Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two Guys and a Girl...

by Christine Wells

Buffy has two of them. So does Stephanie Plum. I believe our own Kirsten Scott is writing two potential love interests for her heroine in The Delcroix Academy series. They're the ultimate accessory--not one but two hawt love interests for our heroines. Erotic romance takes the love triangle even further, and I'm told the menage a trois sells like hotcakes. But we're seeing a lot more of this phenomenon in traditional romance, too.
Do these love triangles simply explore another female fantasy, or is something deeper happening here?
The romance thread in stories featuring women has changed dramatically over the years. In the past, the heroine often had two love interests, it's true, but one of those dishy men usually turned out to be a blackguard, or at least unworthy of our heroine's love, while the other revealed himself her true knight in shining armour. Wickham or Darcy? There was never any real doubt who Elizabeth would choose.
Now, things have become a lot more ambiguous, particularly in series like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books. Stephanie's life is complicated--there's good cop/bad boy Morelli and scary lethal dude Ranger and she can't seem to decide which she wants more.

Poor Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a lot on her plate. There's the saving the world thing to cope with on top of the normal trials of being a young woman in modern society. And then there's the slight problem that the only time her true love releases his inner demon is when he has a moment of perfect happiness with her. Angel (most of the time) is the demon turned good. Spike is the vampire who might love Buffy or kill her. Each of them seemed right for her at a certain point in the series. Isn't it magic the way great writing can make you cheer for one man (or demon) to win, then change your opinion in the next episode?

There's something luxurious and thrilling about wanting (or more accurately, being wanted by*g*) two different men. But my theory is that writers are doing more than simply turning up the heat for their readers or providing a smorgasbord of yummy men to choose from. Secondary characters often reflect aspects of the protagonist's character. So, what does it say about Stephanie Plum that she has a solid relationship with solid cop, Morelli, yet hankers after the risk of Ranger?
I think most traditional romance fans still like the happily ever after, and they like one hero to get the girl. But what do you think? Is it possible to love two men at the same time? Do you think there's a place for two heroes in a romance?

101 comments:

Aunty Cindy said...

Can I clone the GR so we have 2 of him???

Christine Wells said...

Sheesh! I was just proofreading the post and thinking the font looked a little small...and here's Aunty, scooping the GR! Well done, AC.

And there's only one Golden Rooster.

Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, and he's MINE ALL MINE, at least for today. :-P

Interesting post, Christine. I don't mind the 2 heroes device (esp. if they happen to be Eric B. and Hugh J.!) but usually it's obvious which one is THE ONE for the heroine. I thought the Morelli/Ranger thing was interesting for about 3 or 4 books but now it just gets on my nerves!

MAKE A DECISION, Stephanie!

My Gramma had a saying about doing your "business" or removing yourself from a certain accessory... I'm sure you know the one I mean. :-P

AC

Christine Wells said...

Yes, I must admit, I have stopped reading the Plum series, now, AC. I think they're fun, tightly written books, but I don't have time for much reading now and they've dropped from the top of my list. Still, before I'd read them I don't think I'd seen the 2 hero thing before. One unacceptable 'hero' who turns out to be a bit of a villain, yes, but not two heroes with almost equal billing. So who did you like better? Morelli or Ranger?

Amy Andrews said...

HI Christine - very thought provoking post.
You know what I think it is? I think deep down in our soul we all like a bad boy. We don't actually want to be married to him but we want to hanker after him, flirt with him, know that we can crook out finger and have him at any given time.
I think its possible to be torn between two men but love I'm not sure about.
It's a bit like the Mark Darcy v Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary. We all wanted her to end with Mark but who could deny how attractive that cad Daniel was?

I guess for me what it boils down to is, if it's well written I could definitely go for the whole two hero situation....but it could become a wall banger if the writer has expectations of one and it ends up being the other. Hmm, writing something similar to this one of these days, must bear that in mind :-)

Christine Wells said...

Amy, I think you're right--there is that bad boy/good boy thing, especially in Bridget Jones, which is sort of a re-telling of P&P anyway. I do like the choice to be a little more subtle than that, though, and I think we're moving towards that in fiction. I know the Regency slayer series Colleen Gleason writes has two heroes, and I think the heroine in The Spymaster's Lady has two love interests, though I haven't read it yet because my order *still* hasn't come through.

Good luck with your book, Amy. I think writing two heroes would be a real challenge.

Christine Wells said...

Actually, come to think of it, there's another spin on the two heroes--the one where the villain is in love or thinks he's in love with the heroine and then he becomes the hero in the next book. This can be an interesting one--the villain usually has the same flaw as the hero, only he doesn't learn from his mistakes and change. Yet, he still has to garner enough reader sympathy that they're willing to let him become the hero in the next book. So he has to learn something from that book, but just not enough to be worthy of the heroine and he still needs a full character arc for the next book. Complicated, isn't it?

Amy Andrews said...

Oh BTW - meant reader expectation not writer in case y'all haven't figured that out already ;-)

Gillian Layne said...

Morelli!! He's totally hot, he's a total hero with the cop job, he wants to marry her, his mother/grandmother/whoever took the evil eye off of Stephanie, and man, he's got the dog!

What more could you want? I mean, she's already had her night with Ranger. Fantasy fulfilled. It's Joe, all the way.

