Shotgun Weddings Highlander-Style

The “arranged marriage” is one of the enduring tropes in the romance genre. However, the reality  of being forced into a marriage is not terribly romantic. And unfortunately it’s not something that belongs only to the past or to fiction. Around the world, 14 million girls under the age of 18 are married each year. It’s difficult to track how many of these marriages are forced, but UK officials fear a large proportion are. In November 2011, Scotland was the first country in the UK to enact a law making forcing someone into a marriage a criminal act.

But in 1521, when Plaid to the Bone takes place, arranged marriages were the norm. They sealed peace between warring clans and joined affluent houses together. Even so, Adam Cameron is determined to woo his bride. He wants to make her happy and doesn’t understand why she won’t meet him half way. Here’s a snippet from Plaid to the Bone:

Plaid to the BoneAnger sizzled up in him. He’d done more than he ought to make her feel welcome. It was high time she gave an inch. “No man wants a wife who canna bear him. Would ye have me release ye from our betrothal and send ye home to your father?”

“No!” They were standing close enough that her warm breath drifted over his neck when Cait tipped her chin to meet his gaze. “I can bear ye, Adam,” she said softly.

“Not just because of my agreement with your father?” He bent to her till their lips were but finger-widths apart.

“Not just because of that.”

“We dinna have to wed on the morrow.” Part of him, the aching stiff part between his legs, damned him for a traitor. Even tomorrow seemed too long a wait when he longed to sink into her softness, but he heard himself offering, “If it will suit ye better, we could put off the wedding until we ken a bit more about each other.”

“I dinna want to wait.” She draped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him. Hard.

Want to learn why Cait is conflicted about this marriage?
Find Plaid to the Bone at: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo
And for my international friends: AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonDE

Terry Spear

I feel pretty proud of my 20 published works till someone like Terry Spear comes along with over 50! This USA Today Bestseller writes shaper-shifter and medieval romances. In keeping with my Scottish theme today, she’ll be giving away an ebook, Taming the Wild Highlander. Thanks, Terry!

Angus MacNeill’s story, 4th Book in The Highlanders Medieval romance series

Taming the Wild HighlanderEdana Chattan senses concerns where people she knows could be in danger. When her brothers warn her they’re in trouble, she can’t convince her father to listen to her, so with an escort, she tries to locate them. Separated from her escort during a storm, she is discovered by Angus MacNeill, who is tasked to return her right home.

Only Edana has other notions–and convinces him and his companions to allow her to use her abilities to locate her brothers who are manacled in a dungeon somewhere. That leads to a faux marriage and more dungeons and more trouble than Angus had ever thought possible. So why is the bewitching, fiery-haired lass making him think of marrying her for real?

B & N | Smashwords | Kobo | ARe books | Amazon

How to Distract a Duchess

How to Distract a Duchess

Click to order!

No one is going to force Artemisia Pelham-Smythe, the widowed Duchess of Southwycke into another marriage, least of all her sniveling step-son. But when the artistic duchess meets Trevelyn Deveridge and mistakes him for her next nude model, she’s sorely tempted. Not into marriage, but into taking a lover…

How to Distract a Duchess was my first novel with a humorous tone. Before this story, I’d been up to my armpits in angst and drama and surly Northmen. The sophisticated Mr. Deveridge and all the many alter-egos he adopts as he plies his trade in The Great Game was terrific fun to write. Hope you enjoy reading it as well!

(Please note! How to Distract a Duchess can also be found in my How To series book bundle–Three full-length novels for one ridiculously low price!)

The Prize

You can win a Plaid to the Bone from Kensington, a Taming the Wild Highlander from Terry Spear, or How to Distract a Duchess from me! And of course, you’ll be entered in the drawing for the Grand Prize: A Kindle Paperwhite!

Here’s our question for today: The romance genre features a number of common themes–secret baby, mistaken identity, marriage of convenience, second chance at love–the list goes on. Is there a certain type of story you enjoy more than others? Is there a trope that makes you turn away from a book?

48 thoughts on “Shotgun Weddings Highlander-Style

  1. Christine A. says:

    I don’t have a preference as long as it is written well. I enjoy them all.

