With a nod of thanks for Willaful who nominated Miss Bates for this challenge. Miss B’s having a blast!
The category romance is the humblest and most succinct manifestation of the romance narrative: the encounter, the attraction/detraction, the separation and dark night of the couple soul, and the grovel and HEA. Category romance distills the romance narrative to its essentials: two people working out, in their relationship, a beloved romance trope. Take, for example, the wondrous Molly O’Keefe contemporary category, His Wife For One Night, a contemporary marriage-of-convenience, so difficult to pull off. And yet, O’Keefe convinces, moves, and engages her reader in Jack and Mia’s story.
Marriage of convenience is a beloved trope for Miss B.: it satisfies her old-fashioned sensibilities for sex within the sanctity of marriage and makes for courtship-within-marriage an interesting narrative twist. And yet, her favourite category romance is built on a hated trope: the office romance. Yuck. Boards and profit margins and pencil skirts just ain’t her thing. Besides, everything that could possibly go wrong with the trope is inherent in it, like power differentials, usually to the detriment of the heroine. But here she is LOVING today’s opening line romance, Jessica Hart’s execrably titled, Promoted to Wife and Mother:
Perdita drummed her fingers on the sleeves of her jacket and tried not to look as if she were sulking.
Miss Bates shakes her head, murmuring, “Perdita, Perdita … ” What a great peevish character our Perdita is; at forty, a spinster in the making. Like Miss Bates, an elderly mum in the picture. There she is, our Perdita, drumming fingers. What a great opening line on Hart’s part: Perdita’s impatience and annoyance drawing us into the narrative. And the pressure, not to appear to “sulk”: from whence comes that pressure? Our Perdita has to put on a particular face, but her responses to the situation are vexation and chagrin. Her fingers give her away. Ah, how deliciously curious the reader is … for, given Perdita’s quandary, could the hero be far behind? Actually, he’s the cause of her exasperation! Thus begins one of the most touching, engaging romances a rom-lover can ever read.