by Robyn Rychards
When I was a teenager, I lived in a small town called Niwot, Colorado, about halfway between Boulder, Colorado and Longmont, where I live now. Niwot has changed a lot since I was a teenager and as an adult I can appreciate its charm, and be glad I was able to grow up in such a place.
As a teenager, however, I felt very isolated. In reality, it was only a fifteen-minute drive into Boulder where there was everything a person could want. But as a teenager with no car, the only places I could go were places I could walk to or ride my bike. Niwot had no grocery store, no department store, no bookstore and no library; which meant my access to books was very limited. Then one day, a used bookstore opened up. I could feed my desire for romance books, and at bargain prices to boot! For a teenager, whose whole allowance could buy no more than two new books, this was a glorious treasure trove.
That’s what started me down the path to devouring category romance, and having done it since I was young, there are few books whose stories I can recall. However, The Wilderness Hut by Mary Wibberley was a story that stayed with me since I read it as a teenager. Then, when I stumbled upon it a few years ago and read it for the second time, I wondered why. It was a good story, but in the whole wide, wide world of books it was nothing out of the ordinary.
So what was it about this book that made such a huge impression on me when I was young? Why, the trope, of course! Forced proximity. Back then, I had no idea what a trope was, but I knew this was the kind of story I thoroughly enjoyed, and after reading The Wilderness Hut I was always on the hunt for anything like it. No surprise, then, that the first story I ever wrote was based on the theme of two people brought together by force of circumstance.
Her Knight in Shining Armour wasn’t that first story I wrote, but once again my favorite trope reared its head. The story starts off with the heroine, Paisley, waking up—after being injured and rendered unconscious—in the tent of the hero, Sterling, who has rescued her from a dangerous situation in the back country of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Though she doesn’t want to accept help from anyone, her circumstances force her to rely on Sterling, force her to be with him much longer than she wants, and force her to change her opinion about men, as well as her desire for an independent life.
Were it not for forced proximity Paisley would never have found the love of her life. Which leads me to my favourite aspect of the forced proximity trope. Were it not for circumstances beyond their control, the hero and heroine would never have gotten together. How epically romantic is that?