Caroline Linden: As soon as I heard we were going to be on the Kindle Blog to talk about storytelling, I knew exactly where to start, where many good books start: with a shockingly sensational scandal.
Laura Lee Guhrke: I adore scandals.
CL: Scandals, of course, occur when people break the rules. Historically there were many more rules to break, especially regarding love and courtship, and the consequences could be extreme. I think that's why scandals are central to many historical romances; they push characters out of their ruts and force them to confront new realities.
LLG: Well, if people got to live comfortable lives, where everyone else thought they were wonderful, who’d want to read that? I think it was Laura Kinsale who said, “Prince Charming is boring. So is Princess Charming.” And romances have lots of scandal, so romance readers must like it as much as we do.
CL: I agree. And there are so many forms it can take. In my book, It Takes a Scandal, the scandal is the very fact that Abigail and Sebastian fall for each other. She's an heiress with ambitious parents: a girl who must marry well. He's the mysterious neighbor who's a suspected thief and murderer: the last man any girl should want. Falling in love with each other is the exact wrong thing to do, and yet…
LLG: Forbidden love always makes for a juicy scandal. Of course, there’s also scandal from the past that haunts a girl forever. In How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, Edie knows the only way to get past the scandal that ruined her is to marry well, but a husband is the last thing she wants. When she meets Stuart, the indebted Duke of Margrave, she thinks he’s the key to wiping out her past, so she proposes a marriage of convenience that pays his debts and sends him off to Africa forever. Problem is, he won’t stay gone…
CL: I love marriage of convenience stories!
LLG: Believe it or not, this is the first one I’ve written. Twenty books, and this is my first marriage of convenience.
CL: Talk about forcing people out of their comfortable ruts! It's almost the reverse of forbidden love: instead of two people who desperately want each other, yet must overcome the objections of family and society to be together, the marriage of convenience is about two people who've got each other, but need to overcome their conviction that they shouldn't want each other.
LLG: Oh, Stuart wants Edie. He makes no bones about it. But it takes him the whole book to win her over.
CL: The best part is always how the characters triumph over their scandal. It seems there's a narrow winding path that leads them out of trouble into happily-ever-after, and they have to make difficult, painful, choices along the way—Sebastian must ask for help from the people who helped ruin him, for instance. But that happily-ever-after is very special when they've gone through that much ordeal.
LLG: Your story sounds so good! Especially the part where Sebastian has to put his pride in his pocket for Abigail’s sake. Regardless of how the scandal happens, the best scandal-based romances force the characters to overcome not only the scandal but the emotional baggage that comes with it.
CL: I can only imagine how much baggage Edie must overcome, coping with a husband she didn't expect to see, let alone one who wants her so desperately when she doesn’t want him. I'm glad Stuart changes her mind.
LLG: I think readers will be glad, too. After all, the only thing better than a scandal is a happy ending!
Readers, what's the best resolution you've ever read to a scandal? Or do you prefer not to read scandals at all? Leave a comment and let us know!
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