Ah, Valentine’s Day. Doesn’t it suck?
I’m one of those cynics who believes Valentine’s Day is just an excuse to sell chocolates and diamonds. I learned about sex and love like any other preteen American girl in the 90s (I’m assuming): by sneaking glimpses through my Mom’s romance novels when I was home alone. But in general, romance in literature and real life leaves me cold. True love doesn’t really exist, surely. It’s all hormones and marketing campaigns.
But sometimes, there are those couples that just grab you and won’t let go. And then you look back and realize you were a sappy romantic at heart all along.
Daine and Numair from Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series were my first ever OTP. They were the first couple I ever actively rooted for. It’s mildly creepy now looking back and realizing she was a teenager and he was in his thirties and her teacher, but when I was eleven it made all the sense in the world that they were made for each other.
Seregil and Alec from Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series will forever hold the number one spot in my heart for waking me to the fact that I love bi- and gay- protagonists. Over the course of the series they’ve moved from attraction and will-they-won’t-they angst into a real, adult relationship with all of it’s challenges, but you can be sure they’ll always be there for each other, a great thing to see in a sometimes shallow genre.
I didn’t read Pride & Prejudice until I was twenty, but when I did I finally realized what the rest of the world already seemed to know, that Lizzie and Darcy were the perfect case of opposites attract. I’ve loved revisiting them ever since, in any form, adaptions and parodies included. Lizzie was bound to fall, just like the rest of us. I mean, who can resist Colin Firth in that bathtub?
George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire basically leaves me with the feeling that all in life is death, destruction, and despair, yet despite myself I’ve come to be in love with the idea of love between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. They may never make it together (given Martin’s track record, they’ll probably die horrible, traumatic deaths anyway), but I can’t stop myself from hoping those two crazy opposite-deconstructions-of-hero-tropes will make it work.
Who are your favorite romantic couples in literary history? Any romance trends you’d like to see disappear? I personally could live the rest of my life without reading about another female protagonist haplessly stuck between two competing alpha males in a manufactured love triangle ever again and be perfectly happy. To me, what makes a romance work is authenticity, tension, and just the tiniest bit of wish fulfillment. What do you look for?