Thursday, May 12, 2011

Orphans and Oldsters and Lepers, Oh My!

So, here's my question: when did it become necessary for the hero and/or heroine in an historical romance to have some higher purpose? I don't mean a religious vocation; I mean the driving need to house orphans, train the disabled for gainful employment, rehabilitate fallen women, or create some Regency version of Shady Rest for old people. I can't tell you how many books have come in lately chock full of aristocrats who feel the need to Do Good in Secret. England simply could not have held that many orphanages. Call me horrifyingly pragmatic, but it seems to me that in a land of inherited wealth, limited opportunities for women, obligations to your titled family or the Crown, and medical treatments that made leeches look state-of-the-art, actually getting to marry for love was quite an accomplishment in and of itself. If you were fortunate enough to be born into the upper classes and live to maturity, it would really be okay to want nothing more than to hang on to the family fortune, dress well, and make a good marriage. As a reader, I am happy to suffer through the wardrobe decisions, the balls, the weekend house parties, etc. I really do not need to see the heroine (I kid you not -- read this in a pre-pub notice) volunteering in a leper colony in order to feel she deserves a happily-ever-after.
Just sayin'.


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