A really old movie that I had not seen in decades was on TV over the weekend, so I watched it. Overboard , starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, came out in 1987, and in one way it's fascinating. The premise is that a blue-collar guy-- a carpenter, who happens to be a widower with four sons-- tricks a beautiful, wealthy woman suffering from amnesia into thinking she is his wife.
He doesn't do this for sex, but to get free labor. As his wife, the amnesia victim believes she has no choice but to clean his house, cook his meals, and take care of his kids. He refrains from physical intimacy, however, telling her she always sleeps on the couch because the bed hurts her back.
The thing is, taking advantage of her in this way would be a truly despicable act except for the way the situation was set up: she is the despicable person. In addition to being an incredible snob, she hired the carpenter to do a job and then not only refused to pay him, she destroyed his tools, his means of support. In a way, she could be said to have earned his revenge, especially because he doesn't trick her into having sex. Over time, we realize she's such a terrible person because she was raised to think of herself as being better than ordinary people who have to work for a living. The more she's away from her native environment, the more she changes into a normal caring person. Spoilers: Of course, as the movie is a romcom, in the end they fall in love.
My science fiction romance Worlds Apart uses a similar plot device but with the genders reversed. As the title suggests, the story is about a couple who are from different planets. The plot needs the two people to end up on the same world for a good amount of time. Rishi, the female main character, is very wealthy and lives on Subidar, a world with an advanced level of technology, while Prax, the male main character was born and raised on Celadon, a recently discovered colony world where technology is not as advanced, especially among Prax's people, who are Greek-speaking nomadic herders.
Rishi had grown up as the youngest member of a large and loving family, but her entire family was wiped out in a planet-wide disaster, leaving her the heir to both great wealth and great sorrow. When she sees Prax's clan under attack by a band of outlaws who are much better armed, she saves them by ordering her ship to attack the outlaw leader; this is a violation on a non-interference directive so she does this at some risk to herself.
The clan is understandably grateful. They hold a celebratory feast during which Rishi consumers several glasses of the local wine, which is more potent for some people than for others. When the clan leader asks Rishi to name her reward, she asks for Prax. Feeling bound by duty to pay the debt his people owe, Prax agrees to leave his world and his family and everything that is familiar and go with her.
The next morning, Rishi wakes up cold sober and is appalled at her own behavior in asking for a person as a reward. She feels remorse for taking him away from his family. But when Rishi asks Prax if he wants to go home, he says no, feeling that his clan owes her a debt and he has been chosen to pay it. His sense of duty is stronger than his loneliness and fear of the unknown.
Like the hero in Overboard, Rishi cannot bring herself to cross the line of extorting sex from someone, so she declines Prax's tentative overtures. Thus, they arrive back at Subidar, two people who are strongly attracted to each other, but with a big complication: Prax doesn't realize that Rishi feels morally bound not to take advantage of his offer so he thinks she's simply not interested. And Rishi cannot bring herself to urge Prax to go home.
Spoilers: they work things out!