GS vs. STA: Major Health Issues in Romance

As a corollary, I want to collect the recommendations from the conversation below about STDs in romance, and compile a list of romances that feature heroes or heroines with major health issues.

In the comments, Darlene Marshall recommended, “a Harlequin Super Romance called A Man Like Mac by Fay Robinson.  The hero is a paraplegic and in a wheelchair.  The novel deals sensitively with sexuality, incontinence, self esteem and other issues related to the hero being disabled.”

Jennie recommended, “Catherine Anderson writes books with heroines with major health issues & has had heroines with blindness, in wheelchairs, having panic attacks, etc.  It’s a little icky sweet at times, but the romance is usually handled well.”

Got any more?

Edited to add: There is, of course, the mega list at AAR.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kacey says:

    Christina Dodd’s “Candle in the Window” has a blind heroine. It has been a long time since I read it (had to do a little google research to find it), so I can’t really say what I thought about it. It was one of her early books and I know with some authors that can make a difference in how much I enjoy a book.

  2. 2
    Eliza says:

    Sandra Brown’s Adam’s Fall was a favourite of mine during my teenage romance-devouring years. The hero, Adam, gets in an accident where he is severely injured and temporarily paralyzed. His PT is conned into working with him by her sister, who worked with Adam, and though they never got along, she agrees. Of course they end up overcoming their dislike of each other and falling in love as he recovers.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    Eliza: I remember that book. I remember the tilt table made Adam throw up and I couldn’t figure out why. But it’s definitely a vintage Brown in my collection.

  4. 4
    rebyj says:

    I enjoy it when authors handle illness in a realistic way and not with “miracle” cures.
    Since my significant other is wheelchair bound along with the accompanying difficulties, I think I’ll check a couple of these reccomendations out!

  5. 5
    Tracy says:

    In the Blink of an Eye by Julie Miller has a blind hero.  He does recover his vision in one eye (he was blinded in a bomb blast~he’s a cop) but not the other.  I really enjoyed the book.  Julie Miller also has a book with a heroine with hearing loss~ Police Business  The cover for this book is HOT!!!
    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Frisco’s Kid by Suzanne Brockmann. Frisco injured his leg.  He has to use crutches on his bad days.  No miraculous recovery. Needs to learn what he can and cannot do.

    Dakota Home by Debbie Macomber. The hero, Jeb, has a prosthetic leg.

    I also found this list at AAR with lists of different disabilities showing up in romance.

  6. 6
    DS says:

    Kinsale’s Prince of Midnight.  The hero had an inner ear disorder—Meniere’s disease?  That would incapacitate him at times with vertigo. 

    Nancy Martin wrote a Superromance where the hero had migraines.  This was pre-imitrex and I seem to remember it was pretty realistic.

  7. 7
    Aubrey says:

    Christie Ridgway’s Must Love Mistletoe has a hero with a glass eye, which is handled pretty well.

  8. 8
    Qadesh says:

    Dark Symphony by Christine Feehan, has a heroine who is blind although she does recover her sight partially when she is turned into a Carpathian. 

    In Lover Eternal, JR Ward’s heroine Mary has cancer.  She is dealing with a recurrence of her disease and it directly influences the romance because she doesn’t want to be a burden as her disease overtakes her. 

    I may be mistaken, but I was thinking Katie MacAlister had a heroine who was partially paralyzed on one side, can’t remember the name of that one.

    Sharon Sala’s Always a Lady has a heroine who has been injured by a drunk driver.  As the story opens up her face has been disfigured in the accident and her ebil fiance dumps her while she is still in the hospital.  While it isn’t a “life” threatening condition, she is damaged in many ways and the story shows how she manages to recover. 

    I forgot about Frisco’s Kid, Tracy.  That one is good.

  9. 9
    DebR says:

    Maggie Osborne’s book “The Best Man” features three sisters, and the oldest sister is missing a leg from a carriage accident and is in a wheelchair. If you like Osborne’s books in general (which I do) I think this is a good one.

  10. 10
    P says:

    Here’s a list of “imperfect heroes” compiled by Romantic Times.

    Re Catherine Anderson: I think her novels are okay on their own. But as a whole, they are a little unrealistic. In her Coulter/Kendrick saga, the daughter is paraplegic, another daughter-in-law has mild brain damage and yet another is blind. So much trauma for one family!

