Those are the themes of this week's Top Ten Tuesday. Or, more particularly, my top ten loves/ pet peeves when it comes to romance in books. Let's get started, shall we? Believe me, I have a LOT on this one.
Top 10 Things I Like When it comes to Romance in Books
I want to see them argue. I want to see them fight. I want to see them break each others' hearts: before or during the romance, I don't care when it happens. But I want to see it. And I want them to realise that their relationship- whatever stage it's in- can still survive.
WIN. SO MUCH WIN. THERE CAN BE NO SURER WAY OF GETTING ME TO SCREAM FOR YOU THAN MAKING THESE TWO HATE EACH OTHER.
Seriously. Is there ANYTHING more satisfying than being able to literally SCREAM "I TOLD YOU SO" when the two former enemies finally get together? No? Thought so.
I want to see them act to protect each other. Not just the guy as is per usual: we gals have to step in sometimes, after all, especially when protectiveness turns dangerously OVERprotective. Each has to understand how precious the other is to them: and how much they're willing to risk to safeguard them from harm, whether it's physical or- this one gets to me even more when it's the guy being protective- emotional.
Writers, don't rush into the relationship. I'm okay with you dragging it out. I'm okay if they only realise they're right for each other in the final book of a 3-part series (looking at you and your Selection series, Kiera Cass).
It's TORTURE, but I'm okay with this.
What I absolutely HATE is the insta-love thing. Hate, hate, HATE. I hardly ever really get into a relationship when this happens, because I don't feel invested. I don't feel like they've worked for it. I don't feel like it's going to last. And I want that feeling: else, what's the point?
Please note: insta-love is not the same as instant attraction. HUGE difference.
I love the Hunger Games series. I really do. But what I hate is how they resolved the whole issue of the love triangle. Honestly, truly hate it. I feel like the "winner" was just by default because the other did that horrible thing. And I hate it.
What I want to see with love triangles? I want to see the person in the middle struggle. Fight with herself. Tear deep down into the darkest corners of her own being and discover the shameful things that live there. And then I want her to look at those two, and CHOOSE. Yes, it's going to be hard. Yes it's going to hurt. But those situations are hard, and impossible, and they hurt everyone involved. And I want to see every last gritty, heartbreaking, ugly detail.
The only thing better than this is when one of the "ends" backs out by his own choice. Not because he/ she has found someone else, but because they choose to pull away because they realise that what they've been fighting for isn't right for them.
Of course, these will happen in any relationship. But I love it when they have these completely wrong ideas of who the other really is: and the gradual discovery that everything is no quite as they thought. I love the whole reminder that a simple twist in point of view, or a tiny fact being revealed, can completely transform someone's view of another from something they hate to something that's actually okay. Even admirable. And, eventually, beloved.
Because nothing gets a romance moving more than poking fun of the newly in love. Or hearing the girl defend a guy she wasn't even sure she liked a month earlier to her disbelieving friends as they razzed him. Bonus points if said friends are actually the guys' brothers/ football buddies/ roommates/ other immediate males of his general age group. Guys razzing guys about girls should actually have its own category.
Hey, you know it's true!
Imagine if Bingley were a bit more forthcoming about teasing Darcy re: Elizabeth (the MATERIAL he had to work with alone would make those scenes amazing)
Or if you've read Julia Quinn: the Bridgertons (WARNING: NOT YA). Any of the Bridgertons. When any of the family falls in love. REMEMBER WHEN ELOISE'S BROTHERS FOUND HER. THAT WAS THE BEST RAZZING THAT WAS EVER RAZZED.
Since I have no gifs for this one, enjoy this sample of THE best family-meets-the-boyfriend scene EVER WRITTEN.
"Go right ahead," Colin said expansively. Benedict and Gregory just continued to glare. Colin, Phillip noted, didn't look particularly eager to strike up a friendship, either. He might have been marginally more amiable than his brothers, but his eyes showed a sharp shrewdness that Phillip rather thought he ought not underestimate.
"Please," Phillip said, motioning to the food still on the table, "eat."
Benedict and Gregory scowled at him as if he'd offered poison, but Colin sat across from him and plucked a crusty roll off a plate.
"They're quite good," Phillip said, even though he'd not had the opportunity to partake that evening.
"Good," Colin muttered, taking a bite. "I'm famished."
"How can you think of food?" Gregory said angrily.
"I always think of food," Colin replied, his eyes searching the table until he located the butter. "What else is there?"
"Your wife," Benedict drawled.
"Ah, yes, my wife," Colin said with a nod. He turned to Phillip, leveled a hard stare at him, and said, "Just so that you are aware, I would have rather spent the night with my wife."
Phillip couldn't think of a reply that might not hint at insult to the absent Mrs. Bridgerton, so he just nodded and buttered a roll of his own.
Colin took a huge bite, then spoke with his mouth full, the etiquette breach a clear insult to his host.
"We've only been married a few weeks."
Phillip raised one of his brows in question.
Phillip nodded, since some sort of response seemed to be required.
Colin leaned forward. "I really did not want to leave my wife."
"I see," Phillip murmured, since truly, what else could he have said?
"Do you understand what he's saying?" Gregory demanded.
Colin turned and sent a chilling look at his brother, who was clearly too young to have mastered the fine art of nuance and circumspect speech. Phillip waited until Colin had turned back to the table, offered him a plate of asparagus (which he took), then said, "I gather you miss your wife."
There was a beat of silence, and then Colin said, after sending one last disdainful glance at his brother, "Indeed."
Phillip looked over at Benedict, since he was the only one uninvolved in the latest spat.
Big mistake. Benedict was flexing his hands, still looking as if he regretted not strangling him when he had his chance.
Phillip then turned his gaze to Gregory, whose arms were crossed angrily over his chest. His entire body practically quivered with fury, perhaps aimed at Phillip, perhaps at his family, who'd been treating him like a green boy all evening. Phillip's glance was not met with favor. Gregory's chin jutted angrily out, his teeth clenched, and--
And Phillip had had enough of that. He looked back to Colin.
Colin was still working on his food, having somehow managed to charm the servants into bringing him a bowl of soup. He'd set down his spoon, though, and was presently examining his other hand, idly flexing each finger in turn, murmuring a word as each pointed out toward Phillip.
"Miss. My. Wife."
"Bloody hell," Phillip finally burst out. "If you're going to break my legs, would you just go ahead and do it now?"
Whatever the plot of the book involves, eventually I need those moments where it's just the two of them doing ordinary stuff. Taking in a movie. Arguing over where to eat. Going sightseeing. Washing up. Doing homework. Just hanging out. I need those quiet moments together to watch their relationship grow.
LOOK AT ALL THESE GORGEOUS, HEARTBREAKING HANDS.
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I lean across his body and lift his hand for inspection. As I run my fingertips over his broken skin, careful not to cause more pain, I say "I meant you blowfish. Your bones."
"'I love you present tense,' I whispered and then put my hand on the middle of his chest and said, 'It's okay, Gus. It's okay. It is. It's okay, you hear me?"
I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar
Your turn! What elements in romances are a must-have or secret obsessions of yours?