Creating a mixed marriage

(Manuscript #1 word count: 54,298)

I’ve spent the past two days in Belfast for work and turned up at Belfast International for my 18.15 flight, only to discover it’s been delayed til 9pm! Nearly three hours of sitting in the lounge blogging. Thank God for the work laptop.

Being here has made me think of my only other trip to Northern Ireland. My father-in-law’s family is from here, and my husband and I visited his cousins a couple years ago. They’re a couple in their sixties, and I remember them telling me–in all seriousness–that they have a mixed marriage.

Being from the U.S., where that term is used to described differences in skin color instead of religion, it was bizarre for me to hear a white couple to apply it to themselves. My cousins-in-law are Protestant and Catholic. They married in a Catholic church one night (after the church closed) in the 1960s, and immediately left for England. When their two sons were teenagers, the family stopped visiting Northern Ireland. Their sons dressed and sounded like English boys, and their father was terrified of what kind of attention they would inadvertantly draw to themselves. The couple has now moved back to Northern Ireland where the wife works at an integrated school, though she told me there are now more and more kids from other countries, and their foreign accents and darker skin sometimes make them targets for other kids.

There are so few novels where the protagonists have mixed marriages, whether that’s skin tone, or religion in a country where that would cause tension. I don’t think I’ve read any contemporary romances where that’s been part of the internal or external tension for a couple. Since very few romance novels seem to be sold in British bookstores, I’m dependant on the library to feed my need, and I can’t recall seeing any books there where the characters are from vastly different cultures.

The manuscript I’m writing has characters from two different countries, but they’re both white, and religion and social class don’t come into it.

Do you know of any good novels with characters from very different backgrounds? (Billionaire/secretary doesn’t count, IMO)

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