “A Lady’s Secret” and Tessa Dare’s “A Week to be Wicked” in that category. Speaking of Jo, I just ordered what is her last book, I supppse, and it seems to be a MOC, at least in part.

    Reply
  99. Karin, ditto on road trip books. I agree “Angel Rogue” is one of the great ones, and I love that in that book there are TWO couples on the road! I also like Jo Beverley’s “A Lady’s Secret” and Tessa Dare’s “A Week to be Wicked” in that category. Speaking of Jo, I just ordered what is her last book, I supppse, and it seems to be a MOC, at least in part.

    Reply
  100. Karin, ditto on road trip books. I agree “Angel Rogue” is one of the great ones, and I love that in that book there are TWO couples on the road! I also like Jo Beverley’s “A Lady’s Secret” and Tessa Dare’s “A Week to be Wicked” in that category. Speaking of Jo, I just ordered what is her last book, I supppse, and it seems to be a MOC, at least in part.

    Reply

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