Friday, 26 July 2013

Royal Babies and Romance Babies

As I write this, the new royal baby has finally arrived – Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. The media is hungrily waiting for more photo ops and information about him. In the last few weeks, coverage of the impending royal birth reached a fever pitch even when there was nothing to report but speculation and rumor. From all that (not to mention the vast sums paid by magazines to publish the first pictures of celebrities’ newborns) I can only assume there is a huge market for baby news of all kinds. In other words, “Babies sell.”

They certainly seem to for series romance. Many book covers feature sweet babies and young children on the covers, sometimes without any sign of the hero or heroine. Secret babies, babies by surrogate, abandoned babies, twins and triplets are all strong story hooks that appear to sell well. Even when the main story is entirely child-free, an epilogue featuring a pregnant heroine or new baby often seems to cement the couple’s happily ever after. 

I would love to see some statistics about the ages of readers who buy books that clearly feature babies or young children. My gut feeling is that they are women who have not yet had a child or whose children have grown up. Certainly that was my own experience with writing books involving children.

When I wrote my first romance novel back in the early 90’s, my children were very young. A friend used to call writing my “sanity-retention mechanism.” After a day of unglamorous parenting and housework, I would escape into my Georgian-era story, swanning off to the theatre or the pleasure gardens in gorgeous gowns. Needless to say, my heroine did not have to plan her social engagements around finding a sitter, the way I did. Nor would she have a romantic moment interrupted by the screams of a toddler in the throes of an ear infection. 

My second book had a pregnant heroine whose infant made a brief appearance for the last couple of pages of the story. Book three had a scene with some children who didn’t belong to the hero or heroine. Books four and five were entirely child-free. Book six was part of a continuity series and I was assigned a story with a heroine who was the nanny of the hero’s young nephew. I think my editor realized that a mother of four and former teacher, I should be “writing what I knew.” After that children began cropping up in my stories more and more frequently. 

Now that my busy, demanding toddlers have grown into bright, independent young adults, I miss having little ones around. Eight out of my last ten books have children in them and since I’m writing a series about a group of governesses, it’s safe to say that trend will continue for awhile. J

Do you like reading romance novels with babies or young children in the story? If so, what is it about those stories that appeals to you? -- by Deb Hale


  1. Deb, when my kids were little I wasn't interested in books with babies. Now that they're grown up I think toddlers are so cute! Probably because I've glossed over the amount of work they are. LOL.

  2. I agree, Anne - I think toddlers are adorable, but I'm always thankful when I can hand them back to their parents. I think all moms are heroes. And Deb, I love the way you portray children in your stories. The girls in The Captain's Christmas Family were so engaging!

  3. I think you're right about readers looking forward to parenthood or having just past the young-children years being attracted to romances with babies in them. It's part of the relationship that makes it even more emotionally intimate, so it's a perfect fit with the romance genre, but if you're busy parenting young children, do you really want to read about it in your fiction, as well?

  4. Great post, Deb! I don't mind if the children are old enough to have a personality of their own and function a bit independently of the main characters, but I definitely prefer not to have them in the majority of scenes. I want to focus more on the relationship one on one rather than one on one plus one more.