I've read so many books with all kinds of love and romance and whatnot, I can't even count. I've read so much that sometimes they start to blend and lose meaning. Since my ever growing love for YA and even my new found love in NA, I'm reading even more books that involve love. Why not, right? I'm a big sap and a hopeless romantic.. bite me. I rarely read a book that doesn't have some kind of love or romance in it. Not that I won't read a book without a romantic element, it's just here, there, everywhere and I'm more than ok with that. Hopeless romantic, remember? However, sometimes I read a love story that sweeps me off my feet, while others suck so bad I want to puke. And I ask myself, what makes a good romantic love story? Why do I like in this love story compared to that one that just didn't work for me at all? I will tell you.
Yep, I said it. How can I not? There are plenty of [YA/NA/Adult] books out there that have this wretched insta-love crap that I know most of us can't stand. I don't know about others, but I sure as hell don't believe in love at first sight. Attraction at first look? Sure. Lust at first sight? Hell to the yes. I just don't believe you can love someone at that first glance, interaction, or even after the first date. There is no substance there. If a book has the protagonist and love interest saying I love you's not even a days or god forbid, hours of meeting each other I will be so turned off I'll probably have a whole paragraph in my review of how much I hate this damn insta-love nonsense. I do not believe two people can fall in love within a few hours of meeting. It's just ridiculous and absurd and completely unrealistic. The only love that can bloom within such a short span of a few minutes is between a person and their first taste of chocolate. Even that relationship is still one sided.
Build me up, buttercup.
And this brings me to my next point: build up and develop the relationship. Just because the characters may connect with each other doesn't mean I will be able to feel it as well. The spark and chemistry has got to be there and should be growing as the relationship progresses. I gotta feel it grow. (God that sounded better in my head). It has to develop over time and I mean a good amount of time. The anticipation of the two characters coming together is the best part. If they are lovin' and kissin' and professing their undying gratitude and commitment at page 35, well then..it loses its excitement. But, don't draw it too long because if they are at odds with each other for most of the book then finally kiss and make up at page 234 in a 245 page book, I will be unsatisfied. Basically, the love has to be like stoking the flames of the fire.
Show and not tell.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I love you's get thrown around like condoms being distributed out of my college health center, fast and without meaning. I don't have to know that the characters are in love. I want to feel it, experience it, be able to remember why these characters loved each other so much long after I finished the book. It has to strike some chord there, whether through unsaid words, crazy gestures, or simple actions. In four words: you gotta woo me.
Three little words.
I know that I'm talking about love and romance, but sometimes those three words don't have to be there to make a relationship between characters. What I'm saying is no exchange of I love you's is necessary. The characters can have a deep meaningful and committed relationship and not have to say I love you until much later one since love grows. Lets take a trilogy for example, do the characters have to say I love you before the end of the first book? No. It can wait until maybe the second or even the third. I don't know if I've read series that does that. I have read a book where the characters never say I love you, but their chemistry and their likeness/fondness of each other is super cute. I'm not saying that if they do end up saying I love at the end of the first book or so that I will be turned off. No, I'm just saying they don't have to, that's all.
If the feelings of love are already there, lets say like in Everneath by Brodi Ashton and If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman, I think this is where the relationship is already established. The characters then go through obstacles that keep them a part or make things entirely too complicated. Here, the love and romance is seen and felt and prominent throughout the whole book getting stronger and deeper as the couple faces several trial and tribulations. Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook doesn't fail to establish the relationship between Will and Zoe, it's just that it wasn't as strong compared to Adam and Mia or Nikki and Jack. I have to be able to see why the characters fell in love in the first place because if they are already in love but I never know the why or the how, I just don't give a damn.
You don't need one for a good romance nor do you need to use it to make conflict, tension, blah blah blah towards the main character and the main love interest. Especially if it's already obvious who she was going to choose from the beginning. *coughBELLAcough* Sometimes love triangles are tiresome and unecessary. Other forces of nature can be the conflict, whether the characters have hidden secrets, family issues, or maybe because the character just can't keep it in his pants.. there are just so many other possibilities that don't involve a love triangle or square or circle. Be creative, think outside of the box and don't use a lame ass love triangle that will end up ending when one love interest dying a horrible death. If you're going to make a love triangle, it better be as good as the whole Will/Tessa/Jem craziness or even better yet, like Warner/Juliette/Adam.
I may have went off topic or a tangent or too, but I think you guys get what I mean right? Feel free to comment on your thoughts if you agree, disagree or a agree to disagree, etc! I just felt like I needed to get this out of my head, hence this blog post! Thanks guys!