It is an accepted psychological truth that the lack of a positive father figure in a young girl’s life can impact her ability to trust and form healthy relationships. So having a horrid or distant father like Griffin Carey, Sugar Beth Carey’s father from Ain’t She Sweet or Burt Somerville, Phoebe Somerville’s father from It Had to Be You, both by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, is a perfect way for an author to explain a heroine’s hang-ups.
But just like the mothers from the Love the Mom You're With: Supportive Mothers in Romance Novels post, there are some great dad in romance novels, which we're highlighting just in time for Father's Day.
One of my favorite’s dads is Erwin Frederick Baxley, Jr. known as Piney from The Lovesick Cure by Pamela Morsi. Piney had big plans to be a doctor, but instead he became a young husband and father. Then when his wife became an addict, a single father. Now his son, Erwin Baxley, III, known as Tree is on the cusp of adulthood, and Piney’s job is to make sure he doesn’t make the mistakes that Piney did. What makes this book so memorial to me, is not so much an excess of emotion, but a dad doing “dad things":
“I don’t want to talk about this.”
Piney didn’t want to discuss Tree’s love life any more than his son did.
“What your body wants is not always good for your live. Puberty, along with sexual desire, shows up a lot earlier than the capacity to think long term and support a family.”
“I know all that, Dad.”
“Of course you do, but sometimes when a guy is in the arms of a pretty girl, a girl like Camryn, it might be easy to forget.”
“Jeez!” Tree complained putting his head into his hands.
“You have to keep your eyes on the prize,” Piney continued. “You want to go to college, have some choices. That won’t happen if you get tied down while you’re still in high school.”
“I know, I know,” Tree said.
“All the things you feeling, all the things you’re wanting, that’s all really, really normal. I don’t blame you for that. You have to be strong to resist. Tree, it’s so important that you resist.”
“I am! I’m probably the only guy in school that is.”
Piney shook his head. “There’s always lots of big talkers, don’t pay any attention to that.”
“Look, I told you. We’re fooling around a little, but we’re not doing it. And besides, even if we were, I know all about using protection. Why can’t you be like the other dads and just give me a box of condoms and tell me to be safe?”
“If condoms were all it took to keep you safe,” Piney told him, “They’d be stacked to the ceiling in this house.“
Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson has some great father and daughter scenes. It was only by accident that John Kowalsky discovered that Georgeanne Howard had his child, Lexie, six years ago. John is anxious to form a father and daughter bond and is even willing to make the ultimate sacrifice:
“Oh. Do you want to play Barbies then?”
He’d rather sever his left nut.
“Lexie,” Georgeanne said from the doorway of the kitchen where she stood drying her hands with a towel. “I don’t think John wants to play Barbies.”
“Please, “Lexie begged him. “I’ll let you pick out the best clothes.”
He looked into her little face with her big blue eyes and pink cheeks and he heard himself say, “Okay, but I get to be Ken.”
Lexie jumped off her chair and ran from the room. “Don’t got no Ken cause his legs broke off,” she said over her shoulder.
He glanced at Georgeanne, who stood there with a pitying look in her eyes while shaking her head.
“Are you going to play?” he asked, figuring that with Georgeanne playing too, he could quit after a short while.
She laughed silently and walked toward the couch. “No way. You get first pick of the good clothes.”…
”You can be Jewel Hair Barbie,” Lexie said as she tossed him a naked doll. . .
Resigned to his fate, he sat on the floor and searched through a pile of clothes. He chose a leopard-print leotard with matching leggings. “Do I get a matching handbag?” he asked Lexie, who was busy setting up the beauty parlor.
“No, but you gots some boots.”
He looked them over. “Just what every well-dressed woman needs, a pair of hooker boots.”
“What’s hooker boots?”
“Never mind,” Georgeanne said from her position behind the magazine.
“Do you want your perm now?” Lexie asked.
John hopped his hooker-booted Barbie over to the pink salon chair. He didn’t know much about beauty parlors, but he’d had a girlfriend or two who had spent their time and his money in them. “Could you do my nails while I’m here?” he asked, then ordered a bikini wax and an apricot facial.
Lexie laughed and told him he was funny, and suddenly playing Barbies wasn’t so bad.
One of my favorite books during the last holiday season was Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs. Logan O’Donnell is very attentive to his son, Charlie and his love for Charlie is there in every conversation:
“I miss Blake,” he said, his voice barely audible over the rush of the falls. ”When I go back to Mom’s, Blake won’t be there anymore.”
Logan’s heart went out to the kid. Blake had been Charlie’s beloved dog, a little brown terrier who had lived to a ripe old age. At the start of summer, she’d passed away. Apparently Charlie was dreading his return to his mom’s dogless house.
“I don’t blame you,” Logan said, “but you were lucky to have Blake as your best friend for a long time.”
Charlie stared at the planks of the platform. “Yeah.” He didn’t sound convinced…
“Tell me something nice about Blake,” Logan said.
“I never needed an alarm to get up for school in the morning. She’d just come into my room and burrow under the covers, like a rabbit, and she’d squirm until I got up.” He smiled, just a little.
“She got old and quiet and gentle. And then she couldn’t jump up on the bed anymore, so I had to lift her.”
“I bet you were really gentle with her.”
Grace Barnum from Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners didn’t always have an involved dad. Her parents’ divorce wasn’t amicable, so Grace didn’t spend much time with her father until she was about thirteen. She still has some unresolved trust issues, so she doesn’t see him all that often, but her father doesn’t need to talk to her to get a sense of what is going on in her life:
“Don’t take the subway home. “I'll call for a car.”
“I don’t think it will be all that crazy yet, at nine o’clock.”
He shook his head. “Don’t take the subway.”
Great. So something awful was going to happen in one of the stations. Or hopefully it would just be that a train was going to stall.
My dad is psychic. About me.
He says he gets feelings about things all the time, but only tells me the really strong ones.
I happened to be visiting him for a month the summer I was thirteen and come home from Rollerblading to find a package of maxi pads sitting on my bed. Embarrassed, and despising him even more than usual, I shoved them in the back of my closet. Two days later, I got my first period.
When I was looking for a job in publishing he told me I was going to get a job in education. I scoffed, but a week later I got the call to interview at Spender-Davis. And one time last summer he called me at work and told me to get up and leave, right away. I didn’t tell everyone because I knew no one would believe me. But Edward and I went out for lunch. Just in case. When we come back the building was cordoned off and people were filing out. There had been a bomb threat.
The four dads that I’ve highlighted are all different in personality, abilities, and circumstances, but all share a deep love for their child.
Who is your favorite contemporary romance dad?
Leigh Davis, blogger