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Monday, August 19, 2013

Boy Next Door



Love thy neighbor—and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.” ~ Mae West.

When I came across that quote in Midwest Living magazine, I immediately thought of a common theme used in movies and romance (and romantic suspense) novels—the man next door. From Meet Me in St. Louis to Mr. Perfect (by Linda Howard) what is more delicious than the heroine discovering the boy she grew up with has turned into a man she could fall in love with? Or the man who moved in next door/across the hall/down the street is definitely worth more than a friendly wave? He could even save her life.

It’s fun to watch the heroine’s journey of discovery as she tosses aside old assumptions. Bad boy becomes sheriff. Nerdy geek returns home a buff millionaire. Mousy bookworm is now a celebrated novelist. People change, attitudes don’t always. Think high school reunions. During an episode of Bones, the celebrated forensic anthropologist returned to her home town to solve a murder during her high school reunion and she was still treated as “weird girl.”

Sometimes the man next door isn’t what everyone thinks. Danger can hide beneath a pleasant face and mild demeanor. Remember how the neighbors in Cleveland—and even his family members—couldn’t believe Ariel Castro held women captive all those years? Or the pedophile everyone said was such a nice man.

Since I do not read horror novels (I don’t watch horror movies, either), I prefer the next door neighbor to be the good guy. The man who leaves a successful career to return home to rescue the family business or take care of his aging parents. The man who always had a secret crush on the heroine who never left town.

While these stories are fun to read, they’re even more fun to write. The best part is every writer can start out with the same theme and the resulting stories will all be different.

What is your favorite boy-next-door movie or book?

18 comments:

  1. I've been sitting here trying to think of a movie or book with the boy next door theme, and I couldn't think of one, even after googling it! I do like to write romances with neighbors falling in love, though. You're right about each story being different.

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    1. I know I've read more but I could only think of Mr. Perfect.

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  2. I love Romantic Comedy Movies - especially the 'boy next door' kind. One of my favorites it "Kate and Leopold" (with Hugh Jackman & Meg Ryan) even if they were born centuries apart, and technically he lived upstairs from her for a little while. Another favorite is 'Someone Like You' (Hugh Jackman & Ashley Judd). In this one she didn't exactly live next door, but she moved in with him (separate bedrooms). But I'm going to count it anyway, because DUH he's Hugh Jackman. Maybe I don't like 'boy next door' movies as much as I just like anything with Hugh Jackman in it. Great Blog.

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    1. Oh, well, put Hugh Jackman in anything & I'll love it, too. :)

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  3. Great post and book and movie choices! Makes me think of Suzanne Brockmann's Frisco's Kid-love that book!!

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    1. I never read that one. I'll have to add it to my TBR pile.

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  4. It's all good! The best part is to use our imaginations to make that good old boy next door anyone we want! Great post, Diane.

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  5. I also had a hard time thinking of a movie or show that featured a boy next door. Of course the ones I remembered are Little House on the Prairie with Laura and Almanzo Wilder. Or the show Little Rascals with Darla and Alfalfa. Now I'm dating myself! <3

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  6. LOL, Melissa. I thought about the Andy Rooney/Judy Garland movies when they were teens (I think). Now they were waaay before my time. LOL I probably saw those movies on TV. That's my story & I'm sticking to it. :)

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  7. Some great books and themes, Diane. I loved Mr. Perfect, especially the loud chugging car that annoyed and drew the two together. Oddly enough, I wrote a story called, Love Thy Neighbor. LOL. I've never revised it, but after being reminded how interesting a neighbor can be, I may have to.
    : )

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  8. I'm rereading a Nora Roberts favorite, Black Hills, and there's a boy-next-door kind of hero in that one. Great blog entry! :)

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  9. One of my favorite movies is Breakfast at Tiffany's (Audrey Hepburn and George Pepard) where he's kind of the guy-in-the-next-apartment. The best scene was where he brought her lost cat back. I think the girl/guy next door theme is one of the most enduring and endearing themes in romance novels.

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    1. I'd forgotten about Breakfast at Tiffany's. Thanks for mentioning it, Lucy.

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  10. Meet Me in St. Louis is my all-time favorite. Beside the boy-next-door romance, it had such wonderful songs and the fabulous Judy Garland singing them.

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  11. I agree about the songs and Judy Garland. What a wonderful singer.

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