It Feels Like Love and It’s Magic

by Guest Blogger on March 4, 2010 · 14 comments

in Arranged/Forced Marriage, Contemporary, D-F, Guest Blogger, Marriage of Convenience

by Mary Margret Daughtridge, guest blogger and author of SEALed with a Ring

Marriages of convenience—romance fans love ’em, but when I tell people who aren’t romance readers that SEALed with a Ring: Sometimes you get a lot more than you bargained for is a contemporary romance with a marriage of convenience plot, you’d be surprised how many ask, “What’s a marriage of convenience?”

Next thing you know, I’m explaining marriage plots. You have arranged marriage in which choice of spouse is dictated by parents. Hero or heroine acquiesces, more or less gracefully. Forced marriage is one in which one or both is trapped into marriage against their will. And finally there’s marriage of convenience where one party has a need to marry (that has little or nothing to do with love) and the other agrees—usually for financial gain.

All have built in conflict. All are beloved staples of the romance genre.

With women’s enfranchisement, all have become hard to pull off in a contemporary—a reason, I think, that these days you’ll find three or four times as many historicals as contemporaries.

Although in some cultures arranged marriage is still the norm, in the West the expectation is that people marry because they fall in love. Period. It’s hard to get a plot out of that.

Forced marriage (happily) has also gone by the wayside in mainstream society.  No one thinks a marriage to save a reputation or because of unplanned pregnancy is anything but a terrible idea. Marrying a girl too young, or unable, to consent is a crime.

That only leaves marriage of convenience. Once it was perfectly acceptable as long as it was aboveboard and a fair exchange. No more. I suspect many marriages today are quid pro quo contracts (witness the rise of the pre-nup) but who’s going to admit it? Marrying for money is thought “crass,” and being married for one’s money is the mark of a loser.

It’s not easy...

But I love marriage of convenience plots and I refuse to give them up. Character-driven writer that I am, I realized the difficulty of motivating a loveless marriage in a contemporary setting could play to my advantage. A person’s reasons (good or bad) for going against society’s expectations reveal a lot about character.

For the M of C plot to succeed, hero or heroine must be motivated by altruism. From the beginning they are sympathetic characters, invested with a degree of nobility. Since their goal is larger than they are, I have more latitude to make them multi-dimensional, strong yet flawed, without losing the reader’s sympathy.

It feels like love...

I also like to explore relationships—I think most women do. Unblinded by love, the M of C characters confront the details of living together and meeting the world as a unit. They consciously assess the other’s strengths, learn to read emotions, see beneath the surface. Again, a boon to the writer of character-driven contemporaries. When the two finally fall in love, the reader was there for every step. It really feels like love.

And it’s magic...

Best of all, an M of C plot (where they don’t pretend, they really get married) has inherent alchemical magic. For better or worse, marriage changes people.

Sharing is no longer optional. One’s destiny is irrevocably tied to the consequences of another person’s good judgment and luck—or lack thereof.  And suddenly, there’s little real choice about how and with whom to spend holidays. Sublime or silly, sharing can be soul shaking. For the writer, it’s another chance to delve into character. For the reader, it’s fun. The plot can take a twist at any moment.

I liked putting a contemporary spin on an old plot so much, I think I’ll do it again sometime.

How about it? Do you love M of C? What is the appeal? If M of C isn’t your fave, what is? Cinderella? Secret Baby? Reunion?

SEALed WITH A RING BY MARY MARGRET DAUGHTRIDGE—IN STORES MARCH 2010

She’s got it all…except the one thing she needs most

Smart, successful businesswoman JJ Caruthers has a year to land a husband or lose the empire she’s worked so hard to build. With time running out, romance is not an option, and a military husband who is always on the road begins to look like the perfect solution…

He’s a wounded hero with an agenda of his own

Even with the scars of battle, Navy SEAL medic Davy Graziano is gorgeous enough to land any woman he wants, and he’s never wanted to be tied down. Now Davy has ulterior motives for accepting JJ’s outrageous proposal of marriage, but he only has so long to figure out what JJ doesn’t want him to know…

Buy: SEALed with a Ring

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Margret Daughtridge has been a grade school teacher, speech therapist, family educator, biofeedback therapist, and Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. She is a member of Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Romancing the Military Soul, and is a sought-after judge in writing contests. She resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, please visit http://marymargretdaughtridge.com/.

