The initial ANGER of the forced coupling.
The false ASSUMPTIONS of why each other agreed to the arrangement.
The MISCOMMUNICATION that causes CONFLICT between them and is most often perpetrated by OUTSIDE FORCES. Usually, an ex or “friend” wants to keep them apart.
The growing AFFECTION and tender FIRSTS that can’t help but develop and gives the reader belly flutters.
The ASYMMETRY or UNREQUITED love that either exists or only thought to be true.
More MISCOMMUNICATION because readers crave the added angst.
Then, after ripping our hearts out and squeezing it like a stress ball, hopefully, the HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
The couple may be forced together due to cultural traditions, money problems, or emotionally blackmailed. Sometimes it’s consensually for appearances or for satisfying the mafia.
Either way, I know it’s going to be a rollercoaster of complicated feels.
The stories typically pair the protagonists as strangers or enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, a marriage of convenience or has criminal ties that are less about the joining of two souls and more about the union of two families.
The tension and the slow burn anticipation of one or both of the characters falling in love?
Sigh. It’s all part of the fantastic ride that we enjoy either during the blossoming of the relationship or we only realize after we close the book and sigh in happiness.
I just finished reading R.K. Lilley’s upcoming release, Arranged.
I devoured it in a day and was so emotionally invested that when the hero made a cruel comment to the heroine, I flinched right along with her, then whisper-yelled cussed at him.
Pictured below are thirty of my favorite contemporary forced marriage romances.
I hope if you weren’t already a fan, you’ll give one of them a chance.
I’ve asked a few questions to four of my favorite authors who have written this type of romance, and I LOVED their responses.
How did the story idea come to you?
Arranged is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I’m an old school historical junkie, and I’ve loved the arranged marriage trope since I was way too young to be reading romance novels lol! I wanted to do a modern twist on the idea with a heroine who wasn’t being forced into but was doing it of her own volition. I wanted to explore the idea of what would motivate an ambitious young woman to make that kind of choice, to submit to essentially being a mail-order bride.
The idea of Sparrow came to me after binge-reading Cora Reilly’s books a while back. I actually think she was one of the first authors who specialized in mafia that I’ve read.
I think arranged marriage is the perfect setting for an enemies-to-lovers romance because it forces the two parties to be under the same roof, but each character is loyal to themselves and doesn’t want to “crack.”
Around that time I also watched Ray Donovan, and I guess I started brewing something that was inspired by both, but I wanted it to have its own kick and flavor, so when I sent it to the beta-readers, I specifically asked if it tastes similar to anything, and it hasn’t, which I was so happy to hear.
The Kiss Thief came out of nowhere. I woke up one day and had the story in my head, so I basically wrote it in two weeks (which was a nightmare), because it was so crisp in my head. It’s definitely a homage to Historical/regency romance books but set in our modern world.
Gosh, I’m not at all sure anymore. I just love the marriage of convenience/forced marriage trope. I started writing The Unwanted Wife about ten years before publishing it. It was a story I often revisited, but I was working on about three or four other stories simultaneously. Theresa and Sandro were my favourite couple, so when I decided to self-publish, that was the story I most wanted to complete.
I was watching a music video, “Afterglow” by INXS, and I started thinking about the story behind the characters—what had brought them to that point in their lives? I back-tracked from there, stringing along little vignettes until I had the full story.
Do you have a favorite arranged marriage book by another author?
R.K. Lilley: All the historical ones that Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught wrote back in the day. If you haven’t read them yet I’m jealous! I wish I could read them all again for the first time.
L.J. Shen: Bound by Honor by Cora Reilly is amazing. The Bride by Julie Garwood. When Dimple Met Rishi was ADORBS. I haven’t really read a ton of arranged marriage books that aren’t historical, though.
Natasha Anders: Hands down – Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Leylah Attar: I’ve read many books with arranged marriage as part of the story. A couple that comes to mind are A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I love the diversity of ways that it can be presented. I also plan on one-clicking Arranged by R.K. Lilley.
