GS. vs. STA: Heroines Who Don’t Want Kids

Bet MeGS vs. STA is “Good Shit vs. Shit to Avoid,” and is all about books of a particular trope or type that you adore or think should be tossed out the window at the nearest opportunity, just as soon as the car slows down enough. M. is looking for books wherein the heroine, like Min of Bet Me, doesn’t want children.

Okay so I have been a long time lurker, occasional poster, but this Bitch
needs some help. Thanks to your lovely site, I have discovered that I LOVE
contemporaries. Like a lot. Before it was all historicals, but thanks to
Jennifer Cruise, Lisa Kleypas, and others, I’m in love.

So my deal is, personally, I don’t want kids. Like at all. I respect people
who do, and those who don’t, but personally, having kids is just not what I
want. That is why I fell in love with Min from Bet Me. Finally! A heroine
who just wants a man, a dog ( and cat) and a house for the rest of her life.
A message that you can live fulfilled without kids. So I wanted to know if
the Bitchery knows of any more romances ( or fantasy or romantic fantasy or
fantastical romance or whatever) in which the heroine just doesn’t want kids.
No epilogue about how she is happily pregnant or adding to her family of 5.
(The books can be historicals, but I just thought it might be easier to find
contemps of this nature.)

I have been craving books like this and realized that if anyone could help
me it was the Smart Bitches. ( Sorry in advance if this HABO subject has
already been hit up)

This topic comes up every now and again in romance, because there are some times when, as you read, it seems in every other romance there must be a baby-epilogue, or baby-logue, with pregnancy and glowing and 2.5 children in the future. Which books feature heroines and heroes who are not interested in having children, whether it’s a major topic point or not? Which ones did you like best?


Comments are Closed

  1. Kalen Hughes says:

    Victoria Dahl’s wonderful contemps seem to be child-free (I don’t remember discussions that anklebitters were verboten, but you never see any and they never moon over having them).

    Bella Andre and Jami Alden also do super steamy contemps with no babies at the end.

    And I made a conscious decision to keep the main couple of my second historical (Lord Scandal) baby-free. It’s OOP, but I know you can get it used for like a penny, and maybe still as an eBook on Amazon.

  2. Maggie P. says:

    Shelly Laurenston has a contemporary supernatural called Pack Challenge where the main characters explicitly do not want children, and don’t change their mind in the epilogue.
    Edit: Also, it’s really funny, I really enjoy her work. I have not had my coffee yet so I somehow manage to forget that last bit.

  3. R. says:

    Anyone but you by Jennifer Crusie features a heroine who’s 10 years older than her lover. Neither of them want children. It’s a fantastic and fun book!

  4. John says:

    While I cannot think of any specific Good Shit, Shit to Avoid would be –

    Debbie Macomber.  She kind of straddles the fence between women’s fiction and romance, but it’s all contemporary from her…and definitely NOT the best if you don’t want kids.  Her books are good at saying that the classic Suburban Home/2.5 kids/Husband scenario isn’t for everyone, but it always seems like that’s the thing for her heroines. 

    I’ll watch the thread for suggestions – The baby ideal throughout an entire book makes me cringe.

  5. Isabel C. says:

    Good HABO subject! I would love to find some historicals with non-kid-wanting heroines, myself. Or more paranormals—and I’ll have to check out Laurenston.

  6. Donna says:

    Shelley Laurenston – now why didn’t I think of her yesterday when we were discussing LOL moments!

  7. katt says:

    JD ROBB.  Eve Dallas is rather like me, holds one if she must but it will probably be at arm’s length!  Nora Roberts (as JDRobb) has apparently stated that if Eve ever decides to have kids, that will be the end of the series. .. but at the moment, the series is about 30 books of kidless murdersolving with great characters.

  8. katt says:

    Also Janet Evanovich = hilarious.

