by Jacquie Underdown
Nothing can divide a room more than reality television.
You either love it, or you pretend not to.
For a people watcher (aka author) like myself, I’m firmly in the love camp. Give me The Block, MasterChef, Famer Wants a Wife or The Bachelor, and I’ll gladly have my eyes glued to the television every night of the week.
A nod, wink, and finger-gun salute at my reality-television-loving tribe.
As for the pretenders, I hear you loud and clear. Why the f***?
Yes, reality shows’ sets are staged, some of the storylines are scripted, but the one thing that remains constant is that the contestants are real. The emotional reactions are real.
Don’t scoff. I know some contestants might look like Prince Charming with a side order of yes please, or the latest swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated (The Bachelor, I’m looking at you.) But mostly, a closer-to-real-life diversity among contestants on reality television is not found anywhere else.
Only on MasterChef will you see a woman wearing a hijab. Only on Farmer Wants a Wife will you find a sixty-year-old Central Queensland farmer pursuing realistically shaped women his own age. And I’m not even starting on The Great Australian Bake Off or My Kitchen Rules.
Watching real people, who are placed under extreme pressure in a confined competitive environment, reacting in ways we ourselves might, holds a tremendous amount of appeal.
Witnessing Richie’s face on the new season of The Bachelor, with all his adorable awkwardness, when Lady Eliza serenades him seconds after their first introduction is priceless viewing. An actor could not portray or improvise that raw, tender human expression and emotion, nor evoke in the viewer a sinking twisted feeling of embarrassment for having watched the interaction it in all its uncomfortable glory.
And no script-writer is going to come up with the line, ‘Wow! Olena is a total babe’ like Richie delivered making us marvel at his me-good-at-words skills.
Okay, okay, that’s all ‘cool bananas’, but what’s this got to do with romance—specifically, a romance novel?
I’m glad you asked.
Let’s focus on reality dating shows, shall we? You know the ones—The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Farmer Wants a Wife and Married at First Sight. If you look closely, each of these shows possess all the components you love in a romance novel:
- a heroine we can love and sympathise with
- a sexy hero who may not be perfect but he sure as hell is mouth-wateringly close
- exotic settings
- loads and loads of conflict.
Bless reality television for showing us so many tears, tantrums and tender moments. *sigh*
But don’t you ever want to know what happens behind the scenes?
Did last season’s Bachelor, Sam, really fall hopelessly in love with Snezana like we all hoped?
Did they sneak a moment to secretly get hot and heavy with each other between filming?
How did Snezana react when she saw the footage of Sam kissing the other beautiful contestants and whispering his sweet-nothings in their ear?
And when all the girls were getting sloshed on champagne, did any take it too far and have to secretly rush to the toilet to vomit?
Okay, maybe scratch that last one.
The point is, I want to see what’s left on the cutting room floor. Or what didn’t even make it on to film in the first place. I want to know the motivations, secrets, regrets, excuses, and behind-the-scene squabbles. But mostly, I want all the romance and love found in a reality dating show dished up with a big bowl of happily-ever-after, wouldn’t you?
Of course you would. And your wish is my command.
*waves magic wand*
Enter the romance author. (That’s me!)
I’ve taken all of the best parts of reality television and a romance novel and mixed them up together. The result is Catch Me a Cowboy: a big, delightful mishmash of catty contestants who risk their hearts to win the love of a hunky man-mountain cowboy.
The best part is, nothing is left out. All the goodies are on show.
And that is how reality television and romance collide!
Crash into Jacquie’s new novel, Catch Me A Cowboy.
Emily Wolfe, real estate agent to the elite, is tired of being alone. So when she gets a chance to compete on a reality dating show she decides to risk it all for love in the biggest game of her life.
The city girl is surprised how much she enjoys switching her high heels for cowboy boots and pedicures for mud treatments—and not the kind you find at a day spa. And she’s falling hard for Wil Parker, the sexy, rugged farmer at the centre of the show.
Amidst the chaos, tantrums and editing tape, the heat and passion between Emily and Wil reaches boiling point. But can they survive the imminent explosion, let alone the fallout?