Yesterday I wrote a short scene between the heroine of my very new mess-in-progress and her mother. The heroine’s father had to be dead, for plot purposes, but I thought perhaps the mother might prove an interesting character. Well, I tried her one way and another—sympathetic, controlling, whiny, funny—and nothing clicked. So I decided she was just better off dead, too. I may revive her at some point, but only if she has something entertaining to contribute to the story!

I think there’s a reason why heroines of romances often don’t have mothers, or at least not ones who are present for most of the story. The mother/daughter relationship is very complex and can take over from the romance. A mother’s good counsel might keep a heroine from making her own mistakes and learning from them. And depending on the story, having a mom around might destroy the mood.

And yet, is creating orphaned characters an easy (and cheap) way to buy a reader’s sympathy? A problematic mother (like Mrs. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice) can escalate conflict, but wouldn’t it be refreshing to see more positive mother figures in romance fiction?

Most books I recall that included such a mother also featured a hero with bigger problems than the heroine’s, where it made sense that a mother’s support would help her deal with him. Some examples: Julia Ross’s MY DARK PRINCE and Jo Beverley’s DEVILISH.

Can anyone else think of examples of interesting fictional mothers, good, bad and ugly?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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