Annabelle’e debut romance, The Vicar and the Rake will be published on October 12. Annabelle stopped by to talk about the Forced Proximity trope!
Romance as a genre thrives on tropes. They’re the secret sauce of every romance novel, creating reliable reader satisfaction and making sure certain parts of the book stick in your brain long after you’ve finished the final page. When I sat down and decided to write my debut romance, The Vicar and the Rake, choosing what tropes to play with was one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole process–and forced proximity, that perennial classic, came up quite frequently.
Is there a better trope than forced proximity for accelerating feelings and increasing their intensity? It’s like throwing a shot of tequila into your story punch. My two protagonists, Gabriel Winters and Edward Stanhope, Duke of Caddonfell, were far too wrapped up in their own regrets and unfulfilled longing to ever try and communicate honestly. But once they’re trapped in Edward’s ancestral home together, there’s no escape!
Forced proximity isn’t the only trope in The Vicar and the Rake. The intense second-chance romance between Gabriel and Edward is a trope in itself, as is the initial hostility between them (I love a bit of enemies-to-lovers, even between friends). Add a secret society, a kitten named Buttons, supportive helpers, scary enemies and stolen diamonds, and no-one’s ever going to accuse the story of being thin. But forced proximity–the fact that Gabriel and Edward have to be in one another’s company–is the engine of that story.
In short, forced proximity = a guaranteed good time. The following four books are masterclasses in this trope.
Whiteout by Adriana Anders – If you want forced proximity at its most delightfully extreme, you can’t really get better than an Antarctic research facility. It’s not as if the protagonists can go out for a walk to escape one another–and when the base is attacked by people with mysterious motives, forcing Angel Smith and Ford Cooper into even closer quarters, there’s really no way for feelings to remain pent-up. It’s gripping, it’s dangerous, and it may or may not result in you frantically reading as fast as you can while muttering ‘have sex, come on, you’re so close, just HAVE SEX PLEASE’. Slow burn + forced proximity = kryptonite!
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare – Forced proximity through employment can be a tricky one to get right. Fortunately, because Tessa Dare is Tessa Dare, Alexandra Mountbatten never comes across as an exploited governess and Chase Reynaud, the most smugly handsome libertine in London, barely seems capable of controlling his own household, let alone subjugating a servant. Being at close quarters lets these two characters discover intimacy and domestic peace in tandem–and it also lets the reader laugh at the antics of Chase’s wards, including elaborately staged doll funerals. Forced proximity combined with doll funerals means I startled the cat because I was laughing so much while reading.
Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai – Perhaps it’s wrong to recommend a book where reading the previous books in the series is all-but necessary, but any required Alisha Rai reading is a pleasure. Get stuck into the Kanes and Chandlers, lose yourself in their high-octane drama, and by the time you get to this steamy romance between Eve Chandler and Gabe Hunter you’ll be more interested in them than in the relationships in your own life. Forced proximity, the stress of planning a wedding, the brother’s best friend trope… magic. Makes you want to shut yourself in a mansion with your secret crush and see what happens.
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon – To use an expression from a popular advertising campaign in my youth, this does what it says on the tin. Do you want a hot, fluffy, funny romance between a high-flying single mother and her bearded, tattooed, domestically talented buff male nanny? This is absolutely that, a small perfect thing that makes your heart beat faster, and the solid supporting characters make the romance even sweeter. It’s difficult to write non-annoying children, but Rebekah Weatherspoon makes Sloan’s twins into kids that are hilarious in their own right. Plus, as the memorable promotional material highlighted, Rafe can fold a fitted sheet. What are you waiting for?
About the Book
The Vicar and the Rake. Society of Beasts, #1
Book Description: As a young man, Sir Gabriel Winters left behind his status as a gentleman, turning his back on his secret desires and taking a self-imposed vow of celibacy. Now he’s a chaste, hardworking vicar, and his reputation is beyond reproach. But, try as he might, he’s never forgotten the man he once desired or the pain of being abandoned by his first love.
Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Caddonfell, is a notorious rake, delighting in scandal no matter the consequence. With a price on his head, he flees to the countryside, forced to keep his presence a secret or risk assassination. When Edward finds Gabriel on his estate, burning with fever, he cannot leave him to die, but taking him in puts them both in jeopardy.
With the help of a notorious blackmailer, a society of rich and famous gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, and a kitten named Buttons, they might just manage to save Edward’s life—but the greatest threat may be to their hearts.
Annabelle Greene writes hot, heartwarming historical romances with plenty of humor.When she isn’t crafting the perfect HEA, she’s making pasta or walking along Italy’s beautiful Adriatic coast.
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