Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Children or No?

by Jo Robertson



My friend Kelly is a single school teacher. She claims that she hates stories that have children in them. She wants the romance, the one-and-only dream of the hero and heroine’s love story.


Children just spoil that for her.


Many readers have clamored for J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) to take Roarke and Eve Dallas’ relationship to the next level and bring a child into their family.


It’d certainly be interesting. Dallas has no idea what to do with children, much less how to adjust to a pregnancy and the stress and tension of a newborn.


Having been down that road seven times myself, I can say with some assurity that it wouldn't be pretty.


Remember when Eve's friend Mavis is pregnant and Dallas is required to do all those social amenities at which she is so
inept? Baby showers, birth coaching, dealing with pre-pregnancy jitters?


Not pretty.

Even though I have seven children and too many grandchildren to keep track of, I feel the same way as my friend.


When children enter a romance story, I yuck heartily and put the book back on the shelf.


Now, I love my children and adore my grandchildren, but I don’t want them in my romance stories. Come to think of it, I don’t want them in my mystery/thriller/suspense stories either.


And I definitely believe that introducing children into the Roark-Dallas dynamic would be a serious mistake.

Mind you, I think those pictures of babies with men are very sexy, much like having a man cooking. Something about men performing previously-dominated
“women’s” purview makes me go squishy inside.


A man who knows how to change a diaper? Worth my weight in gold.
A man who knows how to cook? Worth his weight in gold.


I’ve included a picture of Dr. Big with our granddaughter Emma. Precious. Sweet. But not sexy, or is that just the old guy in the picture?


So I was wondering what you readers think? Do you like the addition of a baby to a romance tale? The heroine already established with children or her own? The hero with motherless children perhaps?
What’s your fav family book or writer?

Or like me, do you prefer your romance stories to be unfettered by the presence of children? Why?

Or if you’re a J.D. Robb fan, what do you think about the childless Roarke family? By the way, Robb’s made it clear that she has no intention of creating a larger family for Roarke and Eve. I hope she sticks to that intention, but what do you think?

92 comments:

PJ said...

Again?

PJ said...

I'm an equal opportunity reader, Jo. I enjoy my romance both with and without children. It just depends on my mood at the time. Sometimes I prefer no children while at other times I enjoy the addition of little ones to the storyline.

I haven't read any of the JD Robb books so I can't comment on that one.

Virginia said...

I am like PJ, I don't mind children in romance every now and then but I have to be in the mood for them! Its not something I would want to read all the time. Children are the cycle of life. Most of the time I read stories without the children but sometimes I will pick up one that have children in them, it just depends on the mood I guess.

Laurie said...

I love the In Death books and I've wondered about kids for Eve and Roarke. I think I'd be good with whatever NR feels works with the storyline. Her instincts are usually right on.

As for children in books, it really depends on the story. For the most part I agree with you but every so often, there is a wonderful family story where the child is so essential to the plot and romance that everything clicks for me.

There are so many single mothers in the world that these books speak to. We all are in different circumstances so it makes sense that our fantasies are different. And isn't that diversity what appeals to us as writers?

Great post, it got me thinking!

Nancy said...

PJ, wow, once more would be the start of a streak! *g*

Sounds as though you put the rooster to work today. I hope you keep it up.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo -

Those pictures of men with babies are so cute. It's so easy to see that the precious babies have the men wrapped around their little fingers. Makes me go awwww.

That said, the biggest problem I have with children in romances is that they're often not IMO accurately portrayed. They're fantasy children and while I love a good fantasy - especially as it pertains to heros - I'm not so willing to buy into fantasy kids. I'd much rather see a pet in the story.

However, to each their own. That's the neat thing about romance - there's many different flavors to fit diverse tastes.

Nancy said...

Jo, an interesting question. For the most part, I prefer romances without children in them. I'd rather focus on the h/h. And even before I was a parent, I disliked books of all genres that put young children in jeopardy. Not my idea of escapism, thanks!

I have to admit, though, that one of my favorite Heyers is Fredericka, and one of the things I most like about it is Alverstoke's interaction with Jessamy and Felix Merriville. So there are exceptions.

