My first introduction to the romance genre was through Harlequin Presents novels, so not only did I learn a whole lot about what boys and girls do when they like each other, but I also got to explore new countries for only a few dollars a month.
That’s how I realized Australia’s the sexiest country in the world.
Lots of the novels were set in London and Australia—places where they called their friends “mate” and lived in flats (which for years I pictured as apartments with lower ceilings).
Both places sounded amazing, but Australia kicked London’s ass on several levels. First, the London novels often took place in offices (*yawn* I’d seen 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton—offices looked like dreadfully boring places to fall in love). The heroes seemed uptight and the heroines wore stockings.
Not the grown-up life I wanted to have.
Australians, on the other time, chased each other through the Outback. They frolicked in the surf. They occasionally encountered animals so bizarre that only funny-sounding words could describe them: kookaburra, wombat, kangaroo.
Okay, maybe there weren’t wombats and kookaburras. I do recall some storylines with kangaroos, though.
My husband’s the youngest of four boys. If I were a romance novel heroine, that would mean I’d have plenty of dating opportunities if anything awful happened to my husband.
As a real woman, that thought fills me with the ickies.
Dating two people in one family is a common theme in contemporary romance. Kristin Higgins’s The Next Best Thing, for example, is about a woman who starts sleeping with her dead husband’s brother while she’s grieving, but eventually learns he’s more than a way to forget her pain for a while.
One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry—released this month by Harlequin Superromance—tells the story of Gabby, who falls in love with her ex-boyfriend’s brother. She’s only recently met Jon, who lived in Canada when she was dating his younger brother Tyler. And she dumped Tyler three years ago. Perhaps these details ease the ick-factor those of us with real-life brothers-in-law feel.
Jon himself is not immune to feeling uncomfortable that the woman he’s having sex with also used to practically live with his younger brother. And the sexual side of their relationship is what he focuses on.