Fairytale and myth retellings are common and why not? They take timeless stories and make them something new again. I personally love them. And there are several myths, legends, folktales, etc. that would make perfect romance novels if paired with the right writers.
Eros and Psyche
This story is one of my favorite Greek legends and it’s just begging to be turned into a romance novel.
Psyche was a beautiful woman, more beautiful than any other woman on Earth. People loved to admire her beauty so much that Aphrodite became jealous and ordered Eros to kill her. But Eros fell in love with her and arranged for to be his wife. Psyche was taken to a palace where she lived in luxury and every night Eros would go to her when it was pitch black. Having never seen her husband’s face or even knowing his name, Psyche lit a candle one night and saw him. Eros woke up and flew away, betrayed. Psyche went to Aphrodite to beg for her help and Aphrodite made her do grueling tasks to earn her favor and Eros’s love again. Psyche worked tirelessly at these tasks until Eros found out what his mother was doing. He saved Psyche from her slave sentence and they lived happily ever after.
This one is a little darker and much harder to turn into a romance novel. But it would be fantastic if done right. Maybe the King is being framed and isn’t a mass murderer after all.
A long time ago, there was a King who found out his wife was cheating on him. In a rage, he killed her. The betrayal still fresh in his mind, the King killed every wife he obtained the morning after their wedding night so she wouldn’t have the chance to betray him. The kingdom was drained of eligible females when he took a young woman named Scheherazade to be his wife. On their wedding night, Scheherazade asked if she could tell one more story to her sister, Danyazad. The King agrees and for the entire night, Scheherazade told stories all night to the King and her sister. When sunrise came up, she broke off on a cliff-hanger and the King decides to let her live for one more day so she could finish the story the next night. Scheherazade does this for 1,001 nights, until the King fell completely in love with her and decided to spare her life for good.
Artemis and Orion
Clearly this is a tragic love story. After all, Artemis remained a virgin goddess and is notorious for spurning men. But it’s a love story nonetheless.
Orion was a powerful hunter, despite being a mortal. He was so fierce that he caught the eye of Artemis, who allowed him to hunt with her. Between them a deep and compassionate relationship grew and Artemis fell in love with Orion. Despite the two of them never having a physical relationship, Artemis’s brother, Apollo, feared for his sister’s virginity and purity. He also grew jealous of the bond the two of them shared because Orion’s good looks had attracted him as well. So in the dead of night, Apollo tricked Artemis into killing Orion.
Atlanta (Or Atalanta)
Atlanta is one of the coolest mortals in Greek mythology. And she had two lovers, both of whom could be used as romance novel material.
Atlanta’s father abandoned her as a baby because she was not a boy. Atlanta was raised by a bear in the woods and therefore didn’t learn or care to be a proper lady. Instead she was a fierce huntress and warrior. When a village was being terrorized by a giant wild boar, a hunt was formed of some of the best warriors to stop it. The person who drew first blood would receive the boar’s pelt. Atlanta drew first blood when she landed an arrow into the boar’s skull, killing it instantly. Her lover, Prince Meleager, wanted to give her the pelt, but his uncles objected to the prize going to a woman. Outraged, Meleager killed both of his uncles so he could give Atlanta her reward. When Meleager’s mother found out what he did, however, he had him killed.
Atlanta eventually started to live with her father after she proved herself worthy of his love. Her father responded by trying to find her a husband. Not wanting to lose her virginity or fall in love with another, Atlanta declared that the man who beat her in a footrace would win her hand. If they lose, then she would behead them herself. No man could beat her in the footrace. Suitor after suitor tried and one by one they were all beheaded. Until Melanion came along.
He knew he couldn’t beat Atlanta, but he still wanted her hand. He prayed to Aphrodite for help and Aphrodite gave him three enchanted apples. In the footrace, Melanion threw the apples one by one. The enchantment distracted Atlanta and she couldn’t help but stop to pick them up. Melanion threw them far so she would become way off course and finished the race ahead. Atlanta stayed true to her word and married Melanion.
Ishtar and Tammuz
This is a legend I recently found. It’s similar to Orpheus’s story, but the roles are reversed. Most versions appear to have Ishtar leaving alone from the Underworld, which is a needless tragedy in my opinion. But hey, that’s the beauty of novels. Artistic license.
Ishtar was a Babylonian goddess. Sometimes she is known as a warrior goddess or she is sometimes known as a goddess of love. Either way, she fell in love with the god Tammuz. Unfortunately, her love caused him to get killed. Angry, Ishtar goes to the Underworld to save him. She is only allowed in after she has removed all of her clothing. The goddess of the Underworld orders Ishtar to be imprisoned. But with Ishtar trapped, the Earth is swallowed up in misery and lovelessness. There is no sexual activity, so nothing new can live or be born. The king of gods, Ea, heard and ordered Ishtar to be freed. Ishtar walked back to Earth, gathering her clothing on the way out.
What do you think? Any of your favorite myths that would make for a good romance novel? Please leave in the comments below.