Creator: Simona Ahrnstedt
Simona Ahrnstedt (born in 1967) was a therapist (and still works as this half-time) until she became one of Sweden's leading writers in the Romance genre
. Her three novels so far have all been historical love stories. Her debut from 2010, Överenskommelser
, takes place in the 1880s. "Betvingade" from 2012 takes place in 1349; "De skandalösa" from 2013 takes place in 1685. While the focus in these stories is on how two lovers will find happiness together, other themes are explored as well. It's so easy to believe that rich people always have been happy. After all, don't they live in big houses, wear fine clothes, go to fancy parties and have servants to do everything for them? But reality behind the facade can be ugly, maybe even terrifying. And we only have to go back a handful of generations to end up in an era, when women had much fewer rights than what men had...
- Abusive Parents:
- Wilhelm Löwenström of Överenskommelser abuses his own children until his son Edvard becomes a serial abuser sociopath and his daughter Sofia becomes an extreme doormat. While we don't know exactly what happened between him and his wife Harriet, she has become ill from unhappiness. But after his niece Beatrice becomes an orphan and has to live with him, she becomes her uncle's new favorite victim...
- Illiana's parents in "Betvingade" are really bad as well. Her father is tyrannical, her mother is cold-hearted. They have no love for their daughter, and they even threatened her in front of the king!
- Gabriel's father in "De skandalösa" seems to have fitted into this trope as well while he was alive, so much that Gabriel ran away from home when he was sixteen years old. Gabriel's mother was also afraid of her abusive husband.
- Beatrice Löwenström in Överenskommelser has a nerdy side, but she's a Bad Ass Bookworm.
- Ossian Bergman in "De skandalösa" is a nerdy scholar, who has a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man dynamic with the more roguish male protagonist Gabriel.
- Affectionate Nickname:
- In Överenskommelser, Sofia calls Beatrice "Bea" (pronounced as "Beh-ah").
- In De skandalösa, Gabriel starts calling Magdalena "Malla".
- Arranged Marriage: Simona seems to love this trope!
- Beatrice Löwenström in Överenskommelser is forced by her uncle into marriage with a man, who's like forty years older than her and treats women like dirt under his shoes. And it does NOT end well for her! She was lucky to surive the wedding night and that the old creep died only a couple of days afterwards...
- Illiana and Markus in Betvingade are forced to marry each other, but it turns out well enough.
- Subverted with Gabriel Gripklo in De skandalösa, who makes a promise to his mother that he will marry a girl from the aristocracy. But he falls in love with Magdalena, the story's female protagonist, and has to break that promise.
- Babies Ever After: Överenskommelser and De skandalösa both end with the female protagonist being pregnant. 'Överenskommelser has an epilogue, that only has been printed in the paper-back version, which really is about the birth of Beatrice's and Seth's baby. And by that point, the two beta couples already have babies too.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Another favorite trope of Simona's. Beatrice and Seth from "Överenskommelser" might be the prime example, with their neverending tendency to misunderstand each other. But still, Illiana and Markus from "Betvingade" and Magdalena and Gabriel from "De skandalösa" have it too, as they sometimes have unnecessary fights.
- Best Friends In Law:
- Beatrice/Seth and Sofia/Johan in Överenskommelser have this kind of relationship. Beatrice and Sofia are cousins, while Seth and Johan were close friends even before they met the Löwenström girls.
- Magdalena and Gabriel in De skandalösa have a friendly relationship with Gabriel's sister Nora and her gay lover Venus.
- Beta Couple:
- Sofia and Johan in Överenskommelser have a much less complicated relationship than what the alphas Beatrice and Seth have.
- Jacques and Vivienne are another beta couple from Överenskommelser, but with a more complicated relationship.
- Magdalena and Gabriel in De skandalösa get two beta couples in the end: Beata/Ossian and Venus/Nora.
- Betty and Veronica: In De skandalösa, Magdalena Swärd is torn between two men. She sees Peter Cronstedt as the boring but safe choice (the Betty), and even though he once betrayed her, she wonders if she shouldn't forgive him. By contrast, she sees Gabriel Gripklo as the exciting but dangerous choice (the Veronica), but since he's a high-ranked aristrocrat, she could never have an equal relationship with him. But it turns out that Peter really is a jerk, and Gabriel is willing to marry her after all.
