Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rules for a Reason

Greetings, friends! My contribution to the Sourcebooks Casablanca line is My Boss is a Serial Killer: A Tale of Murder, Romance and Filing, a romantic comedy which will be released in September, 2008.

Because our blog’s recent theme has been breaking the rules, I submit the following list, developed with some helpful ideas from my terrific mother. Mom is a romance fan herself and passed the passion on to me. And please, don’t take offense. I only spoof the things for which I have the greatest affection. So, with Mom’s blessing, I present:

“Twenty Things that Probably Won’t Happen in a Romance Novel”

1. Upon meeting, she mistakes him for her cousin’s fiancĂ©. He mistakes her for the scullery maid. This misunderstanding is quickly rectified when they introduce themselves properly and have a pleasant laugh over their error.

2. His grandfather’s Will declares our hero must marry before his thirtieth birthday or he loses land and title. A reasonable discussion convinces the old man that this is a stupid idea. The Will is changed to be more sensible.

3. They marry in a rush to protect her from her evil uncle. Later they discover her uncle was not evil, only had a migraine that made him tired and cranky.

4. They ride together over vast estate lawns. She will soon see his home for the first time. An astonishing mansion appears through the trees. He says, “My friend Edmund lives there. He rents me the five-room cottage on the back forty.”

5. During their first week of marriage, he throws a lavish party, and has a beautiful gown made especially for the occasion and delivered to her chambers. It is two sizes too small, and makes her look jaundiced.

6. The lovers are faced with potential trouble as his beautiful, sophisticated ex-mistress returns at the height of the season—but all is well when she wishes them the very best and minds her own business.

7. A beloved grande dame watches over the young ladies of the haute ton and dispenses wisdom with a gleam in her eye. Turns out the old woman is completely senile and delusional, and believes herself to be Cleopatra commanding an army of trained monkeys.

8. Due to a childhood trauma involving his mother, he is deeply mistrustful of women. However he realizes this is unhealthy and works at overcoming his problem. By the time they meet, he is well-adjusted and open.

9. A misunderstanding that causes pain and mistrust is resolved in five minutes by having a simple conversation that clears the air.

10. The family fortune is completely secure. There is no legendary buried treasure on the estate.

11. As his wife, she is put in charge of managing a vast household and social calendar. She is extremely bad at this due to poor organizational skills.

12. He has a mysterious past which he has confided to no one. When at last he tells her, it turns out he’s been fly-fishing for the last ten years.

13. He appears to her both as her handsome suitor, and as a dark hooded figure of unknown identity. She figures out in five minutes that they’re the same guy and tells him to stop acting childish.

14. The young fop to whom she was promised long ago turns out to be a sweet kid, and so she honors her promise and marries him, because they have the same taste in clothes.

15. He is challenged to a duel over his lady fair, but he’s clumsy with a sword and stabs himself badly before the fight begins. When he sees his own blood, he screams like a woman.

16. A dark cave full of secrets beckons the lovers to explore—he won’t go in, because he’s afraid of spiders.

17. She gets through the entire book without falling in a fountain or puddle, or being drenched in a rainstorm, and without having to be stripped by him in front of a roaring fire on a bearskin rug so she won’t catch her death of pneumonia.

18. She may seem like a virgin of untapped passions, but she’s been around. A lot.

19. The heroine is unable to ride a horse as well as any man, or as well as any of her friends, or very well at all, actually, and in fact she thinks horses are nasty, startling animals.

20. They give each other idiotic nicknames, like Pookie and Bubbles. It’s for the best, though, because her name rhymes with something obscene and he can’t say it without laughing.

And I’ll be you can think of a few more! Until next time, wishing you great reading.



  1. Great post Christina
    I was laughing so much that I spilt pepsi max everywhere.
    I especially love no 7 and 15 seeing as how most of the books I read are historical.
    I will be getting this book as soon as I can and I am looking forward to reading it.
    Have Fun

  2. Helen,

    You be careful with that pepsi max! Historical romances are my personal favorites; I have a huge mushy soft spot for them.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. SOO funny, Christina! I love it, especially the hero being afraid of the spiders in the cave and the "nonvirginal virgin who's been around. A lot." I'm glad I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read that one. Is your book funny, too? Thanks for being the comic relief on our blog.

