Wicked Wednesday: Unrequited Love

Wickeds, our books are mysteries, not romantic suspense. But romance does play a role in many of our books, either in the present or in the past. I’ve been thinking about unrequited love, and what a powerful motivation that can be. Do any of your characters have unrequited love in their past, or a sense of ennui for what might have been? Or does this question give you any ideas?

Julie: I’m not sure anyone can escape the “what might have been” feeling in their life. I’m working on book #4 in the Garden Squad series, and have been thinking about past loves and the different experiences folks have with that love. How it affects them. I’m also wondering what Roddy has in his past, or whether he’s feeling unrequited love now.

Jessie: Interesting, Julie! I haven’t thought much about this for my characters and your question has provoked some mulling! I would say that my character, Edwina Davenport is one of the “surplus women” of the 1920s. She is happy in her unmarried state but she does love children and would have liked to have had at least one of her own. She is unlikely to ever do so and lavishes her attention on her plants, her dog and her growing enquiry agency.

Sherry: Jessie, that makes my heart ache for Edwina! Chloe Jackson, in my upcoming book From Beer to Eternity, has had several relationships in the past including a broken engagement. Through the course of the book she finds out something shocking which turns her world upside down and makes her rethink her adult life and her relationships.

Liz: Maddie has alluded to a number of sub-optimal relationships in her past, usually with bad boy band members and how those have affected her world view of relationships, but I haven’t really thought about whether there was one that she really regretted or wished could have been. I think she probably wishes she’d made better choices along the way, but she also understands that everything is a learning experience.

Barb: The unrequited love in my Jane Darrowfield series is of a different type. Jane is estranged from her son at his initiation. I don’t know that he doesn’t love her, but they haven’t had contact in eleven years. This has left an enormous hole in Jane’s heart. Each of her bridge friends at some time has pointed out, gently and kindly, that Jane spending her retirement fixing other people’s problems is ironic and that perhaps she needs to resolve her own problem soon.

Edith/Maddie: Each of my protagonists is happily settled with a man at this point. Too happily, perhaps? Mac and Robbie both had bad breakups in the past, and Robbie had some trust issues with Abe in a few books because of it, but I’ve left it to the supporting cast to have longings for love!

I love these answers! Dear readers, do you like characters with longings? Or do you prefer neat packages of relationships?

13 Thoughts

  1. I like characters with longing, but I also want it to have a purpose, If it doesn’t then they need to give it up and move on, or act on the longing. It’s important that a character grows throughout the book and if the sense of longing remains without some resolution can become a trope.

  2. Like Kait, I like longing, but not longing that goes on and on without some sort of forward movement – and done just for the sake of doing it. Even if the character will always long, but decides to move on with her life, that’s a kind of resolution. (And of course the object of the longing can always come back and we get to see what happens.)

  3. Interesting question. I am toying with something new, still trying to put all the pieces together, and now wondering if something like this might make give a not-entirely-likable (kind of self-centered/driven) protag a little human touch? Always fun to start the day with. the Wickeds. Thanks!

  4. I love longing! My book has bittersweet dollops of longing for almost everyone. An abused wife seeking comfort outside of marriage, an ambitious diva looking for a big get, a hopelessly crushing elderly music fan who worships her genius composer. No longing for my protag though, he hops into bed with his wifey every night to compare sleuthing notes and mess around.

  5. I actually like that y’all do not have much romance in your books (if any, or none). Some here and there is fine, but in other cozies, I find it a bit annoyingly overboard. Either get on with it, or get done and past it. The “what might have been”, is fine as long as it’s not the focus, in real life, somewhere along the way, I think most all of us have that at one time or another.

  6. The longings are such a staple of cozies that I find it refreshing when a main character is happily in a long term relationship. It actually goes against the cliche.

  7. I like a long-running series where the main characters grow into a relationship and then maintain it, with reasonable ups and downs. The angst or strife shouldn’t seem contrived.

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