Today’s topic is an interesting one – things we like, dislike, and/or want to see more of in fictional romance. While I don’t really read straight romances, I do love a good love story, and I definitely have strong opinions on things I like/dislike/want more of in them. In no particular order:
1. Super Hot Love Interests – This one grates on my nerves. Why must every love interest be extraordinarily hot, especially in books with paranormal or supernatural elements? There’s always an excuse for why they’re hot, I know, but it’s just dull as sticks. Give me an ordinarily hot love interest, or better yet, an average-looking or not-so-good-looking love interest who grows beautiful to the one who falls for them.
2. Threatening “Sexy” Behavior – Not talking about consensual play here. Talking about deliberately-intended threatening behavior that for some god-awful reason, the person threatened finds “sexy” instead of “terrifying.” Away with the creepy stalkers that sneak into your room and watch you sleep. Away with the superstrong creatures who “show” their love by forcing you into total powerlessness in order to “prove” that you ought to be grateful to them because they could crush you and choose not to. Eww.
3. Instantaneous Love – Get real. Love at first sight is a great romantic idealistic idea, but it’s not at all realistic and I admit that I’m sick of seeing it. Crushes at first sight, sure! But overwhelming, lasts-forever love? No. You don’t even know that person! It’s not possible to truly love them! I’d love to see more slow, gradual periods of time that lead up to romance and/or love.
4. Love Triangles – I can totally get behind a solid love triangle. People do sometimes crush on two (or more) love interests, with varying degrees of strength, for many different reasons. What I don’t like is love triangle for the sake of love triangle, with unrealistic waffling for no real reason. To care for more than one person is painful, and I would love to see a narrator really struggle with that internal situation, rather than struggling with who to choose (which isn’t the real issue). I would also love to see more stories where a person has interest fade in one person as interest grows in another. Not a love triangle, but a love directional change.
5. All-Important Passion – A few years back, I read a book where two love interests were so engrossed in their all-consuming new love (ie lust) that it wouldn’t go away even for a second – even when that second involved one of them being near-fatally injured by bullets. If one or both partners are injured, they probably aren’t going to be obsessed with sex and easily able to ignore the injuries. Priorities, people. Love isn’t always the most important thing.
6. Queer Romances – We need more of these. There aren’t enough around. And we need more of them where the focus is purely on the romance and not on the gender/orientation of the people involved.
7. Friendship – Friendship is also sadly lacking in the world of love stories. Actually, friendship is often lacking in fiction in general, with focus being on intense relationships. I would love to see more friendship in general, and especially between future partners. This sort of echoes what I said above about longer periods leading up to romance.
8. Small Gestures of Longing – I’m a sucker for anticipation and first kiss scenes, but I don’t just mean that. Little gestures, not sexual at all, that say I love you and miss you and wish we could be nearer. Not grand gestures, which are a frequent part of fiction. Just little things. If it weren’t a spoiler, I’d give you an example from the early pages of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. It’s one of my favorite small-gesture-scenes ever.
9. Diversity of Feeling – Embarrassment, shame, anger, fatigue, jealousy, etc – all these emotions, even when mild, can drown out a crush, or take temporary precedence over it. The more realistic the characters, the more realistic the romance. People in love are not free or exempt from all the more banal and unpleasant emotions out there, and very few fictional love stories seem to acknowledge this. I’d love to see it more often.
10. Long-Lasting – So many love stories focus on the beginnings of romance. The story ends when the couple gets together. While I have no problems with that, I would love to also see more romances that focus on long-lasting relationships. I’d love to see the obstacles that longterm romances run up against, and to experience the struggles of those couples as they work to keep love alive.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.