Years ago I heard Presents author Miranda Lee talk about creating a great romance. She said something along the lines of taking hero and heroine, putting them together so they couldn’t escape from each other. Then, once they were in that ‘crucible’, applying heat and watching them react.
Sounds mean, doesn’t it? Actually, to me it sounds like fun. But I suppose romance writers have to have a ruthless streak. We need to make things difficult for our characters so their love stories hold a readers’ attention.
It struck me as I wrote Girl in the Bedouin Tent that I’d taken Miranda’s advice to heart and was having a whole lot of fun with it. Amir is a strong and honourable prince, visiting a nearby renegade leader to negotiate a vital peace. Cassie is a stranger from far away, kidnapped and presented to Amir by his ruthless host. She’s to keep him entertained during his stay. To add insult to injury she’s been chained to the visiting prince’s bed.
Here’s a taste of what happens (from the inside cover):
Amir thrust aside the heavy curtain.
No sign of the girl.
He checked, senses suddenly alert, his nape prickling.
An instant later he threw up a blocking arm as someone leaped at him out of the gloom. A jingle of clashing coins at her belt warned him of her identity just in time.
Instinct saved him. Instinct honed by years spent perfecting a warrior’s skills and others spent learning less honourable ways to survive. He pivoted and snapped an arm around her wrist, just as a blade pricked the base of his neck…
Their meeting is dramatic but what I most enjoyed was writing the next several chapters where, no matter how they tried, Cassie and Amir discovered they were stuck with each other. There was no easy way out and for the next week they had to appear to the rest of the camp as lovers, sharing a large, luxurious tent in a remote desert encampment.
That’s when I got to apply heat and see what happened.
What happened was a revelation to each as they realised their companion was far more than they’d first thought. Cassie and Amir began to discover a bond between them, a growing respect and liking. And then there was the sizzling physical attraction, that for a variety of reasons they couldn’t afford to give in to. I loved writing that mixture of rising sensual tension and deep, deep emotion. By the time they left the encampment their lives were so intertwined there was no way they could simply walk away from each other. That’s when the story got really interesting.
Perhaps there’s something intrinsically fascinating about the idea of entrapment. Maybe it’s the mean streak in me – I love to see how characters react under stress – it tells you so much about them.
Lynne Graham wrote a wonderful romance (Prisoner of Passion) about a pair who get kidnapped and locked in a shipping container. They dislike each other intensely but that doesn’t mean they can totally ignore the other. Susan Napier began a book I love (Secret Admirer) with heroine and hero (and hero’s date for the evening) trapped in a broken lift. That was one intense scene!
How about you? Do you like ‘cabin romances’ where hero and heroine spend part of their time cut off from the world, stuck with each other, unwillingly interacting with a stranger? Where would you maroon a hero and heroine?