My blog this month is inspired by a discussion running on eHarlequin about that most traditional of romance novel storylines, the marriage of convenience. I love marriages of convenience (in books, that is, not in real life 🙂 )! A marriage of convenience is more likely than any other plot to get me reading books in a line or series I donâ€™t normally read.
Whatâ€™s so great about them? For me, I think itâ€™s the larger-than-life situation that â€œforcesâ€ two people into marriage. These days, youâ€™ve got to have a pretty compelling reason to get married, so as a writer itâ€™s a real challenge to think up a marriage of convenience story that my editor believes readers will accept. But once youâ€™ve managed to force your couple into marriage, there are endless opportunities for wonderful banter and fun situations.
In my new book out next week from Superromance, The Groom Came Back, the hero and heroine got married when the heroine, Callie, was a schoolgirl, to rescue her from a custody battle. Callieâ€™s dying mother approved the marriage so Callie could go on living with the â€œgroomâ€™sâ€ family, who were fostering her, rather than being forced to live with her estranged grandparents. The hero, Jack, was back in town to support his parents through a difficult time, but wanted to escape back to his budding career as a neurosurgeon. He figured he could help Callie, and at the same time ensure his parents, who loved her like a daughter, got to keep her with them. Apart from Callieâ€™s mom, no one else knew anything about the wedding…until eight years later, when Jack comes home to get a divorce and discovers Callie is definitely no longer a schoolgirl!
Yvonne Lindsay has a book out from Desire next month called Convenient Marriage, Inconvenient Husband (great title, Iâ€™ll definitely be buying that one!). Sheâ€™s hosting the current discussion at eHarlequin about the appeal of the marriage of convenience. Yvonne says, â€œI love seeing people forced into a situation outside of their controlâ€ â€“ hehe, thatâ€™s mean, Yvonne! Mean, but true…all we MoC fans love to see that.
A couple of weeks ago I read a book by Tessa Radley called Pregnancy Proposal. The marriage of convenience was actually an engagement of convenience in this book (which was released from Desire in December and is still available online), and it was a lovely story. These days, people donâ€™t necessarily believe pregnancy is a good reason to get married, but Tessa creates her characters so well, I easily believed neither of them had any alternative but to agree to a convenient marriage.
Hi Abby! I love reading and writing marriage of convenience stories. As you said, yeah, I’m mean to my characters, but I think it makes for a better story overall if you can twist their situation to make them really delve deeper into their emotions and why they feel the way they do about each other. When they finally come to realise they belonged together all along it makes it so much more powerful 🙂 and satisfying.
As for favourites, I think I have too many to count, although I have a preference for historical MoC stories. Probably because, as you say, today people must have a compelling reason to marry but in my opinion, even if they do marry, divorce is all too easy as an out. I think it’s important to give a modern MoC a finite period as well–you know, keep the stakes high and that clock ticking down.