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A Lifetime of Love: From Friends to Lovers

Author Judith Bowen was in touch recently. She wanted to explore the phenomenon of friends becoming lovers. Not only has she personally experienced it, but she has written about it in many of her books. Since one of the Special Title Listings is all about friendships (between lovers, between characters in a platonic fashion, among others), our own Laurie Likes Books told Judith go to ahead. Here is what she had to say:

I think the reason I enjoy writing about love sneaking up and surprising the heck out of a hero and heroine is because that’s how it happened to me. As soon as I realized what had happened — after ten or twelve years of marriage, I got busy and starting thinking about the phenomenon, and, to date, have written half a dozen romance novels with late-blooming love as a central theme.

My husband and I met over a village council meeting on British Columbia’s Pacific Coast — we were both reporters for competing weekly newspapers. After six years together as best friends, we hied off to Europe and got married quietly in Gibralter? Why? We were best friends and lovers, and we decided we wanted to have children. Wasn’t that next on life’s agenda? I was 29 by then. Over the next few years, we had three beautiful babies, and then one day — bang! It hit us both at about the same time: we were in love. We hadn’t tried to stay away from love; we just hadn’t thought it would ever happen to us that way.

So, it happened kind of backwards for me. And I’ve always been intrigued to peer into other peoples’ lives — the lives of my characters–and see how that sort of thing happened to them.

In my third book, Paper Marriage (which won the National Readers’ Choice Award that year for best traditional), the hero, Clayton Truscott, didn’t know he was in love until Justine was leaving. He didn’t know it until he chased her down the road on his quarterhorse, shouting for her to come back, shouting that “the children need you.” She just kept driving her rattletrap Jeep out of his life. Then, when he surprised himself by shouting the truth, finally, “Come back, Justine. . .I need you!” she stopped and turned that Jeep around. One reader told me that shouted declaration of the way Clayton really felt, when push had come to final shove, was one of the most poignant and emotional scenes she’d ever read. A strong man discovering he needed her: that he was in love.

Then, in my first long contemporary, A Home on the Range, Boone Harlow asks Miss Lucie to marry him several times — once to keep his dying grandmother happy, once to try and get them both out of a mixed-up pickle of a social situation and the final time because. . . well, by now he loves her. And he’s finally realized it.

In my first book for Harlequin Superromance, The Man from Blue River, I wrote about two characters who never expected anything like love to happen to them. It wasn’t because they’d had a rotten first marriage, or mom and dad had split up when they were twelve and they’d vowed never to trust anyone again. . . they just never expected anything like that to happen to them. And just like me, they did everything backwards.

“They’d done everything backward — first they found a family, then they got married, then they fell in love. But by God, they’d finally got it right,” Fraser thinks after realizes the huge turn his life has just taken.

And — here’s my favorite part — he doesn’t even make his declaration to the woman he loves. He tells the housekeeper! Martha’s in the next room, having his baby, and Fraser’s going crazy with worry. He’s sitting at the kitchen table at the housekeeper’s insistence, a cup of tea in front of him, trying to get calm himself, trying to be reasonable. It doesn’t work.

“I love her, Birdie,” he burst out. I love her!

“I know you do,”

she said softly.

Fraser stood suddenly, almost upsetting his chair. “I’d better go and see her.” He ran his hands through his hair. “What do you think, Birdie? Should I?”

That “Should I?” has always gotten to me. This strong, silent man, who has shouldered so much in his life and yet when the stakes are highest has always done the right thing, is suddenly vulnerable. Human. He asks his housekeeper what he should do.

My current release, The Rancher’s Runaway Bride, deals with the same theme. Cal and Nina marry — for the wrong reasons. Only later do they realize that somewhere along the line they’ve fallen in love, and love makes sorting out the mess they’re in completely worthwhile. I warn you — if you can’t imagine a lovable, warm, impulsive woman with a rich imagination telling a “white” lie to a passing stranger and then getting caught up in the enormous consequences, I don’t think you should read this book.

But, for me, life is never black and white. At least not the interesting bits! Life presents questions and choices in an infinite range of gray. I’ve told “white” lies to the occasional passing stranger; I’m sure most people have at one time or another. What The Rancher’s Runaway Bride presents is the “what if” of that situation. What if it wasn’t a passing stranger, what if that “white” lie mattered as much as life itself in the end?

My May release is the first in my series Men of Glory, all based in or near a small southern Alberta, Canada, town. Next up is Adam Garrick’s story. . . in June, 1998.

Judith Bowen

To e-mail Judith, please click here.