Don't Mess With The Formula!

by Kayla Perrin

Hola from Cancun, Mexico!

I'm here in paradise, viewing the absolutely stunning Caribbean Sea from my balcony. Happy spring breakers are here—some young, like my daughter. Others in college, here for a week of endless partying. Others still wanting a relaxing escape from the every day.

As a writer, I find the Caribbean backdrop peaceful and inspiring, and I enjoyed a nice time on the beach earlier writing my latest—a story called SPRING BREAK that will come out next year. Of course, I got some flack from people reminding me that I'm on vacation and therefore shouldn't be working, but they don't know that I was working on a book, and for me—and perhaps all writers—a tranquil setting can inspire you to do what you love, and when it does, it hardly feels like work at all.

As I lounged at the beach, I took in the people around me. Many were reading. I saw some Nora Roberts books in the mix (of course!). Other authors too.

And no surprise to me, other romances.

When times get tough, it's not hard to understand that people turn to stories that are uplifting, with a guaranteed happy ending. Romance novels offer that consistently.

It's all about not messing with the formula.

I was chatting with a friend recently—Joanna, the founder of this blog—and we were talking about the success of the Harlequin Presents novels. In a day when women are liberated and doing for themselves, these novels that feature dominating alpha heroes still fly off the shelves.

I know I'd want to slap one of those Greek tycoons silly, but in fiction it works. It's all about the tried and true fantasy of a woman being swept into a world of power and prestige. With titles like THE ITALIAN'S INEXPERIENCED MISTRESS and a host of others featuring billionaires and tycoons, you'd think that today's woman would balk at those books and move on. But apparently not. Harlequin hasn't messed with the formula, and it's one that works. Big time.

Which bring me to my rant for the day. Now you may disagree with me, but I think that the producers of ENCHANTED would have done well to stick to the formula. I saw this movie quite some time ago, but every time I think about it, I can't get over the ending.

If you saw it, you know the premise: a princess from a cartoon fairytale world is sent tumbling through a hole by a wicked witch before she can marry. She ends up on the streets of New York city completely out of her element. Clever, clever premise. When her prince learns of her fate, he goes through the hole himself in order to save his betrothed. It's humorous as those from the cartoon world—totally out of their element—try to survive the streets of New York City.

I loved almost all of the movie—except the ending. AND DON'T CONTINUE READING IF YOU DON'T WANT THE SPOILER. After Edward, the prince from fairytale land, spends so much time trying to find Giselle, his betrothed, it turns out they're not meant to be. His kiss doesn't awaken her after she eats the poison apple. Instead, it is the man who helped her in New York City whose kiss awakens her (the one who of course didn't believe she could be from another world, while his daughter did believe—all of which added to the movie's charm and humor).

When poor Edward is stunned that his kiss doesn't save Giselle and the other man's does, my daughter, four at the time, burst into tears. And this is when I wanted to yell at the television. You don't have these two people, Giselle and Edward, who were meant to be in fairytale land, end up apart!

One of my friends argues that the point the movie was trying to make was that those you think you're supposed to be with you're not necessarily supposed to be with. I told her that I get that, and if ENCHANTED was billed as a different kind of movie, I could deal with that. But the way I see it, true love exists in fairytales, just as it does in romance novels.

When your prince and princess ride off into the sunset at the end of a fairytale, you know it's forever. No ifs, ands, or buts.

The producers and director and script writer of ENCHANTED may have thought they were all clever with their shocking twist to the storyline, and I give them points for originality, but they ruined this movie for me with the ending.

And for my daughter, too. Her reaction summed up their failure to “get it.”

You don't mess with the formula!

Do you agree or disagree? Did you see the movie? What do you think?

Also, do you read and enjoy the Harlequin Presents line? Or even the Desire line, for that matter. Do you love those alpha males—in fiction?

Until next time, adios!



  1. Hey Kayla

    I have seen the movie, and for me what ruined it was the whole dragon episode. Who knew the evil stepmom could turn into a dragon??

    But I have to admit I watched the movie from a grown up, you-know-love-will-happen-between-these-two perspective. Still, to think that Edward wins his princess in the form of the workaholic fiancee.

    My son, 4 at the time, watched it too with me, and like a typical guy, the romance was water over his back. He laughed at the scene where Edward bursts into song and is run down by a herd of cyclists in Central Park.

    I think they wanted the focus on romance, as we know it today and not the fairytale kind.

    On that note, I admit I do love the Alpha heroes of the Harlequin Presents line. I actually have such an Alpha at home, and though he isn't a tycoon or a millionnaire or whatever, I do want to box his ears and slap him silly many times!

