Fairy tales, myths and legends influence romantic fiction. The protagonists are supposed to be virtuous and inspirational. In the past, the strongest hero slays the dragon, the most noble of knights save the damsel in distress and the bravest prince wears the crown.
In today’s romance novels, the princess can be found slaying dragons, storming the castle and saving the day.
While there are few royal families holding power in current times, countless of princes, kings and sultans are ruling contemporary romance fiction. Oftentimes they’re expected to choose duty over desire, sacrifice personal freedom for their country, or follow antiquated customs to find a suitable mate.
The roles of princesses have changed gradually in these love stories. There are still the beloved archetypes that are reminiscent of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty or Buttercup in The Princess Bride. Their fated mates will go to great lengths to save them.
But there are also women of decisive action in royal romances. Educated, resourceful and courageous, they’re a country’s secret weapon and they ultimately do the saving. However, they first have to dismantle preconceived ideas, get rid of outdated traditions and force their way into the room where decisions are made.
One example of a modern-day royal romance is How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole. Sanyu knows that to be king is to be brave and to be feared by all. But Shanti, the woman chosen to be his queen, is not at all intimidated by him. In fact, she’s determined to protect him. It doesn’t help that Sanyu’s growing desire for Shanti is a distraction. It’s a weakness and it may be his downfall.
The author creates a sexy arranged marriage romance about a man who doesn’t want to be king because he can’t live up to expectations and a woman who has always wanted to be a queen so she can change the world.
Showing vulnerability is always an important step in romance fiction, but there’s an additional level of risk when one of the main characters is a member of royalty. Too much is at stake if the monarch trusts—or loves—the wrong person.
Vulnerability seems impossible when the ruler enters an intimate but impersonal arrangement with a stranger and has to fight a growing attraction. Such is the case in Kelly Hunter’s Untouched Queen by Royal Command.
Thanks to an ancient tradition, Sera is a courtesan given to King Augustus. While some may believe she’s a prostitute, Sera’s a modern-minded woman who has incredible power and influence. She’s there to advise the king. Yet Augustus doesn’t want her. He doesn’t believe she’s there to serve as much as she’s there to seduce him out of his power.
This Harlequin Presents is a love story about longing and denial. The author creates a world you want to get lost in. Sera and Augustus challenge each other which lead to unguarded moments. Yet the only time the king is safe to show his human side is when he’s with his courtesan.
A member of the royal family also has to consider personal safety. A contemporary princess doesn’t have magical creatures protecting her. She needs to hone her survival skills because there’s always someone who mistakenly assumes a queen is just a pawn.
In His Undercover Princess by Avery Flynn, Elle has been hiding in plain sight from rebels. After her family was overthrown in a bloody coup, she has never felt safe and has purposely kept people at a distance. Controlling her environment and personal interactions is the only thing that has kept her alive. That is until Dominick kidnaps her.
Dom captured Elle to protect her from the rebels. His goal is to return the rightful heir to the throne. But Elle doesn’t want the crown. She’s nothing like her ancestors who were warrior queens. She might have been born a princess, but she doesn’t know how to lead a country.
The sparks fly in this sizzling romance about a billionaire commoner and a princess in hiding, Dom knows firsthand that Elle is a survivor and a fighter. Elle has fought him every step of the way. She might be his queen, but Dom isn’t going to bow down to her. He knows how to fight—and win.
Readers who want updated fairy tales about women who take action and fight for their happily-ever-afters should pick up one of these steamy royal romances!
Recommended Reading List
In addition to the books mentioned above, get these contemporary royal romances:
- Never Resist a Sheikh by Jackie Ashenden: A sheikh intending to kidnap a princess from a neighboring kingdom accidentally winds up with an American businesswoman. This sexy desert fantasy that offers bold characters and a dramatic love story.
- Temporarily His Princess by Olivia Gates: In this sensual and dramatic romance, Vincenzo has been given a royal command to marry. He blackmails Glory—his ex-lover who betrayed him years ago—to accept his proposal for a temporary marriage.
- The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy Sommer: Determined not to screw up a work assignment in the Caribbean, a woman must rely on a mysterious adventurer who turns out to be a prince in exile. Expect an idyllic tropical setting, sizzling chemistry and complex characters.
Love Disney princesses? Check out which romance trope would appeal to you.