- Big Screwed-Up Family:
- While the Löwenströms of Överenskommelser seem to be an ordinary upper middle class family, the sad truth is that Wilhelm is a cruel domestic abuser, who somehow managed to make his wife ill from unhappiness. He has also abused his own children, and has now moved on to abuse his niece...
- Illiana Henriksdotter in Betvingade also comes from a screwed-up family, with a tyrannical father and a cold-hearted mother.
- And the Gripklos of De skandalösa have their issues, with a tyrannical father and a neglectful mother.
- Brainy Brunette: Magalena Swärd in De skandalösa is a very good example of this trope. She seems to be the most intelligent woman, whom Gabriel and Ossian have met!
- Broken Bird: Magdalena Swärd in De skandalösa becomes very cynical and reluctant to trust a man after she's betrayed by her fiancé.
- Byronic Hero: Simona's male protagonists are all Byronic when we first meet them. Seth in Överenskommelser, Markus in Betvingade and Gabriel in De skandalösa all are charismatic men with a questionable reputation and a tragic past. But as these novels belong to the Romance Genre, they will of course find love and be redeemed.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Simona's male protagonists have a tendency to be chivalrous perverts. They might have had affairs with many different women, and alas, they can be jerks too. But they mostly try to show women proper respect. And when it really matters, they will show a strong chivalrous streak.
- Coitus Ensues: Simona's novels have plenty of sex scenes, and in Överenskommelser, we also get a really long rape scene. These scenes would have worked just as well (or maybe even better) if they had been shorter and less detailed. Many of them aren't even necessary for the plot. But they're still there, and "De skandalösa" is close to being pure erotica.
- Dances and Balls: Ahrnstedt loves having balls and parties in her novels, where the upper classes can show off their fancy clothes, flirt and dance.
- Decon-Recon Switch / Reconstructed Trope: Even though all her three novels are about the upper classes and their extravagant parties and their beautiful clothes, Ahrnstedt loves to deconstruct the idea that material wealth and money will automatically make you happy. Beatrice in Överenskommelser, Illiana in Betvingade and Gabriel in De skandalösa all grew up in rich but very abusive households. Seth in Överenskommelser and Markus in Betvingade have become rich through their own efforts, but that also means that many people will look down on them as irritating upstarts. The story will always end on a happy note though, as the protagonists can move on and become happily married. They will still be rich!
- Designated Love Interest: In De skandalösa, Ossian and Beata suddenly become a couple in the end. As far as we know, they had never interacted with each other before only a few chapters remained of the story. Maybe we can assume that something has happened off screen, but still, it just feels like it comes out of the blue. As if they just had to end up together because they both were single up until that point.
- Domestic Abuser:
- Carl-Jan Rosenschiöld of Överenskommelser rapes and almost murders his wife, who happens to be Beatrice, the female protagonist, on their wedding night. When he dies a couple of days later, nobody misses him. We also find out later that he murdered one previous wife and drove another previous wife into suicide.
- Lily Tremaine's alcoholic first husband is yet another example (albeit an off-screen one) from Överenskommelser. Lily had to let herself get beaten to protect their young son from his father!
- Dork Knight: Ossian Bergman from "De skandalösa" by Simona Ahrnstedt is a nerdy scholar, who seems to be awkward when it comes to women. But he also seems to be a better person than his Chivalrous Pervert friend Gabriel, and in the end, he does get a woman after all.
- Extreme Door Mat:
- Sofia Löwenström of Överenskommelser is so afraid of getting beaten by her abusive father, that she hardly ever expresses any opinion of her own. So people are really astounded if she does. Sadly enough, her mother has become this as well because of her abusive husband.
- Venus Dag och Natt in De skandalösa is so desperate to please her mother and doesn't seem to have any opinions of her own.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Sofia Löwenström in Överenskommelser and Venus Dag och Natt in "De skandalösa" both blondes. Both of them seem to always be surrounded by suitors.
- Family Theme Naming: Venus Dag och Natt in De skandalösa comes from a family where all the kids are named after Roman deities.