  9. Ros says:

    If you’re looking for category romance, I would recommend the Modern Heat line (sometimes, though not always, published in the US as Presents Extra).  These books feature much more realistic contemporary settings than Modern/Presents books, and very often have a HEA that doesn’t involve marriage or kids.  I don’t know that the heroines specifically don’t want kids, just that the subject tends not to come up nearly as often as in other category lines.

  10. KimberlyD says:

    Graceling by Kristin Cashore features a hero/heroine who don’t want to get married. They come to the realization that being together doesn’t mean they have to get married. I’m pretty sure they’re both against having kids (themselves) and that they stay true to that throughout the whole book. Cashore’s third book (which will feature these characters) will show us if they end up getting married or having kids. But I don’t think they will on both counts.

    I know I know of more books but I can’t think of them right now. If I do, I’ll be back!

  11. edieharris says:

    As someone in the same situation (the don’t-want-/can’t-have-kids “situation”), I’ve often sought out books like this, with varied success…

    Julie James has three contemporaries out, none of which include kiddies or the prelude to kiddies, and her most recent doesn’t even include the requisite “marry me and maybe someday spawn my children” scene (which I find refreshing). She’s an incredibly witty and intelligent writer, and I’ve reread her work many, many times.

    Kresley Cole writes contemporary paranormals (but her backlist includes historicals, as well) and is best known for her “Immortals After Dark” series. While the idea of children and, in one book, pregnancy, comes into play, it’s tastefully done, and not every H/h pairing indicates that child-bearing/rearing is in their future. Again, refreshing, considering how often the trope of will-my-baby-even-be-human? comes up in paranormal romances. Plus, Ms. Cole’s writing is hilarious and gripping.

  12. Randi says:

    OMG, Shelley Laurenston ROCKS! Everytime I re-read that series I laugh out loud. I luf her.

    She also writes under GA Aiken-but the dragon series does have lots of baby dragons involved.

    coming88: I hope Shelley comes out with 88 more books!

  13. Melissa says:

    Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress and Night Huntress World series – vampires can’t procreate so no babies in this series

    Patricia Briggs – Alpha and Omega series – werewolf females cannot have children

    I will second Pack Challenge by Shelly Laurenston – both the leads never want kids

  14. As a single woman who does NOT want kids (it’s not that I dislike them, I just don’t want my own), I looooved Bet Me.  Speaking of Crusie, didn’t they not have kids in The Cinderella Deal either?  It’s been a few months since I read it.

    I’m fairly new to the genre, but I’d imagine there are more no-kid contemporaries than historicals, because in the “olden days” it was expected you’d start a family.  However, Bryn Donovan’s An Experienced Mistress doesn’t involve children, and in Laura Kinsale’s Lessons in French, they have a baby, but it’s only mentioned very briefly at the end.

    And A-freaking-men on the awesome Julie James (a fellow Chicagoan!).  Practice Makes Perfect rocked my world and was deliciously kid-free.

  15. Julie says:

    Jayne Ann Krevtz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle seem to be pretty baby free.

  16. De says:

    I clicked on the comments to come say Shelly Laurenston and Pack Challenge.  And it was the second comment in.

    iirc, her book Hunting Ground(?) is childfree.  It’s been a while, but I think they’re all dead, so children kind of aren’t an option.  Of course being dead doesn’t mean you can’t have a long and happy life.

  17. Ros says:

    Okay, now I’m at home with my netbook here are some Modern Heat titles that don’t feature kids: Kelly Hunter’s ‘Exposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate’; Natalie Anderson’s ‘Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire’ (she definitely doesn’t want kids); Lucy King’s ‘Propositioned by the Billionaire’.

  18. SylviaSybil says:

    Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series.  Out of five couples, one has children and another one had a child many years ago.  The remaining three couples are happy together without children.  One of the women is in her 40s and happy with her fulltime-plus career.  Another couple discusses it briefly; he says he dreamed they had kids and she stares at him in horror before he reassures her it was just a dream and a metaphor for them being committed to each other.

    Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series.  (Warning: it actually starts with a short story in On the Prowl.)  Female werewolves miscarry at the full moon.  The hero actually says he’s grateful she’s a werewolf; he’d rather have her than have her children while she dies.

    Meljean Brook’s Guardian series.  Guardians can’t have children.  They can retire and become human again, but out of ten novels and novellas only one couple reproduces.

    Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series.  Vampires can’t reproduce so there’s no danger of the heroine getting knocked up.  And she’s terrible with small creatures anyway.

    Linnea Sinclair’s books.  She writes sci-fi romance, and out of the seven couples I’ve read, none of them want children or have even mentioned the possibility.  Although the ones who have cats treat those as their babies.

    Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.  Female werewolves miscarry during the full moon.

  19. tricia says:

    OH YES PLEASE. Bring them on!

  20. Lynnd says:

    In historicals, the only one I can think of is Sherry Thomas’  Not Quite a Husband – the heroine is unable to have children, but it didn’t seem to be a huge issue or regret (I loved the epilogue).

  21. DreadPirateRachel says:

    I want to hear of more historicals that don’t end with babies. One thing that always, ALWAYS makes me crazy is the scene in the historical novel when the hero realizes that he “lost control” and maybe knocked up the heroine. At this point, he gets instant wood just thinking about his child growing inside her (and that’s always the phrasing, too). Creepy, antiquated, and patriarchal. Also, eww!

    It seems like the only historicals that don’t end with reproduction seem to think that they need to make excuses for the heroine; she can’t have kids or some equally disempowering situation. Grrr! Why can’t the author just leave it alone? Just don’t mention babies and let the readers complete the fantasy however they choose.

    End of rant.

  22. Caroline says:

    If I remember correctly, “Who Wants to be a Sex Goddess?” by Gemma Bruce has no mention of babies and takes place at what may be considered an adult summer camp.  And it’s SO delicious.  Delicious man, delicious characters.  So delicious in fact that I lend it to all my female friends…well, at least I did until the last person kept it for herself.  I have to buy it again because I love it, so much so that this will be the third copy I’ve bought.

  23. SarahB says:

    Ann Aguirre’s series don’t have kids and don’t seem headed that way any time soon.  The Sirantha Jax series is sci-fi romance (start with Grimspace) and Corine Solomon series is paranormal romance-ish (start with Blue Diablo).

    The Downside series (paranormal/urban fantasy) by Stacia Kane is great and there are no kids.  Starts with Unholy Ghosts.  Standard warning: the main character is a drug addict.  MHO: So what. 

    I also just finished the first 2 books in the “Study” series by Maria V. Snyder.  These are fantasy/romance.  Start with Poison Study.  No kids so far, and I can’t see one appearing in the last book of the trilogy, but can’t promise.

  24. Krista says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Charlaine Harris. I mean, Sookie is obviously not going to be having any babies any time soon, what with all the vampire/were banging. Lily Bard, iirc, isn’t interested. Harper Connelly doesn’t seem to care about kids (though I haven’t read the most recent one yet). Aurora Teagarden is fine up until the last book.

    Also, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan books don’t talk about babies at all. Granted, they’re not ‘romance’, but they’re good, and there are some romance elements.

  25. Jazzlet says:

    ‘I also just finished the first 2 books in the “Study” series by Maria V. Snyder.  These are fantasy/romance.  Start with Poison Study.  No kids so far, and I can’t see one appearing in the last book of the trilogy, but can’t promise.

    No kids in the third book either 🙂

    The Ann Maxwells that I have read, such as The Diamond Tiger and The Ruby don’t have kids.

    Great topic.

  26. Kristina says:

    re: Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series.  The two main Werewolf characters actually have twins now but there are many other characaters in this series that headline books that do not and dont plan to have kiddos.