  2. Barbara Elness says:

    I like the second chance at love trope the most. The one I care for the least is secret baby, although if it’s done right I’ll read it. :D

  3. Linda Thum says:

    For me it’s more the type of character rather than the trope. I love the feisty, intelligent heroine who couldn’t care less about men or society. Couple that with an honorable, scarred hero & you’ll have me at hello!

    & of course the most important thing is the writing. I’ve read stories from authors that I’d typically shy away from, that were written so masterfully that I enjoyed every word.

  4. Theresa Fischer says:

    I like the mistaken identity trope, so there is a bit mystery to the story!

  5. An arranged marriage is a fun trope in a romance novel, but it’s horrifying to think of it still happening. Then again, the world is full of atrocities I don’t want to think about.

  6. Marcy Shuler says:

    I like mail order brides, marriages of convenience and dounded (physically or emotionally) characters. I also like Beauty and the Beast themes.

    1. Marcy Shuler says:

      That should be *wounded* characters. LOL

  7. Armenia says:

    One of my favorite is the friends to lovers tropes, especially an admired friend of a sibling. I’m from a big family and I just remember all those memories growing up…you know..the “what-if”.
    Thank you for the celebration and prizes are so awesome I’m just drooling over all the books.

  8. Shirene says:

    My favorite historical trope is the “ugly duckling” into beautiful Swan. Something about being seen again after time lapse and yet truly seen by the hero for the first time in a new light really appeals to me.

  9. Janie McGaugh says:

    I love Beauty and the Beast stories.

  10. may says:

    I think it depends on how well the writer can write the story. BUT usually I love Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

  11. catslady says:

    I’m usually pretty open to most themes since I like variety. If I had to pick one I’m not as thrilled with it is probably baby themes. If I enjoy the characters though I’m usually a happy camper!

  12. bn100 says:

    like the tortured hero

    not a fan of heroines who’ve been with the hero’s best friend/brother/other family member

  13. Glittergirl says:

    I’m drawn to second chance at love, best friend’s sibling and Cinderella/Beauty & the Beast type stories. I also love themes, Highlanders, Pirates, Byzantium/harems. What doesn’t draw me is marrying because of a opps baby,and I’m not fond of the forced marriage because they were found in a compromised position. Rape is a turn off too but downright cruelty get me turned off too. I have read stories that handled these topics with finesse and I enjoyed them but that takes a REAL talented author. I always finish a book but there have been two lately that I just about didn’t. One was by a wildly popular author because the “hero” was so selfish and arrogant that nothing was redeeming him, not even the heroine’s attempt. The other, an ebook, was just too long and needed better editing. A serial type book (surprise to me) that parts 1 and 2 were over 600 pages. I gave up in the middle of the second part.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Some of my favorite in no particular order:
    1. “on the road” – hero and heroine off on some kind of mission or to achieve something.

    2. Rushing to Gretna Green for a marriage of convenience. Or just really marriage of convenience.

    3. Single father hires a governess… or what he thinks is a governess. :P

    4. Bluestocking! Gotta love them. ;)

    5. These two usually fall under the highlander/medieval genre; heroine seeking protection from some kind of threat. And the hero kidnapping the heroine.

    6. Battle worn heroes of any era. I love, love, love those. Especially when they have some kind physical flaw. Like took an injury to the leg, yet they still bare it.

    7. Bow street runners or some kind of hero that works with solving crimes/mysteries. Or any hero that has to actually work for a living, lol.

    Alright I’m going to stop myself there before my list gets longer than it already is, lol.

    The main two tropes I really don’t like are secret/mistaken identities and memory loss. I just could never really get into them for some reason.

  15. Becky says:

    I pretty much enjoy all of them. The only one I have found that I cannot stand is where the marriage is abusive. What usually matters more to me is the setting – Highlanders, Vikings, etc. Can’t wait to try Terry Spear’s books!

  16. SusanD says:

    First, I’ll list those I enjoy: from friends to love, angst (his), mis-matched couple, and humorous. What I don’t read in romances is hidden baby and woman dressed like a man mistaken identity. I’m sure there are others on both sides, but none come to mind at the moment besides what I’ve listed here.

    Interesting question!

  17. Nicole Laverdure says:

    I am a book lover, so most genre of romances will end up in my hands for reading! I love stories that have these two genres; mistaken identity, for the humour it sometimes bring, and marriage of convenience! As long as there is a touch of passion, I will love it! thank you Mia for this giveaway!

