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Divorced Heroes…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Posted in: Uncategorized


I know that divorce is a fact of real life, but I have to say, I generally don’t like reading romance books, where the hero was previously married.

I’m not altogether sure why, but it seems hard to believe in the HEA, when the hero already tried for his HEA, and failed. I know that Happy Ever Afters can be found after several marriages in real life, but I really do prefer my heroes to be untainted by divorce.

Now, having said that, if the hero married his first wife because she got pregnant, then I don’t mind so much, but I’m not sure how popular those types of storylines are these days. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a book where the hero got his first wife pregnant, and so did the honourable thing by marrying her.

What say you?


  • SarahT
    February 24
    9:35 am

    I’m not wild about divorced heroes, either, but I dislike widowed ones even more.


  • I actually don’t have a problem with divorced heros (or heroines). Sometimes we make decisions in life that aren’t the best ones…and I’m okay with getting out of that situation, and looking for a better one. For myself, (no I’ve never been married, but I’ve been the closest thing to it) I certainly hope that one day I’m able to believe in my HEA when I get it.

    I guess I enjoy real life situations in romance, in some cases, and if they’re done right.

    Although I will say that in divorced hero/heroine cases, I enjoy the rekindled love story the most.


  • I don’t mind divorce in a romance, but I guess that’s because I can understand it having been there myself. I was unlucky in love until my third (and as I say FINAL) marriage. It just took me several tries to get it right, and so I can believe and relate to it when it happens in a romance novel.


  • I don’t mind divorced or widowed heroes or heroines at all. I know of too many very successful second marriages to hold that particular prejudice. My brother is getting married in May for the second time and frankly, he’s a hero in many ways to me. His first marriage was the stuff of romance…high school sweethearts who dated forever. But people change and ended up they wanted different things from life and managed to part on fairly decent terms. From what I understand, she’s found happiness again, too. (And I hope she has.) Now, my brother has met a wonderful woman who has never been married and who shares many of his interests and has similar goals in life. I’ve dedicated my June book to them because they encompass romance to me…they were “fixed up” and met on a golf course for their first date!


  • I don’t mind divorced heroes. I just reread Open Season and now I’m reading To Die For both by Linda Howard and both heroes are divorced and it doesn’t bother me at all. The thing is – especially in contemporaries, unless the h/h are very young, there is a good chance there is a broken marriage in there somewhere.


  • Las
    February 24
    1:36 pm

    I prefer for heroes and heroines to never have been married, but it’s not a deal breaker. The only time I really dislike it is when the ex is some level of psycho, because I loathe even the tiniest hint of women fighting over men.

    Children from a previous relationship, on the other hand, are a no-no. Completely kills the romance for me.


  • My in laws divorced after 35 years of marriage. People always ask, when you’ve been married that long, why bother? And my mother in law has a very simple answer: “I didn’t want to die that unhappy.”

    I know it sounds strange that a romance writer is a proponent for divorce–not saying that I am, exactly–but the prospect of people living miserable lives is what really bothers me. So when I read about people who are brave enough to try to start over instead of wallowing in a relationship that is slowly killing their hearts and souls, to say nothing of their partner’s, I’m cheering for them, actually. The bravery it requires to try again, knowing exactly how much there is to lose…how do you not cheer for that person?


  • It probably depends on why they divorced and what they’ve done with their time afterward.


  • I’m in the ‘it depends’ court. The reason for the first marriage, the reason for the divorce. Is it only the heroes who were formerly married that bothers you, or does it apply to heroines as well. Because for me when the heroine has made a mistake it bothers me more than the hero. Although I love redemption stories quite a lot.

    Yeah, it just depends…


  • I have no problem with either the hero or heroine being divorced. Like others have said, I know too many people who didn’t get it right until #2 or even #3, so I don’t mind that dose of realism in my romance novels. Take my mom, for instance–I’ve NEVER seen that woman as happy as she’s been since she married her third husband five years ago. She’s his second wife. Those two will be together for the rest of their lives and be happy for it; I’d put money on it. And she deserves it.


  • The post below this one has some stray code that is messing up IE 🙁


  • Doesn’t bother me…if the storyline interests me, that’s all I need.

    I’m curious though-what’s your take on divorced heroines? 😀


  • *raising hand* I’m divorced.

