This week marks the launch of Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight, the tale of Louisa Windham and her doting, growling, limping, pig-farming swain, Sir Joseph Carrington. Louisa doesn’t see those qualities in Joseph, though. She sees that he listens to her, he asks her to dance when nobody else has the courage, he recites poetry to her, and he risks his life to save her reputation. Guess what Louisa gets for Christmas?
And Joseph? He doesn’t see that Louisa is too smart for her own good, nor that she lacks the preferred pale English beauty, nor that she suffers a lack of small talk and flirtation. He sees that she’s brilliant, lonely, brave, loyal, and completely going to waste in the ballrooms and conservatories of Mayfair. How anybody could overlook such a treasure baffles him utterly.
Michael Hague, a noted teacher in the field of screen writing and story architecture, has a pet peeve with many romances: On page 3, the hero and heroine see each other across a moonlit alley/crowded ballroom/soccer field or battle field, and fall in love: THUNK! He or she is emotionally distant, despite there being Chemistry. They snark at each other, sabotage each others’ plans, and so forth for 300 pages, but on the strength of their mysterious attraction, they cast Steamy Glances (ahem) at one another anyway.
His point is that if you or I came across such a potential mate, we’d perhaps indulge in a fling, but never consider them keeper material. What creates a credible bond is when somebody GETS us, they understand when our wounds are acting up, and their response is compassionate. They appreciate our strengths even when those strengths are standing between us and our best selves. They do not love us and leave us, or toss grenades at our dreams.
And maybe this is why I love Louisa and Joseph as a couple. More than other couples I’ve written, these two complete each other. They are not a crooked pot and a crooked lid, they are the pot and lid made for each other in a unique and beautiful design not intended for the standard kitchen. Last year, they were my Christmas present. This year, I hope they number among yours.
So… in the interests of making our Christmas shopping lists, who are some of your favorite romantic couples, and are there any romantic leads who just did not work for you? To three commenters, I’ll be passing along signed copies of Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight.
Ha! that was one of my grandfather’s sayings: “There is a lid for every pot.” I’m always amazed how true it proves. Merry Christmas!
I hadn’t come across the phrase, “a crooked pot needs a crooked lid” until somebody applied it to me and a horse I was happily riding. Some pots hold more than others.
My answer will probably be a bit different from others. My parents are favorite romantic couple. They were best friends before they were anything else. They supported and respected each other and surrounded themselves with family. Neither had an easy childhood, but they made a comfortable adult-hood for each other and for their family. My brothers and sisters (9 total) and I never had a lot of material things but we had the love of a good family…. and the best role models one could ask for.
Betty, I suspect every romance writer, somewhere, has an example like your parents–though it might be greats, uncles, cousins, or next door neighbors. One statistic that’s often cited is the number of romance writers who are themselves in long, long term happy marriages.
I love romance and the stories about it. I love a great HEA.
Some of my favorite couples are James Malory & George from Johanna Lindsey, Cat & Bones from Jeaniene Frost Night Huntress series, Elizabeth Bennett & Mr Darcy, and Giles & Minerva from Sabrina Jeffries Hellions series. Those are some of my top favs. Love this series and definately have this one on my reading radar.
There’s probably not a Regency list out there could overlook Elizabeth and Darcy, and Cat and Bones would TOP many people’s lists.
“They are not a crooked pot and a crooked lid, they are the pot and lid made for each other in a unique and beautiful design not intended for the standard kitchen.” That’s a lovely statement.
My favorite couple is Jane and Rochester. (I know, I know, I just can’t help it, I love them.) My least favorites have to be Rhett and Scarlett, along with Heathcliff and Catherine.
Bonnie, I think you and I could trade books pretty well. I just watched three different Janes, and each one had something to offer. My fave is Toby Stephens though–he did the most with the role, using most of the same lines as the other actors.
My favorite couple is Sophie and Vim. Their road to romance is not easy, but the depth of emotion is there. I just love the prose in your books Grace.
