Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Convenient Marriage

I read Susan Crosby's Forced to the Altar recently. I was drawn to the title because I have to admit that the Marriage of Convenience (MOC from here on because I don't want to spell convenience 40 times) is one of my favorite romance storylines. I don't really like secret babies, and I can't stand amnesia victims, but the MOC I can totally appreciate.

While I enjoyed Forced to the Altar to a certain extent, it didn't quite work for me. The main reason, I think, is because the story's contemporary. I have never been able to buy a modern woman being forced into marriage. There are just too many options open to a contemporary heroine. The heroine of this particular story is a mobster's sister who has grown up sheltered under her father's, then brother's, dictatorial eye. She is hiding on this island owned by a mysterious millionaire because she turned evidence on her brother and the P.I. who helped her do it has to stash her somewhere until the trial is over. The island's owner is involved in something that may or may not be shady, of course, and our girl sticks her nose in and learns just enough to be dangerous. He won't tell her everything about his business, except that it's illegal but not necessarily criminal. He concludes that she knows enough that she could be compelled to testify against him; he forces her into marriage so she can't.

The only reason she truly accepts is because she's attracted, but he's fed her a line about divorcing in a reasonable amount of time, it will be platonic, etc., etc. My question was, why would he have to marry her? He owns this island. Everyone on it bows to his wishes. The only person who knows she's there is the P.I., and he's his best friend. So all he'd have to do is keep her there for a few months. And why would she go through with it? She's attracted, but is that enough for marriage? She's hiding anyway, so just hide a little longer. She has a cell phone and access to a computer. She could just wait until the trial's over and then call police out to the island, right? Illegalities aside, she's not at all worried that he'll hurt her, so there's no sense of menace to scare her into it. She may have been sheltered but she's not easily led. She makes a couple of attempts at escape but they're kind of half-hearted.

I think the MOC works best in historicals because, as recently as fifty years ago, there were genuine consequences for women who were caught in certain situations. A woman's reputation was literally all she had; she had to protect it. Especially if a stain on her would spread to her family. Many people were also subject to arranged marriages, and few were the daughters who resisted. Whether an angry parent or a scandal-hungry society forces heroines to the altar in historicals, I buy it. I get the concept. Women were, by and large, powerless. Employment was an iffy prospect at best, especially if the girl was from a noble class and knew nothing except how to run a house. With no money, no skills, no influence, and no one willing to help her, I can see why our heroine makes the choices she does.

I've rarely been able to buy it in contemps, though. Jayne Ann Krentz managed well in Wildest Hearts- it was a business decision that the heroine herself came up with. (It also helped that I totally fell for the hero! Ferns rule!) Business and perhaps family pressures could certainly make an MOC necessary, but I don't think I could respect a contemporary heroine who would go along with it.

Have you read any contemporary MOC's that you enjoyed?


Blogger Bernita said...

I agree.
Sounds like a Gothic Gone Wrong.
Thge only MOC plot I can think of that might work in a contemporary is one having to do with citizenship/immigration issues.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Robyn said...

True, like the story Green Card. I hadn't thought about that.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Missie said...

I have the same trouble when I read a MOC set in present day. All through the book, I keep thinking things like, "Why doesn't she call the cops? Social Services? Oprah? Somebody?" or "Why doesn't she get a job, apply for welfare, join the French Foreign Legion?" or whatever. They are very hard to buy.

MOC in historicals? I am so there, baby.

8:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home