  11. 11

    Liz Fielding won the 2006 Short contemporary RITA for The Marriage Miracle (Harlequin Romance). It was a sympathetic protrayal of a wheel chair heroine. And no, the miracle mentioned in the title had nothing to do with her health issues.

    It seems to me that far fewer heroines have serious health issues that heroes. But there again, it could be just the books I have read.

  12. 12
    pkg says:

    Useless of me, I can’t remember the author or even the proper title, but I remember reading an amazing book called something like “the midnight garden” where the heroine is older with grown children. She has had a stroke and is partially paralyzed on one half of her body and finds herself saying swear-words a lot. It sounds weird, but it was really great. She was a totally kick-ass woman, and he was a landscape designer. The love scenes and the attraction between them was handled really realistically and sensitively and it was an amazing book. I have always kicked myself that I didn’t write down the authors name, and I have never found the book again. I wonder if anyone else has read it?

  13. 13
    Mitzi says:

    DorothyL mystery list is doing the same thing with mysteries – main character with a physical problem or disease.

    Good to know that no matter what is wrong with us – we can still be hero or heroines in our own right.

  14. 14
    Cat Marsters says:

    The Katie MacAlister book is Sex and the Single Vampire—the heroine was in a car accident and her abusive ex didn’t seek treatment for her, so she is indeed partially paralysed on one side.  When the hero makes her his Beloved, and therefore immortal, she’s disappointed that her disabilities aren’t cured.

    I do remember an Eloisa James book called The Taming of the Duke where the hero is an alcoholic and goes through some nasty withdrawal.  And I’m sure someone must have mentioned JR Ward’s Dark Lover where the hero is blind (and apparently afflicted with dyslexia, since he can’t spell anyone’s name very well).

    I do recall a Maeve Binchy I read years and years ago where one character was paralysed halfway through the book.  I want to say it was Firefly Summer but I could be wrong.

    Do all those heroines afflicted with crippling stupidity, or heroes blinded by brutal arrogance count?

    Jilly Cooper has done plenty of characters with ailments.  Ricky, in Riders, has an ongoing problem with a trapped nerve in his arm; the heroine of Appasionata is recovering from a suicide attempt that left her without the use of one hand (slight problem for a violinist).  A large portion of her characters are alcoholics or on drugs.

    I know I’ve read plenty of war heroes with some injury that gives them occasional trouble.  I’m actually writing a book where the heroine calls herself a cripple after a bad injury to her leg.  She’s still walking though.

  15. 15
    Trix says:

    No one’s mentioned the classic of the “genre” yet – Jane Eyre? It’s not till Rochester is blinded (and is incidentally free of the MWITA) that they get their HEA.

  16. 16
    Rachel B. says:

    I can’t believe I get to be the one to mention Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm! I just went last week to read it because so many people here had raved about Kinsale—and may I just say, thank you all so much.

    The hero of this book has a couple of strokes and loses the ability to communicate for much of the book.

  17. 17
    Lorelie says:

    Oh, I remember the Catherine Andersons.  The girl in the wheelchair and the rancher.  Actually what I remember best about that book is their mutual obession with John Michael Montgomery.

    Eloisa Jame’s “Fool for Love” has a heroine with an unidentified hip condition that causes a limp and (she thinks) makes getting pregnant a really bad idea. 

    And in “The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown”, Mia Ryan’s hero has a speech condition from a brain injury suffered in battle.

  18. 18
    monimala says:

    Gayle Wilson has written a few Harlequin Intrigues with heroes who are disfigured/amputated/injured in some way.  My favorite is Only a Whisper.  It kind of surprised me because it wasn’t your typical Intrigue… as if a non-formula book had accidentally been folded into the pile. The hero has limited mobility below the waist (not THAT limited) and is horrifically scarred and he’s kind of a bastard in a way (though, really, who can blame him?) and I really loved it.

    And, of course, in Sandra Schwab’s Castle of the Wolf, the hero’s missing a leg, but I did notice a lot of points in the narrative where that was glossed over, only to be mentioned again a few pages later.

  19. 19
    Marianne McA says:

    Justine Davis had a couple of SIMs – in Left at the Altar the hero was an amputee, and in Morning Side of Dawn the hero was a double amputee.

