Vanessa here, opining for love.
I found a bit of time to read this weekend. For me, that would be a Regency novel. Obvious huh. As I looked at my two-decade-old collection, I started thinking about the types of plots I really love. Three stood out: Old Lovers, Make-Me-Love-You Heroes, and Marriages of Convenience.
While I enjoy the whole “find a stranger/ love a stranger” aspect of most novels, the Old Lovers: loved once, love lost, love regained, really appeals to me. I recently finished Flight of Fancy, and the richness of the history between Cassandra Bainbridge and the Earl of Whittaker makes the story. It adds a subtle tension through the whole book, causing even mundane actions like Whitaker walking away from Cassandra to contemplate banging his head against the window in frustration, sexy. I wouldn’t feel his pain, if I didn’t know how long he’s loved her and his confusion of how to win her back. I wouldn’t sigh as I see Cassandra noticing Whittaker leaning against the window and noting he’s not gangly any more but well-set, all man now. Hubba Hubba.
And I’ll say it. You can’t get away with “Lessman” like passion starting on page 1 with strangers, unless of course, this is a bodice ripper Regency, but we don’t write that here.
On my radar to read, Mary Moore’s Beauty in Disguise. Seems that old lovers, Lady Katryn and Lord Dalton have a story to tell in the woods.
The Make-Me-Love-You Hero
What is a make-me-love you hero? This is an intelligent swarthy hero with a smidge of alpha-male arrogance. I know what you’re saying. “Arrogance, really Vanessa. I don’t want to read about a stuck-up hero. ”
Let me explain. Yes, a touch of arrogance is a requirement. It causes him to be deluded into believing he alone can save the heroine from all her woes. This adds to his fall or black moment. It changes him forever. It will make his “somewhat loose bond to God” stronger, more personal, more real.
Oh, he must also be smothered in a big dollop of humor, particularly, self-deprecating humor. It’s a rare combination like a handcrafted tea, but when you find him, you’ll drink him in, reading him over and over again.
And it goes without saying, he must be romantic. I need him to whisk me off my feet and carry me to safety after he bests the footpads. He should whisper sweet Latin or poetry or verses penned by Solomon in my ear to soothe my nerves. Then at the right moment, his rough knuckles will traverse my jaw, tipping my chin to the right angle to kiss me ’til I nearly faint. Or at least he’d want to but his gentlemanly manners prevented it.
Who are these men? You’ve met them: Mr. Knightly (though he needs more humor) of Emma, Mr. Darcy (after he falls for Elizabeth) of Pride and Prejudice, Dominick Cherrett (from start to finish) of Lady in the Mist, Adam Drake of A Proper Marriage(Zebra-Traditional Regency), and Justain Delveaux of Madeline’s Protector (Ok, you’ll get to meet him in April). There are so many more that I can’t do this post justice.
Sigh, sorry I was in my happy place thinking of these heroes, back to Regency Reflections. P.S. please comment with more Make-Me-Love-You Regency heroes. I need to add to my bucket list.
On my Radar: Major Gerrit Hawkes of the Rogue’s Redemption. I hear he’s a naughty guy turned good by the love of a good woman and a good God.
Marriage of Convenience
As I said before finding love with a stranger can be stirring. Nonetheless, having to marry said stranger before you knew you loved him is positively fascinating. The idea of marrying a stranger is probably making you cringe. This complete loss of control in a matter of the heart would lead to many hours of prayer and/or counseling. Yet, did you know that the average divorce rate of arranged marriages is 6%1? Did you know the average divorce rate amongst Christians (those who regularly attend church) is 38%, 60% for Christians who don’t attend church regularly 2. So let’s not scoff at these marriages based upon factors other than love.
Let Me Explain What a (Regency) Marriage of Convenience is and What it is Not.
A marriage of convenience is a real marriage, not a fake one. It must be officiated like every other marriage, with licenses, banns, etc. In Regency times, these were marriages for life. There is no “let’s get married” for a few years and then divorce. As a matter of fact, there is practically no divorce. Unless the husband continually cheated with the wife’s sister to the point the wife could not forgive him and was constantly reminded of the infidelity, Parliament saw no reason to grant a divorce. Thus, divorces were extremely rare in England since it had to be sanctioned by Parliament.
There was such a thing as a Church Divorce. This was not a legal divorce but a separation ordained by the church. This did not dissolve the marriage or allow someone to marry another. It was just a civilized way to separate. Women needed to be particularly careful in this situation. The husband could keep custody of the children, as it was his right to decide where the minors would live. He could prevent her from ever seeing them. Under a Church Divorce, the husband could do the bare minimum to provide for the wife. Again not a good situation for the wife.
A marriage of convenience did not have to involve a compromised party. It might just be convenient. I truly love, when a hero accidentally or purposely compromises the heroine and is now forced to save her (and his) honor(s) and must marry the heroine. Yet, this is just one contrivance. They may decide to marry to fulfill the requirements for an inheritance, to join lands, to protect the heroine, a parent’s dying wish, or an overly complex and contrived plot. Many reasons, just not for love.
A marriage of convenience does not mean no nookie. This was a real marriage with a marriage bed. As Hebrews 13:4 says, “The Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.” So if the parties are inclined or they needed an heir…. Well, you get the picture.
Alas, most of my favorite Marriage of Convenience stories are found in the old traditional Regencies (Inspy’s we need more of these): The earl and countess of Sanborn in the Perfect Mistress (Bantam), the earl and countess Faulconer of A Convenient Marriage (Zebra), the earl and countess of Slenford of The Earl’s Mistaken Bride (Love Inspired).
On my radar, Marriage of Inconvenience by Cheryl Bolen. Is the practical marriage of the Earl and Countess of Ansley doomed or just beginning? I’m going to have to find out.
- UNICEF, Human Rights Council, ABC News, 8/12/2012
- Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.