I love well-done multiple choice heroes, but I like an obvious choice at the end- I don't like it when someone gets hurt.

Christine Wells said...

Amy--yes, no worries, we knew what you meant!

Gillian--LOL what a great summary. Excellent point about the dog. *g*. I think I'd pick Morelli, too. He's still a bad boy, just not as scary as Ranger. And he's such a honey, too.

Gillian Layne said...

You know who I was thrilled to see get her man? Lulu. Isn't she with Tank now? That girl deserves her HEA, after all the times she's made me laugh out loud.

Christine Wells said...

Yes, Lulu is a fantastic character. I must read the rest of them. I think I was up to nine or maybe ten when I gave up my Plum addiction. What's she up to now?

PJ said...

While Ranger has certainly fueled a few red-hot fantasies, it's Morelli who owns my heart. Gillian stated all the qualities that would make Joe the guy I'd want to grow old with and, let's face it, he's more than capable of fueling those red-hot fantasies too.

I thought books 11 and 12 were just so-so but 13 rekindled my enthusiasm and I'm looking forward to the release of #14 in June.

I adore Lulu and love that she's hooked up with Tank. They're perfect together!

Christine Wells said...

Hi PJ! Yes, it looks like Amy's theory is correct. We like the man we can depend on, while the Ranger type is the short walk on the wild side that is more attractive in fiction than reality.

PJ said...

That's true, Christine and yet I can't help but want that HEA for Ranger too. While he's definitely a bad, bad boy he also has an innate sense of goodness and honor and I believe he genuinely cares for Stephanie as he shows by continuously stepping aside in favor of Morelli because he believes Joe is the better man for her. At least, that's what I want to believe and that's one of the reasons why the triangle and this series continue to work for me. My only hope is that when Evanovich writes the last book in the Plum series that Stephanie makes a final choice and we aren't left hanging because I want that HEA and it had better be with the right guy! LOL!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I am waiting for #14 and so is everyone else in the office. What got me in a dither is when she brought in Diesel for the holiday Plums. Three???? Like Gillian said, she had her fantasy with Ranger, let's get to the settling down part with Joe. I love the characters in those books though, I would let Grandma live with me.

brownone said...

Congrats on the GR Aunt Cindy!!

Now, who doesn't like a good love triangle. It just works so well! I mean, part of the reason I'm so fascinated with Lost is the love triangle between Sawyer, Jack, and Kate (getting into TV shows here). They're usually so intriguing when well written.

Beth said...

Count me among the members of Team Morelli *g*

Having two potential heroes works for me as long as it doesn't drag on too long. And I think the key to making it work (again, for me anyway *g*) is when you can totally understand WHY the heroine would fall for both guys - such as in the movie Sweet Home Alabama.

Great post, Christine!

jo robertson said...

Christine,

Thanks for the shout out for Delcroix Academy books. ;-) Yes, I've got two boys in my YA, and they are definitely part of a good boy/bad boy triangle. The key for me about a two hero book is that they have to represent different aspects of the heroine--why is part of her drawn to the bad boy and part drawn to the good? They can't simply be two equivalent, nice guys. Something about her inner conflict is revealed in the choice she has to make between them, and something about her character arc has to make the decision for her.

I haven't read the Plum books but I think they'd drive me crazy. I can handle the love triange for a book or two, but that's it. Resolve the damn conflict already! :-)

Great post!

Kirsten said...

Oops,

there goes my multiple personalities again. Thought I was Jo for a minute. ;-)

-KIRSTEN

MsHellion said...

I love the love triangle in books, but as Felony Melonie's father would say in Sweet Home Alabama: "You can't ride two horses with one ass, butter bean."

In the end, I want my heroine committed to someone.

And clearly it's RANGER who's the better choice; and SPIKE who Buffy should keep. Clearly. *LOL*

Kate Carlisle said...

I'm for Morelli, too! But I agree with PJ -- Ranger's got to have a happy ending, too.

Ooh, and don't forget Willoughby from Sense & Sensibility. Another dashing bad boy, toying with poor Marianne while the respectable Colonel watches and waits. :-)

Way to go, Aunty!! The GR might need sunglasses after hiding in a hole all day yesterday. Might need a good hosing off, too. Hmm.

flchen1 said...

Such a fascinating post, Christine! I agree with everybody so far--two heroes can be very interesting when well-written, and as people said, when they reflect two of the heroine's spoken or unspoken yearnings. They do work best when they're pretty different without one or the other necessarily be obviously the "bad" choice.

But at the end, I'm a one man kind of woman :) Relationships are complicated enough as it is without more than two personalities to work with!

Sin said...

I've been a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum series for a long time. Of course I'm a bit of a wild girl so I've got this hope that Stephanie will take a walk on the wild side and choose Ranger. But why choose when you can have both?

I like two heroes. I'm fond of more than two heroes. More the merrier I say. Eventually there will be some kind of HEA but I'm game for the ride no matter how long it takes to get there.

Great post!

Nancy said...

AC--congrats on the rooster! Ya gotta be quick. So tell, tell--what did he and p226 do?