Patricia Rice occasionally writes a book featuring children and does a great job weaving them into a book without having them take over the book.

I'm sure I've read others, but my brain is fogging and it's bedtime. So I'll just say I can go either way on that but my preference is a book without young children.

PinkPeony said...

I also think it depends on the story. I loved the interaction between the hero and the young boy in SEP's "Dream A Little Dream". I agree with Laurie..there are a lot of single mothers, divorced mothers that can relate to kids in a story, and I'm a big fan of the secret baby. Also, with a kid in the story, it allows the author to reveal another dimension of the character.

Congrats on the GR, PJ!

Tawny said...

Great question, Jo.

I'd think a baby would seriously shift Eve's focus and attention. It would have to. Would she be as intense on the job? Would she have to think or act differently? Would she start focusing on her captain's bars instead of street work? I have great faith in Nora's vision of the characters and her ability to keep us hooked as readers, wherever she thinks those characters need to go. Or not go :-D

As for stories with kids, I love them. If that's the kind of story I'm reading, that is. I'd never want to see a child in a Blaze, for instance - not because I don't think people with kids can't have great sex *g* but because give the focus of the line, I don't think its appropriate to bring children into the picture.

Our own Beth Andrews writes incredible kids in her books and I'm always awed by her ability to keep the story moving, to use the presence of those kids to integrate perfectly into the storyline and to make sure they don't take over (as kids are wont to do). I love her story kids.

Nora herself has woven stories with children before and they do stand out as some of my favorites - mostly because they give us a vision of another angle of love for the characters, of their ability to embrace the bigger responsibilities of life.

That said, I'm perfectly happy to read stories without kids, too :-) I don't think kids or no kids in the story has ever affected my reading choice.

jo robertson said...

Yes, PJ! Yay, you, again!

Oh, you must try the J.D. Robb series, PJ. Roark has got to be the sexiest Irishman ever!

You like your romances with and without, huh? I guess I'm imagining all those years of locked bedroom doors while my children pounded on the other side LOL.

jo robertson said...

You're right, Virginia, children are the cycle of life. I feel ready to burst into a Lion King song!

I guess I just feel they take away from the romance fantasy, although I'm very aware that the reality is, for many women, if a guy doesn't want children, he's history!

jo robertson said...

Laurie said, "every so often, there is a wonderful family story where the child is so essential to the plot and romance that everything clicks for me."

That's so true. I'm thinking of Jeanne's Dark and Deadly where the child is the reason the heroine is on the run. And honestly, Jeanne does kids soooo well. I hate when they're just little adults instead of real kids.

jo robertson said...

Wonderful thoughts, Laurie, and I'm glad to have found a J.D. Robb compatriot. I can't praise that series enough, even though I don't necessarily enjoy all of Nora Roberts' other books.

I've often wondered as Roberts gets older if she'll change her stance on children for Roark and Eve. I know having grandchildren has made me more mushy about them.

I agree with the idea of single moms (and dads too -- two of my sons are single dads) seeing themselves in the romance books they read.

jo robertson said...

Donna said, "They're fantasy children and while I love a good fantasy - especially as it pertains to heros - I'm not so willing to buy into fantasy kids."

I think that's the issue with me too Donna. I don't want the silly, sappy kind of kids, and I also don't want them to take over the story with their cutsyness (sorry, don't know how to spell that!).

I actually like babies more than children per se because babies often bring out a strong materal (or paternal) instinct in characters that I think we writers like to work with.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for giving us examples, Nancy! I'm perfectly willing to be persuaded.

I, too, don't like children in jeopardy. I keep thinking of how they'd be scarred for life. Even in TV shows or movies, when the kidnapped (or whatever) child is rescued, all I can think of is an endless life of therapy!

jo robertson said...

Oh, and Nancy, I too like the interaction of an unfamiliar-with-children hero interacting with perspicacious children! I think historicals lend themselves better to that ploy. Modern kids would just bury themselves in texting and twittering!

jo robertson said...

PinkPeony says, "with a kid in the story, it allows the author to reveal another dimension of the character."

Nicely said, and true, I think.

