We all have those romance tropes that fall into our OMG-I-love-it or hate-hate-burn-it-with-fire categories. Secret babies. Enemies to lovers. Brother’s best friend. Marriage of convenience. Second chance love. Everyone has their own favorite, which is part of what makes this genre so much fun.
One of my personal hot-button tropes is the ugly duckling story. I want to love this trope. I try very hard to love this trope. There’s something about a woman (or man) transforming themselves inside and out that makes for a fulfilling romance. After all, that’s kind of what this genre is all about—changing ourselves for the better for that one person we love above all else.
Of course, any time we’re talking about physical beauty, things get tricky. While there’s nothing wrong about wanting to be attractive for the person we love, we also don’t want to say that love is only for the attractive—especially if we’re talking about traditional standards of beauty.
That’s where the ugly duckling trope gets complicated. One movie example I adore is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, wherein the heroine controls every aspect of her transformation and does it as a part of a complete life overhaul. However, my enjoyment of My Fair Lady is almost always eclipsed by my strong urge to throw Henry Higgins out a window.
Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised when Because I Can became a makeover story (unfortunately, my books often do this, taking turns against my will or advice). It’s such a difficult trope to handle well, and I wasn’t sure this glamorous world of the Montgomerys was the best place to attempt it.
But I tried anyway. In the book, the family handywoman falls for the wealthy oldest Montgomery son. Georgia isn’t traditionally attractive, she doesn’t just slap on a fancy dress and feel like a new woman, and her transformation isn’t so much in her physical appearance as it her acceptance of it. In other words, she’s the ugly duckling who never quite reaches swan status, choosing instead to channel her energies into being the best damn duck she can be.
I like the idea that we can all become pretty amazing ducks in the end, which is why this particular makeover story works for me. I’m also always on the lookout for other great books and movies in this trope, so if you have recommendations, send them my way!
Because I Can (Montgomery Manor #3)
John “Monty” Montgomery is a workaholic. The oldest of the Montgomery children, he’s been working by his father’s side building the family hotel chain almost his entire life. His commitment to the business leaves no time for romance. But that’s about to change.
Georgia Lennox has been fantasizing about Monty ever since she started her gig as handywoman at Montgomery Manor. She figures Monty is way out of her league, so she hasn’t dared to act on her feelings — until he offers to help fill a volunteer shortage on her latest project, building houses for families in need.
Sparks fly as they spend time together, first on the job site, then off. But Georgia’s not your typical frilly and feminine society girl. Hoping to find a way to fit in with the Montgomerys, she agrees to be made over by Monty’s sister for an event. But if she lets her rough edges be smoothed away, will she be letting go of the very thing that attracted Monty in the first place?
Available from Carina Press.
Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.