If You Like….

Today’s If You Like is about improbable plots.

I realize that this is a loaded category. One can argue that pretty much any plot is to a greater or lesser degree probable or improbable. For example, my beloved “heroine inherits a castle from an unknown relative” sort of books. I put those in the probable category. (Wishful thinking?) Others might shelve them in improbable.

But we all have those books that fall into the “really?” category. What’s even more impressive is when, despite pushing that button, the author manages to pull the story off.

Here are some of my personal “it’s so improbable… but it works!” books:

— Susan Elizabeth Philips’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine, in which a physicist, hoping for a child with a lower IQ, disguises herself as a hooker to seduce a football player– who then insists that they marry for the sake of the baby.

— Helena Dela’s The Count, in which an Austrian count lumbered with a family curse proposes to a total stranger, an English book restorer with a death wish– because the mothers of the heirs in his family always die and his high maintenance French girlfriend doesn’t want to be the one to go.

— Georgette Heyer’s The Reluctant Widow, in which the heroine gets into the wrong carriage and finds herself speedily married to a dying spendthrift and the heir to his estate.

What are your favorite “it shouldn’t work– but it does!” books?


  1. Meredith A on September 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Austenland by Shannon Hale: A Pride & Prejudice obsessed woman receives an inheritance that sends her on vacation to a Regency-themed estate where the majority of the guests are actors with the sole purpose of the woman’s Jane Austen dreams come true. And then she ends up with her own Mr. Darcy.
    This is as improbable (but fun) as it comes and has the unfortunate effect of making Mr. Darcy real and attainable. It is so wrong to give the reader and womankind in general that sort of hope!!!

  2. Michelle in Texas on September 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

    The premise that Mr. and Mrs. have no idea the other spouse is a spy. “Lord & Lady Spy” by Shan Galen, True Lies with Aaaa-nald and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I can’t look away!

  3. Am7 on September 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I second Austenland.
    I put everything Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s ever wrote or most of it in this category.
    I’ll add Heyer’s These Old Shades to the list. (A huge age difference is something I usually don’t like and doesn’t work for me and yet I adore this book. Then there’s the plot that’s kind out there too!)
    I feel like there should be more but I can’t think of any.

  4. Lara on September 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    The Rock Chick series by Kristen Ashley. I can’t get enough; the books have everything – tears, laughter, redemption, suspense. So much fun!
    The whole premise that law enforcers, big-time badasses, vigilantes and private investigators have all found each other, live at peace and become close friends due to “their” women being tight in Denver with no backlash from their respective communities is out-of-control unbelievable. Oh and let’s not forget when a random motorcycle club member from a “clean club” makes an appearance to help save the day.

  5. Alice on September 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    “The Gamble” by Joan Wolf. I loved the book, I really did. But the whole idea that a penniless young woman whose father was a blackmailer, could come and blackmail one of her fathers victims to give her a season, agrees because he falls in love with her on the spot, and then she falls in love with him, just stretches the bounds of reality. At the very least he would have thrown her out on her rear!

  6. Betty S. on September 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Lisa Kleypas’s Bow Street Runner series fits this category starting with Someone to Waych Over Me – one of the lead runners rescues a woman from the Thames (yes, she was meant to die), recognizes her as a well known lady with scandalous reputation (but she has no memory of her life), takes her home to recover and then becomes her protector/lover. All in this series are great, continuing on with Lady Sophia’s Lover, then Worth Any Price in which crime lord Nick Gentry is forced to join the runners and bring back a runaway fiance, and guess what?

Leave a Comment