Christine--interesting post. I'm with AC. I don't have a problem with conflicting love interests over several books in a series (or episodes in a TV show), but I think the lead character has to fish or cut bait sooner or later. I grew up with the Superman/Lois/Lana triangle. Drawn to the underdog, as usual, I was rooting heavily for Lana. So we see how good I am at predicting! *g*

Yes, I think Stephanie should make a decision. I'd pick Morelli. Ranger has made his sentiments on marriage clear, and I suspect Stephanie needs security, which Morelli is more than ready to offer her.

PJ, you make a good point about Ranger. He does care for Stephanie, and he's been completely honest. I think it's time she took him at his word. He also deserves an HEA, though he would lose some of his mystery if he had one.

Gillian, I love Lulu too. I hope she and Tank will keep their HEA. Unlike Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley and his Helen, whom George apparently just knocked off in a novel peripheral to the series. What's up with that--killing off a lead character in an ancillary book?

Dianna, you're a brave woman to take on Grandma Mazur, though I do love reading about her!

Martha Grimes did something similar with Vivian Rivington and Richard Jury and Melrose Plant in her Richard Jury mystery series. Vivian was going to marry an Italian count, but she didn't seem to be in a hurry about it, and Jury and Plant both were attracted to her, and on and on it went. I loved the books, especially the early ones, but I reached a point by book 7 or 8 of "get on with it, already!"

I do think it's possible to love more than one person romantically, but not with the depth required for a lifetime commitment.

Amy, good point about Bridget J. Hugh Grant is, imho, cuter than Colin Firth, but his character was undeniably a cad. Good luck with that book.

Mshellion, love the saying!

p226 said...

I learned one thing about male/female relations early in life. You all love the outlaw biker. Yep. The "dangerous" guy. For an awful long time, I was that guy. I completely exploited this irrational attraction most of you women folk seem to carry. I had it down to a science. Hell, THAT's the book I should write. "How to be the bad boy and get all the chicks." Of course, I must note that all of this was before I met my wife. She somehow threw this mysterious, slightly crazy, and just a tad dangerous guy for a loop.

Given the choice between Mr. Clean and Mr. Dangerous, you guys all go for Mr. Dangerous. *g*

I think it explains why motorcycles are such irresistible chick magnets. Your HEA might have the good guy winning the girl in the end. But you know, secretly... you want her with the other.

doglady said...

I don't mind a little shopping around, but I believe a woman should buy or stop handling the merchandise. Attraction is no the be all and end all. Ultimately I believe their is one man who speaks to all aspects of a woman, who speaks to her soul, body, mind, and heart. In the end you just know. I do like the idea of a villain thinking he is in love with the heroine, but not learning his lesson, not being EXACTLY right for her - close but no cigar - and then he ends up as the hero of the next book. Sebastian St. Vincent in The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is a prime example. He is a lovely bad boy who kidnaps his best friend's fiancee, but in the end she is not the one for him. One of HER best friends ends up being the one for him and she is the LAST person you would expect him to end up with. However, she is exactly what he needs. You can't eat 4 alarm chili forever, ladies. Find that meat and potatoes guy and throw a little hot sauce on him every now and then. There's a feast for a lifetime.

Sin said...

P226- You've seemed to tap into my brain. LOL. Dangerous is fun and exciting and a breath of fresh air when routine seems to be the only thing going in your life. I prefer my heroes dark and dangerous. I think it's the fascination with the Alpha male. They are always dangerous. And I always prefer my heroines to be with them at the end even if it's not practical.

Helen said...

Congrats Aunty Cindy on the GR have fun with him

Interesting post Christine I haven't read the Stephanie Plum series and I don't watch Buffy (although my daughter has the whole series on DVD) I very much like the traditional romance with one hero and the HEA. It is always really nice to have another hero in the story that could have been the one but then there is always another book (hopefully) for the second maybe hero.
Have Fun
Helen

Farrah Rochon said...

I'm totally a "have your cake and eat it, too" kind of gal. In the realm of living the fantasy, being chased by not just one hot guy, but two, is pure bliss. (We are still talking fantasy, right? In reality, you end up on the Jerry Springer show. Well, for those who still consider Jerry "reality").

Of course, in the end, the girl must end up with only one guy. I have no problem with Stephanie Plum having a taste of yummy Ranger, but in the end she has to end up as Morelli's cupcake. Anything different, and I think JE would have a riot on her hands (with me leading the pack).

Great post!

MsHellion said...

Strange, I always picture the Stephanie Plum riot happening if she doesn't end up with Ranger.

Babes are meaner. *LOL* Bigger rioting.

P226, I have to concur with Sin. You totally tapped into my brain. *LOL* Reformed rakes can happen.

Aunty Cindy said...

LOL on your Jerry Springer comment, Farrah! My sister-in-law and I recently decided that our extended family could keep Jerry in guests for a VERY LONG TIME! :-P

Yup, I'm in the Morelli camp too. Isn't is OBVIOUS? But whomever said Ranger needs/deserves his own HEA is sooo RIGHT! Exactly what constitutes an HEA for Ranger, however, is still up for interpretation. And Lula and Tank were a truly inspired couple.

Nancy, I'm not exactly sure WHAT p226 and the GR were up to yesterday but he had a very strange odor. So much so that my little dogs ran for their crates and haven't come out yet. And yes, Kate, he IS wearing his Oakley shades, sipping a tonic water and enjoying the very bright sun here in Nor Cal.

