Do you believe in the power of love to reconcile what is opposite or different? I do. Not without reservations: Some positions are opposed too far to be overcome easily, for example a union between an unrepentant racist and a person who despises racism. And in some instances, where there’s no real compromise possible, love may not be enough to bridge the gap, like whether one wants to have children or not, a pet or not. But in many cases love may bring together people that hold opinions and beliefs that differ, and may make a relationship possible that both partners would have declined for rational reasons before they actually fell in love.

My own marriage is an example of the opposites-attract kind. My husband and I are respectively conservative and green, Catholic and Lutheran, of working-class and academia background. And our marriage works well. We still vote differently (sometimes arguing about details, but always respecting the other’s right to a different opinion), we take turns attending both our churches together, and when we visit with our families, one of us may sometimes roll his or her eyes at the other family’s idiosyncrasies, but always prepared for tolerance.

Because I believe in love’s power to bridge differences, I have a special fondness for romance stories that focus on such situations. Opposites Attract, Across the Tracks and Inter-Ethnic Romances are among my favorites, and many’s the time I have looked up AAR’s Special Title Listings of these tropes. Not surprisingly, during our last updating, I chose to work on Across the Tracks and Inter-Ethnic Romances, and I was delighted to see so many new titles entered by you, our readers. Here are some stories I enjoyed particularly:

The Sergeant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser. It is remarkable in that it portrays a true disparity of social class between hero and heroine, with the hero being the son of an innkeeper and having risen to the rank of sergeant, which was the highest rank a common soldier could realistically attain in the early 19th century, while the heroine is sister to a viscount and an heiress. Their happy ending is extremely difficult to achieve, and only at some cost, especially to her.

A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long. Another historical, and in this case the pairing is between a country vicar and thus part of the gentry, and a former courtesan of lower-class background who is the widow of an earl. The class disparity actually works in both directions here, and it seems almost impossibly to bridge at times.

Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn. This novel actually contains two romances, and in each disparities on class and race are reflected upon. One of the human heroines purposefully searches out angels, the leaders of their society, for reasons of social advancement, while the other, who lives in a society extremely restrictive to women, meets an angel quite by accident and must decide, under threat to her very life, which social group she wants to be a member of.

Among the books nominated for the two lists were many I have not read yet, and quite a few I have bought since reading more about them. New on my ebookreader are Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Donnell, In for a Penny by Rose Lerner, About Last Night by Ruthie Knox, and All They Need by Sarah Mayberry. I hope to be entertained and moved by them, and reaffirmed in my belief in the reconciliating power of love.

What is it you like especially about romances that bridge differences? Or do you consider such stories unrealistic? What are your own favorite Across the Tracks or Inter-Ethnic romances?

– Rike Horstmann