Today, I’m so excited to welcome guest blogger, Linda Morris, who is a multipublished writer of contemporary and historical romance. She writes stories with heart and heat. Her latest book, By Hook or By Crook, released last month from the Wild Rose Press.
When she’s not writing, working, or mommying, she’s doing yoga, reading, working in her flower garden, or baking delicious things she probably shouldn’t eat. She believes that there are two kinds of people: pie people and cake people, and she is definitely one of the former. Her years of Cubs fandom prove she has a soft spot for a lost cause. A beat-up old copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind that her mom bought for her at a garage sale years ago was her gateway drug into the world of romance novels. Her all-time favorite romance writers include Laura Kinsale, Patricia Gaffney, Elizabeth Delancey, and Marjorie Ferrell. Current favorites include Julie Anne Long, Erin McCarthy, and Shannon McKenna. Take it away, Linda…
Hi, Nan. Thanks for having me here today! My latest release, By Hook or by Crook, is a road romance, a genre that I love. In my story, a spoiled heiress, Ivy, teams up with her father’s security consultant, Joe, in a last-ditch bid to prevent the (she’s sure) disastrous marriage of her little sister to an MMA fighter. Convinced that her sister’s fiancé is only after the family’s money, Ivy expects to fly out from Chicago, locate her sister, talk sense into her, and prevent the marriage. Joe thinks her meddling is inexcusable, but she’s the client, so he agrees to travel with her to help locate the wayward couple.
When they arrive in Vegas, they discover that her sister’s fiancé never showed for his scheduled MMA bout and the couple is now missing. They go on the road in pursuit of the couple, battling irate gangsters and their own growing attraction along the way.
Working on this story got me thinking about some of my favorite road romances, and why I love this trope so much. I think that it’s because it takes the characters and puts them in a crucible together. They can’t run away, and they can’t avoid each other: They have to work together to solve whatever problem or achieve whatever quest they’ve set for themselves. It can sometimes allow unlikely couples to form: couples that would never have given each other the time of day in a normal situation, but in extraordinary circumstances, they find something to like and even love about the other person:
Take a few of my favorite Hollywood films that use this trope. The all-time classic example is It Happened One Night, with Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. Claudette is the spoiled daughter of a wealthy industrialist who runs away when her father threatens to stop a marriage he doesn’t approve of. Lost and unused to taking care of herself, she loses all her money and quickly goes hungry as she travels cross-country to join her fiancé. Along the way, a down-on-his-luck newspaperman recognizes her and agrees to help her in return for a scoop on her story. This is a classic opposites-attract story. Gable plays the cigar-chomping, smart-mouthed newsman and is the perfect foil to Colbert’s naïve heiress. Of course, Gable soon develops feelings for Colbert and becomes torn about helping the woman he loves reunite with her fiancé.
Another charming (although admittedly more sordid) version of this story is told in Back Roads, starring two of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field. Field is a prostitute who is solicited by Jones, a down-on-his-luck boxer. He can’t pay her after they have sex, much to her disgust, but he “saves” her by punching out a vice cop who is about to arrest her. They flee to avoid arrest and later decide to hitchhike cross country to try to start new lives in California. This is a great forgotten romantic comedy from the early eighties.
The last of my favorite road romance films is Romancing the Stone (and it gets bonus points for having a romance novelist protagonist). Kathleen Turner stars as a sheltered, naïve romance novelist who must travel to Columbia to deliver a treasure map as ransom to save her kidnapped sister. She is quickly diverted onto the wrong bus and winds up alone in the jungle. She encounters Michael Douglas, an expatriate American adventurer who reluctantly offers to help her to a nearby town because he knows she may die otherwise. He eventually comes to believe the treasure map is legitimate and talks her into finding the stone rather than simply handing the map over to her sister’s kidnappers, with the intention of stealing the stone from her when they find it. Of course, true love rises to save the day before he can pursue such a dastardly course of action.
So there you have it: a few of my favorite celluloid road romances. If you love this genre as much as I do, leave me a comment and let me know your favorites!
While you’re thinking, here’s a quick snippet from By Hook or By Crook, which comes after Joe and Ivy have shared a kiss. Poor Ivy is still trying to fight her feelings:
The awkward words didn’t exactly express what Ivy meant, and her frustration grew as Joe’s grin deepened. A dimple appeared in his cheek when he smiled fully.
“Yes, thank you for comforting me so well,” he quipped.
“I mean it,” he said, reaching out to take her hand, brushing his thumb across the back of hers. The simple touch raised the fine hair on her arms. “I’d like to comfort you all night long.” His voice lowered, grew husky, and Ivy’s skin was on fire from the inside out.
She pulled her hand away with effort. “The cabin was a special situation,” she explained. “Not really the real world. Now that we’re back in the real world, I think we ought to try to put things between us on a professional footing once again.”
“The real world? I didn’t know we’d ever left it.
Tell me about this distinction. Why is this motel parking lot the real world, but a cabin an hour or so away is magically not?” His jaw had that pugnacious angle that it took on when he made her life difficult, and Ivy sighed.
“When you put it that way, it sounds silly.”
“That’s because it is silly.”
Thanks for having me here today, Nan. I love to hear from readers. You can find me online at http://lindamorrisbooks.com/, or follow me on Twitter at @LMorrisWriter. My author page on Facebook is located at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Morris/130241710320644?ref=hl.