Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Secret Baby Romance WTF?

For some reason Harlequin Panel has sent me three comtemporary secret baby books in a row.  This has given me a lot of opportunity to... simply not understand the trope.

Woman bonks man (wheee!)
Women loses man (dang!)
Woman has baby (oops)
Woman never gets around to telling man (wot, I wuz busy!)
Man re-appears (oops?)
Woman marries man (yay?)

Can someone please explain how, in a contemporary setting, it is really possibly to misplace the babydaddy for a decade or so?  The heroine doesn't care about fathers' rights?  Doesn't know how to Google?  Wow, nice gal.

The resulting books generally seemed to be devoid of any real conflict as by the time the parents are reunited (in these post-Scarlet-Letter times) there really isn't anything substantive keeping them apart.  This causes the author to have to reel out a series of misunderstandings, minor furors (storms, sick pets/children, burst plumbing etc) and general scenery chewing to get a book's worth of plot bends (not really 'twists' per se) out of the story.

The only upside of the melodrama is that by the end of it I am convinced the hero and heroine 'deserve' each other--although the kid may be better off in foster care. Whatever button this trope is meant to be pushing, apparently I don't have it.  Maybe one of y'all can explain it to me....


Angie said...

I don't really get this one either, as a subgenre, but I will play Devil's Advocate and point out that Google is not the magical person-finding machine it's reputed to be. Sure, if the guy you're looking for is named Otis Gilbert Schimmelfennick, then if he's ever touched a toe to the internet you'll probably find him. OTOH, I'd love to find my own father (my parents divorced when I was a baby, and I last saw him when I was four or five) but his name is Ralph Jones. Try Googling that -- I dare you. Adding his middle name, Kenton, turns up zero complete hits, just partial mix-n-match hits. So there you go -- if my mom had been in a secret-pregnancy situation where she'd lost contact with my dad, even in the modern days of Google, there'd have been no way to find him.

Short of requesting the social security number of every guy you ever have sex with, I don't think it's all that implausible to be able to lose track of people. At least, a decent writer should be able to create a situation where the guy is unfindable without suspending disbelief until it dies of asphyxiation. It's a given, though, that if the father of your child is a famous actor or politician or CEO of some Fortune 500 company, contacting him isn't the problem. :/

Back to the trope as a subgenre of romance, though, I agree that it's kind of weird that this is so popular. If it were just a handful of books scattered through the romance section, that'd make more sense, but there seem to be quite a few of them. Obviously the readers who like them are getting something out of it.


veinglory said...

Good point, although in the last book I read she just kind of said 'I was rehabilitating from an accident and didn't get around to it... for 10 years... although I did have time to get married, and divorced, and run a ranch...."

Angie said...

'I was rehabilitating from an accident and didn't get around to it... for 10 years... although I did have time to get married, and divorced, and run a ranch...."

ROFL! Okay, yeah, in that situation, my disbelief has been hung by the neck until it died. :D


Anonymous said...

Can't think of a less romantic sub-genre than that one, but I kinda understand. Maybe because its getting harder and harder to have kids these days - affording them, finding a decent man, infertility, having to establish career first if you ever want to advance in your job, etc., that baby lust being realized in a book has appeal. But really, the romance is between mom and baby and the guy is just a bonus (of course I don't know for sure because I don't read them, and if I go to hell that will be my punishment along with endless rap and or old-fashioned country music 24/7.