When heroines get married

    It’s the end of the novel. The heroine and hero have been through hell, at least if they’re in one of my books. They’ve earned their happily ever after. Vows are made in the presence of loved ones. Rings are exchanged. Then the groom kisses the bride, and....

    Well, traditionally, the couple are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Man’s Name. Etiquette says that if your name is Mary Ross and you marry a guy named Gary Jones that you become Mrs. Gary Jones. Get me a bucket, because I’m going to puke!

    Most people don’t do that. In most circles, Mary Ross Jones is often introduced as Mrs. Mary Jones. And for most people, that’s probably okay.

    But I’m one of those women who just cannot fathom why any woman should change her name because she marries some guy. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. As a matter of fact, when my mother sent a card to me post-wedding and addressed it to Mrs. Man’s Name, I wrote “Return to send, no such person at this address” and tossed it back in the mailbox.

    As the old saying goes, “When a man and a woman marry, they become one, and that one is the man.” That is so not for me.

    I didn’t change my name, and my kids were given hyphenated names. I now regret that. They should have gotten my name because they came from me. (I’m only half joking.)

    Other societies, such as Viking culture, have managed the whole name thing without stripping women of their identities. Lars and Dagmar would have a son whose last name is Larsen (son of Lars) and Dagmar would have daughter named Dagmarsdottir (Dagmar’s daughter). In lots of places, such as among the Navajo, a woman keeps her last name, while the kids get their father’s last name (probably due to exposure to European culture). So why do we do this?

    It’s not a problem for me because, unless I married a guy with a super-cool last name, I would not change my name. It’s not about love; it’s about identity. But as an author, I have characters who get married.

    Kara didn’t change her last name. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would expect her to. Tessa didn’t change hers, either — until one of my friends, who was reading the book as I was writing it, e-mailed me and said, “Isn’t she taking Julian’s name?” My immediate response was, “Why would she do that?” But in the end, because Darcangelo is the coolest name ever — I stole it from a friend — I gave in and went with convention.

    Sophie is Sophie Alton-Hunter now, and I wish I’d left her with her own last name. Kat is legally still Katherine James, though Gabe has called her Katherine James Rossiter. And Natalie? I haven’t even thought about it.

    It’s an uncomfortable thing for me. My heroine taking the hero’s last name makes as much sense to me as calling Julian Mr. Tessa Novak. It’s ridiculous!

    I feel certain that society will progress to the point where women routinely keep their own last names. But in the meantime, I am writing books for a culture that isn’t there yet.

    Do you expect the heroine to take the hero’s last name?

    Other news: I had my pre-op appointment today — blood tests, EKG, etc. I think I passed. They bumped my surgery back by one hour, so it’s now 1 p.m. on Aug. 3. I’m hopeful, but still nervous.

    My rose mallow and purple cone flower have gone nuts. They’re both so beautiful! Today, there was a swallowtail butterfly flitting from flower to flower for almost an hour. I watched it and photographed it. And here it is with my sexy car in the background.

    Sarita, Cheri if you’re reading this, please know I’m very behind on my e-mail. Getting the paper ready to fly without me for two months and getting things done around the house has eaten up so much time.

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