AC

Donna MacMeans said...

Christine - Great post!

I'm of the "these two were meant to be together" camp and I don't mean two heros. No problem with two men hot for the heroine, but in the end, only one is "the one". Now, if you draw out the decision for books on end like JE, more power to you!

Ms. Hellion - love the saying.

terrio said...

I'm the one man/one woman kind. Even in books really. I've only read the first Plum book so I'd know who these people are but I'm not sure I can stick with her for a dozen more.

I love the fact the Eloisa James' Mayne was a throw away secondary character who was really the bad guy in Your Wicked Ways. But he became a phenomenon all his own and was the impetus for the creation of us Bon Bon girls. *sigh* We'll always love our Mayne.

Congrats on the GR, AC. I hope you frisked him before letting him in the house. I'm sure there's an explosive on him somewhere.

Christine Wells said...

PJ wrote: I want that HEA and it had better be with the right guy!

Yes, I'm sure JE knows exactly how to finish the series--if it ever ends.

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, isn't it interesting that we feel Joe is the right man to settle down with, rather than Ranger being the man she needs to tame? Do we expect more realism in Plum books than we do in most romance?

AndreaW said...

WTG, AC!!

Great post Christine! I am a HUGE fan of Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles and she balances her two heroes extremely well. Both are certainly worthy of Victoria (the heroine), but I'm rooting for Max. ;)

~Andrea, proud member of TEAM MAX

Christine Wells said...

Hi Brownone! Great to see you again. I must confess, I only saw one episode of Lost and I was totally...lost. Must try it again!
Thanks for commenting.

Christine Wells said...

Beth, I love Sweet Home Alabama! I agree that we'd like to think the heroine is a little bit smarter in her choices than in previous times, and the conflict is so much more intense when both men are good guys--or deliciously bad guys who would be good for our heroine. Or whatever:)

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, so sorry I mis-spelled Delcroix but I fixed it! Your good boy/bad boy dilemma really represents the heroine's central conflict, doesn't it, because she has to decide what's good and what's bad in all that's going around her, and it's not clear cut, either. Hey, you'd think I'd read the book! Can't wait until it's on the shelves.

Christine Wells said...

Mshellion, snorked at your quote from SHA!! Ah, there's a reason you're named MsHellion, obviously;)

I certainly agree about Spike. Something about the way his love for Buffy makes him act against his best interests, even though he's been a total selfish b#%$%d for hundreds of years really gets to me. Maybe if I'd read more of the Plum books I'd agree about Ranger, too.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Kate, yes of course there was Willoughby, the scoundrel! That was an interesting conflict because he really did love Marianne. Sigh. She was far better off with Colonel Brandon, especially if he looked like Alan Rickman!

Christine Wells said...

Fedora, I so agree that it becomes very complicated when there are three in the relationship. Especially when I see my crit partner, Denise Rossetti, tearing her hair out about her erotic romances. In those, the three of them have a HEA together. Yikes! Imagine working out all the kinks in a three-way conflict!

Christine Wells said...

Sin! Another Ranger fan. Ok, I think the balance is for Morelli, but we have a few weighing in for Ranger here. Snorked at the more the merrier comment!

MsHellion said...

Yeah, I don't think Sense & Sensibility was fair, really, because although Greg Wise was a handsome bloke, there was no way he could ever compare with Alan Rickman.

It really should have been a hard choice. Like between Greg Wise...and Danny DeVito.

My apologies to DeVito lovers.

Christine Wells said...

Nancy--thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I totally agree--I want Ranger to keep his mystery and a HEA seems a bit out of line with that. HOwever, skilful writers have managed to pull off things like that before.

Yes, the Eliz George mystery where Lady Helen dies is a bit out of left field. I think she actually dies in an earlier book and then EG goes back and tracks the killer and how everything led up to Helen's murder. I must admit, the actor playing Lady H in the TV series really ruined her for me! But I'm sure she was killed off so that Lynley could develop another romantic interest. He'd pretty much 'got the girl' with Helen and maybe it was time to get in fresh blood. Who knows? Maybe it was to infuse Lynley with more angst now he'd sort of made peace with his family issues.

I agree, Nancy--to me, real, deep love is exclusive to one person.

Christine Wells said...

P226, you are living proof that the 'bad boy' can make a lasting commitment. You are the poster boy for romance!LOL

Actually, romance is one arena where it's totally safe to fall for the bad boy;)

Your book should be titled: My Life as a Chick Magnet. Do it! I'm sure it would sell like hot cakes.

Cassondra said...

I guess I think there is a one best and right person for everybody, and sometimes you have to try out a few before you find out who YOU are and who the right ONE is. Same for heroines and heroes in books.

I'm not interested at all in the actual love triangle, though two potential heroes can make things interesting. Nevertheless I want the HEA at the end of EVERY book. Since I have such limited reading time, that means I don't get to be a reader of the Plum series.

BUT, I think it's a matter of how you write the heroine. She might be right for Mr. Normal everyday stable, or she might be right for Mr. Dark and Dangerous. And honestly, if she's the Dark and Dangerous type herself, on the inside, she's gonna get real bored real fast with Mr. Normal. And if she's Ms Stable and staid, Mr. Dark & Dangerous will make her miserable in the long term. Or maybe it's the exact OPPOSITE. I think it depends on the character.

