Last night I was going through my books and boxing them up for a friend who’s salivating at the idea of inheriting my library. (For those of you new to this blog, I’m in the middle of preparing to move from Japan to New Zealand.) During the process, I, of course, got distracted by fun titles and shiny covers, but I also discovered something very interesting.
I have quite a few category novels that I picked up during the Romance Writers of America NY conference (which I attended just before I arrived in Japan). I’ve read several of them but pretty much every single unread one involves a secret baby plot. I hadn’t realized how much that device does not work for me until I saw that pile of books.
I’m a big believer in honesty in romances and for me, the secret baby is one lie that crosses the line in the wrong direction. I want a really, really, really good reason for the secret being kept, and in most cases, I don’t accept the rationalizations offered by the heroines. The other thing that makes me leery of this is that I see in the secret the evidence of a huge communication problem between the two protagonists. And if that kind of problem can occur once, what’s to stop it being repeated later on down the road on a different issue?
Am I being too tough? Maybe. There are authors who have probably done this very well and I just haven’t been exposed to them because the idea turns me off. However, the prevalence of that plot device in category novels tells me that it works for a lot of people. If it does for you, want to convince me of the error of my ways? Perhaps I’ll just have to write a secret baby book of my own to work it out. Then again, I’d probably have the heroine keep the secret for about two seconds before blurting it out. (Have a read of the first line of Secrets in the Marriage Bed if you don’t believe me).
So are there any particular romance plots or themes that don't work for you? Which ones do?
And just because I feel like it, I’ll draw a random name from all comments on this topic that come in before midnight Fri PST (extended to midnight Sun PST) to win either a copy of something from my backlist (subject to availability), or a pdf ARC of Slave to Sensation (winner’s choice).