Nov 27 2012 12:00pm

Trope of the Month: Marriage of Convenience

My Darling Caroline by Adele AshworthAcademically put, tropes are “common or overused theme[s] or device[s]," which makes them sound like cliches, which makes them seem like a bad thing. But they’re totally not! Romance novel fans all have their favorite—not to mention least favorite—tropes, from friends to lovers, chick in pants, secret baby, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, May-December, boss-assistant...the list goes on.

Each month, we’ll be picking a romance novel trope and ask you to offer recommendations falling under the trope rubric (again with the academic talk!).

This month's trope is marriage of convenience, where the hero and heroine are married before they've fallen in love. The most common example of MOC plots occur in historicals, where arranged marriages are commonplace, but they can also happen in contemporaries.

Some recommended marriage-of-convenience books include:

  • My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth
  • The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh
  • Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
  • His Wife for One Night by Molly O'Keefe
  • To Wed a Stranger by Edith Layton
  • Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
  • His Secondhand Wife by Cheryl St. John

Do you like this trope? Which are your favorites? Share your recommendations in the comments!

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Lege Artis
1. LegeArtis
You forgot my favorite marriage of convenience book:
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
Ah, @LegeArtis, and I just read that one, too! I loved it.

One of my other favorites is The Ideal Wife by Balogh. I think Balogh has done more than just The Temporary and The Ideal Wife also--the Web series has, I think, at least one MOC. Perhaps she's where I first fell in love with the trope?
3. WandaWolfe
His Convenient Husband by J. L. Langley
Lege Artis
4. LegeArtis
@Megan- Oh, yes Balogh! First one in Bedwyn series, Slightly Married has also MOC plot. ( I'm still working my way through Bedwyns to get to Slightly Dangerous that everyone said it's a must read...)
Jordan R
5. jrojrojro
I love this trope, althought I haven't been able to pinpoint why. Does anyone have suggestions for non-historical examples? Looking back, I think a great majority of Kristen Ashley's paranormal-type-stories have a MOC theme, if not an actual marriage.
Vanessa Ouadi
7. Lafka
Oh, how I love marriages of convenience! I just love the idea that people can be brought together by circumstances or out of practicality and yet grow fond of each other up to the point of falling in love.

Among my favorites are :
- Lisa Kleypas' Devil in Winter, already mentioned ;
- Sherry Thomas' Ravishing the heiress : this one I loved because it takes place on a great time periode - 10 years I believe - and shows how the h/H relationship grew from being strangers, to becoming friends and business partners who build a life together, and eventually to becoming lovers ;
- Sarah MacLean' A rogue by any other name is about childhood friends who enter a marriage of convenience but old feelings soon grow anew between them.

I also liked several books by Judith MacNaught, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn...

In historical romances though, some authors tend to mix the marriage of convenience trope with the temporary marriage one _ and it doesn't always do the trick for me, since I know how difficult (and exceptional) it was to be granted an annulment or a divorce in those days. That's actually easier in contemporary marriages of convenience, given that one can divorce easily nowadays. For instance, Jennifer Probst' first installment of her Marriage to a billionaire series _ the Marriage bargain _, the hero and the heroine agree to a temporary marriage of convenience, for a year.

@jrojrojro : For contemporaries MOC, you may have a look to :
- Jennifer Probst's Marriage to a billionaire series _ there are 3 books so far, all dealing with marriage of convenience or arranged marriage.
- Suzan Elisabeth Philipps' Kiss an angel is about an arranged marriage : the heroine marries the man her father has chosen for her to avoid jail, and the hero isn't particularly enthusiastic at the idea of marrying either. It's a bit over the top at times (the story takes place in a circus for instance), and the hero is extra-alpha who borders on being a jerk, but I liked this book :-)
- Bella Andre's Game for Love is about a temporary marriage of convenience between a football player and a teacher.
- Brenda Jackson's One special moment was about a deal including a marriage of convenience and the conception of a baby. I didn't like it much, but I think it has majorly good reviews, so... :-)
Darlene Marshall
8. DarleneMarshall
I've always loved the MOC trope and Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly do it very well.

A science fiction novel using this theme is the newly released Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. Ivan Vorpatril is a wonderful beta hero who'll be best appreciated by folks who've read the entire Vorkosigan saga.

The fantasy novel Warprize may fall into this theme, though it's more a dynastic marriage than a MOC.
10. Sheila M
My Darling Caroline is my very favorite, both a bit on the 'nerdy' side, but boy can they get hot and heavy.....whew!!!!
11. Bonnie G
I second Carla Kelly. "The Admiral's Pennyless Bride" is one of my favorites with this trope.
Tanisha Robinson
12. sassytarheel
I really like this one. I read a book many, many, many years ago (like the late 1980s) with this theme (I've been hooked since) when I was in high school. Don't remember the name of it but it was set in London and a single mom (who was basically homeless) agrees to marry a single father (who's got money). Their daughters are about the same age. It was a really good book (must have been since I remembered it all these many years and many books later....but the memory isn't so good since I can't remember the title...lol).

Next to the friends to lovers trope, this has to be my next favorite one.
Tanisha Robinson
13. sassytarheel
Also, SEP does a great job with this trope. I think she uses this a couple of times in her Chicago Stars series.
14. Merida
I have to admit I'm a big fan of this trope and mail-order brides trope. I know its out-dated and cliched but love it. I was first introduced to marriages without love in LaVyrle Spencer's The Endearment, where a young girl is a mail order bride to a Swedish imigrant in Montana. Its a lovely story that deals with abuse, family and the perils of being a young girl alone in Boston in historical times and does it well. Since then, I love mail order and convenience marriages. They're so fun!
Carmen Pinzon
15. bungluna
I heartily second "Captain Vorpatril's Aliance" by Bujold.

I remember reading many a traditional Regency with this trope and I loved them. The angst, the anguish, they were great. Several come to mind, especialy Margarita and The American Duches by Joan Wolf. Pamela Morsi had some good Americana stories along this line too.

My books are in transit right now so I can't look up other titles, of which I'm sure I have many. I must have some contemporaries too, but I don't remember any right now. I'll keep thinking about 'em.
16. Merida
I also have to admit I love the 'bride of victory' trope as well, when the heroine is given as a bride to conquering warriors or knights who have won a tourney for her hand. Its not quite marriage of convenience but one I love. Plenty of fodder for alpha male fantasies!
17. Miller
I enjoy this trope as well as mail order bride and "bride of victory " tropes. A contemporary novel with this trope would be Catherine Mckenzie's Arranged which I enjoyed very much.
18. Ana257
I'm a big fan of this trope and recently I finished Listen To The Moon, by Rose Lerner. I loved this book. The main couple is very hot and the story flows flawlessly. Great writing.
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