Though romance is a very wide umbrella, one thing is still sacrosanct; the happily ever after (that, and other rules are covered in our What Rules are in the Romance Covenant? post). Our lovers have triumphed over every internal and external conflict. Their reward is a lifetime of love, together. Kind of the whole point, right? But what if fate throws another curve into the road to happily ever after? Is love lovelier the second time around?
Let’s take a look at a few Bertrice Small heroines who have had more than one big love in their lives. Since we’re looking at continuing series, spoilers will be present:
The O’Malley Women, O’Malley and Skye’s Legacy series
Skye O’Malley has to be one of the most resilient heroines in romance fiction as well as one of the most adventurous. Married six times, asking any O’Malley devotee who they’d pick as the love of Skye’s life (I’m a Niall gal myself) is sure to spark a lively debate.
Though Skye fell hard for her first love, Niall Burke, early on, she was slated to wed the evil Dom O’Flaherty, Niall being not quite quick enough to stop the wedding. After Dom met his demise, the lovers had another chance, but a shipwreck that left both Skye and Niall presuming the other had died led them both to other partners for a while. Amnesiac Skye wed the Spanish expatriate, Deigo Goya del Fuentes, better known by his professional handle, the Great Whoremaster of Algiers (tragic backstory alert), while Niall’s wife has issues of her own. Both marriages are short-lived, and upon Skye’s return to the British Isles, she meets the Angel Earl, Geoffrey Southwood, and pirate lord Adam de Marisco, both men with their own appeal. That’s only book one. In book two, All The Sweet Tomorrows, Skye experiences a wrenching loss, (twice, from a certain perspective) but once again, love comes through to heal the wounds.
Skye’s genes are strong, and her daughter, Velvet, heroine of This Heart of Mine, finds love and marriage with Scottish lord Alexander Gordon. That is, until he’s presumed dead and a family enemy captures Velvet and ships her off to India as a gift to the Grand Mughal, Akbar. Akbar quickly falls in love with his English Rose, and Velvet, believing herself widowed, returns his affections. The two become parents of baby Yasaman, only surprise! Velvet’s first husband isn’t as dead as they thought. Some readers are torn on who Velvet’s true love might have been, but I was satisfied with the outcome.
Yasaman, later known as Jasmine, bridges the O’Malley and Skye’s Legacy series with her story. In Wild Jasmine, Yasaman flees India for the safety of the British Isles, after the death of her first husband, Prince Jamal, and catches the eye of an English marquis, a Scottish earl and even a prince of the realm, but who will truly win her heart? In Darling Jasmine, Jasmine leads her final hero on a merry chase, as this time, she’s determined to be the one who decides how her story ends.
Lara, World of Hetar series
Half-faerie Lara dominates Ms. Small’s first fantasy romance series, and claims her share of hearts along the way. Lara has a harsh start (having one’s own family attempt to sell one into prostitution will do that to a gal) but she soon meets not only one but two heroes; her first love, Vartan, and Shadow Prince Kaliq, who remains a presence in her life through may trials. Life in Hetar can be perilous, and when treachery rears its ugly head in book two, A Distant Tomorrow, Lara kicks butt and takes names even in her grief and travels to the world of Terah, where she meets Magnus Hauk, who bears the title of Dominus. In book four, The Shadow Queen, Magnus shucks off the mortal coil, bringing Kaliq and Lara together once more.
Though the heroines in all of these books do have a happily ever after with the heroes of their dreams, individual readers may either be cheering for their favorite’s triumph, or mourning a favorite who fell long ago. Does a second happily ever after invalidate the first for you as a reader, or is it uplifting to see a heroine find love again? Taking a third option, does it work better if viewed as the heroine’s story with romantic elements? Or are you more of a one to a customer sort of reader?
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.