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A Reader of Fictions: My Favorite Romances, or, Even More Reason for Me to Loathe Instalove

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Favorite Romances, or, Even More Reason for Me to Loathe Instalove

Ever since I was very little, as a reader, I have preferred a certain sort of pattern to romance plot lines. Basically, I don't want them to see each other and fall in eternal love; more like I want them to fall into loathing, and then come to love each other in spite of themselves. Screw couples immediately in love, beset by all of the universe keeping them apart. I like when all that's keeping them from getting together is their own stubbornness based on a false first impression. I ascribe my love for this particular romance plot arc to two bits of pop culture.

#1) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
In considering the import of the two, this had to come first, because I grew up watching the movie version with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. Then, when I was old enough to parse Shakespeare, I would read the plays aloud by myself or with help. Benedick and Beatrice are, perhaps, my OTP, and I just love watching them bicker. That's one thing about people who obviously dig one another but won't admit it: they typically have fantastic banter. Seriously, to make this style of romance work, these books/plays/movies generally have the very best dialog.

Benedick: I will live a bachelor.
Beatrice: A dear happiness to all women.

#2) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
You all knew this was coming. I am a completely Austen-obsessed girl, and, though Darcy is not my favorite Austen hero, there's is my favorite relationship by far. Because of this book, whenever anyone in a book or movie declares "that's the last person I could ever date" and then falls for them, I am filled with giddy glee. I love seeing the natural progression of their relationship from mutual disdain to awkward, unrequited affection to what I see as an enduring love, though some would argue with me on that point.

There's so much satisfaction to witnessing these couples coming together because they worked so hard for it. Romance should not come too easily, because that doesn't tend to be what things are real life. Plus, I really doubt that everything in your life is usually bent on trying to keep a couple apart. You know what probably threatens the most relationships? The people in those relationships.

It's not that I don't also enjoy other romances, like ones where they meet adorably and fall in love slowly and naturally. However, I do confess that my little heart always goes pitter patter the hardest for one that follows this formula. Of course, this has also resulted in my having some incredibly stupid crushes in my past, but let's not talk about that.

Also, you just know that when these crazy kids do finally figure out their feelings and come together that they are going to have an amazingly passionate relationship. They will fight. They will make up. Plus, I can't see these sorts of couples ever becoming disgustingly sappy, at least in company; they will undoubtedly continue to bicker and snark.

I don't want to leave you hanging, so here are some books where the main characters can't stand each other (or pretend they can't) at first, and I ship it so hard. Unsurprisingly, I gave all of these high ratings.

Alright, guys, now I want to hear from you. Do you know of more books with romances like this that I need to be reading? What do you like to see in a romance? What makes your heart beat faster and gives you all the vicarious butterflies?



Blogger Lynn K. said...

YES, THIS! Exactly the kind of romance I love. That moment when they FINALLY get together is soo delicious. The only one I can think of at the moment is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

*Bookmarking page so I can post a more coherent reply tomorrow morning.*

January 6, 2013 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

I totally agree with you on this! I love these romances. And I know this is kind of corny, but the first books that came to my mind that deal with this kind of romance were two books by Meg Cabot: Victoria and the Rogue and Nicola and the Viscount. I read them both when I was a young teen, and I've re-read them many times (sort of YA paperback romances). Also, not to the same extent, there's a bit of the love, but first hate thing going in the romance in Ruby Red, which is so adorable!

January 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

Also, Christina, do you watch the Lizzie Bennett Diaries???? If you don't, and you love Pride and Prejudice, OMG you'll love it.

January 6, 2013 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You mentioned Shakespeare, so I love you for that.

Anyways, yeah, a lot of my fave romances are also from a dislike first and then a build-up into the romance. It's the tension and I love it. :) You already named some of my faves: Touch of Power and Valkyrie Rising. I'd also like to add Under the Never Sky and Throne of Glass. :D


January 6, 2013 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Shelver506 said...

Yes! A romance that I adored that was a perfect slow simmer was Elisa and Hector in Rae Carson's Fire & Thorns series. They're kept apart by circumstances and misunderstandings rather than personalities, but it takes two books for them to even kiss. And boy oh boy, is it delicious.

January 6, 2013 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

I ♥ this post so much. Much Ado About Nothing and P&P formed my own romance likings quite a bit too. As did Anne and Gilbert and Han and Leia. I too loved Meant to Be for this reason-I loved it for a host of other reasons too. (It's also why I love Ron and Hermione.)

My absolute favorite romance comes from Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief books. Second to that is probably Lord Peter and Harriet from Dorothy Sayers mysteries-he goes in for a bit of insta-love but she's having none of it and he spends FIVE YEARS convincing her otherwise. Kate and Christopher from The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope is another one that has this formula that I absolutely adore. I think I like these because it makes for great dialogue too when you have two smart minds who enjoy sharpening their wits on each other but really care about each other too.

January 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Bibliosaurus Text said...

Love this post! And "when all that's keeping them from getting together is their own stubbornness based on a false first impression": that's totally how my bf was for the first few months he met me and we went on some dates. Then I got all sad, because I heard he didn't want to date me. Then later, he realized how many assumptions he'd been making about me, and how they were all wrong. Now it's been 6 years. For real.

