OPPOSITES ATTRACT–OR DO THEY?

It’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it–opposites attract? And although in real life it may be true, it may not always lead to a lasting and harmonious relationship. Now, of course, you are probably going to come back at me with all sorts of personal stories of how it IS true and can lead to a wonderful happily-ever-after. I hope you do, in fact.

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In romantic fiction, however, it can work almost every time, and it is great fun as a writer to make it work. When I am planning a book, I often have a vague plot idea, and often I have a fairly firm idea of either the hero or the heroine. Indeed, in some cases that person will come from a previous book. Finding a suitable mate is often the problem. What kind of woman would make a suitable heroine for this particular hero, I will ask myself–or vice versa. And sometimes the answer will come with little or no trouble. When I came to write Simply Love, for example, I already had Anne Jewell in place as one of the four teachers in the series. She had appeared in Book I and she had made her first appearance in Slightly Scandalous. I knew she was a deeply wounded character, a single mother in Regency England, the victim of rape as a result of saving the mentally challenged girl to whom she was governess from a similar fate. And then she was dismissed from her position, largely shunned by the community in which she lived, and rejected by her fiancé and her parents. When I searched my mind for a suitable hero for her, I discovered him ready made, as it were. Sydnam Butler had first appeared in A Summer to Remember as a one-armed, one-eyed, severely burned survivor of savage torture during the Napoleonic Wars. Anne and Sydnam seemed almost too mutually wounded to be able to help each other and to forge a lifelong love, but I took on the challenge and I think I made it work.

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More often, though, I have to switch the question and ask myself who would be the most unlikely match for this particular hero or heroine. Wulfric Bedwyn in Slightly Dangerous, for example, was a tough one. Aristocratic, autocratic, coldly dignified, everything that was not ducal ruthlessly suppressed deep within him, I had built him up in the course of the six previous books to such a degree that reader expectations for his story were high and I was frankly terrified. I had only one chance to get it right. Once his story was written and published, I couldn’t go back and try again with a different heroine. In my imagination I tried a variety of women and was not satisfied with any of them. And then along came Christine Derrick–I have no idea from where except that she was so obviously wrong for him in every imaginable way that she was irresistible. She was pretty but neither beautiful nor elegant. She was virtually a nobody socially. Though she had troubles enough of her own, she chose to be almost invariably cheerful. She laughed a lot. She was a terrible klutz. The first time she “met” Wulfric, she was leaning over a balcony rail in most undignified fashion to catch a glimpse of him but forgot that when she leaned so did the glass of lemonade in her hand. She dripped some in his eye and thought for a moment that he was winking at her. And perhaps most shocking of all, Christine was not afraid of Wulfric, and sometimes she more or less told him to get over himself. He was forever wielding his quizzing glass to show disapproval of someone or something. When he used it on Christine when they are out walking one day, she grabbed it from him and tossed it up into a tree and then watched him climb up to retrieve it.

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I have done the same thing over and over again with other books. Would Wulfric and Christine have been happy together in real life–or Mary Gregg and Lord Edmond Waite in The Notorious Rake, or Kit Butler and Lauren Edgeworth in A Summer to Remember, or Gwen, Lady Muir, and Hugo, Lord Trentham, in The Proposal? Maybe not, but I am careful in the course of each book to have my characters work out their own issues and their incompatibilities to the point at which it seems at least possible, or even probable, that the love they share at the end of their books will last a lifetime if they work at it every day of their lives. I try to write realistic happy endings rather than happily-ever-after ones.

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To one randomly-chosen person who leaves a comment below before the end of Tuesday, July 9, I will send an autographed advance reading copy of THE ARRANGEMENT, due out at the end of August. Last week’s winner was Jan Sorenson.

137 thoughts on “OPPOSITES ATTRACT–OR DO THEY?

    • What always attracts me is that your characters are real. They walk or run or jump off the page, and to me, character drives plot. If I cannot identify with a character, the book bores me… it’s why I have NEVER (after 3 attempts and despite living in Louisiana) been able to get through “A Confederacy of Dunces.” The characters are just repellant to me. Yours, on the other hand, are immediately identifiable with. That’s why I read and re-read your books.

  1. Oh, I’m sure all of YOUR characters live happily ever after. In real life, yes, opposites definitely attract. I’ll just say that “happily ever after” is a life long challenge! It helps if you both have a sense of humor. That’s all I’ll say about that! 30 years and counting with my opposite. BTW, I just loved reading all of the books mentioned above. Wulfric is my absolute favorite character!

    • I have to agree with Lucinda: a HEA with your opposite is a life long challenge. My opposite and I have been married for 31 years and there have been lots of compromises in that time-mostly by me! Those things so unlike yourself that originally attract you can turn against you in a long term relationship. I fell in love with a man who is easy going and laid back as opposed to my Type A personality. Now, I often tell people that I had to become a slob in order not to become a shrew. At first, I drove myself crazy cleaning up his messes. I became angry that I was always the one cleaning and straightening. I finally gave up. I couldn’t live with the anger, so I live with the mess! I love my husband so much, but it takes work to live with someone who sees things so differently than you see them.
      Slightly Dangerous is one of my favorites! Maybe because I see my husband and I in Wulfric and Christine.

  2. I think in some cases opposites do attract and the attraction works because each one’s strength compensates for the other’s weakness. When the oppositeness is too great, a relationship will have much more trouble and might end badly. Relationships between those with a lot in common are usually the ones that last.

  3. I love your opposite attracts stories. Slightly Scandalous and a Summer to Remember are my two favorite books that you have written. I can’t wait to read the Arrangement.

  4. My husband is extroverted, while I am deeply introverted. So in that sense, opposites did attract or, perhaps, fit together like puzzle pieces. I don’t think it can be true of all aspects of our personalities. Perhaps we have more similarities than not–but we do have several major differences, albeit complementary ones.

  5. I think opposites complement each other in a relationship and that’s what attracts them in the first place. I absolutely think opposites attract, my husband is outgoing and I tend to be shy. I calm him down and he pushes me out of my shell, perfection! Lol

  6. I think you need enough difference for some spice in the relationship…people who are too similar (in books anyway) are boring. Bring on the action (if you know what I mean)!

