A writing professor once told me there are only two plotlines: “The Quest” and “A Stranger Comes To Town.” Since I consider the latter to be the reversal of the former, in my highly erudite and intellectual opinion there is, in fact, only one plot.
Given that, I don’t get real worked up when naysayers claim that romance novels are predictable. So what? I can predict that the key parties will find lasting love with one another. This brings me pleasure (Unlike stories about dogs or movies starring Sean Penn, which, I can predict, will always end badly.)
But the quest for love, and the consequences of the hottie coming to town, are always unique journeys, no matter how often I read them. During the holidays, especially, I snuggle in for certain habitual reading rituals and stories which bring me pleasure…
Holiday novels and movies. From Toni Blake’s new classic Holly Lane to the eternal heartthrob that is the “Buffalo Gals” scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, I love reading and watching stories that feed my sense that in the darkest time of the year, people seek and share love.
“Snowed in” stories. I love, love, love stories about couples stuck in close quarters during blizzards. Not only do they learn to rely on each other, but the lovemaking is as hot as the fire burning in the fireplace. Maybe they have to towel each other off and share body heat to stay alive. Maybe the warm whiskey loosens their inhibitions. Maybe they bicker, fight and then make up…excuse me, I need a moment to mop my brow.
These books are often a subset of one of my favorite storylines, the “too much too soon” tale in which strangers or long-lost lovers come together irrationally fast and must learn to develop an out-from-under-the-sheets rapport.
And, of course, you can always hand me a good “secret baby” plot (though I prefer the kid not grow up entirely with a single parent. So “secret pregnancy” works even better.) Once again, “real life” intrudes on the private romance, and the characters must learn to manage and meld both of these.
For me, true love does not and cannot exist in a vacuum. Sooner or later, the snow must melt and the couple must come out of the cabin. Momma Keri needs to see that these two crazy kids can hack it in the dark cold world. I need to believe that when the world throws rocks at my lovers, they’ll shield each other even after the last page closes.
What about you? What stories do you go to ritually, to snuggle up with in the dark of winter? Do you want novelty? Heartwrenching tragedy? The Bobbsey Twins? What?