Thursday, June 6, 2013

Unexpected Love by Karen Rock

I mentioned one of my favorite movie couples, Melvin and Carole from As Good as It Gets, in my last Heartwarming post and it got me thinking. Melvin is an OCD misanthrope author and Carole is a waitress and single mother struggling to support and care for a son who suffers from anxiety. Given the issues that consumed their lives, it seemed unlikely either could find love, yet they found it nonetheless. How did it happen? Many love stories seem to feature people with so much going for them- he’s rich, she’s beautiful, oh- and he’s also gorgeous too… of course… yet we are expected to root for this seemingly perfect couple to find the last piece- love- to complete their pristine lives. Now I don’t begrudge such fortunate people a chance at happiness. Romance is infinite and should be possible for everyone. Yet, I can’t help but fall a little more in love with couples that aren’t perfect, yet are perfect for each other, like Melvin and Carole. Here are a few more such couples that have captured my heart.

Last January, I heard a lot of buzz about a movie and book titled Silver Linings Playbook. The author, Matthew Quick and screenplay adaptor and director David O. Russell, wrote an unexpected love story that moved me and millions of others. In the tale, Pat Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder, moves home with his parents after his release from a psychiatric hospital. He’s obsessed with winning back his estranged wife. In order to impress her, he joins Tiffany Maxwell, a recent widow who struggles with an addiction, in a plan that will also help Tiffany achieve her goal of dancing competitively. Despite the obstacles, these two, fragile souls, connect in a deeply moving, powerful way. I cried at the beautiful ending when each realized that though they might not be perfect, they were perfect together.

Another quirky couple I adore is from an older, smaller movie that is worth checking out: Benny and Joon. Johnny Depp stars in it (that alone is worth a viewing J) as an eccentric, illiterate young man named Sam who’s addicted to cinema and impersonates silent film comics such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Joon, an intelligent, schizophrenic young woman, lives with her protective older brother, Benny. When a bet is lost and Sam moves in with them, the positive difference he makes on Joon doesn’t escape Benny’s watchful eye. Joon, in turn, teaches Sam to read. For the first time, they no longer feel like outsiders because together, they’ve found acceptance and love.

Physical health issues can sometimes be an obstacle to love, yet that is far from the case in John Green’s incredible novel, The Fault in Our Stars. Like my upcoming Harlequin Heartwarming, Wish Me Tomorrow- out September, 2013- the characters in this novel deal with cancer. Hazel is an avid reader and loner with Stage 4 Thyroid cancer stabilized by experimental treatment. When she meets Augustus, an Osteosarcoma survivor whose right leg has been amputated, she falls hard for his wit and self-confidence. At last, she’s lured out of her home to play video games, go to parks, and even travel to Amsterdam where Augustus uses his ‘Make-A-Wish’ to help her meet her favorite author. Though Hazel’s lungs don’t work without assistance, and Augustus can no longer play basketball (not that he cares) and is at risk for remission, together they are unstoppable. They don’t see the imperfections and neither do we. This couple is perfect together and ultimately that is all that matters in fiction and in life.

I cannot end this post without a quick nod to one of my favorite movie franchises of all time: Shrek. Through the years I’d grown used to beautiful, wasp-waisted princesses falling for buff, handsome princes. Then Dreamworks took an unexpected turn from the traditional fairytale romance format and gave us a gruff, reclusive ogre named, Shrek. Far from good-looking or adored, he’d become an outcast for his fearsome appearance and reputation. Despite the loneliness, Shrek had grown used to his solitary life until events make his path cross with a seemingly flawless princess named Fiona. His feelings for her develop once he realizes that she isn’t perfect and is, in fact, an ogre like him. He quickly convinces her that the curse that transforms her into this creature at night is actually a blessing and the two, imperfect characters find perfect love with each other.

I would love to hear your choices for favorite unconventional romances/couples. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and be entered to win my giveaway of Margaret Daley's Heartwarming novel CIMARRON REFUGE, an autographed bookmark of my upcoming Young Adult romance, CAMP BOYFRIEND, and friendship bracelets, one for you and one to share with the friend that is perfect for you! The winner will be announced on this blog post tomorrow as well as on www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters . Thank you so much for stopping by J

22 comments:

  1. My favorite is sebastian st vincent and evie :)

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    1. Thanks so much for that great pick! I haven't had a chance to read THE DEVIL IN WINTER and it sounds amazing as do the terrific characters. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Eli :)

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  2. I loved Silver Linings Playbook. Such a wonderful movie. Now I need to read the book.

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    1. Agreed, Julie! I usually like to read before the movie, but who could resist Bradly Cooper? Not me- lol

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  3. The idea that "opposites attract" has generated some of my favorite romantic stories of all time. The chauffeur and the Lady Sybil Branson on Downton Abbey. The prostitute of mysterious origins and Tyrion Lanaster on Game of Thrones. And - in so many romances- the lady of delicate sensibilities and the pirate lord/Viking warrior/Highland laird. Those stories are so appealing, I think, because they give us hope if those unlikely pairings can make it work in a love relationship, surely we can make ours work too!

