24 August 2009
"I ain't got nobody"
So while I was on my butt with a tooth brush, scrubbing my kitchen floor, I had some time to think. (Did I mention this project took three hours? And I have another section left to do tonight? Seriously. Cream colored tile and grout. What was I smoking to agree to that?)

When I wasn't performing my scullery maid duties, I was reading Jami Alden's Kept and one thing snagged my attention.

For the record, let me say that I enjoyed the book. Derek, the hero, was pretty sexy and Alden managed to redeem Alyssa from the whole party-girl image without resorting to the whole "but she wasn't really a bad girl" thing. Hate that. Alyssa really had partied, and been to rehab, and by the time the book starts she's already a year into fixing up both her image and her life.

But one the thing that kept niggling at me.

Oh, wait:


By the end of the book, Alyssa had no one. No support. No family. Only one friend important enough to make a kinda-appearance in the book. (She texts the friend to borrow a beach house.)

She starts with a father, a half-sister and an assistant who all seem to make up a somewhat shaky foundation for her life, but at least it's something. She also has a mother, but mom's a deathly ill and remains off-camera the entire book.

Alyssa has a not-great relationship with her father, but they're working on it. In fact, to the reader, it seems apparent that she and pops are right on the cusp of significant relationship growth. And then he's offed in, like, the third chapter. Holy baby jebus. The reader knows by about a third in that the heroine's assitant is actually a resentful bitch and helping the bad guys get her, but Alyssa doesn't find this out until about two thirds of the way in. The half-sister's dramatic reveal as one of the central, orchestrating baddies is a last-chapter surprise.

See what I mean? By the end, the heroine's entire infrastructure for her life has been systematically dismantled piece by piece, until she has literally nothing and no one left but the hero. She even essentially loses her job, though she manages to have created a new, better one by the epilogue. It got me thinking about Old Skool Romances, and how they'd start out with the heroine orphaned and fleeing from her diabolical Uncle or something similar.

Is this an intentional choice on the part of certain writers? "I'll cut her adrift and that'll make the h/h bond that much stronger." Or is it just how everything happened to shake out? Has anyone out there done this to some of their heroines? And if so, why?

(There's no judgment in this, just a kind of craft-oriented curiosity. [It's very seldom lately I can read a book and completely turn off the craft radar.])


Blogger Kate Diamond said...

Good question. I think part of it is that situations like these might add drama to the character motivation?

Just a guess.

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