  18. CrystalGB says:

    I like friends to lovers, in love with sibling’s friend, marriage of convenience, rich guy/poor girl, beauty and the beast, and wounded hero.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I haven’t done “friends to lovers” and I should. It makes for a tender, lovely journey to romance.

  19. Rhonda Kirby says:

    I generally like most romances. Usually what I choose to read depends on what I am In the mood for. With the exception of a highlander romance, which I can read anytime. Sometimes I go to my TBR list and close my eyes and choose one, especially if it takes longer than 10 minutes to make up my mind

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I usually flip through the pretty covers on my Kindle till one leaps out at me. ;-)

  20. Laurie W G says:

    Favorites: Beauty and the Beast- heroine falls in love with a disfigured, wounded, reclusive man

    Mail order brides

    Rags to riches Cinderella

    Plain Jane makeover into a beauty

    Marriage of convenience


    Stranded -plane crash, car trouble, snowstorm, hurricane


    Falling in love with the boss

    Least favorite:

    Baby on the doorstep

    Time travel

    Medical emergency requiring contact with the child’s father

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      What a cornucopia of story bones! Love it. Beauty & the Beast is a favorite of mine. Often my beast’s disfigurement is inside, but in Silk Dreams, the hero is horribly burned on one side of his face during the course of the story.

  21. Mary Chen says:

    My favorite trope is a governess becoming a lady, or any sort of commoner rising to the ranks of the aristocracy through marriage. I’m also fond of masquerade romances; it’s always a muddle when the other party finds out, but in the interim it’s very fun.

    As for ones I dislike, I absolutely hate Big Misunderstandings. Discord between the hero and heroine that is dragged through pages after pages because they are simply too pig-headed to communicate drives me figuratively insane. I’m also not fond of heroines that are too snobbish, foolishly stubborn, or radical reformers who go all out to advocate for women’s rights and land themselves in crazy situations.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Cinderella stories always work, don’t they?

      Oh, I hear you about the Big Misunderstanding! I’m much more interested in real misunderstandings– in couples who have a genuine conflict which is difficult to resolve because it requires real, fundamental change from each of them. Change is hard. We resist it. But if love is important enough, we’ll do it.

  22. Maria says:

    Great post! I enjoy the marriage of convenience trope that evolves into love and I’ve read several that used this wonderfully: Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress & Sarah MacLean’s A Rogue by Any Other Name come to mind. But being a Jane Austen fan, I also love the second chance at love, a la Persuasion: Miranda Neville’s The Second Seduction of a Lady, Too Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott, and Christy English’s How to Tame a Willful Wife. I also enjoy the older heroine/younger man as in Amara Royce’s Never Too Late and Monica Burns’ Pleasure Me and Love’s Revenge.

    1. Maria says:

      Oops, I meant to put How to Tame a Willful Wife under the marriage of convenience category! :)

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      LOve all of those writers!

  23. Amy Hart says:

    I also dislike the age difference. Im not too picky as to the setting and circumstances of a plot. However, my nit picking is with how the author writes, detail, and usage of a thesaurus. One thing i get annoyed with is the constant repetition of a word. For example, mocodium(hope i spelled right). Please enter me in for the other two books. I recently acquired your How To set. :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Hope you love the “How To” stories, Amy!

  24. Sheryl N says:

    I like the second chance at love or the marriage of convenience. I like it too when the hero falls head over heels for the heroine and she plays hard to get. Not a big fan of the secret baby or when the young lady is married off to an abusive old man. Yuck

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      In my current WIP, my hero is more determined to save their relationship than the heroine. She takes lots of convincing and sometimes I get irritate with her for being so hard on him. But if she was a push over, the story would be very short.

  25. Mary Preston says:

    Marriage of convenience stories are a great favorite of mine. I’m not a fan of the secret baby either.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      In Dragonsong (coming November 2013) my heroine is pregnant at the start of the story, but the hero is not the father. In fact, they don’t even meet till his dragonship nearly capsizes the coracle in which she’s been set adrift. That’s the closest I’ve come to a baby story, but it’s not so secret. She’s obviously pregnant from the beginning.