Now, Martha, that piques my interest, because other readers have said Sophie and Vim had the least amount of friction between them. If they’d been just a tad more forthcoming–I’m a duke’s daughter/I’m in line for viscountcy–their troubles would have been over much sooner. And yet, this is my most awarded book.
I think it has something to do with a hero who will change a dirty diaper.
You are right that we just need to find someone able and willing to help us unpack our baggage. My favorite couple is Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. They’re both just enough off kilter to make them interesting and they interact well with the secondary characters. My parents were an inspiration too–Dad passed just before their 60th, even though it was not always easy. Love your characters, Grace! Best of luck with your new titles!
Julee J, my parents have made it to sixty and have seventy years in their crosshairs. I cannot fathom what they know about loving, what they know about being loved, that lesser mortals will never learn.
There are so many it is hard to pick from. For some reason I love the ones with a wounded past the most. I love a book that makes me cry and to go through the hardship of their HEA.
Mary, Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” meaning, I’m supposed to cry writing it if I expect my prose to move other people to tears when they read it.
In each book, there’s usually at least one scene that chokes me up. For Maggie, it was when she–FINALLY–told the duchess, “That woman is not my mother.” I’ve posted a scene for Lady Eve where His Grace is getting ready to escort Eve up the aisle, Makes me bawl and I don’t know why.
Thank you for this thought-provoking post! One of the most exciting things about reading is that its examples of romantic couples can provide clues or signposts for qualities a person might look for in her significant other. Not a foolproof plan, of course, but when I connect with a fictional relationship it can help me say, “Yes, some form of those characteristics appeal strongly to me, and I would like that for my own life.” If I have a hard time seeing the respect or viability of a fictional relationship, I tend to be less enthusiastic about it (i.e. Catherine and Heathcliff). Traits like humor, kindness, passion, intellectual curiosity, respect, integrity, and patience all seem to be recurring themes for some of my favorite romantic couples (Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, Meg Murry and Calvin O’Keefe, Margaret Hale and John Thornton, and Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester). I definitely appreciate a happy ending in stories, as well, so I appreciate your work!
Thanks, Marie! One of the fun things about writing romance is crafting the character arc, the journey for Him and Her, where they start off not very willing to look at themselves, coping mechanisms firmly in hand while they’re usually hurting inside. The character of Joseph in this book is a little different because he KNOWS he’s lonely, but doesn’t see himself as worthy of a high born lady.
Louisa sets him straight, and while his character doesn’t undergo an enormous change, in his dealings with Louisa, he blossoms wonderfully… as does she. I’m convinced that as much as we need to loved in this life, we also need people whom we can love.
My favorite real life couple is Pierce Brosnon and Keely Shey Smith. He was People magazine’s sexiest man alive and she has struggled with her weight. A reporter once asked Pierce about the weight and he said “I love my wife’s curves”He could be like many Hollywood types and think he was intitled to “perfection” but he understands that she is still the wonan he fell in love with, she’s the one who helped him get over the heartbreak of losing his first wife to cancer.
And no matter what a hunk old Pierce is now, some find day he’ll be gray, likely bald, and while he might still have that sparkle in his eye, time will take a toll. Better to find somebody who will love the person, because the image will eventually suffer some tarnish.
Ooh, I was anxious there wouldn’t be a blog this week again. But how well you picked the date…
Some of my favourites (in no specific order) are Johanna Lindsey’s Warrick and Rowena, Judith McNaught’s Meredith and Matthew, Carolyn Jewel’s Cynssyr and Anne; and most definitely your Maggie and Ben. I don’t know why those two have grown to my heart so much, probably, too, because they both appear so “mature” to me and I had been waiting for the book-release so impatiently. (Ooooh, and how I liked the scene when he proposed to her (first time)…)
And what doesn’t work for me in romances, is that the heroes can read in each others eyes. When I read something like he or she looked in her or his eyes and could read or sea the others thoughts, what he/she is going to say or what he/she feels, I find this wonderful and romantic to read but I can’t comprehend (if that’s the right word) that. I can surely guess or know things/reactions of my husband, but I can’t READ it in his eyes. Am I shallow?