That blurb is so intriguing!
If you were single and forced into an arranged marriage with a celebrity or athlete, who would you hope it would be?
R.K. Lilley: Jason Momoa, Armie Hammer, Charlie Hunnam. Any of the above lol!
L.J. Shen: I wouldn’t exactly call it “forced,” but probably James Franco. I’m a sucker for James Franco. Oh, and Cillian Murphy.
Natasha Anders: Chris Hemsworth. I’d hope that I was the only one forced into this marriage and he has secretly loved me all along, so he was more than happy to enter into this arrangement (to settle the feud between our families…naturally). Now it’s his life’s mission to make me love him as much as he loves me.
Leylah Attar: It would be a toss up between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Although you really wouldn’t have to force me into it….lol
What’s up next for you?
R.K. Lilley: I’m really close to finishing both Tyrant and Crossing Fire, so one of those two. I’m really hoping it’s Crossing Fire because the readers have been waiting way too long for that one.
L.J. Shen: I’ve already written All Saints High #2, so that will be coming after that, and I cannot be more excited because this series slayed me. Hit me right in the feels. Right now I’m working on All Saints #3 (I have about 1k words and jutted, half-finished ideas, LOL) and there’s a surprise coming your way soon…ish.
Natasha Anders: Well as you know, More Than Anything and Nothing But This are releasing in June and July. I’m very excited about this since this was a very ambitious (and extremely difficult) project for me. The two books are standalone but work much better as a set because they are so closely related.
After that, I have another very dark, very sexy story I’ve been dying to write and I’m hoping that will be my next project.
Leylah Attar: Funnily enough, my next book touches on the subject of arranged marriage, although just peripherally with a side character. It involves an Indian family, a Greek family, a summer wedding on the Aegean coast—secrets, lies, love, laughter, and a dash of the unexpected.
The perfect summer read. Coming soon!
All five of us are “Game of Thrones” fans. What GoT characters would you love to “arrange their marriage”?
R.K. Lilley: This is hard lol! Dany and Jon Snow. Brienne and Tormund. Tyrion and literally anyone who is nice to him and loves him back.
L.J. Shen: First of all, I know it’s kinda gross considering they’re related but Jon Snow and Khaleesi all the freaking way. I FLOVE them together.
For a while there I really dug Sansa and Little Finger together, although obviously, that ship has sailed.
Natasha Anders: Hmmm…I’m a massive GoT fan, and it’s a little twisted how they got all of us to desperately ship an aunt/nephew relationship. Lol!
Aside from Jon and Danaerys, I’m going to go with Brienne and The Hound. I think they’d be an awesome couple, but I fear they’re going to give us Tormund and Brienne instead. I weep inside and write Bround fan fiction in my head every chance I get.
Leylah Attar: I vote for Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. For a while, I was totally rooting for Brienne of Tarth + Tormund Giantsbane, but I pick Jaime because she has an obvious crush on him (as obvious as it gets with Brienne). I also want to see Euron Greyjoy with Cersei Lannister, because that would be just MUAHAHA.
Be sure to check out R.K. Lilley’s standalone erotic romance, Arranged out now!
“There were rules in the cash-for-beauty game. The money held the power. The beauty followed the rules and jumped through the hoops.
I knew what everyone would think if they knew the truth about my marriage. They’d be shocked and appalled. And rightly so. I was a young, modern, independent woman, and I’d done the unthinkable. I’d sold my virginity to a spoiled, rich boy. To a stranger who didn’t love me.
And yes, I’d done it all for money.
My bride was as gorgeous as she was unwelcome. As desirable as she was unwanted. I wanted nothing to do with her, but that didn’t seem to matter exactly the second she got close enough to touch. I wanted her to hate me more than she loved the millions she’d sold herself for.
I wanted to spurn her, but unfortunately, I wanted to f*ck her more.”