I think what we all want is to have somebody who cares for us more than any other. If he's dark and dangerous and loves us beyond reason, why would we want someone else? Same for Mr. Normal. Even if he's not prone to being a badass, when the time comes, he'll man up and go to the wall for us, or he's just a wimp.

I think what a lot of us want is a multifaceted individual. And I think the attraction to the "bad guy" is that he's confident, and not afraid to be himself in the face of society's mores. And in truth, whether he's a bank executive or a biker boy, if he has that confidence, he'll hold the same attraction.

It seems to me that when you set the bad boy biker up beside the stable banker, what happens is that the contrast between "conformist" and "nonconformist" makes the biker look like a person of stronger character because he appears to be the confident, fearless one.

That's unfortunate, since a lot of the bad boys are jerks.

And its unfortunate because just as many of the bankers are jerks too.

I think judging a guy by his outward appearance or his choices of social role is like judging a book by its cover. And we all know that's a mistake. I think it's possible to love two men, but not in the same way.

The one who makes the heroine's heart stop is the right choice unless he's a jerk. That's the one I always want to see the heroine with. Otherwise it feels like she's "settled."

Christine Wells said...

Pam, snorked at your sauce on the meat and potatoes! And I actually had Devil in Winter in mind when I was talking about the villain-turned-hero. But I read some people saying they didn't think St. Vincent had had enough time to reform between one book and the next, so that's interesting. So sometimes readers want a character arc to stretch over more than 2 books.

Cassondra said...

"You can't ride two horses with one ass Butter Bean"

That's about the best quote I've ever heard!!!!!!

Christine Wells said...

Sin wrote: I always prefer my heroines to be with them at the end even if it's not practical

I think it's the author's job to make it practical, Sin. So if the hero is an adventurer--maybe the heroine has always longed to travel. I have a hard time believing some bad boys will settle down unless maybe longing for a home has been planted within him early in the book. If the resolution is seeded well from the start, you can totally buy the HEA, even if on the bare facts, it doesn't seem practical.

For example, in Match Me if You Can, SEP made her heroine expert at 'mothering' the football players and unfazed by their antics. Perfect for the wife of a football agent, who is at their beck and call.

Christine Wells said...

Helen, the only reason I watched Buffy, having resisted it for so many years, was that I was breastfeeding and I hadn't managed to hold a book and do that at the same time, so I watched TV. And even on cable, during the day time it was all dross. Except Buffy. And now I'm such a fan because I think there's some magnificent character development and story-telling there. Thanks for commenting!

Christine Wells said...

Farrah, too funny about the Jerry Springer show.

Hey, we're going to have rival rioters--cupcakes led by Farrah and babes led by MsHellion. Think I'll sell tickets;)

Christine Wells said...

AC, a HEA for Ranger?

I think Ranger should meet a female version of himself. Can just imagine a scene like that one in Lethal Weapon 3(?) where they show each other their scars;)

Oh, wish I had a photo of the GR in Oakleys! With that tonic water it sounds like he's on a detox after all the cocktails at my place.

Christine Wells said...

I agree, Donna, only one is 'the one' for me, too. And I agree, if JE can keep readers interested for 20 books, why not? Maybe Stephanie will be a pensioner before she settles down;)

Christine Wells said...

Terrio, I'm really enjoying Eloisa's Desperate Duchesses, too. It's a more complex way of writing romance, with a lot of character arcs arching over many books and I'm really intrigued to see how it plays out. There just seems to be more uncertainty about the direction the books will take when you know some couples won't get their HEA in the book you're reading. This is a more planned structure than the throwaway character who gets his own book, though. Mayne was a great character, I agree. Interested in these bon bon girls of yours. Where do they hang out? Do they eat bon bons? I'm there!

MsHellion said...

*LOL* We hang out on Eloisa James' BB. The pact was that we were madly in love with Mayne and we thought Josie would be his perfect match. (It got to be a bit of a cupcake/babe situation on the board, dividing into camps of: is Mayne too old or just right for Josie?)

The Bon Bons were the ones who were Mayne/Josie supporters. But win or lose, we were reading that book and popping bon-bons as we went along for the ride.

And Mayne had a bit of Ranger about him.

flchen1 said...

Yep, Christine, I guess I couldn't imagine the horrible complexities of such an HEA! I definitely have a hard enough time in reality with my one partner-for-life!

And Cassondra, thanks again for so eloquently stating lots of what I would have wanted to say! Woo!

Denise Rossetti said...

Great post, Christine - and thanks for including my cover. I refer to that guy as Mr Gorgeous because he's just...well...gorgeous!

So many fascinating threads to comment on in today's discussion, but I'm going to resist Morelli/Ranger for the moment.

I've written a couple of erotic menages where two men and one woman end in up with a HEA. Some menage books start out as true "love triangles" where the two men are rivals for the heroine's affection. Mine don't.

Each time, it's nearly driven me insane, getting the emotional connections right and ensuring one of the guys isn't a third wheel who just shows up to spice up the sex scenes. (Rather a mixed metaphor, but you know what I mean.)