I could be close to changing my position, Pink! Like you, I do like a good secret baby story, blithely forgetting midnight feedings and soiled nappies.

jo robertson said...

Beautifully said, Tawny. I too have faith in Nora's vision for her "In Death" characters. I'm banking on no kids for a long, long while though.

I say this even as I snuggle and hug and absolutely adore my grandchildren!

Yes, can't even imagine a Blaze story with a child or baby in it!

jo robertson said...

Off to bed as it's nearly midnight on the west coast and I have 14 month old Emma all day tomorrow. If she'll let me, I'll be back in the morning.

She's favoring Dr. Big right now. The little chit doesn't get that Grammy is the one who feeds, bathes, changes and naps her! She just wants to play with his beard!

Emmanuelle said...

I love them all really. Baby/child or no, if the story is good I'm in. The problem with children is that they may not be written well, so it's tricky. An author may need to know a 5 y.o in order to write one. Otherwise, the kid's way of speaking or acting doesn't sound true.
One of my favorite "family" romance is Dream a Little Dream by SEP where the heoine is a widow with a 5 yo son and the hero is a widower (and lost his own son).
The child is a big part of the story and is even at the heart of the conflict. I recommend it to those who aren't fan of children is books ;-)
ps : love the grand-daddy picture, just adorable.

Helen said...

Well done PJ he obviously wants to stay and help at your place or are you making chocolate cookies for him?

Jo
I do love those pictures I love the one of Emma and Grandad she is so beautiful.

I am with PJ I love books with or without children as long as the storyline grabs me I am all for it. Beth writes great stories with chidren in them and Amy Andrews has done some great ones as well there have been a quite a few that I have read and can't think of them at the moment.

I haven't read any of JD Robb's books either so I can't comment on that one.

Have Fun
Helen

Minna said...

I do read romance with children, but I prefer reading romance books without them.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I don't know which camp to go to, when I am reading if there is a child in the story and it works I am fine with it. If I am reading and the story makes me want to spank the kid uhhh, maybe not so much. In a lot of historicals there are often children but they don't take over, they are just kind of there. They lend a little bit to the storyline but not the center of attention. I have noticed in contemporaries the children seem to be more toward the center.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Jo!
Congrats PJ!

I like stories with kids, and without. Really, I just like good world and character building. If kids are part and parcel of the a character's world, then I think it can really enrich the story, the conflict, and the way that a character is forced to view their world.

Gillian Layne said...

I love romances with children. I don't remember reading any that felt overdone to me. Some of my favorite historicals have children as central characters. Teresa Medeiros-One Night of Scandal, Christina Dodd-My Favorite Bride (a take on the Sound of Music).

Harlequin American romances have children in them all the time, and those kids can be as rotten as sin--very "real to life". :)

I haven't read the JD Robb books, but she has plenty of kids in her other works--the Red Lily, Black Rose, Blue Dalia series comes to mind. They added a lot to the depth of the stories.

gigi said...

I opt for the no children in romance books unless that line of books it is sort of the rule of thumb, say a Superromance.

Gannon Carr said...

I'm fine with my romances having kids or no kids. As long as it works with the storyline, I'm good.

The minute Eve and Roarke have kids, that's the end of the series. For Eve to do her job the way she wants, there's no way should could be pregnant. FYI, this is probably my favorite series out there. Of course, it may have something to do with Roarke. I *heart* him! *sigh*


I guess I'm imagining all those years of locked bedroom doors while my children pounded on the other side LOL.

Jo, I remember those days. *g*

PJ, I guess the GR and your pups are getting along. ;-)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, PJ, congrats on the GR!

And Jo, I'm like you. Knee jerk reaction is no kids. I can over come it if the story is really engaging but if the kids figure prominently in the plot instead of just trotting in to provide comic relief, I'm usually out of there. Too many kids filling up my regular life. I don't need them in my reading.

And (I just know I'm going to get pelted with rotten fruit for this one) I feel the same way about animals. I don't want to read about your dog or cat. I want a romance, a mystery, some suspense. I don't want a woman on her couch musing over a mystery or a man with her dog and/or cat. Or kid.