- Fiery Redhead:
- Red-headed Beatrice Löwenström in 'Överenskommelser is intelligent, competent and assertive. She's not affraid to speak her mind, even when that only makes her oppressors angry with her.
- Averted with Beata Jensdotter in De skandalösa. Despite being a redhead, she's less fiery than the brunette protagonist Magdalena.
- Four Philosophy Ensemble:
- In Överenskommelser, Beatrice (self-sacrificing, stubborn, impulsive and plucky) is the Optimist, Seth (a Knight In Sour Armor with questionable morality) is the Cynic, Sofia (a lovely but weak Extreme Doormat) is the Conflicted, and Johan (a Nice Guy, who will often take the middle ground) is the Realist.
- In De skandalösa, Magdalena (a Broken Bird Stepford Snarker) is the Cynic, Gabriel (self-sacrificing, stubborn and impulsive) is the Optimist, Venus (another lovely but weak Extreme Doormat) is the Conflicted and Ossian (a Dork Knight, who will often take the middle ground) is the Realist.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- In Överenskommelser, we have Beatrice (a plucky Ditzy Genius Fiery Redhead) as the Sanguine, Seth (ambitious, arrogant, charismatic, Hot-Blooded and proud) as the Choleric, Sofia (a docile and timid Proper Lady) as the Phlegmatic and Johan (the pretty much flawless Nice Guy) as the Leukine.
- In ''De skandalösa", Magdalena (a Broken Bird Stepford Snarker) as the Melancholic, Gabriel is (a Boisterous Bruiser Spirited Competitor) as the Sanguine, Venus (another docile and timid Proper Lady) as the Phlegmatic and Ossian (a Dork Knight Gentleman and a Scholar) as the Leukine.
- Good Bad Girl: Simona has two examples of this trope. And to make it even more interesting, they're both French.
- Vivienne de Beaumarchais in Överenskommelser maybe isn't promiscuous, but still, she lives a very unconventional life. She doesn't care about her hiding her affair with Jacques, despite how she refuses to get married to him before she gets pregnant. She will never let a man control her life again after her first marriage became a disaster. She travels over Europe on her own, and more conventional people are really appalled by her lifestyle.
- Marie Dicke in De skandalösa is unfaithful to her husband and neglectful to her children. But still, she's portrayed with some sympathy. Just like Vivienne from above, she really has a big appetite for life. And it seems like she's not really a bad person, but simply bored with trying to live a conventional life.
- Happily Married: Simona has very few couples, who are happily married when the story starts. One of the few exceptions is Johan's parents in "Överenskommelser", who are obviously devoted to each other. Gabriel's sister Amelie in "De skandalösa" also seems to be happy with her husband, even if he always seems to have duties somewhere else. In the end though, both the alpha couples and the beta couples will have become happy.
- In-Series Nickname: Markus in "Betvingade" is some times called "Järven", meaning "Wolverine".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Simona's male protagonists have a tendency to be jerks who are not all bad. Seth in Överenskommelser and Markus in De skandalösa are especially prone to being jerks, but Gabriel in "De skandalösa" has his bad moments too. And yet, they always turn out to not be so bad after all...
- Lady Drunk: Nora Gripklo in De skandalösa has turned to alcohol after her husband died prematurely.
- Light Feminine Dark Feminine: In De skandalösa, Magdalena Swärd is the intelligent and brooding proto-feminist (dark feminine), while Venus Dag och Natt is so beautiful, lovely and docile (light feminine).
- Lipstick Lesbian: In De skandalösa, when the beautiful Girly Girl Venus Dag och Natt turns out to be gay.
- Lonely Rich Kid:
- Beatrice and Sofia in Överenskommelser have each other and their companion Mary, but that's it.
- Illiana Henriksdotter in Betvingade was unloved by her own parents and seemingly had no friends.
- Gabriel and his sisters in De skandalösa seem to have been lonely children. But at least they had each other.
- Marriage Before Romance / Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Illiana and Markus in Betvingade get this. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, they're forced to marry each other. But it turns out well enough, as they start falling in love with each other...