  7. Slightly Dangerous and Simply Love are two of my favorite books of yours. What’s wonderful about the way you created Wulfric and Christine is that there were enough moments of commonality that you understood how they could have a lasting relationship. Their oppositeness (for lack of a better word) felt like it would make them stronger as a couple, each providing something the other lacked. I think that’s the reason its become one of those books I go back to over and over when I don’t feel like starting a new one.

  8. It depends on how extreme the opposites I think. My husband and I have a lot of the same temperaments but he is more introverted than I am. We’re a like in many ways but very different in others. Life needs variety though – can’t see myself being content if I married someone just like myself. I love how the characters in your books tend to find the common ground and build from there – keep up the good work!

  9. Been married for 40 years to a man who everyone warned was totally wrong for me. In fact my best friend said she wouldn’t date him if he was the last man on earth!! It turned out he was very different when he and I were alone . . . . very intelligent, sentimental, romantic and determined to marry me! He pursued me through three marriage proposals until I finally realized he was the only one for me.

  10. It’s interesting to see how opposites work things out in arranged marriages. The parents of my father’s best friend entered an arranged marriage in their teens and both lived a long time (one lived to be 100). The wife was a social butterfly who loved to travel; the husband was dour and preferred solitude. When asked what their secret was, on the occasion of their 75th anniversary, she said, “Let’s face it – there will be years when you can’t stand each other. But if you stick it out, you’ll remember why you got married.”

  11. Meeting someone whose opposite to you is like finding pieces to fill out the missing pieces in your life. Their “rights” will complement your “wrongs” your “rights” will complement their “wrongs”. In the end, we give each other what each other is in need of. At times we will most likely collide and butt heads because we are different in the beginning, but if we didn’t have a clash of opinions here and there, in time the relationship can’t become something you’re just “use to” having. When you can share differences and similarities alike, its like a cuisine that’s been season just perfect in the imperfect way. Whether your relationship will last long or not, it really depend on how you weather it. – I think I made sense… anywho; I love when opposites attract in a novel, it makes it that much saucier!

  12. I love to read opposites attract stories. It is interesting to see 2 people who are so different come together to make a strong union.

  13. The first book I ever read of yours was A Summer to Remember and I absolutely fell in love with your writing. I love how all of your characters are intermingled in each book of all of your series. With each book you get to live the story of that book and also get to relive the previous one with the reintroduction of characters from previous books. This style of writing allows a story to never end! I love your style of writing, which is why as long as you keep writing, I will keep reading! Thank you for years of pleasurable reading 🙂

  14. I loved the beginning of this series. I’m excited to read what happens to the members of the Survivor’s Club. I think that’s one thing that makes your writing unique is by the way you match heroes and heroines together. Slightly Dangerous is one of my favorite books of all time. I always laugh out loud! The unlikely match is hilarious.

  15. My husband and I are opposites. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But at the end of it all our goal is forever after – so we make it work!

  16. Mary, I’m always fascinated at your creative mind. With every book I read I find myself not only comtemplating the couple’s future, but also how you came up with such a wonderful script! I imagine that I would start to repeat myself after a time and fail to pen anything unique, however you amaze me time and time again! It’s absolutely fascinating how the character’s retain their personalities and individual characteristics through numerous books. I cannot wait to read The Arrangement and I wonder if it will join my other ‘favorites’ on the shelf that I can read over and over and enjoy every time. Keep up the good work, Mary!

  17. I believe opposites attract. My wonderful hubby and I started our marriage as social opposites. My hubby hated to deal with groups of people. He wanted to spend all his time alone or with family. I, however, was quite the social butterfly. I didn’t feel complete unless surrounded by people. During the course of our 20 years and counting of marriage, we have sort of met in the middle. I believe that watching two people learning to adapt to each other’s differences make a great story, much more realistic.

  18. I’m a huge fan of all of your books! There isn’t one that I haven’t extremely enjoyed. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with all of us because you make my life easier and more enjoyable through your stories. Just getting to read one of your books puts me in a good mood and takes me away from my daily stressors for awhile so that I can return to life in a better mood and frame of mind. Basically, I hope you know how wonderful your writing is and that I really appreciate all of your work to bring us these wonderful books!
    As for opposites attracting, my husband and I are definitely opposites and it isn’t always easy but it has it’s advantages too. I won’t post our life story but I will say you hit the nail on the head when you said these types of relationships (really all marriages) require both people to work at making it work daily. It might be a little more difficult for those of us that have a partner who is our opposite. I can’t be sure because I haven’t had the other scenario where my partner is very similar to me but I imagine that situation would be easier because you would have more common interests and enjoy the same things. Not having that makes it harder because we have to compromise on nearly everything…which requires that we have a lot of respect for each other and that we have to be willing to lose or not have things exactly as one or the other would prefer. It’s worth it though when you have someone worth compromising for.
    My husband, Brandon is wonderful to me and our kids. I wouldn’t trade him for my “perfect” match. In my heart he is my perfect match.
    Okay, enough said on that subject from me. I will wrap this up now.
    I love you to death lady and I would be ecstatic to win your autographed ARC…and I’ll still love you even if I don’t win it! Again, thanks for all you do and I wish you all the best life can give you!

  19. After reading a few of the replies, I am happy to see that there are others who love to read Wulfric and Christine’s story over and over. Looking forward to THE ARRANGEMENT!

  20. One thing I really like about your characters, is that whether or not they are similar or opposite, they talk out their problems and differences. It makes the romance believable to me because relationships require communication.

  21. You talked about two of my very, very favorites of your books and that is most certainly saying something! The entire time I was reading the Slightly series I wondered what woman on earth could possibly be right for Wulfric! And Christine was so absolutely wrong and so utterly right.

    I think the best chance opposites have for staying together is when they honor each others differences and they realize each of them fills the holes in the others soul. It’s as if one says to the other “There isn’t an ounce of frivolity in you, but you desperately need some. Take some of mine, even if it is just for a hour or two.”

