By Megan Broderick, Editorial Assistant to Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Special Edition
Put a baby in a romance and I am so into it. Secret, unexpected, adopted, orphaned—I’m not picky! Which has baffled me forever because, confession, I’m not a huge fan of babies in real life. They’re very cute but being able to hand them back to their parents is great. So I sat down to figure out why and how babies are so great in romance.
1. Forces couples together… Something has to bring the hero and heroine together and a baby means they’re going to be in each other’s lives for a long time. And not even in a “there’s a baby and we must marry” kind of way, though of course that’s one possible (if slightly old-fashioned) option. But if the hero is someone we want to root for, he’s going to want to be in his kid’s life, giving him and the heroine ample time (18 years, give or take) to fall for each other!
2.…And keeps them apart. I don’t think there’s anything that could make someone legitimately mad at another person like a secret baby. This can be tricky because there still needs to be a good reason not to tell someone you’re having their baby (“I thought you were dead” is a good one. So is “I told your mom and she lied about it”). But, done well, it’s such a juicy conflict!
3. Protective instincts. I love when a baby is in danger (of course, only in fiction and only when I know they’re going to be ok). But seeing the hero and heroine work together to save an innocent child is quite the emotional rush! The stakes are even higher, making the mad dash to stop the villain even more important.
4. Higher stakes. Even when no one is actively after a child, like in a romantic suspense, the stakes are higher when a kid is involved. If there’s a child who might get attached to a significant other or a baby who would be part of the deal if their parent is in a long-term relationship of some kind, dating takes on a whole new meaning, even in fiction.
5. The softer side. Nothing brings out someone’s more tender side than a baby! Getting to see characters open up and be vulnerable is important but sometimes there’s reasons they can’t be that way with each other (ranging from “you broke my heart 10 years ago” to “your dad killed mine” to “I’m pretty sure you’re trying to steal my company”). But no one can stay hard-hearted and guarded around a baby!
6. Visions of the future. It happens often, but you know that moment the hero sees the heroine holding a baby and is just thinking “what if that was our baby?” and is weirdly excited about it even though he never saw himself settling down? I LOVE IT! When it’s done well, this moment shows us just why these two people are special to each other and what their life might be like in the future.
7. Fish out of water. Sometimes the baby isn’t even biologically part of the equation, but they can still manage to bring the hero and heroine together. Maybe the heroine is babysitting her niece or the hero has to take in his best friend’s orphan. Either way, if they have no idea what they’re doing, the other person has to come to the rescue and prove that they work better, together.
8. Never a dull moment! Parents are nothing if not busy and babies are a great way to make sure no one spends too much time thinking without action to keep a reader interested.
9. Child match-makers. They tell it like it is and no one will stop them from dropping the truth bombs people need to hear. When two people are refusing to see they’re perfect for each other, young kids are completely willing to point it out.
10. General cuteness. Babies are cute! They get to do cute things when they’re in books no matter what the circumstances. So adding a baby will always up the cute factor, and who doesn’t love that?
So there you have it, my top ten reasons to love those fictional babies! Let me know in the comments if you have other reasons or if you prefer your romances without the occasional little tyke running around!