    Also, slam her as you will, the Anita Blake character in Laurell K.Hamiltons books does not want kids.  There is a scare at one point with her many lovers but it all works out (no babies).    AND>……. I just re-read that whole series through over the summer (up to Skin Trade) and the smexing up of everyone seems to be easing off.  Starting to return to classic Anita which is a very happy thing for me.  **steps down from soap box**

    BTW, one more for the “No Thanks” club regarding kiddos.  Love kids, but only other people’s kids in one hour increments…. and we’ll just leave it at that. 

    spamword:  party33………. sigh, yeah that was a good party.  But 35 will be even better.

  27. Kristina says:

    Doh!  forgot to mention before I got on my Anita crusade…..

    Kelley Armstrongs other series about a female assasin is blessedly kid free.  She is an ex-police officer that now works as a hit man for the mob and is a vigalante (sp?) in her spare time.  First book is Exit Wounds, 2nd is Made To Be Broken.  Both awesome books.  I’m really hoping this series continues.

  28. I thought of another one: she’s more women’s fiction than straight-up romance, but Stacey Ballis’ protagonists are often pretty open about not wanting kids.  They’re also not skinny and enjoy good food, a la Min in Bet Me!

    federal25: It’s not a federal offense if you don’t want 25 kids!

  29. Ros says:

    For historicals, what about Mr Impossible? I don’t think Daphne is ever broody in the slightest.  And also, from what I can tell she and Rupert haven’t any children by the time of Last Night’s Scandal, set at least 10 years later.

  30. FD says:

    I’m commenting purely for the recs ‘cos this is a subject near and dear to my childfree heart.
    I’m really bummed that despite my preference for these books, I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been recced already.

    Also, it sorta feels like from reading the suggestions, that it’s now ok to have heroines who don’t want kids, but mainly only in paranormals.  Subtext: There’s something otherworldly about not wanting to reproduce? *sadface*

  31. Cerulean says:

    I wish I had additional suggestions, but I just wanted to chime in on the love for this topic! Both me and my new husband (of three months!) are remaining childfree. Although we love our little niece and kids in general, we’re both happy as we are. I do think it’s interesting that most of the books rec’ed so far are paranormals or scifi. Does this suggest that mostly otherworldly/somehow alien women are the only-ish ones who don’t want children?

  32. Emily L. says:

    The Maya Banks ‘Sweet” Series doesn’t really have kids in it until the 4th book. There’s a pregnancy scare in the 3rd book and an accidental pregnancy at the end of the 4th book, but otherwise they just seem happy to be together married or not, with babies or not. Although I never did read the 2nd book.

  33. SylviaSybil says:

    Um, well, I can’t speak for anyone else but I only recommended paranormal and sci-fi romances because those are the only books I read.  I don’t like contemporaries and I’m just now easing my way into historicals.  So don’t read too much into my post, at least.

    @Kristina re: Otherworld, yes, one couple has babies, another couple has a teenager, and the remaining three couples are childfree.  And thank you for mentioning the Nadia series!  Another great series by Kelley Armstrong with no mention of babies or baby blues.

  34. katt says:

    ya know, this is giving me an amazing perma-grin…

    Both the manuscripts that I’m sending out there have
    Happily-Kidless-Ever-After endings…. and they are NOT paranormals…

    in fact they are VERY NORMALS perhaps we could start another sub-genre?  please?

  35. Kimberly Moffett says:

    I would go for Janet Evanovich’s Plum series. The sister has a couple of kids but they are not the main focus. And of course Shelly Laurenston (yes, I know I am adding to the repetition of mentioning her books but I bet she would be glad for the free advertising.) I’m glad this topic was brought up, being only 21 and already knowing I never will have kids (God willing), it is nice to know there are books out there that don’t pound the “and baby makes three” idea into everything. I get enough of that from my mother. Just kidding, I have an older sister to give her the grandnightmares!