  22. Another great article! I love opposites. On the surface my husband I seem like opposites, but deep down in some ways we are really quite similar. I think that the ways we are similar make us strong and the ways that we are different make things really interesting.

    I love Christine Derrick and the way she teases Wulfric!!! 🙂 The Bedwyn stories might be my favorite, or the Simply stories, or the…. 🙂

  23. My favorite romance of yours is Christine and Wulfric’s story. Such different people. Different world views. I visit with them often! In reality however I think the more one has in commen the stronger the foundation to build a life together. My husband and I are celebrating 24 years of marriage this week! Thanks for writing all your wonderful stories Mary.

  24. Yes, my husband and I are opposites – and it can work if both people can embrace and accept the uniqueness of the other. I’ve learned a lot from my husband and he from I – but we also have had many arguments and disagreements to work through (something that happens in real life – but that can be glossed over in the fictional stories). I do love reading about those characters with opposing ideas and philosophies of life but who are able to work together and live happily ever after!

  25. Opposites do attract. My husband was a hot tempered red head when we met in California 45 years ago. I had always been shy and quiet, except with family. We married 2 months after we met, but after 45 years I think it might work out. He is calmer and I am more outgoing, so we have been a good match

  26. Opposites can work as long as there is some middle ground over which they can meet. I don’t think if there were no commonalities that you would find it believable for characters who were utterly opposite to make a match.

  27. I love a well written “tortured soul” character. Opposites do make the best stories and the most satisfying relationship.

  28. Yes! My husband and are so very opposite. He is loud, busy, outspoken. I could go on. I am shy, very quiet and do not like to cause waves. I also have a very hard time making friends or even just striking up a conversation with anyone. We balance each other perfectly. His mother says I am the best thing that ever happened to him, simply because in her words I have a ‘calming’ effect on him. He has always been my champion, stood up for me when I would’ve let people run over me and loved me more than I could have ever dreamed. So glad that we found each other and our world is perfect.

  29. I think for a marriage to work both persons have to work towards it .My teen asked me whether arranged marriages were better than love marriages? My reply was however you get married for a happy ending you must put in your all into it .

  30. I don’t see it as opposite but as complementary traits — I’m very high-strung and my husband is very laidback — I borrow some of his casualness when I’m faced with a high-stress situation.

    I do love opposites-attract romances, it’s always exciting how authors will write that pivotal moment that will turn enmity/discord into love. ^_^

    (I’m reading The Proposal right now! Very excited for The Arrangement.)

  31. I think we often look for someone to sort of complete ourselves. You’re a wonderful writer. Thank You for writing such wonderful love stories.

  32. The good thing with books is that real life doesn’t interfere. There are no constant naggings or “I told you so”s.
    And because of all the reasons you mentioned “Simply Love” and “Slightly Dangerous” are two of my favourite books.

  33. Most of your stories are about opposites, I find it very enticing. It works in your stories because it happens in real life.

  34. Opposites do attract but how long the relationship would last depends on how deep the love that is shared. When we love deeply we could tolerate almost any differences between us and learn to adapt. In between there will be quarrels, heartaches, conflicts but if there is still love and respect we’ll survive them all. I have been with my husband for almost 30 yrs. And boy, how different we are in personality, and how we argue and quarrel, but always end the day with compromise.

  35. I think it depends on how they are alike or different. Opposite personalities may work if they have similar backgrounds, cultures, that kind of thing. But if someone is very extroverted and comes from a family of extroverts, they may never understand shyness. I guess communication, patience and humor whether they are opposites are not are the best keys. 🙂

  36. I loved the opposites attract story in The Secret Mistress. That book was such delightful fun! I enjoyed both of the romances, and how Angeline and Edward’s differences were what made them so perfect for each other.

    I loved Irresistible and am very much looking forward to reading the Survivor books. Many hours of reading and re-reading pleasure!

  37. I love the idea as well as the storyline with opposites but in life it is hard to live with an opposite.

  38. I’m often attracted to men that I’d consider my opposite in many ways. The trick is to find one that also appreciates those differences…

  39. “Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears, Wish not we had a single fighter more, If we are mark’d to die, we are enough To make our planets proud. But should we win, We fewer rebels share the greater fame.” -Ian Doescher Inspired by tonight’s author appearance at Powell’s Bookstore in Beaverton, Oregon, I though what better opposites to attract than Shakespeare and Star Wars? I included a bit of Luke Skywalker’s take on the St. Crispin’s day speech from Henry V. Fear not, I only find laughter in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because I love the romance genre so much I had the original all but memorized, and I believe Shakespeare is the basis of a great many modern day historical romances. I’m attracted to different ends of the genre spectrum and once in awhile enjoy seeing them meet up and merge.

  40. Opposites definitely attract each other, but what happens when over the years they go opposite ways? Still married, but not “together?” My husband and I are so opposite of the other that sometimes we are not just from different planets, but galaxies. When asked how long we’ve been married our response is, (at 32 years currently), “blank-blank years and we’re still trying to make it work!”
    We get bored with each other, accuse the other of being selfish, we argue, yell, kiss, hug….. but at the end of it all we are committed to making it work. For each other, our children, our grandchildren, and our family in general.
    I so enjoy your books.

  41. I just finished A Notorious Rake, and I must admit, it took me a long time (2/3 through the book) to start to like Edmond. But once you peeled back his “mask” and revealed the man beneath it, I could start to understand him better. I think Mary must have instinctively recognized that man, and been drawn to that secret person that he hid from society and even himself. The same is probably true of most “opposite attracts” relationships. Wulfric loved Christine precisely because she was not afraid or affected by his sternness, which he had adopted because of the role he had to play for his family. In the first 6 books, we hadn’t known about his own story and so he seemed less “human.” Christine saw right through him to the man he kept hidden. Which, Mary, is why I love your books. You can take the most unlikable people and write and explain them until we understand and grow to love them.

