Wow, my fellow Moonlight & Mystery authors have mentioned so many great books. (Note to self—switch my blogging date earlier so they leave me with something to blog about!) I’ll admit to having a bit of a time figuring out which of my favorite books to discuss. When this theme was first brought up, I figured I’d write about Nancy Drew or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but they’ve already been covered. So I’m going to focus on the book that inspired my love of a particular trope.
I’ll start with saying that my mom inspired my passion for reading. And even though I can buy my own books now, I’d much rather pull a her dog-eared, worn and faded favorite off her shelf than pick up a sterile, pristine copy from the store. There’s something so soothing in the feel of a well-loved book. The creased and yellowed pages, the soft feel of corners that have been flipped hundreds of times, the slight ripple and staining of pages that have seen you through numerous solitary meals. So many of the books I remember from my childhood/teen years had that wonderfully comforting feel to them.
One of my favorites from her collection is The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer. It’s a go-to novel for me. When I’m in a bad mood and need a pick me up, this is one of the books I grab. It’s not often that a book can stand the test of time like this. Our tastes change over the years, what was once fun and exciting now seems stupid and boring. Not so with The Masqueraders.
Getting back to tropes, this book introduced me to one of my favorites—the heroine disguised as a man. I’m not sure how well this works in contemporary stories, but it definitely works in historicals. I think what I like most about it is that the hero doesn’t fall in love with a pretty face and great set of boo…um, books (Yeah, books. Hero’s just love those bluestocking heroines, don’t they?) No. Take away the physical attraction and the hero sees the heroine first as a person, not just someone he’d like to sleep with until he finds out she’s actually likable as well.
The hero, Sir Anthony Fanshawe, doesn’t see a pretty girl in a fancy dress, he sees a young man who shows remarkable courage and intelligence. He admires these qualities and takes young Mr. Merriot (the heroine in disguise) under his wing, slowly coming to realize there’s something different about him. When he realizes the incredible truth, rather than being upset by this deception or discounting the admirable qualities he saw in the young man as implausible in a young lady, he realizes he’s fallen in love with a remarkable woman. He’s willing to upset his nice, orderly life and enter into all kinds of unknown adventures with this exceptional woman.
Prudence (Peter Merriot) takes everything in stride. She’s no stranger to wearing men’s garb. Her unconventional life has meant it was often safer for her to appear to be a boy. It never bothered her. Until—she meets Sir Anthony. Suddenly her disguise feels less like a lark and more like a nasty deception. Her nerves are ruffled like they never have been before. Everyone underestimates Sir Anthony, but not Prudence. He sees more than anyone knows and she suddenly cares what someone would think of her and her crazy life.
The Masqueraderswas my first romance where the woman dresses as a man, but not my last. Several of my favorite books have that same trope—Gentle Rogueby Johanna Lindsey and Ashes in the Windby Kathleen Woodiwiss, to name just two. When I read a back cover and see that the heroine dresses as a man, for whatever reason, I’m instantly intrigued.
Can you guess what trope made its way into the first story I ever wrote? lol. Yup, in my first book, Time for Love, the heroine decides to dress like a man when she time travels to Regency England to search for her missing sister.
So tell me. What are some of your favorite romance tropes?
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