    Married young, begot two kidlets (who are adultlets now *gulp*) and became increasingly miserable as we grew into different people than who we thought we were marrying.

    Got divorced and had a few rather rough years.

    Now we are back to wishing each other happiness; the kidlets have good relationships with both of us. The ex remarried and is happy. I’m in a long term relationship that’s heading towards marriage and I’m happy.

    So yeah, it would be rather hypocritical for me to resent divorced heroes or heroines, no?

    And yet… it’s all about how it’s written. Why did they marry, then divorce? The stereotypical “the ex was psycho” can work, when it’s well written, but I find it more interesting as a rule when there are layers to the exes and not just to the hero/heroine.

    And it’s perfectly fine with me if the reason for the divorce is “I didn’t want to die that unhappy” (thank you, Dee *hug*)–if it’s well written.


  • Married young, begot two kidlets (who are adultlets now *gulp*) and became increasingly miserable as we grew into different people than who we thought we were marrying.

    Yup yup. I married fairly young, and my husband was 17 years older than me. It took about seven years to realize I was growing into a person who couldn’t make him happy, but I kept trying, mostly for the sake of our kids. It took another seven before I gave up. It was making me miserable trying to be what he needed, and he was a million miles away from being the person I needed. I asked for a separation in September, and it was like a crushing weight on me was suddenly gone.

    At this point, I don’t know if I’ll find someone else I can love–and it doesn’t matter. Having someone isn’t worth putting your own happiness and love for yourself in the crapper.

    A divorced hero/heroine is cool by me, as long as they’re honorable in their dealings with their ex. The psycho ex thing doesn’t do it for me, though. Been there, done that, with two of my ex’s exes, and I never want to experience that again, even vicariously.


  • West
    February 24
    8:23 pm

    I don’t mind divorced heroes. I always think I shows that at least he’s willing to try (as opposed to the anti-commitment, dragging-him-kicking-and-screaming-into-love heroes), and I think it can make for great conflict.

    And I really, really hate the married-cause-someone-was-knocked-up plotline. I hate it with a fiery passion that leaves scorch marks. Because getting married to someone you don’t love and will eventually resent and not be able to get along with is *not* the “honorable thing” to do. Agreeing to co-parent, get along with, and act like adults, sparing the child from growing up-albeit however temporarily- with parents who hate each other, that is the honorable thing to do.


  • Sam
    February 24
    10:46 pm

    I don’t really mind either divorced heroes or widowed heroes. But, if he is widowed he has to have actually loved her. I don’t like the ‘I thank God she died’ bit (generally because she was nuts or a slut…or a slutty nut). I guess they usually go with the he’s tortured/ashamed to feel that way, when really, I don’t blame him (or her if the crappy marriage happened to the heroine). Call me cold, but who wouldn’t be glad to get rid of someone like that?

    Julia Quinn had a hero who had hated his previous bride (The Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever) but he actually said something about not missing her during her funeral. Julie Garwood had a heroine chant ‘thank you God’ when she found out her abusive hubby was dead (can’t remember that title, hero was Gabriel).

    So, kill them off, but don’t torture the hero/heroine with false regrets. Of course, those examples are historicals, when divorce was not really allowed.



  • Sam, that was Garwood’s Saving Grace, one of my absolute faves by her 😀

    West, while I agree with you here:

    Agreeing to co-parent, get along with, and act like adults, sparing the child from growing up-albeit however temporarily- with parents who hate each other, that is the honorable thing to do.

    it’s also true that people don’t always have that level of maturity by the time the accidental baby is in the oven. So to speak.

    And so perhaps at that point in time, they don’t have the clarity to foresee the consequences of marrying someone you don’t love, quite likely don’t know, and perhaps don’t even like.

    IMnotHO, YMMV, of course.


  • Divorced or widowed heroes don’t bother me. I guess if I had my druthers everyone in romance books would live happily ever after and widowers would just wait to be rejoined with their true loves after death. But maybe that’s just a personal idiosyncrasy.


  • I love widowed heroes. The hero in my latest book is a widower with a teenaged daughter.


  • I don’t mind divorced heroes or heroines. It’s real. But I do get annoyed as someone mentioned before when the ex wife keeps trying to make trouble for the new woman. I would like to think the ex wife isn’t bitter and has found happiness in her own life. I don’t think it’s necessary to villanize the ex just to make the hero look good.


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