    I use that as a lesson for life. Everyone has their own back story, don’t they? No matter how much we may not like someone, if we learn to understand how they got to be the person they are, we can learn that they are “human” too, and not so hard to respect and accept, and sometimes even love, after all.

  42. The first time I read Slightly Dangerous, I laughed so much that I rushed to the end to see what will happen with them. They were adorable together. I understood Wulfric completely: his emotional wall he built so early in life (started with his separation from the rest of his siblings and the last brick when he sent his favourite brother to the army against brother’s wishes and nature) and his fight against the feelings he had for Christine (so much like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice). We were given glimpses of his love for his siblings through his care for them in previous books in this series, so we knew he was capable for deep emotions underneath his oh-so-cool facade. I admired his acceptance of the feelings he had for Christine and his battle to win her, although she seamed so totally wrong for him. In similar situation in my own life, I used one flaw I deemed unforgivable to end the relationship. As a writer you created their relationship believable and their opposites work together.

  43. i think the key is that you have them work out their problems and work on their differences. That is not always the case in real life. I love your books

  44. A little bit of difference can attract, but (for me) a whole lot of opposite is not an attractant. I find similarities rub together best of all.

  45. Hi Mary, Your question is a tough one. In my life, yes opposites do attract and live a great life together. My husband and I are proof…20 years married proof. Although in the book world how do you know. I am not a writer but to “make up” a character and his/her other half has to be so hard. I have read a few books that to me didn’t work well ( the main characters). I do love ALL your books and the way you work through the characters problems does give us readers a sense of being right there and really knowing these people.
    So opposites can me many things, it’s just your perception.

    Thank you for this giveaway, and best wishes for a great release!!!!

  46. I think a couple needs to have some basic values in common, but other than that the ‘best’ pairs are likely to be rather different. Otherwise they would have the same strengths and weaknesses, leaving some areas of their life together ‘uncovered’, having little to learn from one another, and probably being bored after a while.

  47. I think the key to any relationship is in your statement “that the love they share at the end of their books will last a lifetime if they work at it every day of their lives”. Maybe not every day, but after 42 years of marriage, my husband and I agree that marriage is hard work. Relationship changes over time. It takes attention, adjustment, and conversation to maintain one. It takes commitment. It helps if you don’t both quit on the same day. It does not always work out, but if you want a healthy, happy, long term love affair, you owe it your attention.

    • “It takes commitment. It helps if you don’t both quit on the same day.”

      That’s classic – it should be cross-stitched and framed!

  48. Opposites sometimes humanizes their partners. That is what I loved in Slightly Dangerous, my favorite book.

  49. I know opposites attract my husband and I are complete opposites in everything except that we are still as much in love 19 years later as when we meet.

  50. I believe that you have created characters who are so complete and well developed that the reader automatically believes the opposites will work beautifully together. It always appears that the characters love one another so completely that their differences will simply enhance their lives.

    And Wulfric and Christine were perfect for one another. I know The Arrangement will again be one of the loveliest of books.

  51. Years ago one of my sisters (who is also a published writer) was concerned because she didn’t think the man I was dating was going to work for me because of our many differences. Twenty-three years and two girls later, we’re still together. We definitely have different lives, interests, and energy levels, but at the end of the day we’re together and it works. For instance, I love to travel (especially to England), and he will go to humor me, but he’d rather just drive us to the airport and stay home even though he’s miserable when we’re gone. I’m a SS/LA teacher so continually involved in education, while he struggled through school. I love outdoor sports, he likes working in the yard, on the land, or in the sap house. I love to stay up until all hours of the night finishing one of your books (I’ve literally read them all!!!!) while he’s in bed by 9 and complaining about the light still being on hours later. 🙂

  52. The greatest opposites attract is that of my parents. My mother is one of 11 children and my father an only child. Their background had a few similarities but my father had the greatest adjustment. My mothers family is a family not afraid to show affection and my father’s parents were hard people who never showed any affection. He learned to adjust and became a loving parent to his 4 children. They were happily married almost 45 years, my father passed away 3 months shy of their anniversary. I love your books and usually get mad at myself for reading them so quickly! They all remain in my “to be read again pile”, thank you for bringing such enjoyment to my life.

  53. Bedwyns, Huxtables and the Simply school teachers. They are written like normal people and not the gorgeous hunk meets the elegantly beautiful girl, which so many romances follow. I can love them and get totally involved with them without the usual jealousy. They are characters with substance!

    • I agree, Linda. I love that the heros and heroines are not always drop dead gogeous. But they are to the person who is falling in love with them. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder. They ARE charcters of substance.

  54. One of the great “draws” of your writing is that the characters do work it out in their own ways. Sometimes getting together rather quickly, with a longer time to simmer, regret, rejoice, reflect and sometimes that longer time comes first and then the getting together. I’m always impressed that there is a commitment to making it work. Besides learning a lot about the well-researched period of which you write I have learned much about relationships. Thank you for this.

  55. I believe opposites can complement each other, giving each strength to embrace the differences. Wulfric and Christine are a perfect example of opposites. You did a great job of writing for these two. Can’t wait for The Arrangement. I am 8 of 22 at our library.

  56. All your characters “speak” to me, Mary. I love how the people move between books, and one day you read about someone you had met briefly months ago during the reading of a different book. Its awesome! Thanks for making reading such a pleasure, Mary.

  57. I adore your books and I am currently reading (again) the Slightly series. Aiden and Wulfric are my favorites. And I happened to love An Ideal wife and A Precious Jewel. I like how Miles and Abigail’s opposite temperments complement each other.
    If you listed my husband’s interests and compared them to mine on paper, we are completely opposites. He loves hunting, fishing, animals and the outdoors. In fact his entire career is based on that. I however, am mortally afraid of bugs and prefer the indoors (of course with a book). He usually has to coax me outside. And I do occasionally agreed to a camping trip. You would never put us together. But in temperment and priorities, we are very much the same. I believe those shared priorities are what have kept our marriage not only strong but fairly “easy”. Life is never easy, but our ability to focus on our outcome and not the obstacle at hand, helps us keep our heads straight, Fortunately, for us, our life would make a very boring book.