    I guess it's always easier to 'take to' those Alpha males in fiction, because it's fiction, the story will end on a HEA and we convince ourselves the HEA will last forever, and, there's another woman who has to actually deal with the bloke! Believe me, that makes an Alpha extremely interesting - the fact that you don't hve to be around when he throws one of is tantrums!

    Sorry for rambling! *wink*



  2. Great post Kayla! I haven't seen "Enchanted" but I get what you're saying - but it's the twist of the movie. In any case - I'll stick to romance any day! As for Alpha males - I like them in my books but not necessarily in real life thank you very much! The difference is that while they are Alpha they are also honourable and loyal and loving and true - so if you happen to nab an alpha in real life who also has all those other qualities then I think he's probably a keeper! ;) Enjoy the sun and surf!

  3. I did see Enchanted, though the twist wasn't much of a surprise for me. Heck it was McDreamy after all!

    I don't read the HP line or Desire, so I'm at a loss here. I tend to enjoy alpha males only when there's a good dose of humor involved, like SEP's Natural Born Charmer.

    Alpa males are great at rescuing and you wouldn't want to kick them out of bed *laughs* BUT for HEA's sometimes it's the 'best friend' women yearn for.

    To me it breaks down as the difference between McSteamy (alpha and Definitely Steamy!!) and McDreamy (beta and best friend archetype).

    Enchanted was a cute movie though, with an intriguing premise. Luckily, I was rooting for Dempsey and was just glad the Prince found his own 'real-life' princess too.

    Chiron O'Keefe

  4. I loved the movie Enchanted and it had me guessing as to who would be "the one" I was rooting for both of the guys. But I did feel a pang of sadness when it wasn't the cartoon character. However, when I came out of the movie with a bit of a heavy heart I realized if she hadn't ended up with McDreamy and the Little girl I would be even sadder. So it was a good ending for me.

    I read Harlequin presents. I just wish the titles could be a little tamer. I feel I have read the whole book by just reading the title. It gives away too much.

  5. Yeah, I was happy for the little girl...but why didn't they cast McDreamy in the hero from fairytale role, LOL. I knew the ending was coming, and loved everything else about the movie...I just wish the happy ending hadn't been so wishy-washy. :-)

  6. Actually, Kayla, it kind of sounds more like chick-lit to me than a romance--you know, so many times in chick-lit, the girl ends up with the unexpected guy, not the one who seems to be the hero if you write his credentials down on paper? I'm with you, I prefer romance any day. It is the fantasy, the fairytale, that makes the HEA so satisfying.

  7. Yes, like Chiron says, it is McDreamy! I mean, isn't it obvious from the start that she's going to end up with him? The other guy is awkward and silly. McDreamy is set up entirely to be 'the guy'! And he's the one who is most often on screen, so the one the audience likes and identifies with - I think. Although your daughter's reaction is interesting.

    I don't think they were being original at all. In fact, it was all totally conventional and predictable in my book! But then, your daughter did cry, so maybe I've got it wrong...

  8. Well... I tried to watch Enchanted and couldn't get all the way through it. Yes... you can hate me for saying such a thing. I'm not sure what put me off. I think I was expecting that she wouldn't end up with McDreamy, and I didn't want to get to the end and see her with the Prince. There was something about him that didn't click with me. But... I have to say I'm very pleased to now know how it ended. I guess I should have stuck it out.

    As for the Harlequin's, I do read some of them. I like the Alpha-male, and I'm not completely sure why. Maybe it's because they have a protective quality to them.

    Great blog post. And I would like to add that I'm incredibly jealous that you're sunning on a beach in Mexico while I look outside my window and see there's still snow on the ground. LOL!!


  9. I'm an odd bird when it comes to romance. I'm much more of a break-my-heart-into-smithereens tragic love story person. So the bittersweetness of the prince not waking the princess with his kiss worked for me. I loved 'Enchanted' and loved the twists away from the expected.

    I don't read Harlequin Presents or Desire as I'm mainly an historical babe. Or fantasy/paranormal. Unless one of my friends writes a contemporary - then I dive in. I'm even that way with films. I haven't seen 'Under the Tuscan Sun' but I have seen 'Sin City'. That's got my favorite romantic lines ever: "My warrior woman. My Valkyrie. You'll always be mine, always and never. The Fire, baby. It'll burn us both. Always and never."

    Dwight is about the only alpha type of character I'm truly attracted to. I prefer tormented Aragorns any day. Well, okay, I love Richard Sharpe, too.

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