January 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

While I obviously hate insta-love, I don't really like this type of romance either. It's so forced, to me, and unrealistic, and just plain annoying. It rarely happens in real life - it's more like a romantic comedy than anything, which I despise. A LOT. I think I'm in the minority with my opinion though. I mean, I don't hate this in theory, but it happens so often that it sort of ranks with insta-love because I'm just so tired of seeing it.

January 6, 2013 at 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only one that popped in my head was 10 things I hate about you. Isn't that based on William Shakespeare? I loove those kinds of novels.

January 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Sarah(Sarahandherbookshelves) said...

I agree! I enjoy the relationships where they do not like each other at first but then slowly begin to care for one another.

I definitely enjoyed Katsa's and Po's relationship.

January 6, 2013 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Renae @ Respiring Thoughts said...

Much Ado About Nothing!!! Yuhsss, that is the best. My favorite Shakespeare.

Anyway. Honestly, I don't really give two flips about romance as long as it isn't a) rapey/abusive or b) instalove. I kind of get excited if I find a book (especially YA) that doesn't feature a romance.

That being said, I do ship exactly 1 couple at the moment (I'm talking major, I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP kind of ship here), and it's very much an Elizabeth/Darcy or Beatrice/Benedick romance. *sniffles*

I also like romances where guys are just nice, likable people, aka men I see myself with. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen has that kind of romance.

Actually, I like most romance as long as the male lead isn't a dick and the girl doesn't act like a ninny.

January 6, 2013 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oooh, people have mentioned the Kate Daniels books to me a number of times. They are on my list of things to read someday!

January 7, 2013 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, I totally read those, Nori. You better believe it. I really liked them too. I mean, flufftastic, but they're like reading a romance novel, and, as I said, I am weak to this particular romance.

Ruby Red. I is want.

Well, I think I've only seen like ten of the LBD. I like them a lot, but I'm so far behind that there's like a feature film. I think I'll wait until it's done and watch it all in one go.

January 7, 2013 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love that you love me for that.

Nice! I almost put Throne of Glass on, but didn't, bc I didn't want to have a CRAZY list. Forgot about UTNS, but that's a good one.

January 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awww, they do have a nice, slow simmer, even if they didn't hate each other ever. I like the relationship a lot, though. It IS delicious. :-p

January 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes! Han and Leia, too! I just love couples that tease one another and give each other shit in a loving way, and this is a good way to get that dynamic.

I have all of those Turner books! Awesome. I also own a couple of the Sayers books, but I've only read one and don't remember a romance. Added The Perilous Gard on your recommendation!

January 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awwww, it can happen in real life. Now I need to talk to my life and figure out where my meetcute (or in this case not so cute) is. :-p

January 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, I'm sure it's not for everyone. It does happen in real life, though, as exhibited in the comment above, and I know this happened to one set of my grandparents, but I see what you're saying. People are generally not going to take the time to realize they've made a mistake.

What DO you like in romance?

January 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

It is based on Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew. It's a much better version than the original imo, which doesn't involve love at all.

January 7, 2013 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yay! I am not alone.

January 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, my dirty little secret is that I REALLY like to have romance in my books, but I don't necessarily want them to be ALL about romance. I especially start whining when there's no romance in epic fantasy. The books are so long and generally have a huge cast with both genders, and, so when no one's hooking up and/or falling in love, it seems just as unrealistic as instalove to me.

Hahaha, awesome. I will have to check those books out for real.

True, I also approve of the nice guys, because, well, duh!

January 7, 2013 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I really like this kind of romance, too! And I think your example of MEANT TO BE is a great one! Another example is NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh...although I think they really DO dislike each other at the beginning, they're not just pretending because of pride.

You shall like the romance in my book if you like loathing-turned-to-love plots. Mwahahahaha! :)

January 7, 2013 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

The romance in the Sayers' books is only there in four of them: Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon.

You haven't read the Queen's Thief books yet??? Where's that form you have where we can choose your next book? Never mind. I'll find it. ;)

January 7, 2013 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, good to know!

Here's a link to the form: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHhFaTRQU3ZRekx4a0VsQ2FsaEEwUnc6MQ. ;)

January 7, 2013 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I keep thinking of Ismae and Duval from Grave Mercy (Not sure if you read that yet) They have a great love/ hate thing going. And Maria V. Snyder's A Poison Study (which Grave Mercy's romance reminded me of a lot.) Also Alex and Brittany in Perfect Chemistry have great...chemistry:) And they definitely don't hit off immediately.

I know there are more but I'm stumped for now.I love your discussion posts. I'm glad you are planning on more this year:)

January 9, 2013 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, and my fave love/ hate relationship in Shakespeare is Kate and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew!

January 9, 2013 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ooh, yay! We agree again! Actually dislike and pretended dislike are both cool with me. I want to read Nevermore, but then I saw the reviews for the second or third book and now I'm less sure.


January 9, 2013 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I loved Ismae and Duval! Haven't read Poison Study yet, but I do own the whole series. Perfect Chemistry is on my to-read list too!

Unfortunately, I LOATHE Petruchio and Kate's relationship. I could rant about it for hours. To each her own, I suppose.

January 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM  

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