  58. >>but I am careful in the course of each book to have my characters work out their own issues and their incompatibilities to the point at which it seems at least possible, or even probable, that the love they share at the end of their books will last a lifetime if they work at it every day of their lives.

    That is why your books work for me! You flesh out your characters, making them question their own motives, real desires, and so on. Often, by the time we get to the end of the book, we feel that the HEA will be secure because the groundwork has been laid, and the characters have matured enough to know what they’re getting themselves into.

  59. My sense when I’m done reading one of your (most wonderful) stories is that we readers have seen your characters work their way through A problem. A large, meaty, challenging problem, but only the first of more to face! What’s more important is that you show us that they have the love and the ability to laugh and forgive and the insight (into themselves and others) to work through their future problems. Your characters are happy, yes indeed!, but not in an ephemeral way, but in a tough-minded, reality-facing way. Sometimes the “opposites attract” pairing works well in your stories because the characters approach their problems differently but effectively (laughter vs. analytics in the Christine & Wulfric pairing), but then I love Hartley & Samantha in Lord Carew’s Bride so much! I think you show it isn’t the opposites/similarities in the couples but the courage and the willing hearts that matter.

  60. Opposites do attract and do work as a couple! My husband and I have been married almost 18 years. Our church requires the marriage multiple choice test. When we went into a Christian counselor to get our results, she said, Wow, we are going to be here for a long time! What makes us work though is that our values are basically the same. We were raised very differently, but both grew up with good values. I still love him very much, but I occasionally have to stop myself from saying something that I have said many times and that he can’t change.

  61. I too am another one who has found true love with my “opposite” – only we are alike in the ways that really count, like your characters are. All the opposites you describe have at their core a set of values and convictions that are compatible with the other person, and that’s why they work, and why they seem so very real. My first husband and I were “alike” on the outside, and that worked for a long time, but eventually the marriage rotted away from the inside out. My second husband and I seem opposites, but we share a deep core set of values that I think will keep us linked for a long, long time.

    Thank you for all that you do. Your books enhance my life in ways I can’t even describe.

  62. can’t speak to whether opposites are right for each other. I can say that in Slightly Dangerous you hit the spot for Wulfric. I believe that Christine allowed him to be who he finally saw he wished to be but had suppressed for so long. That is why I reread that book. As I have told you before, I love Edmund. When he says “tell me I was good” or some such about his sexual performance he is such a guy, I love it. So many heroes never doubt they are Studs.

  63. I think that what man call “opposites” are often “compliments”. When I read Slightly Dangerous, I thought Christine and Wulfric would work because she was his compliment.They were not really opposites because Wulfric was not always they cold haughty duke. You made it clear that he had the mantle of the dukedom thrust on him at an early age and that he took his duty to heart. With Christine he could put it aside and be Wulfric. I thought you also did a good job in the 6 previous books showing us that he could be a loving man to people he cared for and that he really was not as high and mighty as one thought at first glance (Once his siblings chose a mate, he had that person’s back. He welcomed Joseph’s blind, illegitimate daughter…etc ). With Christine, Wulfric felt safe to let his guard down as he did in private and with his siblings (the dive into the river).

  64. I love your books and can’t wait for this next one. My husband and I are opposites. He is the “social butterfly” as we like to affectionately call him and I’m very quiet. He is totally disorganized, while I am an organizer. It has worked well for us. We celebrate 33 years this August.

  65. Your books make me believe in the HEA for your “opposites-attract-characters” either because h/h are complementing one another so beautifully (Wulfric and Christine in Slightly Dangerous) or they have something important in common deep down (Mary Gregg and Lord Edmond in The Notorious Rake: both are intellectuals — at least as I read them). There are a lot of my favorite books of yours in this post, and I’m looking forward to The Arrangement.

  66. Now I have to go back and re-read SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS just for that scene of the quizzing glass into the tree!! No wonder I have all your books on my keeper shelf!! Thanks for the wonderful writing!!

  67. Here’s the thing that always amazes me about your writing: When I begin one of your books, I know for a fact that the two principals will end up together. Yet, with each mishap, misstep, or misspoken words on the part of either, I get all worked up thinking OMG, that did it; they’re done for. To make a reader feel that way over and over, takes great skill. Whether opposites attract and then can make it work for a lifetime in real life, I don’t know. I do know, though, that you are one fine writer, Mary Balogh.

  68. Your characters seem real. I adore The Ideal Wife — the wedding night scene was realistic, as was the fact that it took her having sex several times to achieve an orgasm — and that he didn’t realize she wasn’t having one because he’d never slept with a virgin before — not like so many novelists, whose virgins achieve stunning orgasms the first time out. I really appreciate that.

  69. I heard once that happily married people enjoy doing together, the things they could do alone. My husband and I read together, watch baseball games on TV together and just like to sit next to each other. We’ve been married over 40 years and it seems to be working. With our backgrounds and interests it’s surprising that we ever met, much less dated then married.

  70. In thinking of this, I tried to think of the couples that I do know – and which ones were successful. Two older couples I know – and look up to – are both very much alike. I don’t know if they’ve always been that way or if they’ve grown old that way. My husband and I have been married for 15 years and are very different. I’m an American, very patriotic (US) – my husband is English, very patriotic (GB). The first thing I thought when I met him was – wow, love that accent! He reminded me of a romance novel type of guy. He liked my smile. Through the past 15 years, I’ve realized that the things that matter the most – our morals, our family for instance – we are quite alike but on other things (from food to movies) we really don’t agree a lot. So, I think people might actually be opposites – but they attract because deep down they have a lot in common (if that makes any sense!).

  71. One of the things I love most about your stories is that your characters always mention that happily ever after doesn’t exist. Happy is not a constant state. As far as I am concerned, you hit it out of the park with Wulfric and Christine and with Anne and Sydnam.

    I used to say that my husband and I are opposites. And we are in some ways, but we are very much on the same page in others. I like what someone else said above: we are like puzzle pieces. People are so multi faceted and I think it is human nature to want to pigeon hole them. But really, we are just too complex.

