My favorite story of all time is Jane Eyre. I haven’t read the book since I was a teenager, but I’ve watched all the movies several times. Finally, as an adult I did some analysis of why the story line appeals to me so much, and it has to do with the fact that an unattractive, impoverished, powerless young woman could bring the haughty Mr. Rochester to his knees. More on that in a bit.
As far as the appeal of the billionaire, one very obvious reason is that he can shower his woman with luxury. Think of Christian Grey of Fifty Shades fame. He can pilot his private helicopter to take his woman to dinner. He can take her up in a glider. He buys her incredibly expensive, rare books. I think all of us would love to have a man who could provide everything we ever wanted and even some things we’d never dreamed we could have. It’s a Cinderella thing—rags to riches because our heroine has captured the prince’s heart.
But—and this is a big but—the romance heroine never betrays who she is. She never caves in on her principles. She may accept gifts from the billionaire, but she never allows herself to be bought by them. Look at my Jane Eyre. She never accepts anything from Mr. Rochester except the pay he owes her for her job as governess to his ward. Even when she has to travel to visit her dying aunt, she doesn’t take a cent from him when he offers. Even when he insists.
This independence intrigues the billionaire and infuriates him. He’s used to having exactly what he wants when he wants it. Now, here is someone he definitely craves, and she won’t surrender to his wealth and power as everyone else does. At first, he may be more interested in her body than her whole person, but as she continues to resist, he’s intrigued and comes to respect her. Liking follows respect, and soon he’s on his way to loving her.
Of course, Jane Eyre would never give her body outside of marriage. This is part of the morals of the time, but it’s also her own very strict dedication to doing what’s right, no matter the consequences. Mr. Rochester advances the idea of going to France together pretending to be husband and wife. This is an absolute non-starter for Jane, and she leaves the man she now loves, taking with her only a few possessions and very little money.
A contemporary couple doesn’t have to suffer under the old set of morals and can have sex whenever both people want. But again, in romance, the heroine gives herself only on her own terms. The hero may see her consent as surrender. And now, he figures she must realize he’s not only rich, handsome, and powerful. He’s also good in bed. Why on earth doesn’t she give in and do what he wants now?
By the time the hero falls in love, he’s lost the struggle, and she has the upper hand. He’s not used to suborning his desires and wishes to those of another person. But if he’s to win the heart of his heroine, he’s going to have to bend and do things her way. He often makes a very public sacrifice to win her. The playing field has been leveled, and they are now equals.
Mr. Rochester’s sin was to try to lure Jane into a false marriage when his first wife—a dangerous psychotic—was still alive. He’s only worthy of Jane after not only his wife’s death in a fire she started but after his own sacrifice trying to save her. He almost dies in the attempt, and when he’s reunited with Jane, he’s lost his vision and one hand. He, literally, has to give up body parts to be worthy of the unattractive, impoverished, powerless young woman he first assumed he could fool and then dominate.
My hero in The Revenge Game, Adam Morrow, fell in love with my heroine, Nicole Westmore, when they college-aged kids. When, in his eyes, she betrayed him, she became his enemy, and now, he’s trying to take down her company to get revenge. He has convinced himself he’ll never give his heart again. But then, he sees Nicole and wonders if they can’t still have glorious sex. He doesn’t realize it at that moment, but he’s sealed his fate. He’s tamed.
One person who comments will win a signed copy of Just One Week and the portable phone charger pictured here!