Tag Archives: Married By Morning

every romantic hero is a superhero; every superhero has his kryptonite

One of the things I love about romance fiction – and I think it’s true for most genre fiction – is that the protagonists are superheroes. That includes the women, by the way, I just thought that “every romantic hero/ine is a superhero/ine; every superhero/in has his/her kryptonite” didn’t make for a catchy title.

Each character is absolute in their own specific way and it makes them infinitely powerful. Take Edward Cullen, the hugely popular romantic hero: his vampire nature is as unchanging as the granite his body resembles, so when he makes the great shift of falling in love with Bella it is absolute and forever. And, not only will his love for her never abate, he also has the superhuman capacity to feel things with extraordinary intensity and depth.

See, superhero!

In old-school romance, I think the superpower is quite often the characters’ incredible beauty, which is a kind of lame superpower, really.

My favourite one, I think, is Leo from Lisa Kleypas’s Married by Morning. He’s explaining to Catherine why he was destroyed by the death of his first love and he says: “I love like a madman.”

Leo’s superpower is the way he can love. Pretty seductive, no?

Now to the kryptonite…

I think it’s most often the person they fall in love with, which is entirely fitting. Such a great example of this is in the book I’m reading right now, Gaelen Foley‘s Lady of Desire.

Lady Jacinda Knight meets Billy Blade when she gets lost in the London rookeries, where he’s king of the local gang. She meets him in his element, at his full, wild power. He is physically and psychologically potent.

There is an incredibly touching/powerful scene when he follows her back into her London, all the way to Hyde Park, and she has no choice but to socially cut him before the society lads with her take him on. Then Blade re-takes his rightful position as an earl and braves the public humiliation of wearing purple when it is not the done thing, just to see her again.

What makes this plot work so very well is the vulnerability Jacinda creates in Blade. He follows her to a place where he loses all his power, because his longing for her works against all his instincts, to the core of who he is.

Then there’s the quite literal example of this more metaphorical idea. In the film Hancock (spoiler alert) two superheroes/gods are destined to love each other for all eternity, but whenever they come physically near each other they begin to lose their powers. That is always when they are most vulnerable.

Cryptonite takes away the alien superman and puts a human in his place. Someone flawed. Someone fearful. Someone immensely lovable.

the Married By Morning review

And I thought I was going to gush about Soulless…

Reading this book is like being back among beloved family you’ve been longing to see. No, scrap that. It’s like falling in love. The deliciously agonising kind.

I didn’t realise how few books have grabbed me like this recently until I was hugging the book to my chest and grinning – even in the agonising bits.

One of my gripes with Ten Things I Love About You was that I didn’t get the characters’ chemistry at all. Married by Morning starts with a kiss too – and my God did I get it! These two characters are so magnetic that you long for every single kiss as much as they do.

Okay, let’s be honest, probably more. That Kleypas sure can write a sex scene! And I love what she says on her website about writing them: “If done right, they’re crucial in showing the development of the characters and their relationship.” It’s such a brilliant approach to take, and it works. You can’t just skip through the hot bits if you’re not that into them (I can’t imagine doing this – I thought those bits were the whole point of romance novels (ok, sort of), but it’s true, lots of women have told me they don’t read the sexy bits), because then you miss a whole important part of the relationship development.

She also talks about spending a long time thinking about the words, to make sure she avoids cliche. I think this is at the heart of what I love about a Kleypas sex scene – she’s just as non-graphic as Julia Quinn, but so much more specific to her characters, so that it’s not a general sense of the amazing like, say, the earth moving, but a specific sense of how her characters are moved/challenged etc.

eeep! Already so many words and I haven’t even gotten past the rude bits yet!

This is the fourth book in the Hathaway series, which is an amazing series. The third book, Tempt Me at Twilight makes my top three romance novels of all time.

Usually in these kind of series the books are meant to also be able to stand alone and be read out of context. I think MbM would still be highly enjoyable on its own, but she definitely dives right in at the beginning without much set-up, so I would highly recommend reading the others first to get the build-up of the relationship. Because, to be honest, Leo and Marks (Catherine) kind of steal the show a bit when they appear in the first books

Which brings me to another thing Kleypas does so well – the characters of the proceeding books don’t just appear in “happily ever after” cameos so favoured by romance authors. Okay, so we definitely want to know that those couples we invested hours of our lives in have indeed turned out as ridiculously happy as we hoped they would. But it can make them feel a bit irrelevant. Or over somehow, like everything unexpected they were ever going to do has been done. The whole Hathaway family remains alive and involved in every novel of this series.

Oh, and possibly the very highest praise I can give it is this:

My very tired, very sceptical husband arrived home last night and picked up the book where I had put it down and started reading. He didn’t stop for four pages, when dinner interrupted him.

He looked up at me and said the unimaginable: “I was quite enjoying reading that, actually.”