- Morality Kitchen Sink:
- Överenskommelser covers the entire scale of morality. White morality is represented by Beatrice (a good but still flawed Ditzy Genius) and Sofia and Johan (who are close to being flawless). Grey morality is represented by Seth (a Jerk with a Heart of Gold), Jacques (Seth's equally morally ambiguous friend) and Vivienne (a Good Bad Girl). Black morality is represented by the three (!) abusive misogynistic villains.
- Betvingade has a similar set-up. White morality is represented by Illiana and a few minor characters, who will be good people. Grey morality is represented by Markus and his friend Stellan, who will come across as morally ambiguous. Black morality is represented by most of Illiana's family, with their long history of abuse and violence, and by Roland Birgersson, a sociopathic murderer.
- Naked First Impression:
- In Betvingade, Illiana is naked when she first meets Markus. She was abducted and taken to him while taking a bath!
- In De skandalösa, Gabriel is naked when he first meets Magdalena. She had almost walked in on him while having sex with his mistress.
- Nice Guy:
- Sofia and Johan in Överenskommelser are so close to being flawless and perfect that they can never cause any drama on their own. But still, they remain close friends/beta couple to the more complex alpha couple Beatrice and Seth.
- Ossian Bergman in De skandalösa is a Dork Knight and a Gentleman and a Scholar, who seems to be a genuinely nice person. He's a close friend to the much more complex male protagonist Gabriel Gripklo.
- Also in De skandalösa, the sweet-natured Proper Lady Venus Dag och Natt is a female example of this trope.
- Of Corset Hurts / Of Corsets Sexy:
- Överenskommelser goes back and forth between these two different tropes. We get several allusions to how uncomfortable it can be to wear a corset, but a lady is expected to do it anyway. And if she shapes her body as much as possible, men will of course find her more attractive.
- Magdalena Swärd in De skandalösa is happy to not have to wear a corset during a costume party.
- Plucky Girl:
- Beatrice Löwenström in Överenskommelser is a tough girl, but it seems like the Universe itself is out to break her down. But once the worst is over, she gets over it and moves on.
- Illiana Henriksdotter in Betvingade has a tyrannical father and a cold-hearted mother, who never show her any love. But it never seems to bother her that much, and once she gets married, she pretty much puts her abusive parents behind her.
- Proper Lady:
- Sofia Löwenström in Överenskommelser is beautiful and demure and pretty much flawless, thus basically perfect according to the standards of the 1880s.
- Venus Dag och Natt in De skandalösa is also very beautiful and demure, but it turns out that she's gay.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- In Överenskommelser, three different couples are divided into two different "Onis". Beatrice and Seth are more rebellious and hot-tempered (red), while Sofia and Johan are more calm and laid-back (blue). Jacques and Vivienne, the second Beta Couple, is yet another hot-tempered red oni pairing.
- De skandalösa has a similar set-up. Gabriel is an impulsive red oni. And while Magdalena tries to be a composed blue oni, she's really a hot-tempered red oni. Ossian and Beata are their more calm and laid-back blue oni Beta Couple. And we also get Venus, a sweet-natured and docile Proper Lady (blue), and Nora, an emotional Lady Drunk (red).
- Romantic False Lead / Romantic Runner-Up:
- In Överenskommelser, Beatrice has Alexandre St Cyr D'Aubigny, and Seth has Lily Tremaine. But in the end, Alexandre and Lily hook up, leaving Beatrice and Seth free to finally get their happy ending.
- Peter Cronstedt to Magdalena in De skandalösa. Magdalena considers forgiving him, despite that he had betrayed her. But he turns out to really be a jerk, and she eventually ends up with Gabriel (the male protagonist) instead.
- Self-Made Man: Simona has several examples, complete with the prejudice from the "old money":
- Seth Hammerstaal in Överenskommelser comes from a very humble background, but now he's described as being one of the richest men in Europe!
- Markus Järv in Betvingade was the illegitimate son of a poor prostitute, who managed to become a knight and one of the king's closest men.
- Gabriel Gripklo in De skandalösa, who was born as an aristocrat, had to make money on his own to save his family from actual bankruptcy.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: In De skandalösa, Gabriel Gripklo (seemingly roguish) and his friend Ossian Bergman (nerdy and noble) have this kind of dynamic.
- Sex Is Liberation:
- This is very much true for Beatrice Löwenström of Överenskommelser. Coming from an uptight upper middle class background, she had even been taught to consider her body as something sinful, that should be hidden and controlled. Seth has to teach her otherwise.
