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Barely Breathing (A Colorado High Country Novel) — Look for the first book in my new Colorado High Country series on May 10! This new contemporary series is set in the small mountain community of Scarlet Springs and focuses on the lives and adventures of members of an alpine search and rescue team. It will be available in print and ebook, with audiobook coming sometime this fall.


Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.


Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.


Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Friday, July 23, 2010

When heroines get married


It’s the end of the novel. The heroine and hero have been through hell, at least if they’re in one of my books. They’ve earned their happily ever after. Vows are made in the presence of loved ones. Rings are exchanged. Then the groom kisses the bride, and....

Well, traditionally, the couple are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Man’s Name. Etiquette says that if your name is Mary Ross and you marry a guy named Gary Jones that you become Mrs. Gary Jones. Get me a bucket, because I’m going to puke!

Most people don’t do that. In most circles, Mary Ross Jones is often introduced as Mrs. Mary Jones. And for most people, that’s probably okay.

But I’m one of those women who just cannot fathom why any woman should change her name because she marries some guy. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. As a matter of fact, when my mother sent a card to me post-wedding and addressed it to Mrs. Man’s Name, I wrote “Return to send, no such person at this address” and tossed it back in the mailbox.

As the old saying goes, “When a man and a woman marry, they become one, and that one is the man.” That is so not for me.

I didn’t change my name, and my kids were given hyphenated names. I now regret that. They should have gotten my name because they came from me. (I’m only half joking.)

Other societies, such as Viking culture, have managed the whole name thing without stripping women of their identities. Lars and Dagmar would have a son whose last name is Larsen (son of Lars) and Dagmar would have daughter named Dagmarsdottir (Dagmar’s daughter). In lots of places, such as among the Navajo, a woman keeps her last name, while the kids get their father’s last name (probably due to exposure to European culture). So why do we do this?

It’s not a problem for me because, unless I married a guy with a super-cool last name, I would not change my name. It’s not about love; it’s about identity. But as an author, I have characters who get married.

Kara didn’t change her last name. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would expect her to. Tessa didn’t change hers, either — until one of my friends, who was reading the book as I was writing it, e-mailed me and said, “Isn’t she taking Julian’s name?” My immediate response was, “Why would she do that?” But in the end, because Darcangelo is the coolest name ever — I stole it from a friend — I gave in and went with convention.

Sophie is Sophie Alton-Hunter now, and I wish I’d left her with her own last name. Kat is legally still Katherine James, though Gabe has called her Katherine James Rossiter. And Natalie? I haven’t even thought about it.

It’s an uncomfortable thing for me. My heroine taking the hero’s last name makes as much sense to me as calling Julian Mr. Tessa Novak. It’s ridiculous!

I feel certain that society will progress to the point where women routinely keep their own last names. But in the meantime, I am writing books for a culture that isn’t there yet.

Do you expect the heroine to take the hero’s last name?

Other news: I had my pre-op appointment today — blood tests, EKG, etc. I think I passed. They bumped my surgery back by one hour, so it’s now 1 p.m. on Aug. 3. I’m hopeful, but still nervous.

My rose mallow and purple cone flower have gone nuts. They’re both so beautiful! Today, there was a swallowtail butterfly flitting from flower to flower for almost an hour. I watched it and photographed it. And here it is with my sexy car in the background.



Sarita, Cheri if you’re reading this, please know I’m very behind on my e-mail. Getting the paper ready to fly without me for two months and getting things done around the house has eaten up so much time.

13 comments:

Phyl said...

Well as a society, I don't think we've come to any consensus about this yet. I took my husband's name and it took me years to adjust. I began to regret it and I hated being called Mrs. His Name. Eventually I got used to the new last name and after 31 years, I rarely think about it anymore.

I think having a variety of name uses in your books (no name change, hyphenated name, total name change) actually reflects quite accurately the way things are in real life today. I know women who can't wait to change their name and others who have no intention of doing so.

I have a friend who has 1 boy and 2 girls. Boy's name is Boy Dad's Name. Girl 1 is Girl Mom's Name. Girl 2 is Girl Dad's Name because Dad was tired at the hospital and didn't correct the nurse when she assumed baby would get Dad's Name and wrote it on the birth certificate. They intended to change it, but Girl 2 (who is now 10) likes it the way it is, and Girl 1 likes being unique.

So in answer to your question, I expect your heroine's choices to be as unique as they are!

Once again, wishing you good things for your surgery. It was so nice to meet you at RomCon!

Christine said...

