Long before I could read, back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I loved listening to fairy tales that someone read to me. It was more than entertainment. I learned to savor good overcoming evil and basked in the knowledge that deep personal trials reap huge reward. I was fascinated by Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzul, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, and the Ugly Duckling. I never got tired of hearing them and to this day I’m still a sucker for those kind of stories. The prince or princess always endured some horrible tragedy to get the person of their dreams in the end. Like Cinderella, they were often the underdogs. And sometimes they might’ve been ugly. Remember the princess who kissed the frogs until one magically turned into a handsome prince?
Do some of these sound like a romance?
Actually, a lot of romance stories are based on fairy tales. The basic reason for that is the premise that love has to be tested to know if it’s real. Our characters have to prove what’s in their hearts by going through a series of hardships (normally the magic of threes) to reach the prize or their goal. And in some cases, they have to learn to trust what they feel by sometimes losing the thing they value most only to find it again. It’s strange that we don’t often recognize a precious treasure until we lose it.
Cinderella had to bear the brunt of taunts and meanness to overcome and get the prince. The Beast had to show the Beauty that he had a pure heart capable of great love. And she had to learn that what’s on the inside is more important than the physical. The Ugly Duckling had to believe he was worth something to someone and looked until he found the place where he belonged.
In fiction as in real life we all search for a place to fit in and feel at home. The hardened gunslinger with an aching heart searches for that one place where he’ll find acceptance and love with a special woman.
One author springs to mind who really portrays the Cinderella story. That’s Jodi Thomas. She writes great heroines with older sisters who pass her around, each one desperately trying to get her married off so they can be rid of the responsibility. The older sisters are always impatient and usually scorn the heroine. She’s often mistreated and sometimes a little plain but possesses a gentle loving spirit. That’s what Jodi’s story in Give Me a Texan is about and it’s a humdinger. One thing for sure, Cinderella heroines always end up with the handsome prince and live happily every after.
My work in progress is a beauty and beast tale. She’s very pretty. He’s been disfigured in an accident and thinks no one will ever want him. His life is over. It has its own built in conflict and maybe by the time I’m finished, it’ll even tug at your heartstrings.
The best stories I think are ones where perfection is seemingly as far from possible as jumping up to kiss the moon. Those are the page-turners. Even though we know the guy will get the girl (or vice versa) in the end, we want to know what he has to go through in order for it to happen. And we want to root for him every step of the way.
What are your thoughts about fairy tales? Can you see them in our romance stories? And if you have a favorite fairy tale romance, share it with us.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter our big Spring Round-Up Contest. Lots of great prizes and you can’t win if you don’t enter. You can find it by scrolling down the left side of the screen and clicking on contest. Good Luck!