    I can’t wait fo your next story!

  72. Most romance novel couples probably wouldn’t work in real life, but watching the sparks fly between opposites is so much fun!

  73. Yes in same cases they do and with great results, my husbands cousin was a total punker and ended up falling in love and marrying a straight lace librarian. My girl friend is messy and scatter brained and fell in love with a ridged, clean freak engineer and have been happily married for years.

  74. Reminds me of my mom and dad. My dad is the short-tempered, intimidating dad, and my mom’s the patient, always cheerful mother. It’s funny, because whenever we meet someone new, a lot of people are always intimidated by my dad, and it doesn’t help that he doesn’t smile a lot and tends to loom over people. I guess it didn’t help that he had such a hard childhood. My mom, however, is the kind of person who is warm and happy, always smiling, and you just want to hug her because she’s so warm and tiny. She’s only 4ft 9in, so she’s a bit on the short side (it’s really cute when mom and dad walk side by side). My mom also came from a really hard childhood, but the difference between my dad was that she never let such a difficult life get to her. Being born in Korea right after the Korean war made life really hard. They have been married well over 30 years, and they’re still going very strong. They do almost everything together, and whatever my dad is interested in, my mom wants to know (like American football. Both my parents like American football). When they go shopping, they hold hands, and they always have a Saturday date, which is them going shopping at a hardware store to look at some of the tools my dad likes. I remember how little my dad smiled when I was little. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that he started smiling more and more. I think mom makes he do that, so he looks less scary.

  75. It’s probably why marriage-of-convenience books are often my favorites. The characters often think they have nothing in common only to find out they are perfect for each other.

  76. I think you do a wonderful job of matching “opposites”. I was so delighted that Sydnam Butler found love, and in Anne, their “imperfections” made them perfect for each other. I don’t think Wulfric could ever have been happy with someone staid and unbending like he tried to be. He needed Christine … vibrant and full of life. And Lady Muir! I was so afraid Gwen’s story would be left untold, doomed to always be on the fringes of the main story, watching those she loved most live full, happy lives, when she obviously had love to give.

  77. “…in the course of each book to have my characters work out their own issues and their incompatibilities…”

    I commented before how much I enjoyed and admired the depth and complexities of your characters, and I think your comment above is a big part of that. You have your characters do the inner work necessary to then be part of a successful couple.

    There’s a saying, “you can’t give away what you don’t have”, and if a person doesn’t have self-love, self-forgiveness and self-respect, then they don’t have those things to give to their mate either. You do such a wonderful job of showing your characters’ growth and evolution throughout the story.

    You’ve commented on some of our very favorite couples; I wish you’d comment on James and Madeline from The Devil’s Web.

  78. well sometimes opposites do attract . and in simply dangerous, one of my favorite books (ive read it at least 4 times) such seems the case. But thinking about it… is that really true. sometimes only the obvious is true. and in the not so obvious they are not so different at all.

  79. I have read Slightly Dangerous at least six times and look forward to reading it again, love love Wulfric and Christine.

  80. I have just finished Slightly Dangerous for the third time and couldn’t imagine Wulfric with anyone else other than Christine. By the end of the book you could see how something so wrong was really so right!

  81. Yes, I think opposites can work together. I love the way they work through their differences in your books, especially those mentioned in this post. I just finished The Notorious Rake, and knew Edmond and Mary were meant for each other. I also thoroughly enjoyed Wulfric’s and Christine’s story, and cried through Simply Love (an all time favorite). The important part of marriage is working through the differences, and you show that so well in your books. It also lends for staying power, very important in any marriage. As someone else mentioned, over time the opposites can become similar. My “opposite” and I met on a blind date, were married 3 months later, and will celebrate 48 years in August. Thanks always for your wonderful books that are full of lessons and encouragement!

  82. Wulfric is my favorite character of yours. Also, my favorite type of romance is when opposites attract. It is so much fun when throughout the book, the characters are at each other’s throats and little by little they learn to love one another. So wonderful!

  83. Your opposites definitely attract, not only each other, but also your readers, including myself, who absolutely love the sparks and tension.

  84. I think opposites definitely do attract. For myself, if you met me and then met my husband you would be left wondering about us. But it works, we balance each other out. Where he is reckless I am planning ahead, when he’s frustrated I am calm, and so on. There are things that we do not meet eye to eye on still even 12 years later. Someone too like me would be boring! lol

  85. I don’t know exactly what it is about your stories but they pull me in as if I were right there beside, and sometimes inside, the hero & heroine. I think much of it comes from the real life dilemmas they face and overcome. I can understand what they are feeling and often would do the same things if it were me. I love the soft, comfortable way I feel when reading, or listening to, your stories. My family frequently get irritated with me because I haven’t heard what they said because I am so totally engrossed in the story. I think most couples have opposite views or opinions on many things. The key is to remember you love each other and want to stay together, compromise isn’t losing, it’s winning together! Keep on writing and I will keep on reading! Thanks!!!

  86. My favorite of your ‘opposites attract’ are Elliott Wallace and Vanessa Huxtable Dew in ‘First Comes Marriage’, a book I’ve reread several times. It is moving to read how this opposites couple absorb the best of each others strengths. Elliott, who is emotionally shut down, is warmed and flourishes in response to Vanessa’s warmth, optimism, and spontaneity. Vanessa comes to value Elliott’s steadfastness, logic, and honorable intentions.

  87. First of all, thanks for reminding us about the quizzing glass scene in Slightly Dangerous. Makes me want to go back and reread it once again… That’s one of the best opposites attraction romance…
    In real life let’s say that I am of a more conservative way of thinking and I find that opposites, although might attract each other, are rarely a life-long match. But hey, why do we read romances, if not for the possibility of finding true love in the most outstanding, against all odds circumstances…

  88. Sure opposites attract…in real life and in fiction. But they definitely make for good fiction.

    Can you just imagine Wulfric with someone as cold and proper as he was? More than likely he would have just found another long term mistress that he did not have to become emotionally attached to and left it to his brothers to supply an heir.

    How fortunate he was to meet Christine Derrick in your vivid and rich imagiation!

      • p.p.s. My cat just jumped on my keyboard before I could finished thanking you the the signed copy of SIMPLY LOVE that I won in the drawing a couple of weeks ago.

        I shall treasure it!

  89. As a “chicken mouse” I am so glad to be married to Mr. Street-smart, risk taking, assertive, funny guy. Though our personalities are different, our core values are the same. That is what keeps us happily married through it all. (Though my husband jokes about the expiration date on the marriage certificate!)

  90. Ah, yes — Christine and Wulfric — a wonderful story. And I’ve enjoyed so much seeing them appear in subsequent stories.

  91. I love the opposites in all of your books. I love seeing them work out their differences so that they compliment each other.

  92. I think instead of happy endings you leave us with a happy beginning that the couple can take beyond the pages. They’ll have to work at it like they’ve had to work to reach the happiness at the end of the book. You continue to make we readers happy when we get those updates about our beloved characters when we see them in future books.

  93. I believe there is a common need that brings people together. They may be opposites in almost everything else, but each satisfy a deep need of the other.

  94. The Proposal was a lovely story. I enjoyed it so much. Thanks for the time you invest in the adventures we adore reading. It’s amazing–I thought I would be alone in surfing for the latest “good read” while the fireworks fly tonight. Happy 4th everyone. All best, CDW

  95. Wulfric and Christine are definitely your most opposite lovers. As Wulfric developed through his siblings books, we caught glimpses of his character, but only slight hints as to his love for his family. In Christine he found the love of his life, but had to work for this goal. His ability to discover the conniving way Christine’s villain caused her harm, was masterful. Many heroes would have called for a “duel at dawn”. Wulfric used what he did best, words and intimidation, as only a Duke can do. He was at his most “Duke-ness” when saving and defending his one true love. Best of all, each time I re-read their story, I discover more hidden gems in their characters. As Wulfric and Christine have been in books after their story, your readers are still captured by how they have come to understand each other. Each glimpse you give us of their lives enriches the book they are a part of. This is the total expression of your wonderful writing. The way you have captured your characters to the point that all of your readers see them as “people” with faults, desires, and longings.
    **Opposites can attract but no matter what kind of relationship two people have, it takes work to make it last. All of your character relationships are glowing examples of this. But Wulfric & Christine are your best at your best.

  96. I think opposites attract because we are attracted to that thing or things in another person that we wish we had in ourselves. How that works in real life is still a mystery as evidenced by the fact that there are both a number of like-minded individuals who stay together as well as a number of opposites who stay together — and vice versa. That’s why fiction we love our fiction authors who can wrap up each story and tie it together with a big bow at the end for a happily ever after. 🙂

  97. I find opposites attract but they must have many things in common as well. they may differ in looks, family backgrounds, be creative vs.pragmatic but their basic views on life and moral principles must be the same. otherwise. they will not last long together. they must agree on rearing children, type of lifestyle they’re comfortable with, etc. but one might be a slob and the other a neatnik. they must respect each other enough to compromise on these issues.i married my opposite about 46 years ago. it’s been rough sledding but we’re still together and are enjoying our retirement together. hang in there and your marriage will succeed if both of you will work at it and agree to disagree at times.

  98. Opposites certainly attract and as some have said, they do because they see in the other, some aspect that complements their personality. I just finished reading The Temporary Bride / A promise of Spring and I am totally in love with Perry Lampman. He is such a different hero, Mary and I love how you didn’t give them an automatic HEA but them having to work for it. I had to go back to Web of Love to reread bits in which Grace and Perry appeared. In the end, even if we have opposite personalities, but our core values are the same, then all there is a common ground for a meeting of hearts and minds, isn’t there?

    Please let it be me to win the book this week. I think I am down to two or three of your books I havn’t read yet and there are 60 people in front of me on the wait list for your new book this August at my local library. I might just have to reread all the rest while I am waiting.

  99. My older son and his wife are very much alike and have a wonderful marriage, based not only on love but also on respect and communication. My younger son and his wife, thank heavens, are about as unlike as they could possibly be. She is a people person and keeps him from being a reclusive nerdy science professor. Again a marriage based on love but also awareness of needs in the other person and even more communication.

  100. i really enjoy your books.i espically enjoy that the books in the series can be read individually .i just finished the counterfiet bethoral and i am starting the notoius rake,i purchased the 2 volume book.ibelieve i have read all your books but my favoritewas the accidental mistress,for some reason they struck me as a couple who were oppisites but still found a way to make things work. keep them coming,looking forward to more.

  101. My husband and I are complete opposites in almost every sphere. He is a Native American, born on a reservation in Oklahoma. I was born in Florida, but raised in New England. He was a Marine Corps sniper for 17 years. I’ve been an administrative assistant for 20 years. He thinks that a comfortable temperature at night (in the bedroom) is 83 degrees. I think it’s more like 72 degrees. Brien loves role-playing games and computer games, and any game of chance. I won’t play games, not even Monopoly, because I don’t lose gracefully. We both, however, are bookworms. We share a love of learning, and a slavish devotion to our cat. We met on the internet and have been together for 17 blissful years. I’d say that’s a great example of opposites attracting!

  102. I am so happy to have come back into your website after so long. As to opposite attracts – my husband and I ceratinly did. There have been times during our empty nesting the past few years that I have almost dispaired of our differences and thought “how are we going to make it now?” But the bottom line is; just like your characters, marriage must be worked at almost daily even after 33 years of marriage! Just when I think I can’t take the little opposite things that seem to separate us – something happens to make me realize that he is still the standard by which I measure all men and I’ve never met the man to measure up yet. I think I’ll keep working at this and keep him and keep trying. Thanks Mary for keeping it real with your characters!

  103. Simply Love is possibly my most favorite of your books. Two badly wounded people, muddling along and trying to do their best, manage to be better together than either is alone. (And I love, love, LOVE Wulfric’s reaction when David announces Anne’s pregnancy to all and sundry upon first meeting the Bedwyns.) And Slightly Dangerous is, by a tiny edge, my favorite of the Slightly books. Does that mean I like opposites attracting? Could not say; but I like well done characters!

