Princesses have long been a top choice for romance heroines; take a look at some current and upcoming Harlequin titles: The Inherited Bride by Maisey Yates, whose Princess Isabella does not want to marry a sheikh; Expecting Royal Twins by Melissa McClone where the heroine discovers she's a princess; and The Disgraced Princess by Robyn Donald, where the heroine marries a prince bent on revenge.
What is it about these, dare I say it (ok, I will, since I read them myself), “fairy tales for adults” that has us so captivated? The back blurbs tell of secrets pasts and never wanted imposed duty, the rescuing of a feisty maid and the melting of a ruthless man’s frozen heart. Then there’s also the tale of a surprise virgin (funny how that happens) and two secret babies who cause love to blossom. If only (says the mother of twins—ed.'s note)
So what’s the draw? Is it the idea that love conquers all? Sure, I think that’s a big pull in all romance novels. But I feel in these stories where you’re dealing with royal characters there is something else at play here. I like to think it’s a little bit of the Cinderella/Disney effect, though some may fault me for that too.
It’s the idea of being taken from the ashes and exalted to something much higher than your wildest dreams without care of the consequence (babies do happen quite a lot, though) or care of the cost (of daily living expenses, in most cases). And hey, in these turbulent times is that such a bad thing?
Just imagine you could live, for a few moments, in a fantasy where there is a handsome prince who can save you from the troubles of this world. One not too far removed from the same one you dreamed about when just starting out with Grimm fairy tales.
(And before there is the backlash from all of those who say we women are living in a fantasy world with our romances, or somehow not coming out of childhood, or some other such nonsense. I will just say this and then get back to my post: How many more remakes will be made into blockbuster movies of male Superhero comic book characters?)
Now after a poor segue back to the post at hand…Yes, you may be willing to deal with a less-than-perfect prince who is a little rough around the edges for the opportunity to be pulled from the ashes. You can be the Beauty to his Beast and work to tame him (the taming may be half the fun, if you know what I mean). And don’t they always need a bit of taming anyway? Being the “magic of the heroine's love” or lovemaking, for that matter, which I have to wonder if that taming is temporary at best and usually it is. But no worries, it all works out in the end.
Another draw is the thought of feeling protected and safe by the clear alpha heroes in these stories. They may be extremely tough, highly arrogant brutes at times, but there is always a feeling of safety; he may be dangerous, but the heroine is always safest with him against the rest of the world. Another good feeling in these times. Another “if only," and maybe the biggest, is the thought of the faraway dream. It’s a bit like the feeling you get when buying a lottery ticket; that “hey you never know” feeling. And I wonder if it could ever be ME made so special.
It’s what got me up so so early in the morning to see Princess Diana wed Prince Charles back in 1981. Sure, I didn’t have the slightest crushy feeling for Charles and even as a young teen I wondered what a young cutie like Diana was doing marrying a straight-laced stiff like Charles. But still I thought, “Wow!” That carriage, that dress, “she’s now a princess. If only.” (Little did I know the rest of the story).
But even now as an adult, I’ll still watch for Kate Middleton the same way, though with more jaded eyes and a more hopeful heart. And I’m sure my daughter, not far from the age I was when Charles and Diana wed, will watch and think, “Wow cool, she’s a princess. If only.”
Kwana Jackson is a writer of Women’s fiction and Young Adult, a former fashion designer, a wife, and a mother of teen twins who have a love of knitting and a strange obsession with “reality” TV.