Growing up Catholic, crushing on the man at the pulpit offered its own heady form of temptation. Feel free to talk about eroticizing equality all you want, my sisters, but when a priest is good looking - and adolescence has wrapped its silky tendrils around one's good-girl libido - that man's being the ultimate forbidden fruit is hell-in-a-handbasket hot.
I'm fairly certain there also are grown women who find themselves attracted to dynamic, engaging men who happen to be ministers, rabbis or men of any old cloth, though there are lots of stereotypes those guys face when it comes to their need for intimacy, love and sex.
Robyn Carr explores the fascinating and, for some, titillating, subject of preachers in love in her magnificent upcoming release, "Forbidden Falls ." In it, young, widowed pastor Noah Kincaid shows up to renovate a church he bought on eBay, then minister to its congregation in bucolic Virgin River , CA. To help with the administrative work and back-breaking set-up chores, Noah reluctantly hires sexy Alicia Baldwin, a poor, street-wise, disconcertingly intuitive mother of two young kids who happens to be a former stripper. Alicia needs the new job to help get overturned a court order that gave her ex-husband custody of her children; he is not their legal father, but convinced the judge Alicia is unfit to parent.
Noah realizes pretty quickly that Alicia's unafraid of hard work. She's also got an innate sense of morality and a homespun sense of wisdom he's drawn to, one he quickly learns also can help folks in Virgin River. As he sees how selflessly she gives of herself, he realizes it's remarkable she remains positive in light of having her children torn from her by an ex who seems possibly dangerous. So Noah begins wearing down her resistance to his helping her regain custody, and gathers others to aid her.
Noah also stops denying his attraction to everything good - and sensual - about Alicia, and decides it's time he became a little less spiritual, nurturing facilitator, and a whole lot more man who's going to show the woman he cares for that he can help turn her unflagging hope to actual happiness. And Alicia wants Noah, too, but sees her escalating problems with her ex as an embarrassment to Noah, as well as pushing her to the worst point she can imagine: the one in which she might admit she can't solve all her problems on her own and needs him to help save the day.
Rather than being weak and not feminist, it's inspiring, heartening and romantic when a heroine's come to trust a stand-up sort of guy enough to relinquish pride - but not dignity -- and allow him to "rescue" her. Simply put, it's romance depicting what happens all the time in real life, especially in respectful, long-term relationships between partners who've come to understand strength within equality means knowing when to say "I need your help," and then allowing one's partner to be savior in that instance. Allie Baldwin is plenty competent, but she needs Noah's help and he's good at giving it. Stating the obvious, he's a man and guys like to help; just like in real life, letting them shine while they do it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Neither should one feel embarrassed by enjoying the same scenario in romance, and, since I'm gently reminding you that heroes saving the day has long been important fantasy for many readers, I suggest you head to Eloisa James' BN Review column to check out her take on what she calls the "Help, Help, Save Me!" paradigm.
In what situations do you feel it's OK for the hero to save the heroine? What types of romances make it "more OK" than others?