by Lucy Monroe, author of One Night Heir (Harlequin Presents)
Writing a secret baby book comes with its own built-in emotional angst, conflict and tropes. Which does indeed make them incredibly popular, emotionally powerful and predictable, but only in the best possible way.
For me, reading about a family – baby included, is more visceral than a story without that added layer that both pushes our hero and heroine apart and pulls them together with the unbreakable bond of a shared child. Perhaps that’s why the stories are so popular. Like me, other readers want that extra element that makes the story even harrier in the harry parts and sweeter in its resolution.
But the secret baby theme comes in so many different flavors, the only predictability of the plot is that somehow, some way, a baby or child will be involved. In my first secret baby book, The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress (Harlequin Presents 2004), Dimitri learned of Xandra’s pregnancy early on. However, he threw her away regardless and the rest of the book is focused on a couple deeply in love overcoming what many would consider unforgivable betrayal.
My latest secret baby book, One Night Heir (Harlequin Presents 2013) features a couple that break up because of her inability to conceive. Only…she already has. And somehow a prince has to win the heart of the woman who no longer trusts him. I think trust is an underlying theme in the secret baby romance novel. Does she trust him enough to tell him of her pregnancy? Does he trust her enough to believe the baby is his? At what point will trust be strong enough to support lasting love?
And that is what I think draws readers so profoundly to the secret baby meme: the issue of trust.
It is a key element in all human interaction, whether at a very low level (Do you trust the fast food worker to have put all the ordered food in your bag?) to the deepest, most visceral level (Do you trust someone enough to share your love openly with them, believing you won’t be hurt in the process?).
In romance, the secret baby element is usually a result of a loss of trust and ultimately drives shattered trust later as well. Feelings almost any reader can identify with.
We want to believe there are people we can and should trust with the most fragile corners of our hearts and the secret baby romance encourages us to cling to that belief. Because it does work. There are people worth giving your whole heart to.
At the very core of my desire to write romance, and particularly those that include the secret baby element, is my absolute belief that love built on trust is the most powerful and profound emotion of them all. Absolutely. Full. Stop. Period.
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USA Today bestseller Lucy Monroe has published more than 60 books for multiple publishers. A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.