What does it mean to love unconditionally? Wikipedia defines it as “affection, without limitation.” I suppose that is accurate to a degree, but I think it misses the subtleties. It is very easy to have affection for some people without limitation when they are infinitely “lovable” and create no hurdles. I have several friends like this, one of whom is the embodiment of love and acceptance. I admire her tremendously and gave many of her personality traits to Katherine, the heroine of Highland Solution. The wonderful thing is, while my friend might read this, she isn’t likely to know I’m referring to her.:-) It isn’t hard to love her without limitation and therefore it is understandable why readers love Katherine. Although some readers think she doesn’t stand up for herself, others recognize that she picks her moments.
In considering unconditional love, I am reminded of the old philosophical question, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, did it make a noise?” If someone is very easy to love and your ability to love them is never challenged, can your love truly be considered unconditional? The fact is, loving someone who has unlovable characteristics is a challenge, but the more road blocks they create, the more likely they are to need this love. Clearly my hero, Niall, is one of these people. While he has his good points, he is also mistrustful, stubborn and at times very hard to love. Katherine makes the choice to love him anyway. She becomes annoyed and even angry at times. However she chooses her moments wisely. In most cases, she doesn’t fly off the handle in public (something I can’t say that I have the control to do). Her consistent loving nature is exactly what he needs in order to learn how to love her with the same intensity.
Numerous readers have commented on how “annoying” Niall’s mistrust is but my question is, if he was a perfectly lovable paragon of virtue, where would the conflict be? Where would the opportunity for unconditional love be? We live in a disposable world. It is not uncommon for friends or lovers to abandon a relationship at the first sign of conflict. I wanted to portray a different dynamic. I have written before about my Indian friend whose marriage was arranged. She told me it was her responsibility to make the marriage work (for more details read https://cecigiltenan.com/2013/09/21/what-defines-a-strong-woman/). The work involved in a successful marriage between less than perfect people (and aren’t we all less than perfect) is considerable. Add to that the fact that neither partner chose the other one and the effort required becomes monumental.
My hero is far from perfect, but he is redeemable. I think readers who love Niall, even with his flaws, see what Katherine does, he is worth the work. Therefore, while Highland Solution is fiction, I believe it uniquely reflects the challenges faced in all relationships.