Bah humbug. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Oh & I meant to say, while I would LOVE seeing Eve & Roarke struggle to make sense of their lives with a child, I don't actually want that to happen either. I just like the idea of the mayhem it would throw into their lives. But it would also effectively end the series, & I don't want to see that happen.

So no kids for Eve &Roarke either. Double bah humbug from me today. :-)

Nancy said...

Jo and Donna--

Jo wrote, playing off Donna: I think that's the issue with me too Donna. I don't want the silly, sappy kind of kids, and I also don't want them to take over the story with their cutsyness (sorry, don't know how to spell that!).

Oh, lordy Pete, no! I quit reading the Elizabeth Peters series because I wanted to drop Ramses down a pyramid shaft. And poor Wil Wheaton caught endless grief because Trek fans loathed the way his character, child prodigy Wesley Crusher, was such a know-it-all, not in the sense of arrogance but in saving the day repeatedly on a ship full of highly trained adults.

Deb said...

Good morning, Jo.

I don't usually want children in a romance story until the end, during an epilogue, when I know the hero and heroine have their HEA. Then I don't mind reading about their children. I even like to have an author's characters and families show up in another story.

In reality, children may be in either the hero's or heroine's life. My husband has two boys and they were a package deal, so to speak.

Anna Sugden said...

How funny, Jo - I'm reading Born in Death right now - which is the one you mention in your post. I've cracked up at Eve and Roarke's reactions to the coaching and the baby shower.

I absolutely love this series. I'm another huge Roarke fan - though I have to say, I love Eve. Her dialogue is some of the best I've ever read.

I think having a child would change the dynamic of the relationship and the stories. To me, they would lose an edge. I wouldn't stop reading, because I know Nora would do an awesome job with managing the shift, but it wouldn't be the same.

I'm okay with kids in stories, if they're done well. As Tawny said, our Beth does fabulous kids. And, fabulous adults dealing with kids. Her scene with the dad explaining about class treats is still one of the funniest I've ever read.

I think category romances do kids well. They're not too sickly sweet, which as a former teacher, I know they're not! Then again, as someone who han't had kids of her own - maybe I just enjoy reading about other people's kids *g*, knowing I don't have to worry about them!

Marnee said...

I'm another equal opportunity reader. I don't mind kids in stories, as long as they're done well. I agree with Laurie, there are some stories that call for it. But I wouldn't say I search out romances with children.

Joan said...

Depends on the story as so many have said.

In The Barbarian's Soul my battle scarred EX-gladiator has to deal with three children he took into his care. I didn't PLAN for these children to be part of the story...they just sort of strolled in one day.

Bran was horrified, I was intrigued. They are not the focal point of the relationship development between Bran and Adria but having them in their lives brings some interesting, loving, intense aspects to their story.

As to Eve and Rourke....um, confession time. I've never read JD (ducking)

MsHellion said...

No.

With qualifications. At the END of historicals when they do an epilogue, you can introduce a kid. Or even five. Honeymoon's over.

But on the whole, I don't like kids. I don't want them in my stories. And 99% of the time, I put the book back. I feel the same way--even more vehemently about 4-legged children. Of the puppy variety. It's like having a perpetual toddler in the book. Who sniffs your crotch and inserts clunky slap-stick as the heroine "rescues" the dog or gives it a bath or tries to have sex as it is staring at her and the hero. It adds a "cutesy" factor to the book I don't want. Again, there are exceptions. (And I don't mind cats. Just dogs.)

I'm apparently evil for not liking either dogs or children.

I did totally love Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses book because the heroine didn't like children, per se, and the hero had a small son. So it put a spin on the heroine who is supposed to be sweetness and light where kids are concerned; and gave it a more realistic spin. The heroine, of course, liked the kid by the end of the book--but she didn't fall in love at first sight.

Gillian Layne said...

"Oh, lordy Pete, no! I quit reading the Elizabeth Peters series because I wanted to drop Ramses down a pyramid shaft."

I had to laugh. I almost used E.P. as an example because I LOVED Ramses and I really thought Amelia's reaction to him--kind of a 'oh my, a child, well, here someone else get busy and raise him, please' was so refreshing from a "oh my baby, my life" kind of gushing. And as he grew and was constantly in trouble, she cut him zero slack. I thought it was great.

