by Narelle Atkins
The single dad hero is a popular storyline in the romance genre. My publisher, Harlequin, has a Glossary of Terms for the Romance Novel Novice on their website. The Single Father/Parent stories are defined as Stories highlighting the particular challenges of finding love as a single parent.
There are different dynamics at play in a romance story involving parents of small children. The romance plot will include the children in some capacity. The children may play a large or small role in the story, and the heroine will be falling in love with a ready-made family.
Huffington Post published an article last year titled Single Dad: Should you date one? Romance writers find these types of articles interesting from a research perspective. The article talks about the potential problems and pitfalls facing women who date single fathers. Problems and pitfalls equal potential story ideas for creating conflict in a romance plot.
The back story for a single dad romance can evolve in a myriad of ways in a general market romance. In contrast, a single dad hero in an inspirational/Christian romance is often a widower who has lost his wife in tragic circumstances. Christian publishers are aware that a portion of their readership may hold conservative values. As a result, they may choose not to publish romances with divorced main characters.
Ben Morton, my hero in The Nurse’s Perfect Match, is an apple farmer and single dad who lost his wife to cancer. He struggles to understand why a loving God would take away the mother of his children. His late wife was also a Christian, and they had a strong marriage. Her death triggered a faith crisis in his life.
My heroine, Amy Wilkins, is a widow who lost her husband when her marriage was in crisis. Her late husband made a cameo appearance in Falling for the Farmer. He was the big city doctor with his ear glued to his phone during the photo session after Amy’s sister’s wedding. Amy moves back home to Snowgum Creek. She works as a nurse in the medical clinic owned by Ben’s younger brother, Luke.
Ben’s two children, Chloe and Declan, are minor characters who play an important role in the story. The romance plot would fall apart if Chloe and Declan weren’t in it. I think they’re cute kids, with their own unique personalities and quirks. They aren’t perfect children, and they do test their father’s patience at times. Chloe forms a special bond with Amy during the story.
Their Uncle Luke and Aunty Rachel, Ben’s siblings, plus their paternal grandparents, are very proactive and involved in their lives. Luke is the hero in The Doctor’s Return, the next book in the series.
Why do romance readers find single dad hero's appealing? I think the Huffington Post article provides a few answers to this question. The single dad hero has grown up, matured, and is taking care of himself and his children. He has proven he’s not going to disappear and shirk his family responsibilities.
The heroine’s maternal instincts are awakened. She sees his nurturing and sensitive side by the way he loves and interacts with his children. Her heart is touched because she can envisage receiving the same love and tenderness from him.
After her marriage ends in tragedy, Amy returns to Snowgum Creek to rebuild her life. There she meets widower Ben Morton, who's not looking for romance, though his young children are eager for Amy's attention. She's given up on her dream of being a mother, but can't ignore how she's drawn to Ben's little ones, and to their handsome farmer dad.
As love kindles between Ben and Amy, she worries how she'll ever measure up to the wife he lost. And Ben is concerned about how Amy will ever truly fit into life on the farm. They could be the answer to each other's prayers—if the secret Amy is keeping doesn't tear them apart.
I’m excited that my second book, The Nurse’s Perfect Match, releases in ebook format tomorrow, May 1, and in print on May 6. To celebrate, I’m offering a print giveaway (worldwide, wherever The Book Depository delivers) of The Nurse’s Perfect Match to one of our blog readers. To entry the drawing, please leave a comment on this post and complete the Rafflecopter information below.
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If you’re a romance reader, do you like single dad romances? Do you have a favourite single dad romance novel on your keeper shelf? Do you like reading fiction books, in any genre, that include children? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line in a six-book contract.
She is also a member of International Christian Fiction Writers and Inspy Romance group blogs.
Narelle is a co-founder with Jenny Blake of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA).
Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, was a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, and Her Tycoon Hero in November 2014.
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins