In the first pregnancy in romance novels post, I talked a little bit about unplanned pregnancy in romance, but there are so many different scenarios evolving pregnancy, such as an already pregnant by another man heroine, a heroine who is just looking for an anonymous sperm donor, or a heroine who has asked a friend to be her baby’s father.
While any type of pregnancy changes a story of boy meets girl to something so much more complex, the above scenarios can be even more complicated.
In best friends to parents together, there has to be a conflict or there is no story. So how does an author create that conflict but still have the reader believe in the strength of their friendship? Fiona Lowe took on the challenge with Newborn Baby for Christmas. Dr. Georgina Lambert wants more than anything in the world to have a baby, but her latest boyfriend bolts when she brought up having a family. Desperate, she turns one of her best mates, Dr. Hamish Pettigrew, and he is thrown for a loop to say the least:
He tried to head off this crazy request by going straight to the heart of the matter. “Georgie, something like this could ruin our friendship.”
Her straight-shooting gaze hooked him, filled with honesty. “It won’t. Another reason I’m asking you is because I know you don’t want a child.”
He had a moment of feeling like he was fighting quicksand. “I don’t understand how me not wanting a child makes you ask me.”
“You’ll leave me in peace to raise him or her alone and do things my way. This is my baby, my new-start family…”
“I’m sorry, Georgie…I don’t think I can help you.”
Her shoulders slumped for a moment and then her chocolate-brown eyes hooked his gaze, filled with everything they’d every shared. “I’ve never asked you for anything, Hamish, and I never will again, but right now I’m asking you my closest friend in the whole world, not to make a hasty decision not to say yes or no. All I’m asking is that you think about it. Sleep on it . . .”
A book with an already pregnant heroine can be a tough sell to romance readers. I have to admit that it is hard for me to believe that the hero fantasizes about making love to a seven month pregnant heroine. You also have to accept that the heroine is ready for a new relationship fewer than nine months since her relationship with the baby’s father ended. Of course, when the author demonizes the baby’s father, showing that he is cruel or abusive, then it is easy to accept.
In Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr, the heroine, Vanessa Rutledge had a wonderful husband. He was killed in action when she was seven months pregnant. Now six weeks after her son’s birth, she is ready to move on. The man she has grown to love was her rock during her pregnancy as well as after her husband’s death. He was there for the birth of her son. But he is not someone new in her life; he is her deceased husband’s best friend—the one her husband asked to take care of her, if anything happened to him.
“Matt’s only been dead a few months, but he’s been gone almost a year… Mel, he wasn’t on a business trip. He was in combat, out of touch. I talked to him a total of three times, saw his face once on live video cam. The letters were short and sparse. It’s been a really long time since—-“
Mel touched Vanni’s knee. ”There’s no rule of thumb on this, Vanessa. Everything I’ve read and I’ve read a lot about widowhood, says that when people enter new relationships relatively soon after losing a spouse, it indicates they had happiness in their marriage. Being married was a good experience for them.”
In Nora Roberts’s trilogy In the Garden, a romance develops between Hayley Phillips and Harper Ashby but it doesn’t really get off the ground until after Hayley has her baby. Ms. Roberts isn’t afraid to have a heroine fall prey to good old pregnancy hormones, and the blues over a bloated body, which in turn doesn’t make her the easiest person to be around, as Harper discovers:
Harper skirted the car to get to Hayley’s side. His hair curled damply from under his ball cap, and his shirt showed stains from grass and dirt. “Need some help?”
She couldn’t get her feet back in her shoes. They felt hot and swollen and no longer hers. Cranky tears flooded her throat. I’m pregnant, she snapped, “not handicapped.”
If you have been reading romance for a while, then you probably already read, or at least heard of, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s take on a heroine looking for a sperm donor in Nobody's Baby But Mine. Ms. Phillips loves pushing the envelope—in fact, I don’t think anyone does it better.
“How are you living with yourself?” he sneered. “Or is that genius brain of yours so big it’s taken over the place where your heart should be? Did you think I wouldn’t care, or were you just counting on me never finding out?”
“Finding out?” Her voice was barely a whisper. She bumped into the chalkboard as dread slithered down her spine.
“I care, Professor. I care a lot.”
Her skin felt hot and clammy at the same time. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bull. You’re a liar.”
He purposefully advanced on her, and she felt as if she were trying to swallow great lumps of cotton. “I want you to leave.”
“I’ll just bet you do.” He drew so close his arm brushed her own. She caught the scent of soap, wool,and fury. “I’m talking about the baby, Professor. The fact that you set out to get yourself pregnant with my kid. And I hear you hit the jackpot.”
What is your take on a pregnant heroine? Do you tend to shy away from these type of stories, or do you embrace them? Share your favorite stories, and plots!
Leigh Davis, blogger