Different strokes. But I'd say right now I'm clearly in the minority. :)

Beth said...

Jo, I don't read the JD Robb books so I don't have an opinion about Eve and Roarke having kids but I have no problems with kids in my romances. After all, kids are a part of many people's lives *g*

For me, it's all about the story
:-)

Beth said...

Our own Beth Andrews writes incredible kids in her books

As Tawny said, our Beth does fabulous kids

Aww...thanks, Tawny and Anna! I really do enjoy writing scenes that have kids in them *g*

jo robertson said...

Hi, Emmanuelle, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM sounds like a beautiful story, centering around loss and healing. I'll definitely try it. Thanks for the recommendation.

I'll pass along your compliment to Dr. Big. He does love his grandkids!

jo robertson said...

It's all about the story line, isn't it, Helen? I do like the story to tug at my heart without being overly sentimental or cute. And I like the kids to be real.

Yes, our Beth does great children's stories. Hers are definitely in my keeper stack.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Minna! Thanks for weighing in on my side. I agree there has to be a compelling story for me to enjoy the kids-centered romance. Of course, if I know the author does them well, I'll buy the book!

jo robertson said...

LOL, Dianna, I have this image of you whacking the daylights out of a kid whose only fault is being written poorly by his writer!

But, yes, I get it!

jo robertson said...

Hi back at you, Deb.

It sounds like we're in concensus about the story being the bottom line. As long as the story's compelling enough, most of us don't mind children in them.

Uh, they have to be realistic, too!

jo robertson said...

Thanks for weighing in, Gillian. The Harlequin American Historicals are, as you say, particularly good at drawing realistic, but still endearing children. And that's very true to life, isn't it?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Gigi! Indeed the book line does let the reader know what she's getting in the book.

Brenda Novak's Supers are very good at dealing with children. Brenda has five kids of her own, so she certainly knows how to draw realistic children.

jo robertson said...

I hear you, Gannon. I can't get enough of Roark and Eve. Kids would mess up that whole dynamic.

Of course this series is all about murder and mayhem within the love story, so we don't expect kids to interfere. Even Mavis' baby (oops I forgot her name) isn't intrusive.

jo robertson said...

Susan said, "Too many kids filling up my regular life. I don't need them in my reading."

That's what it's about, isn't it, Susan? Our own personal fantasies. If my day-to-day life is kids, kids, and more kids, I may need the fantasy-break without them!

I have a picture of a beleagured mom hiding in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, locked door, reading her romance story while the kiddies pound on the outside.

Hey, it's happened to me!

jo robertson said...

Oooh, Susan, duck! I feel the rotten tomatoes coming your way. Interestingly enough, many many romance readers adore having the pets in the story. Why do you suppose that is? Are they just pet lovers?

jo robertson said...

You're right, Susan. Children would end the series for Roark and Eve, and I think Robb sees that. She may change her mind, but I hope not because I want many more years of "In Death."

Christie Kelley said...

PJ, what are you doing to the GR? He must be having a blast with you!

Jo, interesting post. I don't mind if there are children in the story, if it adds to the story. To me it adds a little more character depth to see the h/h reacting with the children. But I also don't mind if children aren't in story.

I can't comment on the JD Robb series because I haven't read it.

jo robertson said...

Hehehehehe, Nancy. We know that in real life, while kids may be incredibly bright, they're generally not mature enough to make adult decisions and save the day.

Although I do like the Harry Potter kinds of stories where the kid takes the role of adults in a sense. Buffy stories too.

But then that's not romance.

jo robertson said...

Gillian said, "I almost used E.P. as an example because I LOVED Ramses and I really thought Amelia's reaction to him--kind of a 'oh my, a child, well, here someone else get busy and raise him,"

And in historicals, the reality was that the upper class generally didn't rear their own children. Or nurse them.

jo robertson said...

Aw, Beth, you are the exception, of course! Goes without saying. And in the Harlequin American series we do expect kids or dogs or kids and dogs, don't we.

If anyone hasn't read NOT WITHOUT HER FAMILY by Beth Andrews, check it out. She handles the little girl Emma (I AM partial to that name) quite deftly.

jo robertson said...

