I love a great road-trip romance. Who doesn’t? From The African Queen to Romancing the Stone to Tangled, those thrilling and romantic journeys have a way of capturing our hearts and imaginations.
My love of the road-trip trope is one reason I decided to send my A Week to be Wicked hero and heroine on a whirlwind, chaotic trip from Sussex to Scotland. Against all odds, these two polar opposites must work together to reach Edinburgh in time, so geologist Minerva can win a science prize of five hundred guineas.
The other reason I chose this plot? For that, I have TV to blame. Reality TV, no less.
My absolute favorite television show is The Amazing Race.
For anyone who’s never watched the show, there are twelve (I think?) teams of two—they could be husband and wife, a dating couple, brother/sisters, parent/child, friends, coworkers, etc. They’re all competing in a race around the world, where the prize is a million dollars (substantially more than five hundred guineas!). Each episode sees them traveling to a new country or continent, where they must avoid bad airport karma, complete tasks (called Roadblocks and Detours), and navigate their way to that leg’s finish line. Twenty seasons now, and I still can’t get enough of this show. Why?
It’s all about the journey. Road trips are full of crazy, unexpected situations, and we learn the most about people (as individuals and couples) by the way they react to the unexpected. Will the kindergarten teacher with a fear of heights parachute out of the airplane? Will the twin brothers literally searching for a needle in a field of haystacks stay calm and conquer the task, or will frustration get the better of them?
The Amazing Race is a show filled with gorgeous scenery and challenges that showcase cultures around the world. But just the same way many NASCAR fans watch for the crashes, I have to admit I watch The Amazing Race in part for the inevitable fatigue-inspired meltdowns. Like this epic example:
(For the record, the hero of A Week to be Wicked is named Colin, but the similarities to this Colin end there!)
In the Dare household, “My ox is broken!” remains an oft-used expression of frustration.
Every great road-trip romance has that moment—that final, frustrating setback where all is lost, including the luggage, and the hero and heroine are convinced they can go no further. It all ends here.
And then…somehow, it doesn’t. The hero and heroine dig deep and find a way to continue—both on their journey, and in their relationship. Reaching their destination together is the ultimate triumph, and proof that they’re well on their way to happily ever after.
The real prize waiting for the couple at the end of the road is never five hundred guineas or a million dollars—it’s true, lasting love.
Do you have a travel horror story of your own? Or a favorite road-trip romance to share?