I like your idea that you would only change your last name to his if he had a super cool last name, and I would also change my name to Darcagelo.. It's just so AWESOME.
But actually I just recently had two best friends get married (and as a girl, I'm sure your aware that its impossible to have more than two best friends... yes, this means I'm very lonely now... )
But one of them is very strictly conservative baptist, who had no second thought to change her last name to his.
The other one was originally going to combine their last names (my idea: turning ard and rovira into Rovard or Aria, or something cool like that) In the end though she DID decide to change her name to his also. But that's because her dad's a total ass and she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him anymore.
I personally will have SUPER EXTRA problems with this when I go to get married. Because my last name is Bruce, a actual name, it has actually become a common name for people to call me, more so than my actual name (and since most people call me ChristinA instead of Christine, my biggest pet peeve, I'm totally cool with that.)
So imagine my dilemma when I realized (albeit at a young age) that I would one day be called Bruce, with some people having no idea where it came from.
I'm a big fan of hyphenating (I'm more of a fan of combining names to make a new one, just as you are combing yourselves to make a new entity but like I said, I'd still have the issue of my mysterious nickname to people I meet after marriage...) but it's the same principle.
But at the end of the day, I think, especially now, its all about preference. And I don't think anyone expects different from your heroines to go their own way with changing names or not. And if they don't, then they don't know the characters very well.
Good luck on the surgery, you're in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

I actually don’t have a problem with taking a husband’s name. I see it more as something that’s done to show unity.

I DO have a HUGE problem with people addressing letters to Mr and Mrs John Smith - I mean, the woman didn’t BECOME the man when she got married.

But I wonder. If a child with two surnames marries a person with two surnames and their kids have four surnames, then what happens when a four surnames kid marries another four surnames kid? In the end I think it’s a small concession to make. In India seventy women a day are being burnt to death by their husbands, and I care more about those kinds of women’s issues than about a name I’m not especially attached to.

I really hate how couples now are making up new surnames when they get married. You are losing a lot of history by doing that.

Debbie H said...

I think whatever each person wants to do is cool with me. If the bride takes him name, her name-his name or keeps her name,what makes them happy is what's important. I like the kids with the hyphenated names.

Your flowers are beautiful and yes... that is a sexy car. LOL

Will someone let us know how your surgery went afterwards? I will keep you in my thoughts at the designated time.

Hugs!

Scorpio M. said...

It doesn't bother me either way. I never really associate name with identity. I know, sounds like an oxymoron. I associate identity with personality & opinion. You can change your name just don't change your way of thinking because of, or FOR a man. You know what I mean?

I like the idea of taking on your hubby's last name because marriage is a milestone in life and should be commemorated somehow. It's a unity, bonding thing. For Kat to become Kat James Rossiter, it was just fitting.

Do you feel forced as a romantic fiction writer to end your novels with marriage? In real life, many couples don't even get married, they just live together & start families. I don't understand why the romance genre is so conservative about this.

Good luck and best wishes for Aug 3. Will be thinking of you!

JennJ said...

Hi Pamela

You always have such interesting posts! I think it's fine if the woman wants to change her name I had no problem with it personally and did change mine when I got married. It was actually easier for me to take my hubbies last name because people have no problem pronouncing it or spelling it unless they are just ubber stupid lol, whereas with my Maiden name I would just say it then automatically start to spell it no one ever got it right lol.

But if the woman wants to keep her last name I honestly don't see the problem with that either. As long as they love the person they are with and they are both happy I don't see that that should be a big issue at all in the relationship. :)

BIG HUGS You are in my thoughts and prayers with the surgery coming up I know it will go well.

Hi, Phyl! It's great to see you here after having had the chance to meet you in person. Thank you so much for taking time to stop by the conference while on your travels. It's wonderful to be able to associate a face — and fun conversation — with your name.

For you to keep your name 31 years ago would have been more unusual and more of an uphill battle, I'm sure. I don't blame you for not liking it at first.

Interesting point you make about the variety of post-wedding last names being reflective of the real world. I hadn't thought of it. We as a society haven't come to a consensus and I as an author haven't made up my mind. :-)

I love what your friends did — essentially the old Celtic/Scandinavian way way of naming sons and daughters. Seems more fair than slapping the father's name on most of them. It is, after all, the mother who does all the real work.

And thank you for the good wishes!

Hi, Christine — Yeah, doesn't "Darcangelo" rock? My friend is very lucky to have that for his last name.

I hear you about having a last name that matters to you. I think that's more common for women these days. You also gave some good examples of women who had reasons to take their husband's names.

Hyphenating only becomes a problem down the road if two people with hyphenated names get married. What do you call the kids. My boys will face this conundrum one day. One is thinking of dropping my name and keeping his dad's. The other will probably drop both and use his middle name as a surname (Alexander).

And thank you! I really appreciate your prayers!

Hi, Anonymous — I interviewed a woman from Pakistan once who'd put her life on the line to open a hospital for women burn victims. The photographs and stories of these women was heartrending and enraging. And, yes, it certainly is a more significant issue than last names when it comes to defending women.

