I've always loved the idea of a marriage of convenience.
Not in my own life, of course, but in books. I should say, I love marriage of convenience stories. I love when a couple is forced to try to make a marriage work despite everything. It's such an excellent way to tell a story about how hard intimacy can be, how difficult it is to trust someone, and how terrifying it can be to promise "forever" to someone you may not know well at all.
The truth is that we never know everything there is to know about another person. How can we? There are pockets of the unknown in even those we know the best. People are complicated and mysterious. They keep their own counsel. They can surprise us even when we think we know exactly what they'll do in any given scenario.
In real life, you hopefully marry someone you know pretty well, or think you do. You hope you have the same goals. You hope you're moving in the same direction, together. But marriage is hard, because intimacy is hard. Learning someone else is hard, especially in a marriage, where you often find you learn the most about yourself from seeing the way you interact with your partner--and the things you learn are not necessarily shiny, happy things.
This is why I love these stories. I love the fact of the marriage of convenience, and the way it hangs over the hero and heroine and forces them to confront each other, and themselves, as they work their way toward a happily-ever-after. I love what the marriage they cannot end or walk away from does to them, how it forces them to change, to grow, to love.
These stories are over-the-top metaphors for our own relationships, our own marriages. If you could not leave, what would you do? How would you have to grow with this stranger who is now your spouse?
My debut book for Harlequin Presents is out now (not yet in the bookstores where I am, but maybe where you are?) and features my take on the marriage of convenience story. Luc Garnier is determined to have Princess Gabrielle as his wife, and her cold father agrees--but Gabrielle knows soon after the wedding that she's made a terrible mistake. How can she possibly make a marriage work with a complete stranger? Even one as compelling--and dangerous--as Luc?
I hope you'll check it out.
What are your favorite marriage of convenience stories?