THE MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE
“No one does a marriage of convenience like Balogh.”
This is what Publishers Weekly said of ONLY A PROMISE back in 2015. I was a bit surprised at the time as I hadn’t realized I used the theme often enough to have earned such a comment. But actually I have! To name a few: I used it in THE TEMPORARY WIFE when the hero needed a wife to annoy his matchmaking father, with whom he had a bitter and longstanding feud, and the heroine desperately needed money to support her younger siblings. I used it in SLIGHTLY MARRIED, the first book of the Bedwyn series, when Aidan Bedwyn needed to fulfill a promise to a dying fellow officer to protect his sister and the sister needed a husband in a hurry so that she would not lose her inheritance and find herself unable to support her adopted children. I used it in FIRST COMES MARRIAGE, Book 1 of the Huxtable series, when the heroine dearly wanted to save her eldest sister from having to marry the hero and offered herself instead. I used it in THE ARRANGEMENT, Book 2 of the Survivors’ Club series, when the blind hero offered marriage to a young woman who was newly homeless and destitute aa a result of saving him from the matchmaking schemes of her aunt and cousin. There are more–my very first book, A MASKED DECEPTION, for example!
Once I realized that I did indeed write marriage of convenience stories with fair regularity, I asked myself why. There are actually a few reasons.
For one, it is a way of getting the hero and heroine married early in the story so that the rest of the book can contain all the intimacies of their growing relationship without the restrictions that would otherwise be imposed upon them. I don’t have to contrive ways to bring them together in almost every scene. They live together! My books are almost all set in early 19thcentury Regency Britain when young ladies in particular did not have the freedom of movement and the privacy we take for granted today. Finding realistic reasons for them to be alone with their heroes, especially in ways that give time and opportunity for intimacy (even if only a kiss!), can be challenging. If the couple is married, then they can be alone together as often as they like (or as often as I want them to be).
Another reason is that the marriage of convenience is by its very nature contracted for reasons other than love. The couple has agreed to marry, but they have low or at best restricted expectations of the marriage. The most they can hope for is mutual respect and maybe some affection, though they do not always expect even that much. Sometimes they do not even like each other particularly well when they agree to marry. Occasionally they actively dislike each other, as in A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, for example. In almost all instances they do not know each other at all well at the start and have no great expectation that that will change. However, there is sometimes the misunderstanding among readers that a marriage of convenience must also be a sexless marriage. That is rarely the case. I think it is safe to say that it is never so in my books (I could be wrong—that has happened a time or two in my life). It not realistic. Historically at least, marriage was for procreation, and procreation does not happen without sex. To wander off along a slight tanget, I’ll mention another common misconception here. The plot of some stories rests upon the erroneous belief that the non-consummation of a marriage constituted grounds for an annulment. It did not! I believed so myself until a lawyer set me right.
I began the last paragraph by saying that I write marriage of convenience stories because such marriages are contracted for reasons other than love. That may not sound too logical coming from someone who writes love stories. But it is super-logical to me! When I marry a couple off early and get them in close proximity to each other and in close conflict with each other, amazing things happen, and I get to orchestrate those things. I can show the hero and heroine gradually getting to know each other, to respect each other, to like each other, to fall in love, to love with their whole hearts and souls. I can show them healing their own deepest pain and each other’s. I can even show them arguing and fighting! The marriage of convenience gives me all the opportunity I need to delve deep into character and explore a love relationship as it grows, often messily, and eventually deepens.
I do indeed write love stories. I would not write any other kind. Marriages in my books may start off as a convenience, but they always end up as deep love matches.
To one person who leaves a comment below by Tuesday, November 27, I will send a signed copy of the two-in-one edition of THE TEMPORARY WIFE/A PROMISE OF SPRING or ONLY A PROMISE (winner’s choice), all of which are marriage of convenience stories. Goodness, I really have written a lot of them.[The winner is Beverly Holmes]