When we read romance books, we know that, by definition, the couple will get a happily ever after (HEA). The joy isn’t the destination; it’s the journey. Not the what, but the how and, as Lisa Cron would remind us, the why.
But one thing I’ve been pondering as I finish my final round of revisions on the next Harrow’s book (Two Scandals are Better than One) is whether part of that journey should be the sense that this couple’s obstacles are so great, they just might not make it. Two Scandals doesn’t have that burning question. One of my beta readers listed it as a problem, although she liked the overall story. And as the writer/god of this story universe, I can thank her for that input and then choose to ignore it. But that bit of critique has stuck in my brain, because I think she might be onto something.
Let me give you some of the story deets. Edward and Lucinda (Luci) are friendly, acquainted through his sister, and of the same social class and tangential social circles. She had a girlhood crush on him but decided he’s dead boring (spoiler alert: he’s not), and he finds her mesmerizing but believes she’s from a family of dangerous men (spoiler alert: she is). They work together to rescue her father from a treacherous criminal gang, which leads to visiting houses of ill-repute, playing dress-up and assuming aliases, and crossing a group of cut-throat smugglers.
Neither of them is betrothed or promised to anyone else. Neither is hiding a dark secret that could keep them apart. Neither is being forced into close proximity against his or her will. There’s no impediment to them being together. Instead, this story is the journey of each discovering themselves while falling for the other.
Each of them is trapped in the proscribed life their families expect of them while dreaming of the life they wish they had. When they join forces against outside entities, they each doubt themselves but believe in the other. They each help the other recognize his/her own potential and achieve it, which makes them feel ready for and deserving of their HEA. All while on a dangerous foray into London’s seedy underworld.
Have you read (and liked!) any romances where there was never a point when you wondered how these crazy kids were ever going to end up together, but instead were watching them fall–perhaps predictably–in love? Does the fact that the story involves mortal danger and weapons, most of them deftly wielded by the heroine, make the set-up any more appealing 😉?