Romance and Fairy Tales by L. K. Below
Romance and fairy tales have more than one thing in common. Maybe that’s why fairy tales make such great retellings when romance is added into the mix. I certainly think it’s made my new release, Unveiling His Princess, irresistible, but then I am incredibly biased.
Back to my original point. In fairy tales, as in romance, a happily-ever-after is necessary, at least in modern times. Looking back on the original Brothers’ Grimm fairy tales, those did contain happy endings as well, though they were much gruesome than would be expected. Take Cinderella, for instance. In order to fit their feet in the shoes, the evil stepsisters cut off a toe and a part of their heel, respectively. Their deceit would never have been found out if the prince had not been alerted to the blood dripping from the shoes. Or in Princess Mouseskin, which Unveiling His Princess is based on. The antagonist at the end is beheaded for her treachery. Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t do that to my antagonist. I believe everyone deserves a happy ending -- and that’s why I fully intend to forge a sequel for Antonia to grow as a person and fall in love herself.
But are happily-ever-afters the only way in which romance and fairy tales are similar? I think there are several other ways, as well.
For one, most heroes -- and heroines -- are alpha males or females. Meaning they see what they want, and they pursue it doggedly until they achieve it. In many fairy tales, this is the same of the heroes -- though less common in the heroines. Let’s go back to Cinderella -- after meeting her, the prince scoured every household he could find in order to be reunited with her. Or my example of Princess Mouseskin: here, the heroine was the one to take charge. As she is unable to catch the prince’s attention as herself (in the original tale, this is because an evil witch has put him under a spell and he no longer recognizes her, though it is slightly different in my retelling), the heroine in this tale takes it upon herself to bargain with the witch for a few moments alone with the prince. She even masquerades as a scullery maid in order to do this. In every good romance tale I’ve read, the hero or heroine has been one-minded about keeping the love of their partner.
Many fairy tales deal with love. In the darker ages, when these tales were first told orally and then put down on paper, securing an advantageous marriage was of the utmost importance. It made the difference between living and dying to many. The richer you were, the better quality food and water you were able to consume, and thus you were healthier and less likely to contract disease. So the pauper marrying the prince -- that was a tale to be envied, one that brought hope. I’m sure no one would scoff at marrying a rich man (or woman) these days, but most people are secure in the fact that even if their Prince Charming isn’t filthy rich, they can get by and live happy, healthy lives.
Who can name a fairy tale that deals with ordinary folk overcoming the odds to marry a prince, princess, or king? Several come to mind. But these “ordinary” folk were never so ordinary, were they? There was always something extraordinary about them -- either their beauty, their kindness, or their skills. Can anyone name a romance novel with the same qualities? I can name about a dozen, but I think I’ve made my point.
In my mind, fairy tales and romance novels are very similar, and perhaps that is why I’m so drawn to write them. Aside from Unveiling His Princess, which is out now from Liquid Silver Books, I also have a contemporary book under contract with Lyrical Press, Inc. It is my second foray into a fair ytale retelling, this time in a modern setting instead of an alternate history in which fairy tales are real. I titled it Never a Princess, Always a Frog. Can anyone guess which fairytale it resembles?
Do you like elements of fairy tales to be mixed with your romance reading?
L. K. Below writes romance and speculative fiction. Under her full name, Lindsay Below, she pens young adult novels. Her newest romance release, Unveiling His Princess, is now available from Liquid Silver Books. Visit her online at http://www.lbelow.net/ or on her blog at http://lbelow.blogspot.com/.