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    1. I love the idea of unlikely couples making it despite odds!! And Lady Sybil's romance with her chauffeur is an awesome pick! Downton Abby is all about reexaming social conventions and their love affair was a beautiful way to do this! Thanks so much for sharing, Joanne.

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  4. Hi Karen!

    I think my own love story falls into this category a bit-as just about everything stood against our chances of succeeding-the big thing-children. When I met my husband, he told me that from an early age he'd decided he wasn't going to have children and in fact-he couldn't have children-I on the other hand had a child. We decided that we would be friends and see what happened. What happened was he fell in love with my son even faster than he fell for me lol:) And now his family can't believe what a fantastic father he is. I always feel so blessed that things worked out in the order that they did, because had I met my husband before having Jacob, we wouldn't have our amazing son enriching our lives today:)

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    1. Oh Jen! Your story made me cry in the best way. No wonder you are a Heartwarming author- you have this kind of romance that goes deep and lasts forever. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful love story. Your family is blessed to have been brought together.

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  5. The only two I've seen are Benny and Joon, before having children... and Shrek, because I have a son. I'm seriously behind on movies and telly.

    However, in Benny and Joon, Johnny Depp might be a draw but so is Aiden Quinn as the big mother. His accent alone is to swoon for.

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    1. Ohhhh- Aiden is definitely swoon worthy! And I love that he finally got a romance too :)

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  6. I'm not a movie goer. When my kids see what they call a "mom approved movie" they let me know. That means no violence and usually benign. Ha! But I love Susan Elizabeth Phillip's books because she redeems flawed characters so well. Not all readers like flawed characters. I'm thinking about a letter I got recently from a reader who read my book: The Cowboy Soldier. Rafe comes home from the war blind and bitter. His sister talks him into going to where a holistic doctor who lives in the boonies will help him learn to live with his disability. The reader didn't like that Rafe didn't get his sight back. I felt I left the door open to the possibility of new medical breakthroughs, but I explained to the reader that in this war more than all others, our men and women are returning with injuries not fixable. I think we need to face up to that. I know Aimee said she's writing a hero who comes home injured. Physical and mental flaws are a fact of life, and they're still loveable people.

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    1. I love you blind hero, Roz. If anything, his loss makes him more appealing because of the sacrifice he made and will continue to make. I really fall for these types of romances because the characters deserve love most of all.

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  7. US Air Force Major Lloyd Gruver stationed in Kobe, Japan, after the Korean War, and Hana-ogi, a Japanese entertainer in SAYONARA, the movie adapted by Paul Osborn from James Michener's novel. They are both beautiful people (Marlon Brando at his gorgeous best in the 50's) but everything is against their love - culture, prejudice, the world view. In the book, Gruver says Sayonara to Hana-ogi, but in the movie (Hollywood got this so right) when asked how he's asked how he's going to explain to the military that he's taking a Japanese wife back to the states, Brando looks in the camera's eye and says, "Tell them I said 'Sayonara.'" Swoon!

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    1. That sounds like a great movie and a killer line! I loved Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront and A streetcar Named Desire. I will definitely check this out. Thanks for sharing this, Muriel :)

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  8. Forgot to add, Karen, if you love Johnny Depp, have you seen DON JUAN DEMARCO? If you haven't, you must. It's impossible to describe, but wonderful. And again - with Marlon Brando as his shrink. A very different man at this stage, but also amazing.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this as well! I haven't seen this but it sounds like a gem:)

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  9. I enjoy unlikely couples myself, those people who may be a lot like us with their flaws and issues but who can find an amazing love.

    I'm currently working on a romance with a hoarder, but the challenge is to make her likable and sympathetic. I think her reasons for hoarding help to do that (she's inherited her mom's hoard after growing up in it too), but she's also optimistic and funny and has a huge heart. We'll see how well this works out LOL.

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    1. I forgot to put in that Benny and Joon is one of my guilty pleasures. And Shrek, of course. We must have the same movie library LOL.

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    2. Syndi- I adore the hoarder concept!! I can't wait to read your book. It sounds amazing and I already sympathize and adore her! And I think we must have the same video library which means we have great taste- lol

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  10. Congratulations Eli Yanti! You are the winner. Please send your mailing info to through my contact page on www.katenrock.com

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  11. Hi Karen,

    Jumping in late, but I had to say that I love this post. You had me at Shrek. That's one of my favorite romances of all time, for the reasons you stated :)

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  12. A little late, but I had to add a favorite or two because I'm a sucker for unlikely couples in romance :) I'll go a little sci-fi/fantasyish on my picks:

    Hatter and Alice in the SyFy "Alice" movie (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a sucker for guyliner...)

    R and Julie in Warm Bodies-- human and zombie? Why not? and to keep with the zombie theme, Bram and Nora in Dearly, Departed.

    What a fun challenge!

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