Michille: Romance and Natural Disasters

Dark and StormyWith Dorian soon to become a memory and already leaving a staggeringly colossal disaster area behind in the Bahamas, I looked at disasters in romance novels. I read one recently that was set in a flood (freebie from RWA Nationals in a previous year), but I got really annoyed with the author because the hero and heroine kept standing around in floodwater while the rain was pounding down, discussing their history, wondering where his brother was and if her sister stayed at work, sharing scorching kisses and wishing for a bed. I’m not thinking that the folks going through Dorian were standing waist deep in floodwater reminiscing about a high school football game that took place 10 years ago. The memory of that book and the coverage of Dorian led my brain down the path of how an author could set a romance in a natural disaster and do justice to mother nature, the devastation and tragedy, and the romance without minimizing or horrorizing (is that a word?) the tragedy or the reader. As in, people are dying and these two idiots just want to do the horizontal tango.

GoodReads has a list of books about tornados in romance, hurricanes in romance, earthquakes in romance. Some of them don’t really apply to what I am interested in seeing. There is one in which the tornado was 10 years ago. I did find an Anne Stuart on the list of hurricane romances – A Dark and Stormy Night. Leave it to Krissie to give it that title. It’s an old Harlequin that might be worth buying as I like her stories and she does dark romance really well. Interestingly, there are tons of books with romance blossoming in a snow storm, but GoodReads doesn’t have a list of those.

The movie Twister (1996) is a good example, I think, of a good tornado movie with romance. Rotten Tomatoes disagrees with me giving it 57%. Nora Roberts wrote Storm Warning in 1984. It has an Agatha Christie feel to it, but due to its age, it has an alpha hero who is a complete ass to the heroine who loves him anyway. I read an earthquake one several years ago in which the hero and heroine almost died, then had we’re-lucky-to-be-alive sex in the aftermath while waiting to be rescued. As I recall the quake and the internal thoughts of “I’m about to die” seemed realistic, not that I’ve ever been in a building falling down around me.

Have you read any good disaster-set romances? Or any ridiculous/insulting disaster-set romances? How was the disaster handled?

5 thoughts on “Michille: Romance and Natural Disasters

  1. (-: What I like is a good blizzard. Most people are well-prepared for the snow, so it’s not like they are eating rats on day three or anything icky like that. The storm traps the couple in close proximity, and they have to deal with their emotions and whatever else they are trapped with. If it’s only two people, it can be a very pure romance.

    I have to admit for a fondness for thunder and lightning and rain, but once you bring hail in, I chicken out and get a bit scared.

    I agree with you, it is hard to care about the troubles of two people when others are hurt, injured and dying (or dead). An exceptional scenario might work just fine, but I haven’t run into too many. I will say, a sudden disaster can definitely clarify one’s thinking — you realize who you love, and who is just excess baggage when you think you are about to die.

    • I agree about the blizzard trapping people and that they’re generally prepared. I love a good blizzard as long as there is enough forewarning so I can stock up and then hunker down and not go anywhere for three days.

      Sometimes, though, I think the blizzard story line is overdone.

  2. What Michaeline said. There are lots of good blizzard or good storm stories–it isolates the characters very conveniently, leaving them with a few personal challenges (but not too many), time on their hands and plenty of forced proximity. Disasters are different, for all the reasons you identify above. The h/h should have more on their minds than sharing bodily warmth.

    There’s a very early category Suzanne Brockmann called Taylor’s Temptation which is partly set in the aftermath of an earthquake in a war zone. The heroine is an aid worker, part of a small group from an accredited not-for-profit relief organization; the hero is (of course!) an undercover Seal trying to keep the aid workers alive. I haven’t read it for years, but from memory it was good. Of course the setting added a handy life-and-death escalation to the climax of the story, but as you’d expect it was treated thoughtfully.

    • I read Taylor’s Temptation years ago as well. All I remember about it is the tired story of ‘I can’t touch her because she’s my best friend’s sister’. Maybe I buy that in high school but once everyone is an adult, that’s a stupid story line (in my opinion).

      There are lots of blizzard stories, which is a little tired as a story line, I think. I guess authors shy away from other disasters because of the issues with the h/h having to care about others so their love story can’t get a lot of print.

  3. I read a couple about hookups during the Atlanta snowmageddon a few years back that were pretty fun.

    I also wrote a novel about the forest fire that consumed Hinkcley, MN on September 1, 1894. It didn’t have an atom of plot–just a bunch of unrelated events, many of which were historically unlikely (like playing a gramophone before they were widely available) and then, out of nowhere, this massive forest fire. The poor souls who were kind enough to read it really loved my protagonist the most of any character I’ve ever created. I’ve often thought about going back and rewriting with an actual plot.

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