Wednesday, August 19, 2009

THE ROMANCE OF A ROOM ADDITION

What is the most romantic room in a home? In our romance stories, it’s quite often the bedroom where the romance actually physically happens. Other rooms in our characters’ homes are romantic and meaningful to the hero and heroine for various reasons as well.

The room I think of as most romantic is one that doesn’t exist yet: the room addition.

How can adding on a room be romantic? Okay, first of all, let’s remember this IS make- believe! In real life, home construction or remodeling projects will cause the topic of divorce to be introduced into the loving couple’s conversation at some point. Over and over.

Two short rollers and a can of paint in a bathroom can break a marriage faster than an overdrawn bank account. But come with me to the world of fiction—historical fiction—where women are heroines and men are heroes…and the announcement of “needing another room” is a joyous occasion, and not just another “honey-do.”

The addition of a room most generally heralds the impending arrival of a baby, or the growth of the young family in some way. Because cabins were so small and were generally put up as quickly as possible to provide a more permanent shelter for a family, improvements often had to wait until time, weather, or supplies permitted.

In our historical romances, our heroes are always eager to do whatever is necessary to provide the best possible quarters for their families. You’ll never hear them say, “I’ll do it when the playoffs are over.”

All joking aside, I believe we find the room addition romantic for several reasons, the most obvious one being that our heroine is pregnant and there needs to be a room for the little one the couple has created. Most women can relate to that maternal instinct of preparing a safe, warm place for their baby to sleep.

The second reason a room addition is romantic, is that the hero is actually building something with his skill, knowledge and love to provide for his growing family. It’s his answer to the heroine’s maternal need. Generally, the delivery of the news that a baby is on the way and discussion of the room addition is a shock to the hero, but not an unwelcome one. It transitions him from “husband” to “family man” and gives him the opportunity to “show his stuff.” He proves himself by his reaction to the news. The action he takes toward following through with the reality of building on shows the heroine (and the reader) that he is our “dream man.”

The family unit, complete, is probably the most romantic reason of all. The room addition shows the reader that the heroine and hero have matured, grown in their love for one another and are able to look toward the future as a family unit now. In the child to come, they will see themselves and one another, and will risk everything for the safety, comfort and protection of that child.

And it all starts with…the addition of the extra bedroom for the new life they’ve created.

In the following excerpt from FIRE EYES, Jessica gives Kaed the news that they’re going to be needing a nursery. This is an especially poignant moment because of Kaed’s past, and what it means to him personally. He’s being given a second chance—one he wasn’t sure he wanted, but now is desperate to hold onto.

FROM FIRE EYES:

“Looks like we gave up our bed.” Kaed’s gaze rested on Frank and the two girls. Nineteen. God, he looked so young, like a boy, as he slept, all the lines of worry around his eyes erased. Nineteen. I remember nineteen. Just didn’t understand until now how young it really is.

“Twice now.” Jessica’s voice called him from his thoughts. She grinned and nodded toward where Tom lay talking to Harv. “Maybe by this time tomorrow morning we’ll get lucky,” she whispered, reaching up to kiss his cheek.

“Neither one of us is going to ‘get lucky,’ in any respect, until everyone’s gone,” he grumbled softly, letting go a frustrated sigh. “One thing’s for sure. When everything settles down around here, I’m gonna add on a bedroom. With a door that shuts.”

Jessica was quiet for a moment, then very softly she said, “Better make that two.”

“Two bedrooms?”

“Uh-huh. Ours, and a nursery.”

Kaed nodded. “For Lexi.”

“And the new baby.”

His gaze arrowed to hers.

“Our baby, Kaed.”

The blood rushed through his ears, pounding at his temples. Nothing existed but the woman standing in his strong embrace, her love washing over him in warm waves as her eyes sparkled into his.

“Jessi.” The words he’d spoken to her the day he left came back to haunt him. I just hope that maybe we got lucky. Maybe it didn’t take.
But it had. And damn if he didn’t feel like the luckiest man alive. A baby. He read the unasked question in her expression, and he bent to kiss her. To reassure her. To let her know a family was what he needed and wanted. He felt her relax beneath his hands.

“I told you I was working my way through it, Jess,” he whispered against her cheek. “I’ll be a good father.”

Tears rose in her eyes. She nodded, her hair soft against his stubbled beard. “You’ll be the best.”

“Better than I was before, that’s for sure.” The words slipped out before he could stop them. He took a deep, jagged breath as Jessica finally dared to meet his eyes. He looked away, his gaze wandering about the small cabin, finally returning to lock with Jessica’s.

“I can appreciate what I’ve got this time, Jessi. I took it for granted the first time, and I lost it. I won’t let that happen again.”

Jessica shook her head. “Promise—” she began, but he tilted her face up, putting his lips to hers once more in a gentle, reassuring kiss.

“I’ll never let you go, Jessi. And I’ll never hurt you. I want what we talked about, the family, the farm, maybe a ranch.” He stopped and moistened his lips that had suddenly gone dry. “But most of all, I want you.” He glanced across the room at Tom, who gave him a fleeting grin. After a moment, he returned his gaze to the fathomless pools of Jessica’s eyes. “None of it means anything without the woman I love, Jessica. You. Yes, I promise, sweetheart. I promise everything.”