Deb said, "In reality, children may be in either the hero's or heroine's life. My husband has two boys and they were a package deal, so to speak."

True, Deb. I personally like a little escape from that in my reading, but in real life I wouldn't do without it. I have a step-granddaughter who's like one of my own, even though her step-father (my son) is no longer with her mother.

Minna said...

I don't have very many keepers where the hero or heroine would have kids. I might read a book with kids, but usually that book ends up in the to-be-swapped-pile.

Taylor Swift - Parody - You Belong With Me ("Just A Zombie")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5bL5mZk8hk&feature=channel

Minna said...

And the only keeper I can come up with right now is Rising Tides written by Nora Roberts.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "I absolutely love this series. I'm another huge Roarke fan - though I have to say, I love Eve. Her dialogue is some of the best I've ever read."

Me too, Anna, although I can never remember if Roarke's name has an "e" on the end or not! Which is silly because I'm on my third reading of the series.

I agree that category writers do better with children, and our expectations as readers are along those lines. I was thinking of stand-alones or historicals that throw a kid in for no apparent real purpose to the plot, and draw them poorly.

jo robertson said...

Marnee said, "I'm another equal opportunity reader."

Well said, Marnee LOL. I don't seek them out either, but if they're part of a good plot line, hey, go for it!

jo robertson said...

Joan, I can't wait to see Bran's story in print. Sometimes those characters just intrude into your story and the writer has no control over them!

Kids have a way of doing that, tee hee.

jo robertson said...

MsShellion said, "I'm apparently evil for not liking either dogs or children."

Ah, Ms, you're the sister of my heart. I think, been there, done that, don't wanna do it again.

Grandkids can always be given back!

jo robertson said...

MsHellion said, "I did totally love Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses book because the heroine didn't like children, per se, and the hero had a small son."

Now THAT sounds like a book I'd like! It adds depth to the heroine's character and something she had to overcome. Sounds very entertaining. I'll have to pick that one up!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Christie, another writer who hasn't read the "In Death" series? I have to confess, when I picked up the first one a few years ago, I put it aside. Eve was just too abrasive for me. I hadn't started at the beginning of the series and, honestly, she was way too much.

jo robertson said...

I haven't read Roberts' RISING TIDES, Minna. What's the story line?

jo robertson said...

Ack, Emma's here now and has left me a very nice present in her nappy!

Be back later!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I think kids work in certain types of stories. Though I don't think their presence says "romance" so much as can be one of the reasons the heroine might "fall in love" with the hero. Fine distinction, I know.

Minna said...

Rising Tides is part of the Chesapeake Bay series. There's a 12years old boy and a baby in this story: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/074993350X/ref=nosim/speculativefic05

Pat Cochran said...

Do I have to make a choice? I love
reading both the sexy interactions
of an interesting couple AND the warm fuzzies of single parents who
find a partner. And the secret baby
stories: LOVE them! Do you get the
idea that I love to read almost everything! I'm currently catching up on the Suzanne Brockmann Troubleshooters series, then to a Jasmine Haynes anthology, then a young adult by Ann Gonzalez.

Pat Cochran

catslady said...

I agree with you. If I wanted to read about everyday life, romance stories wouldn't be what I pick up. I want to get away. I want the fantasy. I don't want dirty diapers lol.

What's nice is there's something for everyone out there. And I do read different things at different times of my life but if I see a baby on the cover, I'm afraid I pass it up.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo! Love the baby pics on the blog!! :)

Uhm, should I answer this? It should be a given for me. Okay, here's my answer. I love, love, love, love to see a couple having a baby in the book. Isn't that what epilogues are for? hehehe

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT post, Jo-Mama!

As you know, I was firmly in your NO KIDS camp until I started writing The Wild Irish Sea. Suddenly THREE kids popped into the story -- 2 young teens and an 8 year old. I did not plan no invite them but there they were, and I think the story worked out quite well.:-P

You all will have to tell me what you think once the book is released.

AC

Janga said...

