There are a lot of classic storylines in romance novels that readers love dearly — like secret babies (I’ve written four: Somebody’s Baby, Discovered: Daddy, Finally a Father and My Secret Valentine) and amnesia stories (I’ve done Memories of Laura and You Must Remember This).
Some of them are solid storylines — who doesn’t love a cowboy? (I’ve written some of them, too, but none of mine are billionaires.)
Some are silly. (Findng a baby abandoned on your doorstep and you just keep it without notifying the authorities?!)
Some drive me nuts, in particular the modern-day marriage of convenience.
I’ve seen MOC done well, but usually it just doesn’t work for me. There are a lot of versions, but this is the one I see most often and also hate most: character (usually the hero) has to marry before the year is out (or before his 30th or 35th birthday) in order to get/keep the money left him by his vindictive father or loving grandfather. (The loving grandather sagely knows who the perfect woman for his grandson is and has set things up so that she’s the one he must marry.) Hero needs a woman fast, and naturally there’s not one single woman in his life he could make a deal with, so he finds . . .
. . . a total stranger or his secretary (lately, there have also been a lot of matchmakers). The stranger needs money badly (usually a sick relative or a father deeply in debt), or the secretary is a kind but mousy soul who’s been secretly in lust with him for ages. They agree to the marriage and the financial terms (she always gets part of his fortune). They must live together (to fool the lawyers, the courts, the other greedy family members who will inherit if the hero doesn’t). They won’t have sex, of course, because that would just be icky, and after a grace period following the inheritance, they’ll divorce and go on their merry ways, both richer than they are now.
After the wedding, each of them realizes, “Hey, s/he’s hot! Hey, I’m horny!” So they renegoitate their agreement to include sex without strings. No emotional attachment, end of business arrangement still as planned. They have great sex, while constantly inwardly bemoaning the fact that it can’t be permanent, they can’t have a real marriage, she loves him but he’s just in it for the money/he loves her but she’s just in it for the money.
Often there’s an unplanned pregnancy that makes him believe she really is just in in it for the money and is now trying to keep her greedy claws in him for the next 18 years. But the pregnancy isn’t her fault! She was delirious with the flu when she seduced him! He was so stinking drunk that he forgot the condom — then was so hung over that he forgot he forgot! The condom broke! They used six condoms simultaneously with birth control pills and the pull-out method and she still got pregnant so it was meant to be!
Then the money comes through and they realize what good is a kajillion dollars without the one they love to share it.
In the last MOC story I read, the hero was already a billionaire. He neither wanted nor needed his vindictive father’s money. He just didn’t want anyone else to have it. Yep, he married a complete stranger and got her pregnant (the condom broke!) just to stop his cousins who weren’t billionaires from inheriting the family fortune.
I love marriage of convenience stories in historical novels. They make sense in that context. I just can’t find one that makes any sense in contemporary times.