Today we welcome Jennifer Probst to Heroes and Heartbreakers to discuss the very real adage that “opposites attract.” Jennifer’s The Marriage Bargain has taken readers by storm, landing on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal’s bestseller lists, with a print version coming soon.
Thanks for joining us, Jennifer!
(Be sure to enter Jennifer’s sweepstakes for a chance to win a digital copy of The Marriage Bargain! Details and rules at the bottom of the page.)
I adore romance novels where the main hero and heroine are complete opposites. Immediately, a thrill launches through me and in a capable writer’s hands, I become putty. There is something exciting about watching two people who have nothing in common fight the journey of a happily ever after. The harder the fight, the more satisfaction I get in the end. The strong ones not only resist the burgeoning physical attraction, but also reach deep and fight back with their minds, heart, and soul. I secretly know it will all end well, but watching the journey play out brings some of the most satisfying romance novels on the page.
The three most popular ways authors use this dynamic is personality aspects, backgrounds, and goals.
1. Personality: Stories with a shy, sort of geeky hero pit against the bubbly, feisty heroine can be a great way to turn off the paved road and take the one less traveled. We’ve all read about the dominant alpha hero sweeping the heroine off her feet. But what about the more subtle hero –sort of like Superman dressed like Clark Kent—and the heroine is the factor that frees up all that hunky strength? Some great books that include this include Vision in White by Nora Roberts and Absolutely Positively by Jayne Ann Krentz.
In Robert’s story, Carter is definitely under the radar next to the outgoing, ambitious Mackenzie. His scholarly background adds to that professor type geekiness that appeals, and his determined pursuit of Mac gives us a glimpse of the strong core hidden beneath the tweed jacket. Yum.
Absolutely Positively pits the gutsy, determined Molly against the controlled, very logical Dr. Harry Stratton. Watching Harry slowly lose his control, and claiming it back in the bedroom, is some of the most satisfying stuff around.
Flipping it in the opposite direction, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a genius in pitting character personalities against each other. In Nobody’s Baby But Mine, heroine Jane is a brilliant physics professor who decides to have a baby with a man who can help balance her “nerdy” genes. Enter Cal, the star football player, well known for his biceps rather than his brain. It’s only later we are treated to the truth that shows he is not as dumb as Jane thinks.
2. Backgrounds – Wealth versus poverty. Breeding versus street smarts. This is a big conflict in many romance novels. One of the most famous is Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Darcy needs a wife with the proper breeding and wealth for his beloved estate, and the lovely Elizabeth is everything Darcy shouldn’t want. She’s been raised loosely, has no money, and isn’t the right fit. Fortunately, their emotions bring a new level to this classic love story that makes it one of the best in romance history.
The same spin went for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane is the governess in Rochester’s house. This type of background gives the hero power and the right to call the shots—but of course, he’s secretly powerless due to the attraction he feels for Jane.
Even the current bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James uses the world weary, tortured, billionaire Christian Grey who becomes fascinated with the innocent, young heroine. The difference in their world experience, age, and past is a huge conflict in the book and drives the story.
3. Goals – Give the heroine a specific goal, and pair her up with the hero who wants the exact opposite. What do you get? A great story! In Ain’t She Sweet, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, heroine Sugar arrives in town with one goal: restore her reputation and gain forgiveness from the town she once tried to ruin. The hero, and the town who had been wronged by her, wants to make her pay.
The talented Linda Howard created a yummy conflict in Angel Creek. Rancher Lucas needs to complete his dynasty by buying a certain family ranch. Of course, the ranch happens to belong to the lovely heroine, Dee, who refuses to give it up at any price. Their shared past and different backgrounds add an extra layer of zest.
Using opposing character types add an extra element of conflict, fun, and sexiness to the romance novel.
What are some of your favorite?
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.
Her publications include her bestseller The Marriage Bargain, Heart of Steel, and her erotic Steele Brother series, Catch Me, Play Me, and Dare Me with Decadent. She has also written a children’s book, Buffy and the Carrot, co-written with her twelve-year-old niece, along with a short story about a shelter dog, “A Life Worth Living.” She loves to hear from her readers; to contact her, please visit her website at http://www.jenniferprobst.com