They are a hot button for many romance readers. Rachel recently posted a thought-provoking entry here on foster children in romances.

Over the years, I’ve seen numerous threads on AAR’s forums focusing on children in romances, with most posters solidly opposed to them. In many cases, I’ve agreed. I’m not a fan of babies in romances (although I did thoroughly enjoy the baby racing scene in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Lady Be Good). I find nothing romantic about dirty diapers, or sleepless nights due to crying babies. And I completely avoid romances in which the hero and heroine meet when the heroine is already pregnant.

While some of my friends won’t even pick up a romance novel if they discover it includes children, I’m not uniformly opposed to kids in romances. In fact, when well written, I can really enjoy them.

I’ve recently been listening to a couple Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books on CD (Natural Born Charmer and Match Me if You Can), and really enjoyed the children in those stories. These CDs have me thinking about my favorite children in romances. My top ten are:

  1. Seth, Sea Swept, Rising Tides, and Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts
  2. Teddy, Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  3. Riley, Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillip
  4. Freddie (Frederica) Kimball, Taming Natasha by Nora Roberts
  5. Hannah, This Heart of Mine and Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  6. Peregrine and Olivia, Lord Perfect, by Loretta Chase
  7. Lexie, Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson
  8. Pip, Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  9. Lucy, First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  10. Simon, Key of Light, Key of Knowledge, and Key of Valor by Nora Roberts

What do these children have in common? First, and most importantly, they don’t take away from the love story of the hero and heroine. In fact, they tend to enhance the stories, often helping to bring the hero and heroine together. None of these children is perfect. They have interesting personalities and many of them grow over the course of the novel.

In all but one of these cases, the children appear in a contemporary romance since I don’t tend to read many historicals. And yes, eight of my ten favorite children appear in the books of Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For me, those authors consistently write memorable and realistic kids.

Two of my favorites – Seth and Freddie – eventually have their own HEAs and rumor has it that SEP’s Teddy and Lucy may eventually get an HEA of their own – potentially with each other. Even more exciting, Loretta Chase has indicated that Peregrine and Olivia of Lord Perfect may get their own story. As an avowed fan of romances (and mysteries) set in Egypt, I’m hoping their story will occur in that fascinating country.

Do you have any favorite children in romance novels? On the other hand, do you avoid romance novels with kids? If you avoid romances with children, what is it that you dislike about children in romances?

-LinnieGayl Kimmel