The Wedding Date; A Romance Subgenre

The story of a woman needing a date for a family wedding isn't that rare. It's almost a subgenre, like Secret Baby books. The main plot involves an event like a wedding or class reunion where the heroine (it's always the heroine) wants to prove that all those people in her past were wrong about her, that other people--better people--value her the way those people never did. There's always a tinge of desperation about the heroine because she fears those people have a near-magical ability to make her doubt herself the way she did "back then." This desperation drives her to find an escort who is so good/handsome/funny/charming/rich/wonderful (pick any or all) so that no one will be able to make her feel like that fat/shy/clumsy/homely/gawky/stupid (usually one will do) girl she believed herself to be "back then."

These stories speak to a lot of us who remember too vividly how awful it felt to be so awkward, out of place, and doubtful about our worth. It's also possible that they hold their power over us because we have unresolved issues about that part of our lives. We expect to achieve a vicarious resolution through these stories, and woe to the author who doesn't deliver.

That's what happened with a book I just finished. In this case the heroine's long-time buddy agrees to play the loving beau and escort the heroine home for her evil step-sister's wedding. Of course, thrown into this close proximity, sparks fly. The couple denies the attraction; they argue; nearly step over the line; back away, and then . . . Then, to my total dismay, the hero allows the truly evil step-sister to seduce him on the eve of her wedding.

I finished the book. Mostly to see if the writer could recover from this misstep. I was skeptical that it could be done. In the end, though she came close, the author failed to rescue the story. Why? Not because he had sex with someone other than the heroine (although that would be enough for some readers) but because the hero betrayed the heroine with her arch-rival. He slept with the one person who was capable of and willing to drive a stake through her heart. Even though, in his mind, it was "only sex," the magnitude of this betrayal made it unforgivable. Some things are. 

Have you seen behavior in a romance that you felt was unforgivable? If not, what would qualify?


  1. I'd have to say that I probably couldn't finish the book. For me if I knew he was the hero of the story, then he has betrayed the heroine in the most basic of ways. For me that's non-redeemable.

    I read a short story by Kathryn Shay called "Caught off Guard". I blogged about it here, she did a great job on making you want to support the heroine even though she did the betraying. It's available as an e-book, if you've got an e-reader, check it out. She did an awesome job!


  2. I completely agree. You can't come back from that. If he 'almost' slept with her, having just made out with her maybe...
    This is a great question, Suz. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I know there have been a few books that have made me shake my head in disgust.