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Guest blogger: Anne Gracie

21 May 2017

A hero’s troubles

It’s pretty much a ‘rule’ in a romance, to get the hero and heroine together as soon as possible. I try, but sometimes I just can’t manage it. My book Autumn Bride was a case in point—the hero arrives on the scene quite late. I worried that readers would hate it. They didn’t.

The same thing happened with Marry in Haste. The first part of the book is mostly about the hero. My hero, Cal Rutherford, has a lot to learn, especially about women—women of all ages. Not in that way <g>. I mean he’s got a lot to learn about handling females in general, particularly relatives. He’s grown up in an all-male environment—first a boys’ boarding school, then the army. He’s still in the army when the story starts, but suddenly he inherits a title, and responsibility for vast estates and a gaggle of females—from elderly aunts to young, flighty half-sisters. But none of them is a priority for him, not compared with his ‘serious and important army work’. Clearly, Cal has a lot to learn.

From the start, his sisters take very little notice of his orders. It’s quite confronting for an officer, used to having his every order obeyed. As Cal explains to a former army buddy:

“And soldiers don’t burst into tears at a—very mild—reprimand, or flounce from the room, or sulk, or look at you with big wounded eyes! Or ignore my—very reasonable—orders and go their own merry way!”

There was a muffled sound from the chair opposite. Cal narrowed his eyes. “Are you laughing at me, Galbraith?”

His friend pulled a large handkerchief from his pocket, blew noisily into it and said with an unnaturally straight face, “No, no. Wouldn’t dream of it.”

It takes Cal quite a while before he comes to the extremely reluctant conclusion that he needs a woman to look after his sisters and so he’s going to have to … gulp … marry someone. And beget an heir for the title. It’s duty—pure, inescapable duty. But when he does bite the dutiful bullet, his formidable Aunt Agatha has something to say about his choice:

“Now explain to me, Ashendon, if you please, the reason for this disgracefully hasty marriage to a complete and utter nobody! Did you give any consideration to what you owe your name? Obviously not!”

“I beg your pardon?” said Cal, outraged by this description of his wife.

“Apology accepted,” Aunt Agatha said regally, “but you still haven’t explained yourself.”

“My wife,” he began stiffly, “is not a nobody. She is—”

“Oh, pish tosh, of course she is. Nobody has ever heard of her, and those that have know nothing good of her. A governess, Ashendon! Could you find anyone less distinguished? A washerwoman, perhaps, or a milkmaid? Milkmaids have good skin, or so I’ve heard—does she have good skin, at least?”

Cal leashed his temper. “My wife is well educated, well born and—”

“Well born? Nonsense! According to my sources she is a nobody, a spinster long past her prime with neither background nor looks to recommend her.”

“Rubbish!” snapped Cal. “She is the daughter of a baronet—”

“Exactly—not even a member of the nobility!”

Poor Cal—he just can’t win. I should be ashamed of myself for enjoying his troubles with females so much, but I’m not. I loved watching him slowly coming to realise what is really important in life. And his heroine, Emm, thrown into the deep end of society and marriage, shows spirit and quiet strength as she gradually builds a family out of a disparate collection of individuals—and falls in love. I hope you enjoy it.

I’ll give a copy of Marry in Haste to someone who leaves a comment or an answer to this question: Do you enjoy a slow-build romance or do you prefer to get down-and-dirty as soon as possible? And how about the ‘marriage of convenience’ trope—yeah or meh? (UPDATE: the giveaway is now closed. The winner was Shelley N.)

You can find Anne here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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34 Comments
  1. Sandy permalink
    27 May 2017 12:01 am

    Anne, you do slow burn so well, and I love the way your characters respond to each other, both verbally and otherwise, with authenticity. Your stories have so much depth, and a lot of that comes directly from the characters. In my opinion MoC works much better in historicals than contemporary.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      27 May 2017 3:50 pm

      Aw, thanks so much, Sandy — you’re a sweetheart to say so.

  2. 24 May 2017 11:24 am

    A slow burn that has me anticipating the sparks about to happen. I like be transported into the characters world by the author’s use of the senses, so I can feel the emotion.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      24 May 2017 12:37 pm

      Thanks, Pamela — that’s a lovely way to describe it.

  3. 22 May 2017 2:18 pm

    Depends on my mood. And how much time I have. But I do really enjoy your slow build stories and rich world-building, Anne. Congrats on the start of your new series!

    • AnneGracie permalink
      22 May 2017 4:59 pm

      Thanks so much, Kelly.

  4. 22 May 2017 9:23 am

    There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, it’s easier for me to believe in the long term happiness of the characters after a slow build. Even if/when the fireworks happen quickly, it’s the development of the relationship/feelings after that will make me buy into the HEA. Incidentally, those are also the books that tend to stay with me over the years.

    As for marriage of convenience, it’s a lot easier for me to read in historical romance than contemporary, and when it’s well written, and the characters a good match, it’s very enjoyable.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      22 May 2017 10:48 am

      You’re so right, AztecLady — I actually believe that a lot of the learning and adapting and creating lasting love happens after marriage anyway. As for contemporaries, yes, it’s much easier to believe in historicals, as it was real and quite common in those days. I’ve read a few “convenient marriage” stories in contemporary, and it’s tricky to make it believable. Still, some authors really can do it, though.

