Erotica author, aka Elspeth Potter, on Writing from the Inside

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Not a Marriage of Convenience

Why, yes, I'm still thinking about marriage of convenience plots. I like them. I'm finding this pondering of sub-genre to be extremely intellectually pleasing. Also, it's helping me whittle down my to-be-read pile.

I recently read Come Fly With Me by Jill Shalvis, which I had acquired because it was recommended to me as a contemporary marriage of convenience romance. While a lovely book with a truly sweet romance, I don't think it's a marriage of convenience novel at all. Or is it? What makes a "marriage of convenience" plot?

I suppose you could say spoilers follow, but this book has been out a while, and details are necessary for my argument.

When the novel begins, the Seattle-native heroine is thinking of becoming pregnant via an anonymous donor, and the hero, recently widowed (from a marriage of convenience!) is searching for a wife to care for his three small daughters back in Alaska. This sounds like a perfect setup for a marriage of convenience novel. Shortly after they meet, the hero asks the heroine to marry him, and she, unable to go through with the anonymous donor plan, is considering it. Again, marriage of convenience plot.

However, then the plot changes. When the heroine realizes how attracted she is to the hero, she decides that she will marry him, but only if he courts her first. She wants to see if love is possible between them, and she has to visit Alaska and meet his children. The hero agrees, and courts her most agreeably, and the adorable tots like her, too, and she likes them. By the end of the novel, both partners agree they want to marry, but the marriage hasn't yet taken place.

I'm really glad I read this book, because it helped my thought processes. Despite the initial setup, I don't think this story counts as a marriage of convenience. The heart of that plot is making the leap, making the lifelong commitment before really knowing the other person (even if you've known them on a surface level before), and then making the best of the choice. If the marriage of convenience is proposed, but then put off in favor of courtship which leads to love before marriage, then it's not a marriage of convenience.

Love before marriage! What an idea!

Related Posts:
Intricacies of the Marriage of Convenience Plot.

Why I Love the Marriage of Convenience Plot.


  1. I'm with you there. The whole beauty of marriage of convenience is they get thrown together and know very little. The adventure is in the discovery while already being forced together. :)

  2. I think I'm going to try the monumental task of compiling a list of my fave marriage of convenience novels and have a poll or something.

  3. I agree. The marriage convenience plot should mostly take place AFTER the marriage between near strangers or mere acquaintances.

    I recent read A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer and LOVED IT.

  4. Yay Heyer! I have a Heyer recs post for next week, incidentally. And of course can lend from my Massive Pile.

  5. I agree with you that the start made it look like a MOC but it isn't. It's exactly as you say "making the lifelong commitment before really knowing the other person." Love first? Indeed! How strange!

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  7. With correct spelling this time:

    It's really neat how many variations you can have on such a simple plot.

  8. I LOVE marriage of convenience books. Seriously, I think they may actually be my favourites.

    These reads more like what I think of as 'arranged marriage' plots - where the grow to love happens before the marriage