I’m having a small panic and I’d appreciate some input here. I’m writing a love story in which the hero’s mother is a major character. Question: if the hero’s relationship with his mother is an important sub-plot, does that somehow make the hero less hot/heroic or the story less romantic?
My hero, Ian, is a brilliant, workaholic entrepreneur. He’s an alpha type, the famous public face of his family business, but the creative genius and driving force behind it is his widowed mother, Ma. She’s a formidable character. There is a strong and loving relationship between Ma and her two sons, but she places a powerful burden of expectation on them. Ian and Cam are not afraid of Ma or dominated by her, but they accept her world-view and try to live up to the standards she sets, until the heroine, Rose, arrives on the scene and challenges the established order.
In the early part of the book Rose represents an opportunity for Ian. He knows as soon as he meets her that she’s something special and he takes a chance on investing in her. Ma is unequivocally against anything she believes might threaten her son’s happiness or the family’s business, and Rose checks both boxes. Ma’s fears are confirmed when for the first time ever Ian asserts his authority and over-rules her for Rose’s benefit. Later things get worse when Rose starts to insist there should be limits on the sacrifices Ian’s expected to make for the good of the family.
I’m thinking Ma’s sub-plot is a good thing because it supports Rose and Ian’s romance.
- It’s not the main focus of the story; it’s subordinate to the two main plots – Rose and Ian’s love story, and Rose’s head-to-head with the main antagonist, Sasha;
- Ian is the child of a strong marriage, and is loving and loyal to his family, giving the reader reason to think he has the potential to be a good life partner;
- Ian is his own man. From the outset, he chooses Rose, even in the face of Ma’s opposition, giving the reader positive indications that he is not under his mother’s thumb and that in Happy Ever After-land Rose will be fully supported by her husband when things get difficult;
- Rose is the catalyst, but change at Ian’s family business is inevitable. Rose’s love for Ian is what gives her the drive to make the family face up to the realities they’re all busily ignoring;
- Rose has to be a strong character to hold her own with her future mother-in-law. In the end she earns Ma’s respect and liking, which bodes well for her happy future as part of the family.
So Ian loves his mother. Ma’s a dominant personality but she doesn’t dominate Ian. They work together in the family business but each has their area of autonomy. Does Ma’s strong presence in this story undermine Ian as a romantic hero?
Any and all thoughts/comments/suggestions most gratefully received!