Because I want the reader to suspend her disbelief that such a thing could really happen. And not only that, work for the foreseeable future. Yes, I know, I know. But I want my HEAs to actually BE HEAs and that means everyone in one happy sweaty loving bundle. Truly committed. All romance is about the fantasy and my books are deeply romantic. (Also hot!)

Just think about it for a minute - Morelli AND Ranger, Spike AND Angel. Who'd have time to save the world? LOL

I didn't know about Lula and Tank. That is sooo cute! I bailed out about halfway through the series despite my pretty serious Ranger addiction. I barely have time to read anything any more. *sigh*

As a matter of interest, the men in my family (one of whom is a cop) read the Plum series. At the end of I think it was the fifth, there was someone a-knockin' at Stephanie's door. "Nice dress," he says. "Take it off."

I still recall we argued about who it should be. My sister and I said Ranger, the guys said Morelli. Which bears out p226's assertions about the female yen for the bad boy.

Brilliant hook that. Wish I'd thought of it.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Nancy, I think me and Grandma would have some fun, I would let her get in trouble then when her daughter called I would say "Grandma did it!"

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Christine, one of the main reasons I want Joe to win is....... she ran over him with a car for Heaven's sake!!! He deserves the prize, you know? Though I totally love Ranger too, he just hasn't worked hard enough to get the prize. Poor Joe started when Stephanie was what?? 8 years old was it? (I already sent my books to my daughter so I can't reference her age) Joe was the first and I think he has been at it long enough that he should be the last. Besides, with Joe, she has the best of both worlds, he is ready to settle but he is still a mucho bad boy.

Lisa said...

Can't help but chime here in support of my boy Ranger. I think the bond between Ranger and Stephanie goes far deeper than the one night fling. The man laid his life on the line for her in Twelve Sharp... I love a great hero, and Ranger is the epitome of hero.

Great blog.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Christine, in my opinion St. Vincent had plenty of time for his arc, in the first part of their story he was still really, really bad. When she first went to talk to him I wanted to smack him a few times myself.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh Christine, yes! I would love to see Ranger "meet his match", I think that would be way cool.

Batcave is forever said...

I agree that Steph, as an unconventional and independent sort herself, would be utterly and completely bored with solely being a housewife. JE has done so much to paint her as independent and not needing a ring and a picket fence to be happy that to end the series like that would contravert everything that's been done for the past 14 years. I do feel that while she does love Morelli, and he's not a bad guy, she has a deeper connection with Ranger - he understands her and doesn't try to change her. He accepts her for who she is.
And yes, you definitely do need to read the rest of the books. They are wonderful.

cmp said...

I would recommend reading the rest of the books. 11 and 12 are amazing. You learn a lot about Ranger in the books. More importantly you get to learn more about Ranger and Steph's relationship. Their feelings for each other.

Morelli really is a great guy at times, but his expectations of Steph leave me cold. I want Morelli to love Steph for who she is and not what she could be if she just stopped pretending to be a bounty hunter.

Ranger does that for me. He's hot and supportive and dangerous and he loves Steph just the way she is.

I also truely believe that Steph is in Love with both men. She sees something in both of them that fill her wants and needs, but neither man has it all just yet. I'm all for her playing with both while she's working on the committment issue.

Outstanding Blog!

Christine Wells said...

DeVito lovers? Snork!

Christine Wells said...

Andrea, I have yet to read the Gardella series but the first couple of books are on my TBR pile. I love the concept and I think it's interesting that you don't have a clear idea who the heroine will end up with. As AC and a few others were saying, it takes a lot of skill to keep people interested. But I think CG has a clear arc in mind over 5 books or something, so that doesn't seem like stretching it too much to me.

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, I think you make an excellent point and that's what makes good romance so good--what's right for the heroine depends on the heroine. Sometimes they're looking for balance, sometimes they're better off with a kindred spirit. Writers can make Mr Dependable exciting and they can make Mr Dangerous a one woman man. It's all in how you write it, IMO.

Christine Wells said...

I really should visit that EJ/JQ bulletin board more often. Sounds like you girls have all the fun!

Christine Wells said...

Denise wrote: Just think about it for a minute - Morelli AND Ranger, Spike AND Angel. Who'd have time to save the world? LOL

Indeed. (fanning self here)

And yes, that line about the dress was the best line ever, besides the one ass two horses one.LOL I can't imagine a Regency hero getting away with it but I wish I'd written that, too.

Thanks for commenting, d!

Farrah Rochon said...

Oh, oh, wait!

Maybe I should clarify that in the Ranger vs. Morelli debate, I am a total Babe. I looooove Ranger. But, I looooove Morelli, too (just call me a slut. I want them both).

However, when it comes to who Steph should end up with in the end, it has to be Morelli. He grounds her. "Ranger", "Steph", and "long term" just don't go together.

In Twenty Even, (my personal prediction of the title of the last book), I know JE will give Steph and Joe a HEA.

I totally agree that Ranger deserves his own HEA, as well, though. Just now with Steph. Maybe she'll help him to work through his dark issues in the end, but gosh, those two just cannot end up together in the end.

*ducking frozen Snickers*

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, I agree--Morelli is quite enough the bad boy for this little black duck. And if anyone has earned her, it's Morelli, I agree.

Christine Wells said...