Connie, you make an interesting point. Many editors will go through a writer’s prose, and toss out all of the “she met his gaze/he regarded her with a frown/he peered down into eyes full of doubt…” All of those “vision” verbs are boring, and they subtly becloud point of view.
If her eyes were full of doubt, and we’re in his POV, we don’t need to be hit over the head with “HE SAW her eyes were full of doubt.” Everything in the scene is something he sees–it’s point of VIEW, right?
This is one of the fine points of prose that readers probably don’t notice consciously (and I defy anybody to write a whole book without vision verbs), but it clutters up scenes, makes them dusty instead of sparkling, and YOU are reacting to it.
Well read, Connie!
I love Jane and Rochester. Just like your pot and lid, they fit together. Each fulfills a need of the other and they make each other better people.
Can’t wait for the new book. Your mature and sensible approach to relationships shows in this post and in your books. Thanks for the thoughtful writing.
“Mature and sensible” is exactly the kind of compliment Louisa would treasure. Thanks, Diane!
love, love, love your books. I always dread Tuesdays. As someone working in Customer Service, Tuesday is “hell” day. But I can’t wait for tomorrow!!!! New book, already read the first 2 chapters…HUGE fan of yours. Congrats!!!
Ooooh, customer service! Maybe you were bad in your last seventeen lives? I do know though, that the ladies who work customer service for Discover a New Love get more raves and compliments and atta girls than just about any other part of publisher’s staff.
When you can solve a problem for somebody, when you LISTEN to them, they might not always express it, but you do have their gratitude.
And if things get too bad, Amy, consider writing for creative self-expression. You no doubt have tons of raw material, right?
One couple that never worked for me was Catherine and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey. Henry was so smart and funny and Catherine was the opposite.
My all-time favorite couple romance novel-wise is Lydia and Vere in The Last Hellion.
The Last Hellion is a wonderful, wonderful tale. Among my favorites are Darius and Charlotte from “Not Quite A Lady.”
And many of Jane’s couples don’t work for me, but then, she wasn’t writing romance. In my humble, she was writing commentary on her society as viewed from the gender it typically disempowered.
So many couples to Love…those that aren’t yours Grace: Anne & Wentworth, Annique & Grey + Hawker & Justine, Merecedes Thompson & Adam Hauptman + Charles & Anna (Patricia Briggs) Lizzie & Darcy, Wulfric & Christine, Amelia & Spencer (One Dance with a Duke) Jasper & Melisande (To Seduce a Sinner), Jo & Morrison (Urban Shaman).
Joseph & Lousia may steal a march on St Just & Emmie, and Valentine & Sophie give those two a run.
For real humans & their mates my favs are Sam Elliot & Katherine Ross, Mark Harmon & Pam Dawber, Tom Selleck & Jillie Mack, Hugh Jackman & Deborra-Lee Furness. All stunningly handsome men (most also serious horsemen) in long marriages out of the public eye to women they love – no matter how they are aging, shaped, sized, fertile or not. Eye Candy with heart, soul, and talent? Adds a layer to the entertainment their work provides.
Wow, I just had to say, those were the best real life choices. Especially Hugh and his lovely spouse.
Of your books, Maggie and Benjamin are now my favorites. It started out being Westhaven. Okay, he’s probably still tied with Benjie.
One thing about it. You don’t make us wait or let us starve for a romantic hero fix. I love that your list is growing and we have plenty to read and re-read.
I’m a shameless fan of anything Jo Bourne writes. She literally makes her characters choose between true love and world peace for much of her books, and we believe, we believe! Grey and Annique work better for me as a couple than Hawker and Justine, but I love the sweep of the Blackhawk story.
And those handsome fellers who fell hard and love true–you betcha I regard their fictional work more positively as a result.