  104. I do believe that opposites can attract. I just finished reading The Notorious Rake and absolutely loved it! Mary and Lord Edmond were perfect for each other.

  105. I personally like both kind of pairings, but I’ve got to admit to have a weakness for reading slow-building, sweet relationships and that actually comes more often from romances with “similar” protagonists. This might be because these books are actually rarer to find.
    I guess that the large public likes reading the dramatic, showy romances born between two contrasting even if eventually complementing souls…but sometimes this ‘love war’ doesn’t quite work for me and I find myself not seeing any love but just lust.
    It wasn’t the case of Slightly Dangerous or the Proposal, since I loved both of them…but it prevented me from truly enjoying A Summer To Remember for quite a while into the book…I ended up liking it anyway, because Mary Balogh’s book are impossible to dislike, but it still isn’t one of my favourite.

  106. In real life, opposites do attract. My parents are opposites and still together after fifty seven years. Is there a real “happily ever after?” I cannot say. Marriage is hard work with a lot of sacrificing involved for both individuals. A marriage can work and be a happy one, if those involved make it a priority.

  107. Certainly the tension that is inherent in the “opposites” makes for interesting reading and have resulted in some of my favorite of your novels!

  108. I believe it is the ability to make sparks, that causes the attraction. Some times just rubbing someone, the right way or the wrong way, will cause them to warm. After that, yes all of it is work, but what a fulfilling way to spend your time.

  109. Whether it’s a marriage of likes or opposites – a good marriage takes work to make it last. That’s one reason I love your books. You show your characters working on their relationships, which makes me believe that they are going have a long and happy future together (and not just because they are in a romance novel).

  110. “Real” people are complex. Very few are “all bad” or “all good.” Most of us are wounded in some fashion. I so very much enjoy your characters–because they are so very much like real people. I will probably read “Slightly Dangerous” annually for the rest of my life :). Wulfric is a bit like Darth Vader when you first meet him…frightening…and over the many stories you realize there is an endearing Anakin Skywalker lurking beneath his societal “mask.” Although they appear to be mismatched, Wulfric & Christine learn to balance each other. You could not have written the story any better. It’s perfect.
    I think perhaps my favorite story is “The Best Christmas Ever” followed closely by “The Best Gift.” Life is all about Love…and family…and forgiveness. Keep on writing–you’re a WONDERFUL author.

  111. I love Mary Balogh’s Regency romances and have been reading them for many years. She is the only writer of historical fiction who never bores me. I wish I could afford to buy copies of all her novels I’ve missed, such as “Lady with the Black Umbrella.” (I don’t know how to underline a book title on the keyboard of the public computer I’m using.) The old Mary Balogh paperbacks are no longer available at the Chicago Public Library.

  112. I just finished re-reading Slightly Sinful. What a delightful and lovely story. Alleyne and Rachel and her “charming” friends bring joy to the heart. We should all be so delighted with life and care so much for the lives of others.

  113. I can’t speak from experience of romantic relationships, but in other relationships (work, friends, etc) I have found that opposites attract.
    My best friend for a few years in elementary school was quite opposite from me. She was a tom-boy, sci-fi lover and I was a girly-girly. We had the best times together.

  114. I love the fact that opposites attract. Sometimes I think the sheer quirkiness of the relationship is what makes it work. Other times I’m not sure that it does work.

  115. I am so looking forward to the new book. I love your writings. For me you are right there with Catherine Cookson. I admire you both so very much.

  116. Loved Wulf and Christine! Can’t say it’s my favorite though… from you, Mary, I have multiple favorite books. Looking foward to the new book. Maybe that one will be my new favorite book.;)

  117. MB stated “Would Wulfric and Christine have been happy together in real life–or Mary Gregg and Lord Edmond Waite in The Notorious Rake, or Kit Butler and Lauren Edgeworth in A Summer to Remember, or Gwen, Lady Muir, and Hugo, Lord Trentham, in The Proposal? Maybe not, but I am careful in the course of each book to have my characters work out their own issues and their incompatibilities to the point at which it seems at least possible, or even probable, that the love they share at the end of their books will last a lifetime if they work at it every day of their lives.”
    I need to agree because of my parents. They’ve met at work early sixties and they had hated each other from the very first moment and continued a cat and dog fight for 2! years. Untill one evening at big but boring Party -where my parents remained the only singels among the guest- my mother asked my father to bring her home, because at that time she could not pay a taxi and my father was the only one with a car. Of course she first had to endure some of my fathers stupid comments (no he was not a rake, just a macho trying to hide his shyness towards her), but he had drove her, but not to her parents home… after that they married a year later and their friend had placed bets on how Long their marraige would last, the highest bidder was 3 years.
    In march 2014 we are celebrating their golden wedding and I have to say, they had have a arguements in those 50 years but they had never fought or had any marriage crises, they setteld all that it seems in the 2 years before. (Those bidder are all divorced by the way)
    I have to add that my parents are still an example for the opposits attracts, but actually it is more “they are brilliant and happy team”. so your characters to me always having a REAL happy ending to me.
    And I thank you for your stories. (Please excuse my english, but I am not a native speaker.) Cheers Katia

  118. The reason you are one of the three authors whose books I purchase (and can’t let go of) is that your books have just the right touch of humor and humanity to bring these people alive for me. I am not sure what kind of female character I was expecting you to match with such a intense man as Wulfric. He always seemed lonely even though he was the head of this big family. But, after waiting so long for his story,it felt like it didn’t fit this larger than life character. His siblings stories were so much more exciting. However, in the end, you won me over and I had to admit Christine fit him perfectly. I was surprised to read that you struggled with Fredja’s story. She and Joshua are probably my favorite couple of the whole bunch. They play off each other so well. However, Sydham’s story felt like the true close of the Slightly series. Thank you for his story! Please keep doing what you are doing. I always know I will love a book by May Balogh.

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