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Heroes and Heroines in Romance Novels with Unusual Occupations

I’ve been developing our “unusual occupations” tag, and I need your help!

I stated by visiting our old Special Title listings for Unusual Professions. Let me tell you, some of those jobs are a LOT more popular than we evidently thought. We have characters on that list who are, for example, archaeologists, paleontologists, and botanists. Well, it turns out that these professions are actually so common in romance that they can fill out their own tags! “Prostitute,” “male escort,” and “gigolo” are currently captured by our sex worker tag. Even tattoo artists and coffee shop owners are romance novel leads more frequently than you think!

The list did turn up a few awesome and original careers, such as the rival fireworks manufacturers of the book Diamond Rain by Constance Laux, Karen Harper’s tree house designer in The Stone Forest, and the sea urchin diver of Christine Feehan’s Water Bound. Still, to fill out the tag, I had to go further.

Our Special Titles Listing was last updated in 2013, making it nearly a decade old. Many recent releases have protagonists worth adding. Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering has a calligrapher heroine. The heroine of Courtney Milan’s The Devil Comes Courting develops a system for encoding Chinese characters for the telegraph. Tessa Bailey, in Fix Her Up, gives us a clown heroine. In The Love Con by Seressia Glass, the heroine makes cosplay costumes and accessories. And of course, who can forget one hero from Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material, who works at a dung beetle charity?

I also decided to also include professions which aren’t unusual in the real world, but which don’t occur in romance novels very often. Working-class jobs are always underrepresented in romance, so I tagged New Life by Bonnie Dee, which has a janitor hero (alongside the more common lawyer heroine) and the trucker hero of One Christmas Knight by Kathleen Creighton. It is also unusual to see professions associated with death, so the undertaker hero of Pamela Morsi’s Wild Oats and the taxidermist of K.J. Charles’s An Unseen Attraction joined the list.

But as it stands, this is a list where I need some help! Readers, what occupations are “unusual” to you – at least, in the world of romance novels? Can you suggest books which have those characters in them?

~ Caroline Russomanno

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