  20. 20
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Two of my old faves from the 90s are by Janis Reams Hudson in her Colton family series of westerns. Forgive the titles. Apache Heartsong features a hero who has recurrent malaria that fells him quite badly, and Apache Fire features that rarest of all heroes……. an impotent one. And of course, lots of ways to try and get him past that tricky condition. Malaria = not cured. Impotence = yeah, cured.

    When I was writing my blind heroine, I received a lot of advice about how I could make the plotline stronger by putting her eyesight as the high stakes. Maybe the black moment is when the hero has to choose between X and helping her regain her sight. But it’s a medieval, not a contemporary. And I really didn’t feel like cheapening the character I’d created. 350 pages of hardship and understanding because of her illness…. 10 pages of happy ending when she miraculously gets her sight back. Crap on that.

  21. 21

    There is the hero in TIME TRAVELERS WIFE who has a genetic diseas that makes him wink back and forth through time. He’s trying deserately to find a cure and ultimately fails.

    There there is a Danielle Steele book PALOMINO were the heroine gets paralyzed halfway through the book from a horseback ride. The hero eventually hunts her down and marries her for who she is.

    My hero in MOON SHADOW is an alcoholic.

  22. 22

    The hero of Pamela Morsi’s Simple Jess is mentally handicapped.  And while it’s usually not marketed as romance, so is the hero of Colleen McCullough’s Tim, which was made into a movie staring Mel Gibson.

  23. 23
    karibelle says:

    In “Again the Magic” by Lisa Kleypas the herione’s legs are badly disfigured in a fire.  She can still walk, although a little stiffly, but her main problem with her injury is emotional.  She is afraid the hero will be horrified and disgusted by her legs if he sees them.  Hence the “Big Misunderstanding.”

  24. 24
    karibelle says:

    Ooooo.  I can’t believe I forgot!  Another Kleypas novel and another disfiguring fire. In “Midnight Angel” the hero has a hook in place of one of his hands (can’t remember which) because he lost the hand to infection after he was injured saving his daughter from the fire that killed his first wife.  Or maybe he was trying to save the wife when he was injured.  It has been awhile since I read that one.  Anyway, the hook only adds to his fierce, dangerous hawtness and when he takes hook off, the herione knows it’s “Business Time.”

  25. 25
    Robini says:

    Also not on the list is Halfway To Heaven, by Susan Wiggs; The heroine there has a deformed foot which she hides with specially made boots.

  26. 26
    Stephanie says:

    Oh gosh, there was one I got at the library that I don’t remember: a historical, Regency-era, where the hero was blind and the heroine was hired as a nurse to help him deal with it.  I can’t remember a darned thing about the book other than that.

    There’s always Eloisa James’s

    Enchanting Pleasures

    , with Quill and his migraines from a horse-riding incident.  (There is a miraculous recovery, but the first large chunk of the book is spent trying to deal with it, rather than cure it.)

    And regarding this:

    In her Coulter/Kendrick saga, the daughter is paraplegic, another daughter-in-law has mild brain damage and yet another is blind. So much trauma for one family!

    I knew a family in which two kids were brittle juvenile diabetics, a third had cerebral palsy, and the ‘normal’ brother had six toes on one foot.

  27. 27
    Lorelie says:

    Speaking of migranes, there’s now something bugging the hell out of me.  There’s a book coming out shortly in which the hero’s got physical problems.  Apparently repetative motion gets him all sorts of whacked out (I think with migraines), so therefore the younger son’s supposedly going to marry the fiance.  I think the hero’s name is Quinn?  And in book one of the series, his friends get fireworks done in his back yard, ‘cause at that point he couldn’t even leave the house.  Jesus, it’s like book three or so, and I’ve read all the others and I can’t remember a damn thing.

  28. 28
    Stephanie says:

    LoreleiLong, that’s

    Enchanting Pleasures

    by Julia Quinn—the hero is named Quill; it’s the 3rd book in a trilogy; he gets the fireworks in

    Potent Pleasures


    In the US, those books have been around for a while (since ‘02), but I’m trying not to be rude and assume you’re here.

  29. 29

    Not Julia Quinn.  Eloisa James.  I’m an idiot.

  30. 30
    Lorelie says:

    Dude, that’ll teach me to read an entire comment, not just fixate on one word.  And to compound the looking like a moron factor, I am in the States.  I’m waiting on so many soon-to-be released over the next few months, I guess I just got confused.

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