  36. JamiSings says:

    I can’t think of any that hasn’t been already mentioned. Though Karen Marie Moning said of the Fever series to not expect Mac to get knocked up like all her other characters did. (But then again, that could change.)

    But man, I love the whole “Don’t want kids” topic. I have people who are actually pushing me to have kids in my life when I’m not even dating anyone! One person actually told me to “Just go to a bar, hook up with a guy, and get pregnant. A child doesn’t need a father.” One of my mom’s friends has said more then once, “Give up singing, get a full time job, settle for a man, and have a bunch of kids like a normal woman.” (Of course, her granddaughter is an “actress” who can only get roles as an extra on Desperate Housewives, so I think that has something to do with what she said.)

    I’ve informed them that I have polycystic ovary syndrome and that makes getting pregnant difficult, if not impossible. They won’t accept that for an answer. I don’t even want to date because of the PCOS what with the constant facial hair issue, the adult acne, not to mention I’m fat. I don’t want a man to touch my chin and feel a hair I didn’t get tweezed out. Let alone have kids that I then have to raise by myself! UG!

  37. AgTigress says:

    I never wanted children myself, so I didn’t have any, but I really don’t have strong feelings about the preferences of fictional heroines, or indeed, about the reproductive choices of my friends and acquaintances in real life.  I don’t even mind if there are child characters in a novel, provided they are believable people and not too sickeningly cute and winsome.  In category romances, I always assumed that epilogues focusing on pregnancy and babies were simply a kind of symbolic shorthand to emphasise the continuing bond of the hero and heroine, rather than an implication that children were obligatory. 

    I have a feeling that the choice between breeding and not breeding may be rather more of an issue in the USA than it is here:  at least, Americans often seem to have more polarised views, and to mention the matter more often, and more passionately, than I am used to.

    Incidentally, Jayne Ann Krentz was mentioned.  Her earlier and category books from the 1980s often do have the ‘standard’  pregnancy/baby epilogue, and a few actually turn on pregnancy as a major plot point.  But JAK’s real obsession is with a much wider concept of family, which she does not necessarily define as mother, father and their biological offspring.  Heroes and heroines have sometimes brought up their younger siblings, there are several examples of major and minor characters who were brought up after the death of their parents by gay couples, and even more in which damaged and dysfunctional family relationships over two or more generations are repaired, usually through the heroine’s agency.  It is not too much to say that nearly all her books are about families—but they do not necessarily involve the hero and heroine having children.

  38. Jade says:

    Thanks for bringing up this topic.  As someone who has decided not to have children, I find it refreshing when a romance ends without the couple being in the family way.  While I don’t mind couples having kids (many in real life do :)) – as long as the woman doesn’t loose 50 IQ points once this happens – it’s just nice when other lifestyles and choices are explored.

  39. peggy h says:

    The two that come to my mind immediately were already mentioned…but what the heck—they’re great books!

    Jenny Crusie’s Anyone But You (which I think I may actually like more than Bet Me…I know, that’s crazy talk!)

    Sherry Thomas’ Not Quite a Husband (heroine is unable to have kids, but she seems to have accepted it without too much distress.  The hero had to think about marrying her, which, pre-in vitro days, meant he couldn’t have legitimate biological children.  But as seen in the lovely, lovely epilogue, they both seem to be very happy with their choice.)  I admit that when I first heard this book was nominated for a RITA, I wondered if the fact their HEA did not involve children would be a problem.  After all, Julia Quinn is a RITA favorite, and while I haven’t read her non-Bridgerton books, the proof of the happiness of her Bridgerton couples rested very heavily on showing them having children.  But I guess the superior writing made the kids-or-no-kids issue moot at the RITAs!

  40. Melissa says:

    Allyson James – Tales of the Shareem – romantica stories that are sexy and fun, the male Shareem are made to get shots to ensure they do not procreate because it’s forbidden in the female dominated land they live in, so no babies in these.

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