Overarching thought: are category romances more issues-based than single title?
Most of my review work - scratch that, allof my review work is in single title novels, so I love things like Aussie Author Month, because it’s a great excuse to delve back into the category romance where I cut my romance reading teeth. Like with Barbara Hannay’s Rancher’s Twins: Mom Needed, a Harlequin Romance that’s nominated for a RITA award this year.
So, Gray was married to this woman, and they had twins together, but she couldn’t hack the Outback life, so she took the kids and moved back to NYC. Then she had a brain aneurysm and died - in front of her kids. Anyways, they go and live with their cousin Holly who agrees to take care of them until Gray can get from his ranch to New York. It takes a bit longer than expected as Gray attempts to ford a flooded stream and ends up breaking his ankle.
Fast forward three months, and Holly is doing pretty well. The kids’ PTSD is getting more manageable, and she loves having them around. So when Gray arrives, she’s got all these feelings and emotions and stuff all churning around, plus, you know, he’s totally hot, so that doesn’t help.
Long story short: she ends up going back to Australia with everyone on a very short-term basis to help the kids settle. Also Gray has a big secret he’s not sharing and Holly is determined to niggle it out of him.
Then: it’s time for her to leave, but he doesn’t want her to, but he can’t possibly ask her to stay ‘cause it’s really selfish, and she doesn’t want to go, but she wont’ stay unless he offers her more than just a nanny position with his kids, and…
Well, I won’t spoil the ending, but you can probably guess where it goes.
The bottom line is this is a very sweet little story, and to be honest, it’s utterly innocuous as well. I can’t imagine anyone not liking it, because there is absolutely nothing not to like.
However, what was more interesting to me is Gray’s great problem. Readers get an insight pretty early on that Gray is functionally illiterate, and has managed for a long time to not only successfully manage his business, but fool everyone around him. Holly eventually finds out, and one of their greatest bonds is created as she helps him to learn.
When I was telling my husband about this story, he asked, ‘why would she fall in love with an illiterate hero?’, which is a non-romance reading point of view, but it did highlight that category romances often feature ‘issues’ as part of their overarching story in a way that single titles often don’t. In fact, in my experience, many category romances have external barriers to the HEA, as opposed to internal, which is more common with single titles.
But I’m not nearly as well-versed in category romance as I am in single title, and this is an impression rather than a solid conclusion. So tell me, those of you who are more involved with category romances: do I have the right end of the stick here?