Ah, Lisa, Ranger is good at the heroics, but is he good at changing diapers and doing the washing? That's the mark of a keeper, IMO. Chortle.

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, I thought St Vincent rather likeable in Scandal in Spring or whichever one he was the villain in, so clearly, I am no judge of character! I often like villains, I'm afraid. Didn't trouble me at all that he turned up as hero in the next book. And I don't think it troubled most fans because that book has received a lot of acclaim.

Farrah Rochon said...

That should have been "not with Steph", instead of "now with Steph" in the previous blog post.

Sorry, trying to beat out the reigning Jeopardy champ while responding to blogs can only lead to disaster

Christine Wells said...

Batcave--almost, you convince me to switch sides. A man who loves a woman the way she is gets a huge tick in my book.

Christine Wells said...

cmp said: I also truely believe that Steph is in Love with both men. She sees something in both of them that fill her wants and needs, but neither man has it all just yet. I'm all for her playing with both while she's working on the committment issue.

That's an excellent point. You know, I think most of us who haven't read the more recent ones are going for Morelli, but it sounds like in the later books we see more of what's going on with Ranger. I wonder if JE planned it that way. Maybe she's leading into a HEA with Ranger? Now, I have to get me the rest of the series!

Christine Wells said...

Farrah, I, for one, will be *eating* the Snickers, not throwing them at you. Yum!

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Christine, I totally agree, I liked St.Vincent too, but I still wanted to smack him in the beginning of their book. He just seemed so cold to her. Of course there wouldn't have been much of a story otherwise....LOL. In all the book groups I have been involved in St. Vincent is always mentioned as a favorite. I think he caught everyone's fancy.

Christine Wells said...

Hey Farrah, speaking of Jeopardy, do you know our own Bandita Anna Campbell won Jeopardy once? She's one smart cookie, that girl.

cmp said...

Christine, I agree a man that's good with helping around the house is a keeper. My husband is a pro with the washing. Not so good with the diapers, but he tries. But I must say when it comes to Steph she gets a tick thinking about children. And well her cleaning skills are right up there with my five year olds. I don't think those are qualities she's looking for in her man.

JE just didn't paint the normal heroine in the Plum series. I don't feel that Steph is looking for the every day life. The normal. She craves the adventure. She couldn't handle the 'normal' jobs. She didn't even last sitting behind a desk at RangeMan. She loves the thrilling life. And children just don't factor into that life.

Besides who needs a man to wash your clothes when he brings an Ella with him. And Steph's already said if anybody could make her switch sides, it'd be Ella.

I'd give anything if my man came with a housekeeper.

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, the thing I liked most about St. Vincent was that he was a realistic rake--spoilt and selfish and all the rest of it. When you want to smack them at first and then they fall hard for the heroine, it's the sweetest revenge:)

Christine Wells said...

Ranger has a housekeeper? I think you might just have converted me to babedom:)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Christine, just where exactly did you quit reading the Plum series?? He has a super cool apartment complete with housekeeper and he now keeps clothes in it for Stephanie. You did read the one where she got Ranger's car destroyed right??

cmp said...

I'm telling you ... you must read the rest of the books. I'm guessing if you didn't know about Ella, you must have stopped reading at TTN. 10-12 are the best. You may still be pulling for a Morelli ending, but they are so worth the read.

JE has promised a happy ending for all three, but I still can't see it. Morelli and Ranger have both invested so much time and love in their relationships with Steph. One of them is going to be hurt in the end. I can't see either guy happy with her being with the 'other guy'.

Christine Wells said...

::Hangs head in shame:: I think I stopped after about number eight. Or nine. Ack, I don't remember, I'm afraid. But I'm definitely going to start reading them again! I promise!!!

CMP--I'm sure JE won't disappoint you. She's a master storyteller and she will definitely pull off the big finish.

Must dash now and do what they pay me for. Back soon:)

bg said...

OK first to those who say they love Lulu......her name is LULA LULA. Ok I feel better, I love Lula and I'm glad for her and Tank. I read JE and I read it for Fantasy, to get away from the real world. Now I have to say I think Joe is a great guy, he is the type of guy I can see in real life being the guy to fall inlove with and live happily ever after. But Ranger, there isn't anyone out there that I can think of that is Ranger, he to me is complete fantasy and thats why I would love to see Steph end up with him. He is the dream not the reality. I live reality (OK most of the time I do) I don't need reality in my reading. I'd read National Geographic if I wanted real life. While I like the whole triangle thing, I'm done I'd like it to end and I'd like it to end with a lot of Ranger lovin.

Thanks for letting me vent!!!

Lisa said...

Christine, I married a Ranger and he washes clothes and changes diapers:) As mentioned in other posts you need to read the rest of the series. Ranger has a housekeeper/cook, who buys Stephanie clothes, and bakes her chocolate cake. I'm not saying Ranger is perfection, but he will have staying power in a relationship with Stephanie. Morelli will never let Stephanie fly and be her own woman. He guzzles Maalox by the gallon everytime she mentions the fact that she's a bounty hunter. He wants her to change, Ranger loves her for who she is:)

cibru said...