I don't seek out books with children in them, but--except for child in jeopardy books--I don't avoid them either. I like well-drawn characters. Some of those characters are children. Nora does great kids. So does SEP. I don't think readers would have been so eager to have the grown up stories of Seth Quinn(Nora Roberts's Chesapeake Bay series) or SEP's Lucy (First Lady) had those characters not been interesting, richly developed characters as children. Eloisa James has some terrific kids in her books, and she even manages to make the vomiting baby real and funny. And one of the books I'm most looking forward to this year is Loretta Chase's Last Night's Scandal with Olivia and Perigrine, whose 12 and 13-year-old selves delighted many, many readers in Lord Perfect.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ! I think someone is enjoying those homemade turtles! Sigh...

Jo, what an interesting post. It's something I DO think about - I know readers find the whole newborn thing incredibly appealing. All those Harlequins can't be wrong!

JAD said...

I prefer them without children, personally.

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

I am not one to get all squishy when there is a hunk holding a baby on a romance cover, in fact, I am not keen on kiddies in romance novels per se, unless it is a historical western, that seems to fit, as there was a lot of widows or widowers with children back then, but they should be background noise only.
Yes, you can tell, I don't have kids. LOL!
Not everyone can have them, and I certainly didn't need it for my own HEA! LOL!
AS for JD Robb, I hang my head. I have never read her.

jo robertson said...

Trish said, "Though I don't think their presence says "romance" so much as can be one of the reasons the heroine might "fall in love" with the hero. Fine distinction, I know."

It is a distinction, Trish, and depends so much on the personal situation the writer has set up for the hero or heroine.

jo robertson said...

Oh, I haven't read the Chesapeake Bay series, Minna. I think the "In Death" series is the best of Roberts' work, even though I'm pretty sure she can turn them out in her sleep. Probably a matter of taste, but some of the other series are too wordy for me. I do like the later stand alones, like Northern Lights.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Pat, no, you don't have to choose. It's perfectly fine to like a variety of books (grins).

I'm particularly fond of dark, gritty books myself and it's tricky to put children into those.

The Troubleshooters series is great if you like the boom-boom!

jo robertson said...

Ha, catslady, dirty diapers are definitely not part of the romance, although they can add that dollop of humor if handled well.

It's good, as you say, that there's such a variety in writing. I find myself different very different kinds of literature than when I was younger. And of course when I was teaching it was critical reading for analysis. I still find myself doing that with romance literature sometimes.

jo robertson said...

Now, Suz, why doesn't your response surprise me? You get the best of the baby-world, bringing them into a sweet little family!

I admit that piccies of babies and their daddies melt my heart.

jo robertson said...

Ah yes, Cindy! But you've drawn those children so well, integrated them so smoothly and necessarily into the plot, that they work great. Plus, I like some of the persnickety-ness they bring to the story!

jo robertson said...

Janga, I do like those stories where the protagonists are children, say early teens and grow up to acquire a new-found interest in each other.

I love childhood friends becoming sweethearts; that's the best kind of story for me.

I'll have to find that baby-vomiting scene; it sounds delightful.

jo robertson said...

What? What? Homemade turtles?? You little tease, Anna C.!

Right, there wouldn't be so many of those category stories that involve children if there weren't a wide audience for them. I think children speak to the universal need for tenderness in all of us.

jo robertson said...

JAD and Drew weighing in on the side against children in romances. I actually should've distinguished between children and babies. There's a considerable difference, IMO.

Drew says, "Not everyone can have them, and I certainly didn't need it for my own HEA! LOL!"

That's what my friend says. She's learned everything important from her six doggies. And they are absolutely darling, and I'm not even a dog person!

shannon said...

If I wanted to completely be swept away from my "real life" into a book I wouldn't want children involved in the plot, because... well THEY are from whom I am wanting to be swept? (Mom... did I use the correct grammar there? It was a very confusing sentence). But frankly... and I know you all may GASP at this... I don't like romance that much! Yikes! What am I even DOING on this blog, huh? :)

The thing is, I don't really prefer to be "swept away" when I read. I like to relate. I like to connect with the characters. I like to read something that provokes feelings and thoughts in me that are dying to be expressed and discussed with others. Something real. Which is why I like Jodi Picoult's novels. She picks a topic that is often controversial and then writes from all the points of view of the people involved. And there are ALWAYS children involved and rocky marriages and familial relationships and it is just something I can relate to and LOVE to read.

