The Overheard Confession

There are so many overused tropes in romance novels that if I see one in the blurb I’ll immediately lose interest in reading the book. Amnesia, mistaken ID, twins switching places, dukes pretending to be not-dukes, heiresses pretending to be not-heiresses, the jaded military man, the loner cowboy, the manic pixie dream girl, vampires, yada. One that you generally don’t get alerted to in the description but which sneaks in later is the overheard confession.

It goes like this. One of the protagonists, usually the heroine, will “confess” something, maybe her attraction to the hero, or something else incriminating, and he overhears it, or he hears part of it. He just so happens to walk past the room at the exact moment she says: “I poisoned my father so I wouldn’t have to marry my cousin Fenwick.” Naturally our hero misses the first part of what she says: “I can’t believe anyone would think I poisoned my father…”

This will propel the plot quite some distance before the protags sort it all out. Heroine won’t understand why hero is mistrustful of her when earlier he was so charming and attentive. He can’t understand why such a lovely girl, who cares for the orphans and the puppies, could have coldly killed her father. It’s such a dilemma! And yet he’s still madly attracted to her, which is so horrible for him that it puts him in a foul mood and he’s always snapping at the secondary characters. Naturally they avoid him and gravitate to our heroine, which makes him angrier. Why is she so popular? She’s a murderer, for heaven’s sake! Gah.

Idk if I’ve ever read that particular book, but I feel I have. It seems very real to me now that I wrote the paragraph. I believe it’s a parody/pastiche of various romnovs.

Sometimes it’s the hero who has the overheard confession. I read a romnov where the heroine believed she heard the hero say he never wanted children but in fact he said he didn’t want them with his first wife who would have been a bad mother since she was a drunken whore. Luckily she drowned, hurrah. And the protags solved some mystery and sorted out the baby making so all was well.

I think I’m over my burst of science fiction reading and back to romances, mysteries, and dramas. Of course I’m always up for a good book of pomes or a well-written aminal story (the non-fiction science type).

Goodreads says I read 28 books in 2017 (may finish another one this week). That doesn’t seem like very many, but four of them were A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) ~ in other words, enormous (around 1200 pages each). Lotta confessions going on in GOT, overheard and not.


The Daily Prompt: Confess


13 responses to “The Overheard Confession

  1. I never thought about it before, but I think I tend to feel the same way. Love the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What strikes me the moast about this poast is that you know how many books you read in a year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh God, that “overheard confession” thing is THE WORST THING IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS and it must pop up a lot even out of genre, because by God I’ve read that book, too. Over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was beginning to feel like I was all alone in the universe because I’m the only one in any narrative I know who hasn’t overheard something to move even my own personal plot line along. Reading, it seemed like everyone else does. But now I know I’m not the only one who thinks that this is a badly hidden Deus ex machina method of covering up the fact that the author can’t figure out another way to make his story work…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? I can’t even think of a time where I’ve ever overheard a murder confession, someone whispering that they secretly were in love with me, or anything at all. We must not be walking down the right hallways, Dusty!


  5. What science fiction did you read?

    And fergodsake why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang after seeing Arrival cuz I really enjoyed the language aspect of the movie. Those short stories were fabulous. Then I read Secondborn by Amy Bartol cuz it was a Kindle First freebie and none of the otter books sounded good. It was… interesting. I mean, I finished it. I thought I might read the next in the series, but probably I won’t now. Oh, at the very beginning of the year I received The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood in a book exchange, which was great. But she’s so good she transcends genre.


  6. That was interesting. I never thought of the overheard conversation as a plot device, but I think that it’s almost an archetypal situation in all human drama–or if not that actual mechanism, at least the idea of being wrong, but of course thinking you’re right, and then discovering that you’re wrong. It’s everywhere.

    Isn’t it? Of course neither Romeo now Juliet ever actually discovered they were wrong, but that was the twist.

    Liked by 1 person

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