  5. 22 May 2017 8:03 am

    Slow burn because it builds up the couple’s anticipation, as well as mine. I also enjoy marriage of convenience stories for the entertaining journey to love.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      22 May 2017 10:44 am

      Thank you, Cheryl — yes, anticipation is crucial, and getting the balance just right (she says who is struggling with that in the new story;) )

  6. cassandrasamuels permalink
    21 May 2017 11:55 pm

    Hi Anne. I like a slow burn romance myself. I enjoy seeing the characters change and learn while they are falling in love.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      22 May 2017 10:43 am

      Thanks Cassandra — I think changing and learning is crucial to any book. If they don’t learn from the things they do and experience, what’s the point? 😉

  7. Patricia Addison permalink
    21 May 2017 11:48 pm

    I like both slow burn and the quick down and dirty. It all depends upon the story. I like the characters getting to know each other over time, but I also sometimes like the immediate attraction – especially when there are obstacles to overcome. I do enjoy marriage of convenience stories. Like I say, it is all in the telling of the story, which you do so well. (By the way, Daisy and Flynn remain among my favorites.)

    • AnneGracie permalink
      22 May 2017 10:42 am

      Thanks so much, Patricia. Daisy makes an appearance in this book, too. 🙂 If the instant attraction is done well, I love it too.

  8. Mary Preston permalink
    21 May 2017 6:03 pm

    I do love a slow build romance and marriage of convenience stories are a great favorite.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:08 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Glad to know it.

  9. 21 May 2017 5:03 pm

    Hi Anne

    I love a slow burn romance and a get down and dirty one as well depends on the book. Marry in Haste is a fabulous story I absolutely love Cal and to see him cope with these females had me smiling and laughing and marriage of convenience love them they are always so determined that it will not end up in love and you writers know how to make them fall in love so wonderfully 🙂

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Helen — so glad you enjoyed my book. And yes, I loved putting Cal through his paces and watching him cope with all those females. And even though he lost to them so often, I think he ended up becoming a lovely hero.

  10. Karlene Barger permalink
    21 May 2017 3:24 pm

    Love the slow build romance and adore a good marriage of convenience story. And Marry in Haste by Jane Aiken Hodge continues to be one of my favorite books.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:05 pm

      Karlene, I’ve never read the Jane Aiken Hodge story — much chase it up. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. 21 May 2017 2:46 pm

    The slower the better. Nothing beats UST that drags out (almost) forever. And as for the marriage for convenience trope? Seriously, it will never get old. Will definitely check out this book, even if I don’t win a copy. Sounds great! Thanks!

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 2:55 pm

      Thanks, I hope the MOC trope doesn’t get old — at least not until after II’ve written the next 3 books in the series. It’s pretty interesting coming up with different reasons for a MoC.

  12. Suzanne Kinsinger permalink
    21 May 2017 1:25 pm

    Slow burn is my favorite, then they can get down and dirty all they want.😘

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 2:54 pm

      Thanks, Suzanne — that’s pretty much what happens. 😉

  13. stevenjayhicks permalink
    21 May 2017 12:27 pm

    Hi Anne. I love your description of Cal’s dilemma, and I can only imagine Emm will be the opposite of what he was trying to escape from, so I would like to know her more because of that.
    The slow burn is essential to me. Gives a chance to explore the characters’ inner growth and creates suspense. Best wishes, jay.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 2:53 pm

      Thanks, Jay, I think Emm turned out to be his perfect match — she stands up to him beautifully. Poor Cal, I could have called this book “Trouble with Women” 😉

  14. Isabella Hargreaves permalink
    21 May 2017 11:49 am

    I’m happy to have stories take a while for the characters to meet. I think it depends on how well the characters are being developed and the storyline is being set up. It’s how ‘rules’ are broken that counts and I’m pretty sure Marry in Haste will do it superbly. I still like to read marriages of convenience – they keep the characters up close and personal. I’m really looking forward to reading Marry in Haste.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:54 am

      Thanks, Isabella — for me, it was crucial that the hero struggle for a while against the idea of marriage — in fact, it’s the very last thing he tries. 🙂

  15. 21 May 2017 10:39 am

    I love both the slow build and the get down and dirty quickly because falling-in-love depends on the situation and the two people involved. All love stories are different, thank goodness. And I do love the marriage of convenience story as so many marriages in history were arranged and I love the idea that these end in a love story.

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:04 am

      So true, Suzi — I think that’s the key. “Follow the characters” is my mantra.

  16. 21 May 2017 10:35 am

    I prefer a slow burn romance so I can watch the hero and heroine as they dance around each other with no idea how explosive it will be once they give in to their feelings. Delicious!

    • AnneGracie permalink
      21 May 2017 11:05 am

      Thanks, Shelley, yes this book had a reeeallly slow burn romance — it took my hero forever to decide he’d have to find a convenient bride. A bit like herding sheep into a pen. 😉

      • AnneGracie permalink
        21 May 2017 11:06 am

        Only I hope, slightly more interesting to observe. LOL

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