Top Ten Tuesday bannerTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. Naturally today is all about romance!

I don’t think I’ve been particularly subtle about how lukewarm I am on romance in my fiction. I don’t hate it, I am just incredibly picky. If it’s the main thrust of the story, you’ve lost me. If it’s tacked on, you’ve lost me. I want it to be intrinsic to the plot, but not the plot.(Yes, I know, I’m unreasonable. I also want the relationship to be equitable – age and power imbalances make my blood run cold(er than usual). I want it to develop naturally, not just erupt at first sight (lust, sure, go for it. But love? No). And if your characters are going to find love after hating the sight of one another, you’re going to have to work really hard to take me on that journey. But if you do, you’ve got me hook, line and sinker.

But I’m not completely indifferent to shipping or the delights of will-they-won’t-they-get-together – so here are some lovers who won my heart (not ten, because I’m just rubbish with romance – it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed more, it’s just that I can’t recall them because it’s not what I look out for!)

 

Anne / GilbertAnne of Green Gables (and the rest)

Book cover: Anne of Ingleside - L M Montgomery (a happy Anne and Gilbert from the 90s tv show)I’ve loved this couple since I first met them, and if there was ever an author who mastered the art of convincing me that someone could get over how much they hated someone else, it was Montgomery. I love their blossoming courtship and their sometimes tricky marriage. It feels true, and rich, and deep.

 

Rosemary / Sissix – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Book cover: A Long Way to a Small Angry PlanetI love this book as a story of companionship (and I adore the non-traditional relationships and families of the aliens), but I also love it for the courtship between Rosemary and Sissix. There’s such sweet consideration and mutual respect it just makes me glow.

 

Claire / Henry – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Book cover: The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (a child's legs as she stands next to an empty pair of man's shoes) I love this book for not flinching from the awful reality its fairytale logic implies. Poor Claire. It took me far too long to work out where it would lead. Exhausting, devastating and oddly satisfying. It ticks all the boxes that I usually hate, but it won me over anyway.

 

Khian / Leith – The Warriors of Taan

Book cover: The Warriors of Taan - Louise Lawrence (a blonde stars off-camera, concerned, against a lurid background)Yes, this is technically a ship, but I swear it’s all in the text. Lingering glances, wordless comfort, outright pining – Khian has such a man-crush on his BFF. I love their friendship, and I respect the risks Leith is willing to take with it to try and build a future for the planet. Yes, Leith is keeping secrets, but I think he genuinely love his Prince. Love, duty – and no angst! – makes me happy.

 

Maigrey / Sagan – Star of the Guardians

Book Cover: The Lost King - Star of the Guardians 1 - Margaret Weis (a blonde woman with a lightsaber glaring at a dark-haired man on a hangar deck)She’s a risk-taking hotshot who will die for her loved ones; he’s a repressed commanding officer with rigid ideas about loyalty. Thankfully, the story isn’t about forbidden lust but a clash between two jaded adults who each thinks the other has sinned against them. Will they kiss or kill each other? I might have to risk the suck fairy and reread this.

 

Taran / Eilonwy – The Chronicles of Prydain

Book cover: The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander (Armada Lions edition)Another classic journey from disdain to adoration. Taran is naive and foolish; Eilonwy is headstrong and patronising. Their loyalty to their friends and willingness to spit in the face of evil forms a bond that naturally blossoms into friendship and so much more – but I love that they’re friends first.

 

Will Laurence / John Granby / Tharkay – Victory of Eagles
Book cover: Victory of Eagles - Naomi Novik (UK hardcover, stylised woodcut design of London and dragons)What’s that? My OT3 is only in my head? Hardly. At the very least it’s in the heads of my fellow Muskedragons. While there’s no doubting that the real love affairs are between captains and their dragons, the bond between Laurence, Granby and Tharkay delights me all the more for growing so deep in spite of initial mistrust. ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL.

 

I also have a soft spot for Jacqueline Carey‘s Terre d’Ange lovers (although I think, unexpectedly, that I prefer Imriel/Sidonie and Moira/Bao to Phédre/Joscelin – I love their loyalty to one another, but dear Elua his issues – however likely – get tedious) and I’m a huge sucker for the romantic vibes of Guy Gavriel Kay‘s books, without having a particular attachment to any individual pair of lovers.

 

Don’t talk to me about most classic lovers or pretty much any YA romance. Sure, I enjoy some of those books regardless, but it’s usually for other reasons (like PIRATES and SEA MONSTERS and EXPLOSIONS). Also best avoided – Sparhawk/Ehlana in The Diamond Throne or pretty much any relationship (except perhaps Jon/Ygritte) in A Song of Ice and Fire), let alone any of the insufferable Kvothe’s love affairs. Even worse? Probably Daemon/Witch in The Black Jewels, which had me shuddering from start to finish. No thanks.

 

What brilliant lovers have I missed?

 

…and now I’ve finished (and it’s been a chore), I finally realise I should have done my Top Ten Tuesday book lovers. I AM DEFINITELY DOING THAT IN THE FUTURE. Fictional bookworms – almost as beloved to me as real ones ❤