by Lizbeth Selvig
Our society is obsessed with beauty and perfection. I’m one of the worst when it comes to craving an acceptable body image but never reaching my ideal. I really wanted to explore this concept in a romance novel, so when I met my heroine Joely Crockett and her hero Alec Morrissey, they definitely had the perfect story to tell!
We all love pretty things, and we like to fantasize about perfection because it brings us pleasure. Romance is the vehicle many of us use to escape into a perfect world: beautiful women, handsome, muscular men, exotic locales. I actually think this is a very necessary and even worthy aspect of the romance genre. The escape gets us through life when it becomes overwhelming.
But perfection without relatability gets boring—even depressing. As readers we have to be able to imagine ourselves in the perfect situation we’re reading about—and in order to do that, we need to believe that we, as flawed humans, could fit into that world. So—the characters have to be realistic. In other words, they have to have flaws and imperfections.
My character Joely has rarely had to deal with being imperfect. She’s been told all her life she is the prettiest of her sisters, and her experiences have borne that out. She’s been a rodeo princess, a rodeo queen, a homecoming queen, Miss Wyoming and, in the end, a trophy wife. Joely isn’t vain or mean or diva-ish, but she does believe that her worth lies in her beauty.
So what happens when she’s in a terrible accident that leaves her with a scar on her face and a permanently disfigured leg? When her husband leaves her and she can’t walk well enough to pursue the glimmer of dream she once had to be an equine veterinarian—someone who needs perfect mobility to deal with big animals?
She has to delve deeply into herself and find out what it really means to be a beautiful person. And isn’t that what we all have to do every day? I had a great time watching Joely’s confidence and ability to love herself grow throughout “The Bride Wore Starlight.” Little by little she is forced to try things she doesn’t think she can do—and she succeeds.
Her biggest obstacle, however, is believing she is loveable even though she isn’t perfectly beautiful anymore. Enter Alec—a former rodeo super star who had to give up his own dream because of injury. It would have been easy to show Joely healing if her hero was a perfect man who loved her despite her imperfections. But Alec has a pretty big imperfection himself—a prosthetic leg.
At first Alec comes off as having completely accepted his injury and his new reality. He’s funny, strong, and knows exactly how to help Joely deal with her injury issues. ButAlec is not perfect either. He has ghosts that make him fearful of giving his heart away. In his world, nothing good ever comes of loving someone or something too much. So he makes mistakes and needs redemption, too.
Two flawed people come together. In a romance novel! To me, that’s the perfect example of art imitating life. And even though the ending is perfect, we can relate to the journey, and that makes the fantasy read all the sweeter!
Critics of the romance genre complain that the books are unrealistic, that they’re filled with cliché moments and plots, and that the hero and heroine are sometimes TSTL—too stupid to live. Well, that’s all true—but isn’t that the beauty of it? The books are often fantastic plot wise—that’s where the fantasy comes in. But because skilled authors include a little TSTL, like some of us are sometimes, and a lot of flaws and foibles, like we all have, romance is also, some of the most relatable fiction in the world.
I hope you’ll enjoy the flaws and imperfections of Joely and Alec in “The Bride Wore Starlight.” It’s the third book in a series called Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys—about the Crockett sisters who return to their childhood home in Wyoming—Paradise Ranch—and each find a reason to stay and keep their generations-old family legacy alive. I invite you to check out the first two books “The Bride Wore Denim,” and “The Bride Wore Red Boots” and get to love all the Crockett girls.
I wish you happy reading and many wonderful, imperfectly perfect heroes and heroines to fulfill your fantasies!
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Lizbeth's Newest Release: The Bride Wore Starlight
Alec Morrissey knows a little something about loss. A famous rodeo cowboy before he was injured in Iraq, he’s managed to create something of a normal life, even if it’s not the one he always imagined. Encountering stunning but damaged Joely, he sees a kindred spirit who can learn from his mistakes.
As these two healing souls begin to fall in love under the Wyoming stars, they must discover if they are willing to give in to the tragedies of life or fight for a future together.
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