- Magdalena Swärd in De skandalösa has something like this going on as well. She's still so bitter after being jilted by her fiancé, but then Gabriel Gripklo comes along, and... well, let's just say that this story is full of sex scenes!
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Simona has done this with all her female protagonists so far. They're usually considered plain-looking, but once they put on a fancy dress, they will of course look really good.
- Son of a Whore: Markus Järv, who's the male protagonist in Betvingade. His mother was thrown out of her home when she became pregnant without being married, and that gave her no choice but to become a prostitute.
- Spirited Young Lady:
- Beatrice Löwenström from Överenskommelser lives in 1880s. After her father dies, she has to fight against her Evil Uncle for her right to be intelligent, competent and assertive. She has a Proper Lady contrast in her beautiful but docile cousin Sofia.
- Illiana Henriksdotter from Betvingade is a 14th century version of this trope. She's a brilliant medicine woman and clearly intelligent. She also has moments when she speaks for women's and children's rights.
- Magdalena Swärd in De skandalösa is not a Plucky Girl, like Beatrice and Illiana. Instead she's a Broken Bird and a Stepford Snarker. But she too is an intelligent proto-feminist. She has a Proper Lady contrast in her beautiful but docile friend Venus.
- Switching P.O.V.: Simona will have two protagonists: A woman and a man, who are the central love couple. But she will also show us the perspective of different family members, friends and even antagonists.
- Teen Genius:
- Beatrice Löwenström in Överenskommelser is still a teenager at the start of the story, and she's very intelligent. Kind of justified as she was the daughter of a University professor, who had given her a good education and encouraged her to be intelligent.
- Illiana Henriksdotter in Betvingade is also still a teenager and already a brilliant medicine woman.
- The Grunting Orgasm / The Immodest Orgasm: Simona Ahrnstedt combines these two in her sex scenes. And she's got plenty of them.
- The Lad-ette:
- Beatrice Löwenström in Överenskommelser is a 19th century version of this trope. She's a tomboyish (but also bookish) proto-feminist, who competes with men in ice-skating and horse-riding. But despite that, and even though she's described as not that good-looking, she can also attract men if she wants to. And even though she never has casual sex, she has an affair with Seth before getting married to him, and that's enough for her evil uncle to call her a slut.
- Magdalena Swärd in De skandalösa isn't as tomboyish as Beatrice, but still, she has a feisty proto-feminist attitude (and she's happy to not have to wear a corset during a costume party), that could make her qualify as a 17th century version of this trope. And just like with Beatrice, she never is promiscuous. But still, she's not a virgin until her wedding night.
- The Sociopath:
- Edvard Löwenström in Överenskommelser is a sadistic serial abuser of women. He makes a fourteen-year-old girl pregnant and then abandons her, feeling no remorse even when she dies after an abortion. He feels no sadness when his sister is seriously ill and makes sure that Beatrice is separated from Seth. He can't feel love even for his own family, neither can he feel gratitude. And he also gets bored much too easily, which actually is another sign of sociopathy.
- Roland Birgersson in Betvingade has already murdered a woman and now plans to murder her son (who happens to be Markus Järv, the story's male protagonist) as well. And he's prepared to also murder Markus's wife and/or let Markus's six-year-old daughter drown to get his way. And to make things worse, it also turns out that Roland is Markus's father.
- They Do: Överenskommelser and De skandalösa end in this very fashion and the couples get together.
- True Companions:
- In Överenskommelser, Beatrice has Sofia and Vivienne, and Seth has Johan and Jacques. The two beta couples Sofia/Johan and Vivienne/Jacques hardly interact though, except for in the epilogue, that only has been printed in the paperback version of the novel.
- Magdalena and Gabriel in 'De skandalösa have a close relationship with their beta couples, Beata/Ossian and Venus/Nora.
- Villain Opening Scene: Ahrnstedt followed this trope in her first two novels. In Överenskommelser, the prologue is from Edvard's POV. In "Betvingade", the prologue is from Roland's POV.
- White Sheep: In Betvingade, Illiana Henriksdotter seems to be the only nice person in her Big Screwed-Up Family.