Realistic Pregnancy in Romance?

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NadiaBlair

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Hi all,

I'm outlining a story in which the couple deal with an accidental pregnancy, which then ends tragically in miscarriage. Does anyone have suggestions for similar books where an accidental pregnancy in a romance did NOT result in the cliche/ trope of "we're now one big happy family/ this was the best thing that ever happened to us"? I think I'm just annoyed by how pregnancy is ALWAYS treated as the BEST THING EVER in the romance genre, and miscarriage hardly ever happens, and God forbid the "A word" is even mentioned. I get that it's supposed to be fantasy, but after a while, it gets really trite. Okay, sorry for the rant, but feedback and suggestions are welcome.
 

Roxxsmom

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I can think of a couple of novels by Courtney Milan. One involved a woman (a widow) who had terrible pregnancies that ended in miscarriage in her past marriage, along with an abusive (now dead) former husband who raped her in spite of her terror of getting pregnant again and possibly dying. I think there was another one where miscarriage figured in too, though neither of these miscarriages involved the a pregnancy started by the male protagonist/love interest. She's one of the few writers of straight historical romances I've run across where the notion that not every woman wants to, or can, become a mother is addressed at all.

This may not be the same thing as you are asking. I'm pretty sure there have been one or two romances whose names escape me now I've run across over the years where the protagonist suffers a miscarriage, but it's generally done for plot-related reasons (because an unintended pregnancy drove the plot up to a point, but having it carried to term wouldn't take it any further). You're right that it's not super common, though, though someone who has read romance subgenres more widely than I have might have a different take on things. Historical romances have a constraint that more contemporary ones don't in that access to really reliable contraception wasn't a thing.

A lot of the time, the couple blithely proceeds to have sex and are amazed when a pregnancy ensues, especially when the female protag is presented as feisty and independent and more educated and worldly than is typical for an unmarried woman of her era. And the guy, especially, seems clueless about possible consequences of sex in spite of (generally) being rather experienced with women already.

This is one of my pet peeves, so I appreciate historical romances where there is at least an effort to prevent pregnancy, such as the man pulling out, or the couple using a primitive condom or pessary or something, or (as in one or two I've read) the couple engages in non-coitus sex activities.
 
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LJD

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Well, I suspect some readers would find a miscarriage within the book (as opposed to in the character's past) pretty sad and perhaps something that takes away from the HEA. And some readers will find it pretty triggering, so definitely include a content warning if you're going to do that. I honestly cannot think of any books where a miscarriage happens to the MCs within the story. I've read a few with miscarriages in the past, such as the Courtney Milan one mentioned above (The Countess Conspiracy) but can't think of others off the top of my head.

Having said that, miscarriage scares happen in almost every accidental pregnancy book I read. (Heroine has miscarriage scare, forced to go on bed rest, hero looks after her.)

Personally, I haven't written any romances with miscarriage, but I've published multiple books where the heroine has had an abortion in the past, one of these being an accidental pregnancy story. She briefly considers abortion this time as well, then decides otherwise, but she doesn't regret her previous abortion.

Edit: Should probably mention that for *reasons* I tend not to read books with "pregnancy" in the blurb, so even though I read a lot of romance, I probably don't have the widest experience with this particular topic.
 
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Roxxsmom

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Well, I've known a couple of cases (where a pregnancy was unplanned and unwanted) where a miscarriage was a source of unbridled relief. Given how catastrophic an unplanned pregnancy could be for a single woman back in the olden days, I imagine it's not unrealistic. But some modern readers might be put off by it, so maybe it depends on target audience. Even if the miscarriage is presented as a very sad thing, though, it wouldn't necessarily detract from a HEA if the miscarriage happens earlier in the book, though, and is couched more as an obstacle or trauma that had to be overcome en route to a happier outcome for the couple. Like so much in writing, it may depend a great deal on how you approach it.
 

Sonya Heaney

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I guess it goes without saying that this post has spoilers!

Virgin River by Robyn Carr (in fact the entire series) deals with these issues.

