Story Tropes: Rags to Riches

in-her-dreamsGuest blog by Katherine Givens, author of In Her Dreams

One of my favorite romance tropes is the rags to riches story. I’m not talking about the traditional Cinderella story with talking mice and a pumpkin turned carriage. I’m talking about a hero who went from a street urchin dwelling in the streets of St. Giles to a self-made man who is now a decorated war hero or a successful factory owner. And all this while, as he’s risen through the ranks, his heart has only belonged to one woman. The sheltered daughter of a duke.

Or how about the destitute woman who works as a governess for meager wages? She teaches the ward of her bachelor employer and wears plain clothes, but beneath her exterior is an intelligent, vibrant woman. It is these qualities that capture the heart of her employer.

There are several examples of these rags to riches tales that do not include the talking mice. Look at Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, the antagonistic hero, is a poor gypsy boy when the father of Catherine Earnshaw brings him to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is orphaned when he is found in the streets of Liverpool. With gypsy blood in his veins, he is an outsider to kinder society, but that does not prevent him from losing his heart to Catherine. The two do love one another. Catherine even remarks that their souls are one and the same, but she marries another. Edgar Linton. Distraught, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights for two years. When he returns, he is smartly dressed, wealthy, and educated. He is self-made, and he did it all for Catherine. Even if he isn’t with his love until the hereafter.

Another example is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The heroine, Anne Elliot, had been engaged to Captain Frederick Wentworth at a young age. However, her family encouraged her to break off the engagement due to Wentworth’s poor and dire living conditions. He was, after all, only a mere commander in the army. Anne gives in and does as her family seeks, but she never stops loving him. Eight years pass until Wentworth reenters Anne’s life. When he does, he is wealthier due to his service during the Napoleonic Wars. His hard work during the wars earned him 25,000 pounds. On top of that, he is dashing, determined, and successful. A man of consequence all through his own willpower. And, of course, he makes for the perfect hero throughout the course of Persuasion.

These characters rise from their poor conditions, only to gain all the riches in the world. Hard work and backbreaking labor are their friends. They know what poverty is like and appreciate wealth when it is finally achieved. On top of improving their lot in life, they often manage to find love. Heathcliff and Catherine reach their love in the afterlife, when their souls become one. Anne and Wentworth are lucky enough to find love in life, and they do not abuse one bit of it.

My debut novella, In Her Dreams, with Harlequin Australia’s Escape Publishing lacks the rags to riches trope. However, it remains my favorite storyline. The novel I am nearly done writing has the rags to riches trope, and I can’t wait to be able to share it. For now, I am excited to share my novella In Her Dreams, which was just released today! In Her Dreams doesn’t have the rags to riches storyline, but it has my second favorite story trope. Entangled love affairs between two sisters and their suitors.

In Her Dreams

A flirty, fun, mix-and-match romance about two sisters who are betrothed to the wrong men…

Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.

Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

Buy: In Her Dreams

katherine givensIn Her Dreams is Katherine’s debut novella, which is published with Harlequin Australia’s imprint Escape Publishing. She is working on a number of other projects and always has ideas flooding her head. In her spare time, Katherine loves to read about history, craft jewellery, and play with her ornery kitten named Bucky. To learn more about Katherine and her writing, please visit the following sites. She loves to hear from readers.

Buy: In Her Dreams (novella)

Review: If You Want Me by Tara Mills

if you want meReviewed by Cara Lynn

This was a cute, satisfying short story.

The sex is hot, but believable.

Two years earlier Ryan was about to ask out Naomi, when his ‘friend’ beat him to it. The friend turned out to be bad news and Ryan landed one punch.

Now they meet again at the wedding of another friend. She’s a bridesmaid.

At the bachelorette party she gets sloshed (I didn’t care for that) but it gives her bravado to announce she hasn’t been laid in 6 months. In her funny desperation she calls Ryan and tells him if he can get there in 15 minutes, she is ready.

The story is both funny and touching. I liked it.

[Rating:4]

If You Want Me

Review: Professional Grievers by Mickey J. Corrigan

Professional GrieversReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story is told in the first person.

This starts off like no other book that I’ve ever read. Can you imagine being paid for what most people do naturally? Can you imagine finding someone that you want to spend time with at a time when most people are sad?

As I read this book, I actually thought that this profession actually has some merit. It makes me realize how sad it must be when a person dies alone and there is no one there to mourn for them when they are gone. I did an internet search and couldn’t find that there is an actual job out there.

Our main character is Seymour Allan. He looks like he needs a purpose to his life, he gets approached and then his life changes. I found it interesting that the setting for this story is in Florida – but it does make sense. The setting could be changed to anywhere and still work – especially if this actually ever became a profession.

Mickey has created a great story – I find it very easy to picture everything as it unfolds. You’re left wanting to know more about Seymour and how his life continues. It’s also a story of hope for Seymour. And in the end it’s a love story. It goes to show you that love can be found anywhere.

[Rating:4]

Buy: Professional Grievers

Review: The Stem of Time by Janeau L’voe

stem of timeReviewed by Book Glancer

The Stem of Time was a novella that I picked up on Amazon for only $0.99, but I’m really glad I found it.

The book is a fast fun read, with a little sizzle, and a whole of lot mind-bending time travelling.

Jillian, a dedicated scientist, is determined to cure cancer. She’s obsessed with curing cancer, so much so that she’s invented a time stem – a way to cheat time and get much more time out of the day that everyone else does.
Little does she know that messing with time is illegal in the year 2180.

When a time enforcement officer is sent to kill her, Jillian is caught off guard. But then, so is he.
Holden wasn’t expecting what he found when he was sent back in time to take care of the lawbreaker by the Council. He does a little rule bending himself in order to make things right.

But he wants something in return – and that something is Jillian as his wife.

I loved Holden! He was hot, hot, hot! And Jillian is smart and naive at the same time. They were wonderful characters and I feel like I now them and miss them after finishing The Stem of Time.

[Rating:5]

Buy: The Stem of Time

Review: The French Maid by Sabrina Jeffries

The French MaidHeroine: Lady Eleanor Langston doesn’t know how to get her husband to notice her. He’s always busy with politics and while their live is steady and on the surface both seem content, it lacks passion Eleanor truly craves.

Hero: Henry Langston needed a good hostess when he wedded Eleanor. They make love once a week and he’s never cheated. He is unaware of his wife and her discontent. It’s not until Babette, Eleanor’s maid, gets involved that Henry starts to view his wife in a new light.

Review: The love story fairly unique with a couple already married at the start of the story. On one hand, I didn’t like that the heroine needed to transform to gain her husband’s notice – sexually and companionably. On the other hand, I did like that both parties had to work a little harder and/or differently to turn their marriage from one that was basically roommates sharing their lives to lovers sharing their hearts. I did not like Babette, because it’s a little too convenient to have someone instantly get what was going on between the married couple and fix it. She sort of stood in as a fairy godmother/therapist.

[Rating:2.5]

Buy: The French Maid