  26. Aly P says:

    I really like the marriage of convenience one and the 2nd chances one, I never get tired of them. The one I usually don’t touch is the secret baby, though I’ve known some books where it was done perfectly and I liked it

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I’ve never written a secret baby story, but I’ve thought about how it might happen without feeling contrived.

  27. Sarah Meral says:

    I don´t think, that there are themes, I prefer or don´t like at all. If the writing is good and I get a feel for the characters, I enjoy every book :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      How the story is told is important to me too, Sarah. It’s why I love Sherry Thomas and Shana Abe. Their prose sings!

  28. Anita H. says:

    I love the idea of having a second chance at love. Often times, it takes time and perspective to realize what you could have had. It just makes it more precious the second time around. And it’s rare to get that second chance in real life, so it’s something I enjoy reading about.

    I’m not a fan of getting married because of a baby trope. There’s usually one party that doesn’t want to get married because of one reason or another, and there’s a whole song and dance routine that just gets very stale for me.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I’m glad to hear you say you like second chance stories because that’s part of what’s going on in my current WIP. ;-)

  29. Jessica V. says:

    I seem to be drawn towards stories where there is a second chance at love. I think thats part of what drew me to the hero in How to Please a Pirate. I couldnt wait to see how he would bounce back when love presented itself.

    I havent read a romance that i didnt like, but there are lots of subgenres i havent yet tried. . . Like the secret baby thing. Im not sure about that one. Or science fiction/space stuff.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      So glad you loved my prodigal pirate, Jessica!

  30. Ada says:

    The trope I really don’t enjoy in historical novels is the one where the girl is married away when she’s young to an extremely old fart that ends up being abusive until he dies and she’s left to start again as a wealthy widow that people in the ton gossip about. I feel this gets overused and it annoys me when I see it in a book.

    On the other hand, I’ve always like those tropes where someone falls in love with their best friend’s sibling. There’s just something sweet in those stories that I enjoy reading.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Unfortunately, a wide disparity between the ages of the bride and groom is historically accurate. Men were urged to wait to marry till they were financially able to support a wife and women were encouraged to wed young so they could provide many heirs.

  31. Thank you for your question, Mia. There are a few themes that really turn me off. But they’re also highly popular, so I won’t mention them. Instead I’ll talk about those I enjoy.

    I’ve noticed three themes that I find particularly romantic. They keep turning up in the stories I write, and I’m always on the lookout for them in stories I read. Here’s a list, with my own names for these tropes.

    1. “If love were all”: Two people are deeply in love, until one decides something else is more important than love. That destroys the relationship and brings other woes. Then there’s a chance to restore it. But it’s never easy or simple.

    2. “Cruel and unusual”: Character A loves Character B. Then something strange and ghastly happens to B. Now A must save him/her, overcoming great obstacles and enduring great sorrows. A can never be the same again. Neither can their relationship.

    3. “The world well lost”: The protagonist can gain or maintain great wealth, power, fame, and prestige. Then he/she falls in love. Fulfilling this love will cost him/her everything. But he/she chooses love. Consequences ensue.

    I’m looking forward to reading about everyone else’s favorite tropes. Especially if some of them are surprises!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks for sharing, but now I’m curious about the tropes you dislike…

      1. Mia: Okay, since you asked, here are the three biggest romfic tropes I don’t like. The reasons for my reluctance to cite them should be obvious.

        1. Marriage of convenience. Yes, I know now popular it is. But to me, it’s just legalized prostitution. If the woman agrees to it, or at least doesn’t fight it. Otherwise, it’s legalized rape.

        2. The hero kidnaps the heroine. I’m sorry, but kidnapping is not a thrilling, romantic experience. It’s a crime. A nasty, horrible, violent one. One that devastates its victims. And not all survive.

        3. Redemption. Call me old-fashioned, but I say romance fiction should be about love. Yet this theme has pretty much taken over the genre. When was the last time you read a romance in which the hero DOESN’T have to be redeemed? I can see why this theme is so popular; if only the heroine can redeem him, it plays into the power fantasy aspect of romance fiction. But I have no desire to exert power over anyone, vicariously or otherwise. Nor can I picture myself falling in love with a man who’s so far gone that he needs redemption.

        Well, there you have it. Am I still allowed on this blog?

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