ROMANCE? What if the Hero is Married and in Love with Another Woman (the Heroine)…

by Denny S. Bryce

Denny's MermaidsI got up this morning to the sound of chirping birds, geese doing shout outs to other geese, and sunshine bouncing over my lake (okay, it’s the community’s lake, but since I live here now, it’s mine!), but my thoughts kept drifting to SCANDAL.

No, nothing about my personal life here (sadly) – I’m talking about a TV show. Yes, some of you may know my obsession with the ABC series (SCANDAL) from the mind of Sondra Rhimes starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn (yes, the actor who killed Patrick Swayze in Ghost).

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sondra Rhimes reads romance novels. Hot, spicy, romance novels, but she reads them and then she twists them into decadent juicy unbelievable (but totally believable) melodrama. And yes, it’s over the top and if you enjoy situations that just don’t fit in the realm of reason but then kind of do, then the show is for you!

In a TV show about many relationships, SCANDAL’s primary one (Olivia and Fritz) is the most problematic – morality wise. The heroine’s lover and soul mate is MARRIED, and his wife although a dark and twisty child herself, is NOT the villain of the story.

So as a writer (or reader of romance) – what are your thoughts about a contemporary romance that pushes this particular envelope? I’m sure there have been fabulous romances written with infidelity as a storyline that work as a romance – tell me about them? Would you read it? Would you write it?

I know. How’d I get from SCANDAL to contemporary romance? Blame the chirping birds and the geese. Anyway, here goes my SCANDAL photo blitz (the real reason I wrote this post:). Because good romance and true love can be SCANDALOUS, and dark and twisty and pull at the strings of your heart, right?

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16 thoughts on “ROMANCE? What if the Hero is Married and in Love with Another Woman (the Heroine)…

  1. I’m going to be all fuddy duddy and say no. Unless we’re talking super historical or alternative universe where divorce is not an option. Otherwise I say man up.

    I haven’t watched Scandal yet. I see I have a new show to add to my Netflix cue. 🙂

    1. I actually agree. I think television takes more license with the topic because its episodic, and most shows have a protagonist and an antagonist set-up – not hero and heroine. However, I would be interested in checking out a “romance” that successfully makes a married man a hero without resorting to melodrama – although it sound unlikely:).

  2. Well, you already know my answer, lol. It’s a great question! I would love to hear what other people think.

  3. The question would be what’s he going to do about it? My mother’s favorite movie is Now, Voyager. Bette Davis is in love with a married man. He’s in a loveless marriage and has children. Bette gives him up for his daughter’s sake. Never liked the ending. I would stay away from infidelity in my writing. Once a cheater, always a cheater. I would find someone else for my heroine and her heart. Scandal is a great show.

    1. I love that movie. Love it! And yes, the ending sucked – too self-conscious. But SCANDAL is making the man sympathetic, although, I don’t think the story would work as a book (well, at least not a romance).

  4. Hmm, the thing is that sometimes soulmates get mixed up with the wrong people. But I agree with Avery, man up and get right with who you’re supposed to be with. I wouldn’t mind reading a romance where the hero’s journey is ACTIVELY trying to get out of a situation so he can be with his true love.

    1. I would like to read that book, too, Mermaid Carlene. Sometimes too much perfect gets to me…I like a heartfelt, well-written struggle. If it can avoid cliches – it could be a really gripping story.

  5. This dicussion reminds me of LaVyrle Spencer’s Spring Fancy – although she did get rid of the fiance before falling into bed with the hero. I’m facing a similar problem in my WIP. Dating another guy, hot for another. Jump his bones or hold back until she breaks up with the yuppie? Hmmm…. maybe it’s okay? I mean, it’s not like she had a ring on her finger…

  6. That’s where the GMC stuff works magic. I love that kind of story – the struggle of the heart – putting on the white hat and switching to the black hat…it makes for deeper characters to me…:)…so jump his bones and pay the price or pay the price and then jump his bones…sounds like a good tale. (And yeah, if they aren’t married…it will work). Thanks for stopping by Mermaid Susan.

  7. Hi Denny! Great post. Haven’t seen the show but you had me intrigued enough to google it and read about the plot line. I’m with you — I’d love to see that kind of story done well. But it is very very tricky. I’m not a big fan of the love triangle, but I can see lots of potential for heartache and conflict when you juxtapose true love with obligation…

    1. It’s a polarizing topic, you know? I think that for some the topic is just too dicey to be played with – even in fiction. But the challenge from a writing standpoint I must admit I find fascinating. And yes, I love – love triangles, too.

  8. Denny,
    I’m not a fan of the cheater. They usually continue to do it in the next relationship. And the next. And the next…
    It’s different if the man is married and is actively trying to get out of a loveless marriage. And ONLY if he doesn’t act on his feelings for the “other woman” until his marriage is over. Completely over. Signed, sealed, delivered OVER.
    Just my opinion… 🙂

    1. i hear you. But the two mediums do dabble differently when it comes to this topic. Romance doesn’t do this kind of story – unless they want to punish a cheater:)…

  9. I did read a post civil-war era romance where the hero was married. His wife had been a nasty piece of work in the past, but had an accident and was now bed-ridden and not mentally all there. The hero suffered terrible guilt over leaving her due to her current circumstances. The book ended tragically with the heroine going off in a marriage of convenience rather than spend her whole life as a mistress to the man she loved who wouldn’t leave his wife. Yes, I read it and enjoyed it, but it was really a tragedy – not a romance as the back blurb called it.

  10. I agree with Avery… man up! Either commit to the relationship or get a divorce, don’t cheat.
    However, I’m compelled by the prospect. I think this could be a great story if it was done well, but I think it would be difficult to do it as a romance. In the romance genre there is an unspoken promise given to the reader that there is going to be a happily ever after, and any time you have that kind of love triangle someone is going to be hurt. I think it would have to be a marriage of convenience or a loveless, abusive type of marriage where the reader wants the hero or heroine out of the relationship to begin with. Then, I think you’d have to have a pretty compelling soulmate to give the character someone to motivate them to make that change. And finally, I think the hero and heroine would need to keep the brakes on developing their relationship beyond friendship until the marriage is over to make the reader sympathetic.

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