Leave a Comment

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary Margret March 4, 2010 at 6:53 AM

Thanks for letting me blog Keira, and thanks for reviewing SEALed with a Ring.

I’ll be checking in from time to time in case your readers have questions for me.

Good luck, everyone, in the drawing for the book giveaway!

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2 Keira March 4, 2010 at 7:47 AM

On the cruise I just got back from, I ran into three couples who had arranged marriages. One couple sat at my dinner table. They had lived next to each other all their lives but never seen each other until one day when he came back from medical school and saw her. She was the youngest daughter and he went right up to her and asked for her hand. She said yes on the condition he asked her father to get his permission. So he did and shortly after they got married. :) They were celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary during the trip.

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3 Mary Margret March 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Though the notion that children would go along with a marriage arranged by their parents is a little shocking to those of us in the West, cross-cultural studies have shown they are as likely to be a happy as those in which the choice of spouse is made by the couple alone.

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4 Emmanuelle March 4, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Congrats on your release !!
I love M of C. They’re quite frequent in historicals or category romances. There is something almost ideal about two people forced to live together and know each other that appeals to me a lot. I’m really curious to see (or rather read) how you dealt with it in a straight contemporary ;-)

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5 Mary Margret March 4, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Emmanuelle, I’ll be interested to know what you think. The challenge was creating a motivation that didn’t smack of greed or chicanery.
I did enjoy writing it. As I always do, I reread it when my author’s copies came. I was struck by how happy the happy ending was–due partly to the plot structure itself.

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6 Maureen March 5, 2010 at 5:04 AM

I do like marriage of convenience stories. I think it’s because they show the couple having to make a marriage work and that makes me believe in their happy ending.

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7 Mary Margret March 5, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Succinctly put, Maureen. At the end, we not only know they have the exalted feelings of love, they also have what it takes to keep love going.

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8 Anne Fescharek March 5, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Marriage of convenience stories are my favorite. I’m not sure how it appeals to my silly psyche. Perhaps it the process of two strangers learning about each other from scratch and loving what they find. Or maybe I like when the woman is someone the man is not attracted to at first but sees past her looks and into her inner beauty. It gives women like me hope!

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9 Keira March 5, 2010 at 5:20 PM

I like MOC and Arranged/Forced Marriages because the leads don’t know going into it that the person of their dreams, their secret longings is right there beside them. That’s hot and more comforting than I can say. :)

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10 Andrea I March 7, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I like MOC and Arranged marriages. It’s always interesting to see how things develop and turn out between the paries involved.

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11 Isabel G. March 9, 2010 at 12:06 AM

You don’t come across many arranged marriages, however, it’s still a practice that’s being used. I meet a woman, via a friend of mine, that’s currently in an arranged marriage. The couple get along and are happily married. Another case wasn’t as lucky. I knew a young woman from high school who was pressured into marrying a friend of her parents. That particular marriage didn’t last long.

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12 RobynL March 10, 2010 at 11:10 AM

I like MOC stories but also enjoy the marriage of friends who become lovers. MOC stories seem to last longer than ones where you choose(so I’ve heard).

We know a couple who never met until she came to this country in agreeance to marry him. It was a MOC and it is still going strong.

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13 Keira March 10, 2010 at 11:58 PM

I’ve heard some arranged marriages are still wrapped up in trickery–where the guy thinks he’s getting one woman and winds up married to another. I think that would be a great plot to a romance novel. Especially if it follows true to form where he thinks the girl he’s going to marry is the prettiest/youngest (or both) and gets instead the plainest/oldest (or both).

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14 Keira March 13, 2010 at 3:39 PM

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