Her Best Friend's Brother by Kay Stockham deals with a miscarriage.

Two Against the Odds by Joan Kilby has a heroine who previously had an abortion, and who gets pregnant to the hero - and they both think it's a disaster.

I'm sure there are heaps of others, but they're the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
 

LJD

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I asked on Twitter because it was bugging me that I couldn't think of any. I specifically asked for miscarriages that happen during the story, not in the past. These are some suggestions.

NOTE: some of these, from my understanding, happen later in the stories, so SPOILERS

Contemporary
This Heart of Mine (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
Brutal Game (Cara McKenna)
The Friend Zone (Kristen Callihan)
Playing House (Amy Andrews)

Historical
Suddenly You (Lisa Kleypas)
A Wicked Kind of Husband (Mia Vancy)

Also this a post about miscarriage in romance: http://www.tbqsbookpalace.com/2018/02/lets-talk-miscarriages-in-romance.html
 

LJD

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Well, I've known a couple of cases (where a pregnancy was unplanned and unwanted) where a miscarriage was a source of unbridled relief. Given how catastrophic an unplanned pregnancy could be for a single woman back in the olden days, I imagine it's not unrealistic. But some modern readers might be put off by it, so maybe it depends on target audience. Even if the miscarriage is presented as a very sad thing, though, it wouldn't necessarily detract from a HEA if the miscarriage happens earlier in the book, though, and is couched more as an obstacle or trauma that had to be overcome en route to a happier outcome for the couple. Like so much in writing, it may depend a great deal on how you approach it.

Oh, yes, I can imagine it that.

I think part of the problem is that for my so-called brand as an author, it would not be easy for me put a miscarriage in book without it breaking what people expect from me, and that's part of why I had trouble wrapping my mind around it (the other reason being that I generally avoid pregnancy books). As a reader, it would work better for me if it were earlier in the story, as I prefer not to have pregnancy-related things thrown at me without warning, but tbh, I'd probably read something else. Not because it would take away from the HEA, but because as a childless woman in my mid-thirties, most books that deal with pregnancy or babies end up pissing me off in one way or another, so I don't bother. I totally believe it could work...but also that I am neither the writer nor the reader for it, so I probably shouldn't have replied. But there *are*readers for pretty much everything.
 
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Marian Perera

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I tend to avoid pregnancy romances, partly because I can't relate and partly because I find them predictable (no medical issues, babies are perfect, etc). The same goes for romances where a miscarriage occurs during the story, since the author nearly always provides the couple with a replacement pregnancy at the end.

But I did read one romance where the accidental pregnancy ended with a miscarriage, and that's Bronwyn Scott's One Night with the Major. I can't say I'd want to read it again, though.
 

Sonya Heaney

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^^^^ (The quote thingy isn't working for me, but that!) ^^^^

The same could be said about the magical cures for infertility that pop up in so many romances. I should have added that - spoilers again - while the first Virgin River book has one person losing a baby, another character is miraculously cured of her infertility. I do know a few readers were upset about that.

Virgin River has been made into a Netflix series, and it's quite different. Only season one has been released so far, but I'd recommend it.
 

Marian Perera

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The same could be said about the magical cures for infertility that pop up in so many romances.

Those annoy me not only because they're predictable but because the heroines always react the same way. Ashamed or unhappy about her barrenness, never considering the possibility that her evil first husband was the infertile one, pushing the hero away because she can't give him children, etc. In one book, the heroine even considered herself "an abject failure when it came to womanhood". Blessed be the fruit, may the Lord open!

So unless I know in advance that the author will subvert the usual exhausted tropes, I don't read romances where the heroine believes herself to be infertile.
 

NadiaBlair

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Thank you everyone, for the thoughtful replies and the recommendations! I'll check out those books you mentioned ... except for Virgin River ... I got 20 minutes into an episode on Netflix and decided anyone who didn't know to wear appropriate shoes when walking/ hiking in the woods was TSTL ... but that's probably just my Colorado semi-native snobbishness showing.
 

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