I think we get so caught up in what main man we would like for OURSELVES that we forget this is about what man would be best for Steph. Joe wants someone to stay home with the kids and/or have a regular job, cook for him..you get the picture. Steph has expressed many times that she doesn't know if she ever wants to get married or even have kids. And she certainly likes her unusual job. Now honestly think about her and why we love her, not Joe. Do you really really REALLY see her happy as a stay at home Burg wife? Or would she be better suited to a life of love and support in the non-traditional sense? I'm a Babe because Ranger is unconditional. Joe has broken up with her because she is not what he wants. He'll never be happy until she compromises. I like Joe. I want him to find the right person, but I don't think it's Steph.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Yeah, what cibru said, I changed my mind, I want Steph to have Ranger now. Unless of course she really doesn't want him in which case I would be happy to take him off her hands. I don't know how long my heart would hold out but I am sure it would be worth it.

Christine Wells said...

Lisa--lucky, lucky you!

Cibru--now you've raised an interesting issue because it's my theory that many times, an author introduces two heroes so that the reader can pick the kind of hero *she* likes. Not necessarily the one that is right for the heroine.

As you so eloquently argue, it sounds like the Ranger you get to know in the later books would be perfect for Stephanie. But some readers might still prefer Morelli, because he's more their kind of guy. It's fascinating the way readers play such a huge part in the storytelling process through their own imaginations. What you see as Morelli trying to change Stephanie might be what someone else thinks of as grounding her. As I said, I need to read the later books to find out what I think;) But I'm leaning towards Ranger on account of that housekeeper;)

cmp said...

I think you're right. Many of us find flaws in the heros we read because of personal experiences. We look for something that spikes our own interest when picking the one we want the heroine to end up with. For instance I see a lot of my husband in Ranger's character. I see a lot of my brother in law in Morelli's character. There's a reason I married my husband and not my BIL. :)

At the same time when I think about my personal views on the heros I read about, I have my personal preference, but I think it's important to take into consideration that the personal choice for myself may not work for the herione the author created. I think when more than one hero is introduced it's important to take a real close look at the herione's wants and needs. To understand her character.

In Stephanie Plum's case, you say many Morelli fans see him as grounding Steph. I agree. That's exactly what he does. And that's exactly what I don't like. I want to read about Stephanie's adventures. I like her cars exploding and her insane amount of curiosity. To really love Stephanie Plum, the Stephanie JE created and perfected, why would anybody want to see her grounded?

H Maree Davis said...

I'm sooo glad we got that Morelli/ Ranger thing sorted in the last few posts. I was worried when I first started reading through the blog, but it's all come out right in the end.
(That's me for Ranger btw.)

Of course in real life, who was it said 'you can't eat 5 alarm chili every night'? Correct of course, Thai green curry on the other hand . . .

Another recent 2 hero plot is in Robin Hood. Robin might be gorgeous and heroic but Guy is hawt! And has his redeeming characteristics too. And Robin is annoying at times, needs a good whack upside the head.

I rather liked what Suzanne Brockmann did with Sam and Alyssa over several books, i mean we always knew they'd end up together but when Sam married whatshername I was certainly wondering how she was going to write them out of that one! And I loved that Sam's first wife got a HEA too. At the moment I'm wondering what she's going to do with Sophia and Decker and, umm, whoever else it is that wants Sophia.

On the other hand it can go on too long. JE lost me for a while (between 8 and 11). It all seemed to be good fun but no real development. I think it was the month 11 came out I also read the 2nd last Harry Potter and one of Wurts' Mistwraith books and felt as if everything had been aimed at making me have to get the next book in the series - and not in the 'can't wait to find out what happens' way. 13 on the other hand has me excited about stephanie plum all over again!

Great topic Christine!

H! :)

Cassondra said...

Okay after all this I'm gonna HAVE to read the Plum books. Jeez-o-flip you guys are makin me drool talking about Ranger.

Joan said...

She somehow threw this mysterious, slightly crazy, and just a tad dangerous guy for a loop.

p226...THIS is why writing romance is FUN!

And who says the "bad boy" can't be the good guy?

Christine Wells said...

cmp--I think you're right, objectively speaking, about how a reader should judge whether the best man won. That's how you'd dissect a book as a reviewer or if you were studying it for a literature class.

But strangely, that is not how most readers experience romance. I think we all get invested in the characters and we impose our values on them. It's fascinating to see why some people love a particular romance and it just doesn't float another person's boat. Usually, it comes down to personal preferences--in particular, the kind of hero a reader likes. For some reason, romance more than any other genre, is deeply subjective. So is anyone right in this debate? Maybe at the end of the series, we'll see.*g*

Christine Wells said...

Hi H! Yes, don't we all lurvv Guy of Gisborn? Who cares if he killed some of the men on his own side in the Crusades--that man is seriously hawt! And he knows how to brood. I'd love to see him play Heathcliff. ::shivers::

His character is so interesting because you see his deep love for Marion (little though the wench deserves it) and his torment the day of the wedding was just swoon-worthy, IMO. Weedy-boy Robin pales into insignificance, really. But then I know there are plenty who'll disagree with me about that;)

Hmm, methinks Ranger has definitely won this very informal and totally unrepresentative poll.

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, I only hope JE has her weapons research right:) I think you'll like Ranger.

Christine Wells said...

Joanie T said And who says the "bad boy" can't be the good guy?

Snork! So true.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.