I have a confession, a confession that I’m not guilty about at all. I love Romance (note the capital R).
This has always struck me as being kind of weird, considering my reading quirks. I read paranormal romances, but I’m extremely picky about them. I don’t care for many romance (note the lowercase r) tropes. I can’t buy into love at first sight or soulmate stories. That just seems like the easy way out for most fictional relationships, and I prefer the characters to fall in love in a more realistic way. I don’t necessarily need a Happily Ever After, though it (or at least a Happily For Now) would be nice.
I generally can’t stand romantic comedy movies. I think most of them are carbon copies of every other romantic comedy out there, rife with gender stereotypes and silly plot contrivances. The only rom-coms I really dig are the quirky ones, like Penelope.
But man, I love Romance.
Allow me to explain. If I read a book that doesn’t involve some sort of love interest or relationship, I’m kind of disappointed. I mean, I can appreciate that book for what it is, of course, but I really love reading about the complexities of relationships. I love watching characters get to know each other and fall for each other. I love it when it happens alongside the story, and I also love it when it’s the focus of the story. I love Romances when the characters slowly realize that they feel more than friendship/partnership/etc for each other (see Mulder & Scully). I love it when it either takes forever for them to act on it, or when they actively pretend that they don’t feel more than friendship/partnership/etc for each other (see John & Aeryn or Castle & Beckett). I love it when the Romance is hinted at, when the audience is teased with it until we’re as sexually frustrated as the characters.
I also love sweeping, costume-drama Romances. I adore Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, and I love the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle with all my heart. For some reason, I always balked at classic romantic novels, and so I just read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I know, I know. I don’t know how I managed to get a Master’s degree in English without reading that book, either. But I loved the slow, subtle Romance in the book, the heartbreak when Rochester’s dark secret is revealed, the bittersweet joy in the ending. The recent film version was gorgeously romantic, helped along by Michael Fassbender’s perfectly brooding (if a bit too good-looking) Rochester.
Most of the books I pick up deal with Romance in some way or another. I’ll read and enjoy books that don’t deal with Romance, but I really love the ones that feature two people falling in love. I love it even more when that Romance is scattered throughout a series, like in Seanan McGuire’s October Day series. We’re coming up on book five, and there are still just tiny hints of upcoming Romance. Aside from the fact that the series is amazing, that burgeoning relationship is keeping me on the edge of my seat.
And I will happily admit it: I love really good sex scenes in books. I love it when those characters finally come together (*snicker*), and I love it when an author can make my toes curl with words alone.
So, I love Romance. How about you? Do you prefer your fiction with added romantic spice? Or do you dig those romance tropes that bug me? Let’s talk Romance, fangirls.