Dec 3 2014 5:00pm

Inconveniently Yours: Marriage of Conveniences in Contemporary Romance

Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsUsually, when someone slaps a ring on a girl’s finger and proposes marriage everyone gets all dewy-eyed and crushing embraces ensue, but not here, not in this trope, no siree.

In the marriage of convenience (MOC, pronounced “mock”, as in “mock marriage”) the betrothed may be strangers, friends, or (best of all) enemies, and it’s the contrast between the usual expectations of marriage based on love and the reality of the heroine and heroine’s relationship that produces all the delicious tension.

Whether arranged to secure an inheritance, save a family home, or nail a business deal, the marriage serves as a crucible producing angst-filled longing, saucy forbidden marital sex, and delicious, freshly-baked character change as two characters who wouldn’t normally dream of snogging suddenly find themselves staring at one another over the breakfast cereal box and getting all the feels.

As one of my favoritest romance tropes (along with enemies to lovers) the MOC has the power to drive my finger inexorably towards the Amazon one-click button. However, since I'm not such a fan of historical romance it’s a big relief that plenty of contemporary romance writers have decided that there's no reason historical romance writers should get all the good MOC crazy sauce to themselves.

So, where can you find a quality contemporary MOC?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has applied MOC sauce to a few of her novels, but my favorite is Kiss An Angel, where Daisy Devereaux is presented by her guardian with the option of going to jail for her credit card abuses or marrying the devilishly delish Alex Markov, mysterious manager of a travelling circus. He pulls off a mean Cossack act under the big-top and an even meaner one between the sheets. The elephant infatuation is to die for.

Another favorite of mine is Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard. (Don’t be fooled by the title, there’s nary a laird or sporran to be found.) And if you like your alphas dipped in bitter sauce, Reese is for you. The alpha rancher (I like the idea of a ranch that breeds alpha heroes) places a “farmer wants a wife” ad in the newspaper and, bored with her city life, Madelyn applies for the position. Reese is determined not to lose his heart to the city girl, but Madelyn hangs tough and lots of fun ensues as tempers fray, wills clash and nipples pebble with want.

Maisey Yates wins the award hands down for the best MOC title—His Virgin Acquisition. There’s so much wrongness packed into just three words that I was immediately entranced. The heroine, Elaine, is one of my favourite character types—a dressed-to-repress feminist businesswoman clever and knowledgeable about everything except men and sex. And it’s no big stretch of the imagination to foresee some hurdles involved in keeping an impossibly good-looking Italian alpha billionaire in line—them be the hardest puppies to train.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer ProbstBillionaires must live for MOCs because in The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst we meet another billionaire desperate to shove a ring on a female finger. Nicholas Ryan has to marry to inherit his father's corporation just when bookshop owner Alexa is looking for some extra cabbage to save the family home. They’d be the perfect match—if he weren’t the older brother of her best friend and hadn’t already broken her heart—and she wasn’t his childhood tormentor. Luckily Alexa has a love spell to help her win over the stone-cold billionaire. Now, where can I get one of those?

Jayne Ann Krentz and her free-spirit heroine in Wildest Hearts both know that no billionaire can resist a MOC. That’s how Annie reels in businessman Oliver Rain to help protect her missing brother’s electronics company from corporate raiders. Oliver Rain. Oliver Queen. No, I’m sure there’s no connection.

In Game For Love, Bella Andre pulls out the big trope gun—the dying wish—to send linebacker Cole scurrying off to find a wedding ring. To fulfill his grandmother's deathbed wish, he marries a “good girl,” first grade teacher Anna Davis. Some may have a problem believing that a professional tamer of howling ankle-biters could remain as sweet as Anna, but it’s clear that her experience with willful small children has expertly equipped her well for dealing with alpha husbo tendencies.


To learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips  
Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard  
His Virgin Acquisition by Maisey Yates  
The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst  
Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz  
Game For Love by Bella Andre  







Rhyll Biest is an Australian author writing erotic romance hot enough to melt your e-reader. Living in Prague, Shanghai and Germany has given her a taste for the exotic and her books resemble the United Nations of Hotness, filled as they are with racy Russians, Teutonic hotties and alluring Aussies. She's also one of the naughtiest ninjas at the Naughty Ninjas group author site and is one of the tarts on the Bookish Tarts podcast where she and fellow author Georgina Penney discuss romance novels in a high-brow yet potty-mouthed way.

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Anil Patel
1. Anil Patel
Lovely Book I love that!
Anil Patel
2. janicu
I am going to have to check out the SEP. The one MOC of her's I've read is WHAT I DID FOR LOVE (I enjoyed that one)!
Anil Patel
Check out Natural Born Charmer, too, that's my second favourite SEP.
Anil Patel
4. Norwegianne
In the SEP book, the one doing the pushing into marriage is the father of the bride, not the guardian.
Jennifer Proffitt
5. JenniferProffitt
Marriage of Convenience is one of my FAVORITE tropes--it might be my ultimate trope, closely followed by Fake Fiance/Boyfriend/Girlfriend, etc.

LOVED Jennifer Probst series, though I could have done without the spellbook...
Anil Patel
6. Andrea B
Check out Sydney Landon's Danvers novels. Great reads.
Anil Patel
7. Chris Huntley (WRLL)
Love the Probst series and the spellbook is necessary since it continues and enters the Searching For series.
Summer Devon
8. SummerDevon
Kristan Higgins -- the Perfect Match. They get married so he can get a green card and stay near his sort-of step-son. Love that book.
9. tabbymoray
I love this genre also. The storyline that comes to my mind is the movie Green Card. It was so sweet, romantic and awkward. Definitely one of my favorites.
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