It’s important for authors to focus, not only on finding ways to make a story special or different, but also on giving it a universal or classic element that readers will identify with. While polishing The Parent Pact, my upcoming (mid-September) release, I challenged myself to list as many classic or universal romance plots as I could.
I’m sure there are some I haven’t thought of, so I invite you to suggest additions to the list below. See if you can think of famous examples for each one. For example: Pretty Lady is one of the best Cinderella stories ever told; My Fair Lady is a Mentor/Protégé romance; Romancing the Stone is a Quest/Treasure Hunt plot; etc.
- Cinderella—Rags to Riches
- Opposites Attract
- Second Chance or Reunion
- Forbidden Love
- He Said/She Said—Male/Female Clashes, His Beliefs Versus Hers
- Protector or Bodyguard and the Damsel in Distress
- Deserted Island, Snowbound, or Stranded
- Love Triangle
- Betrayal — Bet/A Big Bad Secret
- Arranged Marriage or Marriage of Convenience
- Beauty and the Beast
- Transformation or Sleeping Beauty/Ugly duckling
- Fear of Commitment—Reforming the Rake
- Fish Out of Water
- Pygmalion—Mentor and Protégé
- Rich Versus Poor—Different Classes
- Bad Boy/Good Girl or Popular Girl/Nerd
- Girl or Boy Next Door—Best Friends become Lovers
- Quest, Treasure Hunt, Adventure
- Secret Identity
- Abductor and Hostage
- Partners—Joint Struggle to Survive or Beat a Common Enemy
When I was a teenager, the romance genre was still in its infancy. The love stories I cut my teeth on were the old Harlequin and Silhouette novels that starred mostly nurses, secretaries, and governesses as heroines. The majority of them had Cinderella plots. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself.)
Decades later, I still love the premise of the disadvantaged heroine attracting the interest of a wealthy hero who gives her everything she’s never had. It’s a simple, traditional story but timeless in its appeal because women love the fantasy of a white knight rescuing them from their dreary lives of housework and balancing their checkbooks.
Personally, the element I love most is the heroine’s triumph over adversity. Since I’m crazy about kids, I’ve always been drawn to the governess/wealthy widower version of the Cinderella plot, which is the category The Parent Pact falls into.
Nowadays, the majority of Cinderella plots feature mega-rich heroes or princes who fall for ordinary middle-class heroines. To make my story a little different, I made both my hero and heroine parents, and gave the story a bit of realism by casting a wealthy, suburban single dad as the hero, rather than a billionaire or a member of royalty, and a high-school-drop-out, single mom as the heroine.
I originally wrote The Parent Pact to submit to Harlequin’s Desire imprint. Unfortunately, my down-to-earth characters didn’t fit that line because they wanted the larger-than-life heroes (princes, sheiks, and billionaires) I’d eschewed, and they felt school age children in the story would undercut the sexual tension. Obviously, they’ve never heard of babysitters or afternoon quickies.
Unfortunately, Harlequin’s home and family lines, which welcome children in the story, also weren’t interested. They want a little sweeter story than I write. In the end, I concluded that Harlequin doesn’t subscribe to single parents having as much hot sex as my alter-ego, L.L Kellogg, insists my hero and heroine enjoy.
Cinderella and Prince Charming never had to consider the welfare of their children
When widower Tyler Fitzpatrick meets Annie Barnes at his daughter’s school, his libido goes tilt. The sexy single mother is everything he and his grieving little girl need. Unfortunately, Annie flatly refuses his dinner invitation. She wants a husband and a father for her son—not just a boyfriend. And the last time she checked, wealthy, summa-cum-laude lawyers didn’t marry high-school-drop-out housekeepers.
Tyler concedes there’s a vast difference between their experiences and lifestyles. Still, he’s inexplicably drawn to the impoverished young woman—even though her little boy reminds Tyler of an underprivileged past he’d rather forget. While becoming better acquainted, he offers Annie a job caring for his daughter and home in Redemption, PA. He also proposes a Parent Pact—an agreement to become role models to each other’s child and to fill one another’s needs as single parents while they continue to search for true love.
Accepting Tyler’s offer would solve a lot of Annie’s problems. However, surrendering to her weak-in-the-knees attraction to the irresistible widower could very well leave her and her son heartbroken. Yet, when circumstances threaten her ability to feed her child, Annie reluctantly agrees to the pact, making it clear she has no desire for Tyler to fill her so-called needs in bed. It’s a bald-faced lie, but she knows the man’s desperation to give his daughter the nurturing she needs will compel him to accept a purely platonic relationship.
Now, Annie’s only problem is resisting the overwhelming temptation to let sin-in-a-tailored-suit Tyler seduce her.
The Parent Pact will be available at Amazon the middle of September.
If you can’t think of another classic romance plot to add to the list, let me know what your favorite one is and why it appeals to you.