I have been surprised by a theme that developed within the Christmas novel(la) I am currently finishing. When I thought of the story, I thought it was about finding that perfect acceptance of true love and the gifts that such an exchange brings to two people. I thought it was about a son who had always felt second-best and a ward who had always felt unwanted finding in one another the place where they belong. The trappings that started them on that path were superficial circumstances. However, I have found that those circumstances have become one of the repeated themes for the hero’s journey to a proposal, and those circumstances are directly influenced by an academic book I read on the subject of primogeniture.
I’ve mentioned the book before–Primogeniture and Entail Law in England–but I didn’t grasp even though how differently that book made me view the relationship a hero might have with his father, if he is the heir to an entailed property or title. Often in romance the hero’s father is dead (it’s so much more exciting for him to hold the title than be the heir!) but my hero is the heir to a man with many years left to him…many, many years in which to run the estate further into the ground than he already has. The father has no control over the son, because he can’t disinherit him, so no threats he could actually carry out will have enough weight to matter. And the hero can do nothing to escape his inheritance or to stop his father from destroying his future other than what he can convince his father to do willingly.
Realizing how that entail dynamic has become so integral to the story makes me think I should read more books like this. They make me think about aspects of the culture and laws that I might never have considered, even having seen those dynamics in fiction.