Travis leaned against the kitchen doorjamb, fresh coffee in hand. “Guess we’d better start beating the bushes for a preacher-man, boys. Get it done up legal and right for Miss Jessi while Kaed’s in this mood. I never seen him like this. Never heard him talk so serious.” He took a drink of his coffee, his green eyes mischievous above the rim of his cup. “I do believe he means it, Miss Jessi.”

18 comments:

Celia Yeary said...

CHERYL--this is the most delightful thing I've read in a long time. Your take on the modern couple adding on or re-decorating coulnd't be any truer! We built an entire house--I even drew up the plans (took two years)--and everyone told us--you're headed for a divorce--no couple can survive building a house together. But we did, and to me, that's the most romantic, precious thing we ever did--besides make babies.
The excerpt, too, I remember well, as one of the most tender, emotional passages in your book. Well done--Celia

EA said...

Ah, the family addition room. I haven't had the pleasure of that yet in my home. Sounds very romantic, indeed. Definitely can appreciate your statement of the family unit representing maturity and growth in the relationship. Very, "true, that". ;)

Cheryl said...

Hi Celia,

Wow, you are one talented lady! You actually drew up the plans for your house? And then y'all BUILT it???? FANTASTIC!!!! My hat's off to you. That is romantic--building something together like that. My husband and I cannot paint a room or do ANY kind of project like that together. That is very very romantic Celia!

Glad you liked the excerpt. It was the perfect one to illustrate the post, I thought.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting--I always enjoy your comments so much!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Evie,

We added on a room one time. Notice I said ONE TIME. LOL Actually, WE didn't do it, we hired a contractor to do it. It turned out really nice, but even so, hubby and I had our "moments." I always write the room additions in HISTORICAL fiction. LOL Thanks for coming by and commenting.
Cheryl

Tanya Hanson said...

Cheryl, what a lovely, tender post. And the excerpt is really heart-tugging.

Wow, Celia. Your own house. We did a kitchen re-do and survived LOL.

Good stuff going on here, ladies.

Hugs,
~Tanya

Cheryl said...

Hi Tanya,

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I always like to hear of people who have remodeled or built on and survived. LOL Thank you for commenting, Tanya!
Cheryl

Jennifer Ross said...

Great post. I wonder if the women back in the day gave their men the benefit of their vision for the room? Or decorating ideas, or helpful suggestions--like we would do today.

Or was it more of a "you'll take the room I build and be happy with it" kind of situation, where design flaws and imperfections would be grumbled about under breath?

Cheryl said...

Hi Jennifer,

Well, of course, in our fiction they're ALWAYS happy with it, because the man is so dang smart he has the foresight to see what needs to be done and how it needs to be built, and of course, what would make the "little woman" happy. LOL But you're right--I wonder too, in real life, just how things were discussed (if at all) and what options were (or weren't) offered. I'm sure there was a lot less discussion about it then than there is NOW! LOL
Thanks for commenting!
Cheryl

ashleyludwig said...

Cheryl,

I'm so excited for you and for Fire Eyes!

Celia! LOL - we are getting ready to add on a deck off our master bedroom. It's a 3 year plan! and I am encouraged by your confidence!

Glad to see you all here! great post!

Ashley

Paty Jager said...

Fun topic, Cheryl. My husband and I built a house together after the kids left home and we've built a cabin too. Everyone told us we'd be divorced but it actually brought us closer.

Great excerpt.

Cheryl said...

ASH!!!!
Hey girl!!! Thanks so much! I've been pretty darn happy with the reception Fire Eyes has gotten, too! Celia's account of drawing up the plans and carrying it through with her hubby inspired me, too, but I know my hubby well enough to know...I better not try it. LOL Good luck with your project!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Paty.
I am amazed to hear all these stories of people who have actually done the do-it-yourself projects with their husbands and have not actually committed murder. LOL That's sweet about you and your husband being brought closer with the experience of building together like that. Very cool. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you liked the excerpt.
Cheryl

Helen Hardt said...

LOL -- I loved reading all the comments about how remodeling brought couples closer. I leave that stuff to the dh and his cursing. I escape for the day!

Wonderful post, Cheryl, and as always, beautiful excerpt!

Cheryl said...

Hi Helen,

I'm with you. I leave it to the man, and hope for the best. It's not worth the fight I know is coming if I stay around. LOL

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. It's one of my favorites, too.

Cheryl

Penny Rader said...

I loved your excerpt, Cheryl!

I haven't remodeled or added on, but I was thinking it could lead to some sexy fun: watching the play of bunching muscles; reaching over one another; splashing paint; cleaning up; christening the new room.(grin)

Christine said...

Hi Cheryl,

Very clever about the room addition...I always thought before couples could get married they should have to wallpaper a room together. I'm no longer married and I swear that lump behind the paper is not his favorite t-shirt or Homer Hanky... Lovely excerpt too...

Cheryl said...

Hmm, yes, Penny, I believe you're right...so maybe the key is to remodel a room, or paint, or whatever, while you are still young and crazy about each other and have the energy to do something about those bunching muscles, etc. in the midst of the remodel job. LOL By the time we got to that point, we were just glad there was no gun in the house. LOL Thanks for commenting.
I'm glad you liked the excerpt--it's one of my faves.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

LOL Christine! I bet it IS his favorite shirt, too! LOLLOL Glad you enjoyed the post and the excerpt--I think you might be on to something about couples having to paper a room together--but it probably wouldn't work if they did it BEFORE they got married. They're all starry eyed still at that point. Gotta wait a few years until after the new wears off--of course, a divorce is a divorce. LOL
Cheryl