guest post by andrea r. cox | strangers to romance...in a novella
Raise your hand if you love strangers-to-lovers! Of all the tropes out there, there's nothing quite like the classic strangers-to-lovers (or strangers to romance) tropes, where the hero and heroine meet during the book and develop a romantic relationship throughout the course of the story!
However, there's an unspoken rule that strangers-to-lovers is too extensive and takes too long to flesh out for it to be used in anything other than a full-length novel. But Andrea Renee Cox, one of the authors part of Springtime in Surrey anthology is here to tackle that myth!
Strangers to Romance… In a Novella
Most of the romance novellas I’ve read have featured two characters who share a past in which they didn’t get along well. All the advice I’ve ever received personally or seen online or in books has suggested that leading characters in novellas must already know one another when the book opens, because there isn’t space enough to develop a romance from beginning to end. While I enjoy those sorts of novellas, I’ve always held the belief that a novella was plenty of space to develop a brand-new romance between strangers. It might take more skill or some creative writing techniques, but it had to be manageable.
One thing I’ve learned from Apostle Paul is that nothing is impossible with God (see Philippians 4:13). It is always my goal to live this out in my writing journey. For years now, I’ve had a secret aim of trying my hand at the “strangers to romance” trope in the smaller form of a novella. It took me a long time to find the right story with circumstances that easily lent themselves to this trope, but when Wild Blue Wonder Press put out their call for novellas set in County Surrey, England, for their debut anthology, Springtime in Surrey, I knew the setting was perfect for a former ballerina hiding from her past to meet and fall in love with a sheep farmer who longed for a place to set down some roots. Even though most advice-givers I’ve run into in this writing business claim it’s impossible to start a novella with strangers and end it with a sweeping romantic climax, The Cottage on the Hill was the perfect story with which to attempt to prove them wrong.
The challenge of tackling a seemingly impossible trope was one I gladly took by the horns. My early drafts missed the mark a little. The first couple rounds of feedback indicated that the romance felt lopsided. Well, that certainly wouldn’t do! Adrian and Moira needed to care about each other equally, and the readers needed to believe that these two characters hadn’t known one another prior to the opening scene but had fallen in love with each other by the grand finale. In between editing deadlines, I dove into some tough revisions, which saw me cutting some things I really liked in order to create a stronger romance for these two characters I’d grown to cherish. The challenge of reshaping this story into the best “strangers to romance” tale I could produce at this stage of my career didn’t scare me. Intimidated me a little, perhaps, but I found my courage and faced the daunting task.
In The Cottage on the Hill, Adrian Davis and Moira Wood don’t know one another when they first cross paths. This worked well for the story, because Adrian’s seeing Moira cry into her tea intrigued him, making him wonder why… and what he might do to help her. The more he tried to cheer her up, the more they got to know one another. During the course of their growing acquaintance, a friendship blossomed into a sweet romance that neither of them could deny.
It definitely took some creativity to shrink a full romance into a shorter form, but I gladly welcomed that challenge. I set out to prove that the leads of a novella didn’t have to know one another before chapter one, and I feel like I succeeded. Cottage may be only ten chapters long, but it soared into the slot for my favorite romance I’ve written to date. It is now my hope that Adrian and Moira’s “strangers to romance” novella will resonate with readers for a long time after they finish reading it.
What is your favorite “strangers to romance” story? I would love to hear your recommendations in the comment section.
~ the author ~
Born and raised in north Texas, Andrea Renee Cox is a born-again child of God who enjoys writing stories that inspire, copyediting fiction manuscripts, tutoring middle school students, and going on road trips with her family. Whether she’s writing historical or contemporary, women’s fiction or romance, she uses her skills in research and writing techniques—as well as prayer and guidance from God—along the journey to produce the best stories of her ability. Her books may be found on her website, and readers are welcome to follow her blog for the latest updates in her journey.
~ the anthology ~
Springtime in Surrey, the first collection releasing with Wild Blue Wonder Press, is a Christian anthology featuring eight lovely stories. With a mix of historical and contemporary, romance and women’s fiction, a dash of mystery here and there, real-life themes presented in a loving way, and a vintage feel, this story is sure to charm lovers of Christian women’s fiction.
Learn more at Wild Blue Wonder Press!
I don't know about you, but I 100% agree with Andrea! It's definitely possible to write a strangers-to-lovers novella! Of course I'd say that because not only did Andrea pull it off...so did I! Make sure to preorder Springtime in Surrey to read Andrea's story, The Cottage on the Hill, and mine, Her Heart's Home, along with all the other amazing stories!
We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Have you ever read any strangers-to-lovers novellas or short stories? What's one of your favorite romance tropes and why?