Still, there are a lot of us — I'm one of them — who, perhaps because of our professions, come to identify with our last names as much as any guy. I'm one of them. And the whole subject of my having to surrender my name became the first irreconcilable difference in my marriage.

The idea of adopting his name because he had a penis was deeply offensive to me. It did not feel like a small concession to me, any more than most men would say it would feel like a small concession to them.

As for the couples with two hyphenated names... They should just name the kids after the person whose bleeding after the babies are born. :-)

One of my kids has said he might take his GF’s last name because he likes it. We'll see... His GF's mother kept her name, and the kids, including the GF, are named after their dad.

Hi, Debbie — Thanks for the good thoughts. Someone — probably Benjy, possibly Sue — will be keeping everyone updated. I'm not sure if I'll have Benjy post or have my mom text Sue and have her post. Benjy is working all day up in the mountains and is nowhere near the 'Net.

You're very easy to satisfy on the name issue. LOL!

I know it sounds like a small matter, but when someone's telling you that you MUST take his name and you do not want to do that, it doesn't feel small.

Maybe since father's have had their names on kids for a couple thousand years now we can switch for the next couple thousand years. LOL!

Hi, Scorpio —

I understand what you mean about associating identity with opinion, etc. In the age of avitars and such, it's possible personal attachment to personal names might be declining. I got used to seeing my byline in the paper, and after building a reputation for myself with my own name didn't feel like changing it.

My brother and his wife arrived at an interesting solution. He took her last name as a middle name, and she took his last name as a middle name. The kids all have her last name as their middle name and my brother's (my) last name as their surname. It works really well.

As for marriage... My personal opinions on it differ rather dramatically from the average HEA. I guess I do feel constrained because in real life the idea of marriage is... troubling. The idea of being with someone for the rest of my life is really wonderful and appealing until I think about what that means. And then it sounds like a prison sentence.

I haven't been single for 14 years for no reason.

Thanks for the thoughts and good wishes, Jenn. They mean a lot to me!

Hi, JennJ — Thanks! Just the ramblings of a mind that hasn't had enough sleep in two centuries.

It totally makes sense to jettison a difficult last name in favor of one that is easy to spell or sounds better with your first name, etc.

And you're right — every couple should feel free to decide how to handle it.

Thanks for your prayers! I really appreciate it. I got your email. I'm just horribly behind on email. There's so much to do at home and at work to get ready for 8 weeks of doing nothing.

I just read over some of my posts here and they read like they were typed by a person with her eyes closed, and that's pretty close to the truth.

So please excuse the typos, repetitions and rambling!

Have a good night everyone!

Hi Pamela, aren't purple coneflowers lovely? Ours are running riot too.

As for the name issue, for me the issue is choice. I couldn't deal with a man telling me I had to take his name. On the other hand, if he had a really cool name I might choose to take it.

Keep us posted on the surgery. All the best!

Ridley said...

I'm a regular on a few wedding planning boards and I have to say I don't share your optimism that women will keep their names in greater numbers. I have seen a lot of hostility, actually, to the idea of keeping your name after the "I do's," even among those younger than I am.

I kept my name when I married almost 5 years ago, but it wasn't really some feminist statement on my part, really. My name sounded ridiculous with his name, almost on pay with the infamous Julia Goolia of The Wedding Singer. I'm not sure if I would have changed it otherwise. Though I said for years that I'd never take a man's name because I am Woman and /rawr and all that, when the day came closer, and the emotions started running, being a Mrs. did start to appeal. In fact, my name is officially hyphenated, but I've always just used my name alone.

I would like to see more HEA name variety, though. In my experience, thirty-something professional women don't squee and start writing Mrs. Dreamboat on their notebook. If they change their name at all, they tend to agonize over it quite a bit. Some women change, some don't, and that's fine.

As for the kids, if we had kids, they'd get my name. I operate under a "My hoo-hoo, my name" philosophy.

Luci said...

I don't mind either way actually. However, i took my husband's name - it is something he wanted me to do and frankly I did not mind it. I did not feel as if i lost my identity by doing so. I must also say that my surname is as common here as his is although i prefer mine to his, at the end of the day. I was born a Muscat and still feel I am a Muscat but I have become a bit of a Cassar too. I am extremely proud of my heritage even though i haven't kept the name. Hyphenated the two would sound ridiculous.

When a woman takes her husband's surname there is more a feeling of one whole family unit I think. But whatever a woman decides to do is fine by me.

On the other hand, I don't like being referred to as Mrs, I use the Ms form. Plus do not refer to me as Mrs Tony Cassar - I do not care if it is etiquette or whatever. It grosses me out. I am me and he is him. If you want to address us together find another way.

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