Are We Still Dreaming of A Handsome Prince? by noelle vonham paling

As a young girl, my dreams of love were a Disney and Daddy fueled cross between a tall, handsome knight/prince who would whisk me away on horseback, carry me around on his shoulders, slay the dragons under my bed and in my closet and take me to live in his castle. There, he would tuck me in every night with a bedtime story, prayers and a whisper of sweet dreams. He would enjoy dancing to old records in the living room like my parents and cook me pancakes every Saturday morning. He would also be very, very rich, and buy me every book, every toy and every pretty dress my heart could ever desire.

As an adult, I realize that the above fairytale is a bit, ahem, farfetched. However, as I read some of my favorite romance novels, I have to concede that there is a little bit of the girl left inside me who sighs in contentment every time I read about a hero who is a real prince of a guy. This begs the question, “What makes a male lead a prince?”

The new princely character is a more modern take on this rather ancient archetype. He loves fearlessly, slaying the dragons who doubt the relationship. Let’s face it. Haters are gonna hate. Whenever friends make life changes, a power struggle ensues. No, I don’t mean that anyone takes over the board of directors or calls the press to leak nasty rumors. I mean that old friends struggle to remain relevant in their friends’ evolving lives. After all, when your boy used to live it up with a bottle of champagne and a woman on each arm, it may be difficult to accept that he now prefers dinner a deux, with his boo and not you.

Novels imitate life, and peripheral characters often engage in character assassination, manipulation and even temptation to pull the central character away from a prospective love. A real prince can overcome these snares and remain true to his one true love, regardless of what anyone else thinks. A certain someone at the ball becomes a rather unexpected hater in Amended Hearts. We will have to see whether or not this person can be redeemed by the next full length novel.

He easily overlooks flaws. Every woman has her insecurities, because no one is as together as we would like for the world to believe. Romance novel heroines are no exception. A prince of a guy doesn’t even notice that flappy part underneath the arm that waves in the breeze every time his lady dares to exercise her right to bare arms in the summertime.

He pays no attention to that mountain of student loan debt hanging over her head like the sword of Damocles. He has no concern that emotionally, she carries more baggage than Amtrak. He just wants her, flaws and all. Moreover, he helps her to see that living a full life in spite of any perceived flaws is a strength that he admires, thereby bolstering her self esteem. The hero in Amended Hearts helps Aaliyah to overcome her struggles with self esteem, as he leads her to understand that for him, she is the ultimate prize, flaws and all.

Race is not an obstacle. My latest hero has no interest in whether or not the lady he loves sports more or less melanin than he sees in his own mirror every morning. If they play tennis together, he is not jealous that she gets a better tan. His only real concern is what they have in common, and not what separates them in the minds of men. This type of hero looks for common interests, dreams, goals, values and visions of the future. He does not seek out anything as arbitrary as color to decide whether or not a woman is the right one with whom to spend his life.

The hero in my latest book, Amended Hearts, is also a member of a cultural minority. However, no one really discusses how they differ because beneath the skin they don’t. Rather, the focus is on how well the two characters fit together in the end.

He has lots and lots of money. Let’s face it. Everyone dreams of being handed a black card and told to spend, carte blanche. Even though I’d probably end up at Sears, I’d still love to have the freedom to spend money with no thought for tomorrow. That’s why I so enjoyed writing about Aaliyah shopping for a new wardrobe in this book. While she didn’t exactly have carte blanche, another person opened up a generous wallet and encouraged her to make some much needed changes to her personal appearance. After all, there’s still nothing like a new, flattering outfit to make you feel like a new woman.

Every time I read the section of Amended Hearts that describes the shopping spree I feel a sense of tired contentment come over me, as though I had just finished shopping to augment my own wardrobe. I hope you’ll soon feel the same.

He’s not afraid of a little competition. One of the most striking truths in Amended Hearts is that more than one man becomes interested in Aaliyah, and she must choose her prince. In real life, women are sometimes pursued by more than one man at the same time. A male friend once described it to me as the “Good Place” phenomenon. When a woman is in a good place in her life, she appears happy and content.

Men see this as an opportunity to become a part of her happiness, and so more than one will seek to occupy the romantic space in her life. Unfortunately, once a man finds out that he has a bit of competition, he often walks away. A real prince of a guy would decide that she’s worth pursuing, and certainly worth winning. The hero in this novel makes a decision that as long as Aaliyah wants him in her life, he isn’t going anywhere.

Though I’m more realistic in real life, I cannot help but hear the slightly incongruous echoes of my childhood calling, “You’re a princess. Some day your prince shall come. You’re Daddy’s baby. Stay away from boys.” So, I date with my feet on the ground and read and write with my head in the clouds. Just ask anyone who has enjoyed Amended Hearts, where the heroine is a smart, funny and flawed character who must eventually decide who’s her prince and who’s her pal.

I have noticed that many modern novels feature similar themes, which leads me to believe that I am not alone in pursuing my own version of the perfect modern fairy tale. If that’s a flaw that we all share, don’t worry. We can always blame Disney, and Daddy.

Full Synopsis of Amended Hearts:

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Aaliyah Wyndham is a twenty-seven year old attorney working in the field of Entertainment Law. She has had a crush on her next-door neighbor, C.E.O. Gabriel Cortez, for over a year. Following a break-in, the two share a romantic interlude that seems quite promising, until Aaliyah realizes that Gabriel doesn‘t realize who she is! Aaliyah decides that for his oversight, she wants to make Gabriel pay, and make him pant.

There is only one problem with this plan: Lucas D’Alessandro, her best friend since childhood. He’s been Aaliyah‘s “Big Brother” for so long that she never notices when she begins to feel decidedly unlike his sister. Meanwhile, he is facing the same quandary, struggling to decide whether to pursue a more intimate connection with Aaliyah or to leave the field clear for someone else, namely Gabriel.

Shall Aaliyah rest her case with Gabriel, or shall she make a motion to Amend her Heart with Lucas?

Available at Amazon

Bio: 

320350_4915953263276_343392987_nBy day, I am a lawyer by trade. However, if you are familiar with the field, then I’m sure you know that it is anything but satisfying to a creative mind and so by night, I write. A lover of all things written, spoken and harmonized, my home has always been found in words. I live in Columbia, SC and my work is in Charlotte, NC. Hello to my fellow light rail commuters!

My chihuahua, Lady, is ridiculously friendly for her breed. No snapping, no growling, and so if you ever see us out and about at the pet stores, be sure to say, “Hi!” Most of my spare time is spent hanging out with friends and family and updating my stories.
​My debut novel, Amended Hearts, arose out of my frustration with one simple question: “What’s it like to date outside your race?” I would explain that “It’s like dating a human.” Their race or culture never made them any less inclined to watch the American football game, or the rest of the world’s football game, rather than going to a museum or antiquing with me.

For some reason, the questioner would look at me with skepticism, as though I held some magic formula to dating Klingons and Werewolves, and so I wrote a story to explain. In the book the central character, Aaliyah, has to pick between two good men, Gabriel and Lucas. They happen to be from different backgrounds, but they all have a great deal in common. She must choose to follow her newest crush to Gabriel, or amend her heart for her best friend, Lucas.

What about you? Are you Team Gabriel or Team Lucas?

 

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