Everyone knows that road trips can make or break a relationship. You’re in close quarters, you find out that your friend really likes Taco Bell, and you have to make constant bathroom breaks and no one ever seems to sync up. In romance novels, being on the road can sometimes bring these issues to a head, but more often than not it leads to a whole lot of love and understanding—and maybe force a hero and heroine together that might not have ever met otherwise.
Close Quarters Lead to Close Contact…
The book that got me thinking of road trip love was Beware a Scot’s Revenge by Sabrina Jeffries. In it, Lady Venetia Campbell is travelling to her Scottish home when she is kidnapped at pistol-point. Her would-be kidnapper turns out to be her childhood love, Lachlan, and both Venetia’s trip and Lachlan’s plan take a totally different turn than originally imagined.
For a long moment they sat poised, with Lachlan’s pistol lying beneath her underarm and his mouth against hers in a mockery of their kisses last night.
Kisses he hadn’t meant. Kisses he’d given her only to lull her to go off with him today. Curse the wicked blackguard!
A horse snorted mere feet away and the guard’s gaze bore into her back through the window. Suddenly, the guard laughed and called out something to Lachlan’s accomplice. Then the carriage moved again, and her chance for any escape vanished into the wind.
It was too much for her. She bit Lachlan’s lip. Hard.
…And Can Lead to Closer Connections
The Wizard’s Ward by Deborah Hale is one of my favorite books, and leans more in the fantasy spectrum than romance, but has very strong romantic ties, as Rath and Maura travel through the war-torn kingdom of Umbria. As the two continue their journey to fulfill a prophecy of which Maura is the focus, Maura learns that Rath is much more than a mercenary:
Working his way through his second large helping of ham and cabbage, Rath shrugged. “To me, eating at a table seems odd. Though I reckon I could get to like it.”
While he continued to eat with single-minded diligence, Maura watched him with an oddly possessive curiosity. For many years he had lived and thrived on the kind of existence they had shared during the past week. The danger, the hardship, and the constant movement had quickly lost all charm for her—not that they had held much to begin with.
More than ever, she admired Rath Talward for holding his courage, his humor and the decency of character he tried so hard to hide from a world that might exploit it as a weakness.
In Ruthie Knox’s Flirting with Disaster, Sean and Katie also have many illuminating moments while they go back and forth between Camelot, Ohio, and the various locations their rock-star client takes them. Sean and Katie knew each other once upon a time in high school, and their trips show that they are two very different people now.
…And Some Realizations.
In The Switch by Lynsay Sands, Lord Radcliffe promises to help two siblings escape their uncle when said uncle tries to marry one of them off to a brutal lord. As readers, we know that Elizabeth and Charles Westerly are actually Beth and Charlotte, however poor Radcliffe has no idea. Things get particularly hilarious when Radcliffe begins to notice “Charles’s” bottom. The hijinks get even more outrageous when Radcliffe, Beth, Charlie arrive in London. Charlie has developed feelings for Radcliffe and Radcliffe has unsettling feelings for Charlie, but when the girls begin to trade places as Charlie, Radcliffe becomes even more disturbed when he notices “Beth” only when Charlie is playing her, and vice versa!
Shared Space Means Shared Resources…
Kresley Cole is a big fan of the road trip. With her love of opposites, it’s no surprise that the only way they could get together would be if the hero and heroine were forced to travel with each other. In Pleasure of a Dark Prince, Garreth does not regret forcing Lucia to share a cabin with him while they are on a riverboat to a remote location:
“We don’t have any cabins left—“
“No’ a problem. I bunk with this one from now on.”
Lucia opened her mouth to protest, but Travis said, “Then welcome the hell aboard.” With that, he turned and climbed back up to the wheelhouse.
Lucia jerked from Garreth’s grasp. “This isn’t over. And if you lay another paw on me, MacRieve, I’ll make you regret it. “
When she turned from him, he laid another paw on her, giving her arse a possessive squeeze, groaning with pleasure; she whirled around and punched him with shocking force in the Adam’s apple, doubling him over as he coughed.
As she hastened away, he grated, “Still doona regret it.”
…And Sharing Some Pretty HOT Feelings.
Another Ruthie Knox book, Ride with Me, epitomizes the Road Trip romance. When Tom Geiger’s sister sets him up with a cycling companion, he never expects a woman—let alone Lexie Marshal, a woman for whom he constantly is fighting his attraction. But eventually, being in such close confines, not even Tom can fight an attraction that hot.
“You have a cog mark imprinted in grease on the back of your right calf,” he said. “You got it yesterday, and it didn’t come off completely in the shower. I notice it every time you ride in front of me, and I can’t decided if I want to help you clean it off or to grind the grease deeper into your skin like a tattoo.”
He lowered his mouth to kiss behind her ear. “I love to get you naked when you’re still all dirty from the ride like this. Sometimes when we’re on the road, I think about what you’re going to taste like later here”—he ran his tongue underneath her jaw—“and down here…”
And Then Sexy Times, Of Course….
Another addition by Cole on the road trip to love is Dark Desires After Dusk. Cadeon Woede is on a mission (from a soothsayer, so kind of from God). In order to save his brother’s kingdom, he must deliver the Halfling Holly to Groot the Metallurgist. Holly is the Vessel, the prophecied female who will give birth to a great evil or a great good, depending on the father. The one problem: She’s also Cade’s mate and he has to deliver her to Groot the same way he found her—as a virgin. But no one gets in the way of a demon and his fated mate:
He put his palm between her legs, but she couldn’t spread them enough because of the steering wheel and the console.
“Bugger this,” he growled, snapping off his seat bealt, and slamming out of the car.
Just as disappointment swept over her, he opened her door and freed her seat belt as well. His big hands grasped her sides, lifting her from the car to set her on her feet outside.
“Cadeon?” When he started on her zipper, she cried, “Someone will see!”
“No one’s driving by.”
When he shoved her jeans and panties down past her knees, she cried, “What if—Oh.”
She didn’t have time to resist before he’d placed her on top of the car, spreading her legs…
And finally love.
Each of these couples has their romance start on the road, but they have very different journeys to get to their happily-ever-afters. Some honorable mentions that I plan on reading on my next road trip are Kristan Higgins’s My One and Only; Baby, I’m Yours by Susan Andersen; and The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long.
What are some of your favorite Road Trip romances? Do you think the close quarters make a difference to the HEA?
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.