Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conflict of Interest

Hi! This is Jennifer Johnson. My contemporary romance Holding Out for a Hero is set for release next April.

I cut my reading teeth on romance novels of the seventies. You remember how those were, right? Office place romances. Amnesia. Revenge. And, yes, even emotional and physical abuse. I'm pleased that the romances these days are more sophisticated and portray, as a general rule, women who are strong, independent and who are working for a passionate and mutually affirming relationship.

Today's romances reflect the culture in which it is a given women are established in the workplace. This is wonderful! Now the romantic possibilities are endless, except for such terms as "conflict of interest" and "sexual misconduct." These are very real issues and make weaving a story of an office romance more complicated. When's the last time you picked up a book in which the nurse falls in love with the doctor she works for (which seemed to be about half of every published romance in the 1970s)? It is more likely, that the female doctor is going to fall in love with the male nurse who works with her. And yet, in our culture, that doctor may likely have ethical charges brought against her for such a romance.

What to do?

I see it as a great opportunity to twist the plot into an ethically charged pretzel. I mean, hey, if you have this doctor having to go before an ethics committee because she and a member of her staff are involved, you have to add at least a hundred pages to the book. It gives it depth and makes it more believable.

I remember a review I received on one of my books which declared it was obvious from the first page the hero and heroine were going to get together.

Well, duh. It's a romance. But I think the reader's point was that she wanted to have a conflict so huge that maybe it wouldn't be so obvious these two people were going to end up together. And if a doctor has spent so much time, money, and effort getting a medical degree to practice medicine, would she really risk it for love?

Heck, yeah!!!!

Having women break more and more glass ceilings means we have some great potential for love stories with interesting plot twists never considered before. Such as, hey, a female President of United States. Who could this woman be involved with that WAS NOT a conflict of interest? She's the President! Most every man she could be involved with is going to be someone she has power over.

Unless that person was from another country (and not Canada, either). I'm thinking a Middle Eastern Country. Or maybe Monaco. Perhaps a made up country that is wealthy in its own right. This guy could be royalty-a prince. No. A king. Now, THAT would be an interesting story.


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