  4. Thanks for the great laughs, Christina! It's good to know that at least one of us can see the humor in all of this craziness! Whenever I get all bent out of shape about the things I've had to do since I entered the romance-writing world, I have to ask myself: WILL ANYONE DIE BECAUSE OF THIS? Of course, the answer is always no! We're writing books to ENTERTAIN people, not change their lives--or save them!
    Thank you again, and I cannot WAIT to read your book!

  5. Funny, funny.

    Whenever I encounter one of the plot devices that you are spoofing, I immediately want to write a story in which it is confounded.

    In one of my favorite Linda Howard books, Open Season, the hero takes the heroine (that the bad guys are gunning for) to a safe place and tells the her to stay put. You read romance so you know what's going to happen next.

    But she reads romance too, and she knows what ALWAYS happens to the heroine who doesn't stay put, and since she's no dummy, she stays right where she is.:-)

    Mary Margret

  6. ROFLOL, Christina!

    Unfortunately those will be some VERY SHORT books! Okay, maybe not the heroine and the young fop who share the same wardrobe tastes...

    And the scared of spiders hero made me think of Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes. We KNOW what's coming there, don't we??? Actually, I think as readers we know what's coming most of the time. The fun and enjoyment comes from seeing how the author gets there.

    glad she wasn't drinking a beverage near the keyboard

  7. I love this!!!!!!

    #4, #13, #15, and # 20 cracked me up.

  8. Christina, what a hoot! You are so inventive! I loved what you said about clearing up the misunderstandings with a conversation. Not gonna happen! I also loved what Mary Margaret added about the heroine that stays put. Bring it on, ladies, and keep me laughing.

  9. Jennifer Y,

    Thanks for your comment. #13 is directly spoofing my all time favorite bodice-ripper, "A Rose in Winter" by Kathleen Woodiwiss. That poor girl never figures out that they're the same guy!


  10. Marie,

    Thanks for chiming in. I consider my book to be comic, and hope others will think so too, when September finally rolls around.


  11. Cheryl,

    You are correct as usual! I have always found romance to have a lot of humor in it, and that's a good thing. The good authors are always winking at us.


  12. If this is any indication, Christina, I'm sure your book is hilarious. You gave us all a good laugh today. I passed it on to a few of my other friends, too. FUNNY!

    We should write a group book where we break all these rules. Perhaps a chapter a day on the blog? That would be fun. Nice job!

  13. Mary Margret,

    I'll have to get that book!

    I too have read a lot of books where the cliche gets turned on its ear. Modern writers especially seem to like fiddling with those old formulas. I like them both ways!


  14. Aunty Cindy,

    You are so right.

    Yes, they would be very short books indeed. In fact, once the old-fashioned plot was dispensed with in four or five pages, the hero and heroine would have to find something else to do. Hmm, now what could a man and a woman do together in a steamy romance novel?


  15. Carla,

    How nice of you to say so. It's a cool coincidence that you share the name with my funny and influential mom, who gave me some zinger ideas for this silly-romance list. Anyone named Carla is tops in my opinion!


  16. Marie,

    Now that idea is genius! I actually find the idea of a hero afraid of spiders to be endearing, so maybe I could write that chapter.


  17. We should write a group book where we break all these rules. Perhaps a chapter a day on the blog? That would be fun. Nice job!

    I like that idea! Y'all could each take one of the rules and write the someone pointed out they would be short ones indeed and I am sure you all could make them enjoyable.

  18. I would LOVE to pursue this idea. Let's talk to our blog sisters and see what they say! You get dibs on the spiders!

  19. What a fun post! But I have to admit, I was somewhat distracted by the lovely cover art you all scored. Congratulations, ladies -- on the blog and the books!
    (I come to you via Marie)

  20. Purplehearts,

    So glad you stopped by our blog. You are so right about that cover art. It is eye-catching, to say the least. Visit us again!


  21. Super post and lots of fun to read, Christina. I'm really behind! The comment you made about the guy renting the place on the back forty reminded me of what my dad said when we lived in Florida and drove by these supposed colossal estates...all you could see were these magnificant gated strutures, and then he said all that was back there were really trailer homes. :)Super post!