In an earlier post, I posed the question, “Why do romance novels assume that a baby = HEA (Happily Ever After)?” To me and to many other women like me, babies are not the be all and end all. I, personally, do not need a baby to feel complete, but so many romance novels use the presence of babies as an indication of how happy a couple is. For instance, a few years back I read the matchmakers series by Candace Camp and the epilogue to the last book had every single couple happily cooing at a baby or two. In historicals, like that series, it makes a little more sense to give the protagonists children because having kids was a huge facet of noble life–without children, especially male children, the family seat would transfer to some evil relation, who cares only for himself and would probably tear down the ancestral house and build something *gasp* modern or would treat the tenants in awful ways. However, in contemporary novels it isn’t essential for the happy couple to end up with the 2.5 kids, a golden retriever, and a white picket fence. Not every couple wants that, and the fact that romance novels perpetuate that ideal really alienates an entire segment of the reading population.
One of the main reasons I love the In Death series is because Eve does not want kids and that she can be happy without having them. I have no doubt that somewhere down the line, she will end up with a kid, but it doesn’t have to be right now. (Nora Roberts has said that if Eve and Roarke have a baby that would be the end of the series because things would change drastically about the way Eve performs as a cop.) Even though Roarke does want children, he doesn’t pressure Eve into having them just because he wants them. He is more than willing to wait until she is ready.
The reason I am going off on this baby tangent is that the book that I am currently reading, Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare, seems to be leading to the baby = HEA ending. I’ve gotten about half way through the book, and the hero, Griff, really wants kids, although he doesn’t come out and say it–at least, he hasn’t yet. I read a scene earlier in which Griff, his mother, and Pauline, the heroine, are visiting The Foundling Hospital, an orphanage, and he is visibly sick over being there. It doesn’t appear that his aversion to the place is an aversion to children–he was really good with a little boy at the beginning of the scene–not to mention the fact that he suddenly decided to live like a monk, forgoing the life of debauchery that he had been living up until about a year earlier. He is very obviously a tortured hero and I think it is fair to say that something happened to him in the last year–I have a feeling that he got some girl pregnant and that she and the baby died in child birth. Griff’s grieving; it isn’t hard to see, and it is quite obvious that Pauline is going to make everything better for him, which of course means that she is going to have a kid and not die in labor.
What is refreshing is the fact that it is Griff that wants babies and not Pauline, however, it still doesn’t negate the fact that in his perfect world happiness means having a baby. You really don’t know how perturbed this makes me. It is almost as bad as the whole Big City = Big Bad and Small Town = Perfection trope that has been shoved down readers’ throats since possibly the dawn of time. I just wish that there were more books about people like me, who don’t necessarily believe that babies are essential to happiness.