I asked this question over the weekend on Twitter but I wanted to have more than 140 characters to ask it, so I’m going to re-post, or co-tweet-post or whatever the hell it is.
I’ve been thinking about conflict and the things that stop or imperil a relationship, and I’ve realized that I am very attracted to stories that have a forbidden element to them, when some powerful no-no prevents the protagonist pair from being together. As I said on Twitter, What conflict preventing the HEAin a romance novel is your favorite? I.e. “We can’t be together because….” What’s your favorite reason?
I’m picky, though, about that reason. It can’t be something so powerful that, despite their decision to be together, it will likely ruin their lives anyway. She’s a courtesan, he’s a lord, and what do you mean their children won’t be welcomed in society anywhere they go?! It’s difficult for me to “suspend my disbelief,” to quote Jennifer Crusie, in those circumstances because the reality is harsh.
Yet, I was a total sucker for Dallas, even though I was too young to really understand the nuances of the plots, and way, WAY too impressionable to be shown that many shoulderpads in contemporary fashion. The Barnes/Ewing family feud, the two characters from each family drawn to each other, and the conflict that results? Rwor.
The more I ponder the forbidden attraction, the more I think that my personal favorite is when the forbidding factor is something morally-based. Whoever is in conflict between duty and attraction has to balance out their moral compass such that they can attain the person they desire and still live with themselves (and be worthy in the eyes of the reader) afterward.
So what’s your favorite reason in a romance novel that prevents the hero and heroine from being together? Which “We can’t be together because…” is the story you gravitate toward and adore? And which ones totally don’t work for you?