Louisa Cornell said...

Wow, PJ !! You house is becoming a real hot spot for roosters!

This is a fascinating post and it is really interesting to read everyone's answers. There are times that the presence of a child allows you to see aspects of the hero and heroine's character you might not have seen without it. However, I don't want an obligatory child stuck in there for the cuteness factor, thanks, but not thanks.

And I like for the children in romances to be REAL !! A really good example is the hero's two children from his late wife in Julia Quinn's To Sir Phillip with Love. I mean those two kids were AWFUL !! And there was a reason the were being awful - to get their father's attention.

And in Mary Balogh's Slightly series the children are SO unafraid of big, bad Wulfric and that allows us to see him in a whole new way.

Some couples, however, have no business bringing a kid into their love story because you realize at the end of the story that they need to live together and grow a little before they bring a child into the mix.

I'll read any of it IF it is well done!

Nancy said...

Gillian, I laughed, too, when I read your comment. To each her own, absolutely! And I'm told the things that annoyed me about Ramses faded as he aged. :-)

jo robertson said...

Hey, Shannon, you wiennie, get off our Romance Blog! Ha, ha. But the principle applies to mainstream books too, I think.

And, as you said, women's fiction often begs to deal with real life issues, which often involve children. Picoult is a master, uh mistress of that, I think.

Romance readers OTOH do usually prefer to be swept away from their ordinary lives and like to relive that HEA they've already experienced or experience it anew through the book.

Would you agree with that, romance readers, of which Shannon is not one? And yes, your sentence was grammatically okay, but still kinda awkward :-D.

jo robertson said...

Louisa, I think PJ's taking over the rooster; in fact, they may be hatching wee woosters even as we speak.

Insightful comments, thanks for sharing.

Suzanna said...

I do have children, and while I adore them, I prefer to read romances without them. I don't necessarily hate them, and I have read romances that contained children and enjoyed them. My first preference, however, is a story without children.

As for Eve and Roarke, I don't see a child working for them. I'll admit that a part of me thinks it might be cool to see them trying to work through such a situation, but I'm more afraid a baby would kill the dynamic of that relationship. Besides, Roarke already has his hands full taking care of Eve, and that can take a lot of energy. I don't know if he'd be able to handle a baby as well. :P (And speaking of them, I'm a few books behind. Time to catch up!)

jo robertson said...

Suzanna said, "Besides, Roarke already has his hands full taking care of Eve, and that can take a lot of energy."

I had to laugh at that comment, Suzanna. Roarke is certainly the steadying force in that dynamic duo. I agree that he'd have a hard time managing Eve AND a baby.

BTW, love your name!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

I've heard, too, that Robb won't give Eve and Roarke a baby. I think that the story is strong the way it is. I don't think they need a family to further the series along. I will admit, though, that I found Eve's connection to the orphaned child in SURVIVOR IN DEATH very touching. And Roarke seems to want a child someday so it will be interesting how Robb smooths that out. She always solves their problems in the most complex yet fitting way.

Thanks for the post! I love Eve and Roarke!!!

Amber

Stacy said...

I'm with Pat, I sometimes like sexy and I sometimes like the warm fuzzies. I like stories with and without children, as long as the story is a good one.

Shannon makes a good point, too. I love reading romance and being swept away--sometimes. Other times, I really want to connect with a plot and its characters and have them provoke strong feelings or new thoughts.

When it comes to kids in romances, though, I roll my eyes at the "perfect kid" syndrome. I am thrown out of the story when the kids all take naps at the right time, have sleepovers with friends in a very convenient way, don't manage to interfere at all with the hero or heroine's work situation or romantic situation. And I get annoyed by heroines who are *always* patient, never short-
tempered and who have magically moved in next door to a sweet, older lady who watches the kids at all hours.

Even before I was a mom, this didn't seem realistic. Now, it it just makes me jealous. I'd rather read about a heroine who deals with obstacles--including kid-based obstacles--realistically (even in the midst of a romantic fantasy).

Stacy