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Monday, April 30, 2012

Star-crossed Romance

I read once on an interview with an agent that the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is that the relationships in UF end unhappily. While I disagree with this point for a lot of reasons, I’m going to focus on one: the unhappy part.

Through a lot of series I see the protagonist struggling to form a relationship with one or two (or three or four) love interests. Sometimes, the romance subplots seem to overshadow the main plots of the story. The MC becomes so wrapped up in their thoughts on their messed up relationships that they make stupid mistakes.

Now, I have no problems with a slow build to a relationship. By all means take as many books as you need, but please make it worth it in the end. I don’t just mean hot sex. If you spent five books with the buildup, please don’t break them up in the next book.

To me, maintaining a relationship is more difficult than forming one. Yet, I see a lot of books that almost irrevocably break up the characters. This is usually because the writer feels the reader will grow bored and cannot come up with an interesting conflict unless they are apart. I guess I am saying that I would like to see a conflict that the characters have to endure and stay together, instead of their own arguments driving them apart.

I have seen a few that has relationships that work and still keep us interested, like the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. (Well at least where I am. I’m behind on it.) So, I still have hope. 

What are your thoughts on relationships in books? Do you like the on again off again struggle? Or would you like to see other conflicts in relationships


  1. The on-again, off-again relationship gets boring very quickly. Look what we were able to see develop between characters like Wash and Zoe in Firefly. OK, not UF at all -- but still a rare example of married characters, ie, still in love, still having adventures, without falling back on are they/aren't they tension.

  2. Zoe and Wash was a good example even if it isn't UF. I love Firefly by the way.

  3. I agree with you completely! I find it so annoying how EVERY couple in fantasy--heck, in fiction in general--has to be some sort of on-again/off-again thing. A couple can maintain their relationship and still have conflict, IMO. I've never read anything by Patricia Briggs, but Carrie Vaughn has had a couple get together and STAY together in her Kitty Norville books, and I'm so grateful for it! It's refreshing to see an honest-to-goodness relationship in a UF series for once....

  4. I think they are on my list to read. I will definitely have to check them out. :)

  5. That is why I love Cat and Bones from Night Huntress series. They have great relationship and are together all the time. Series with on and off-again are boring and annoying.

  6. I read "The Blood that Bonds" by Christopher Beucheler, and the 2nd in the series. It was a GREAT read, there was a lot of action, lots of romance and it was a different take on vampirism. All good stuff.

    But the love interest of the main character was KILLED off barely a 3rd into the first book. So I spent the rest of the book and nearly all of the 2nd wishing he didn't die. Their relationship was amazing!

    Even worse though (spoiler alert, I'll be vague as possible), when the relationship continued, it was so blah. The reunion was so disappointing. I kind of get why, there was a lot going on at the time. But their reunion should have been so much more than it was.

    So no, I don't like seeing a lot of strife or conflict in the relationships. Character flaws or quirks, ok. But breaking up and reuniting, for whatever reason, loses my interest fast.

    1. I don't mind maybe a little conflict in a relationship because couples do fight, but not the on again off again thing.

  7. I think the pace of an urban lifestyle, whether fantasy or not, makes it more difficult to sustain a relationship. There are so many options and temptations you are constantly wanting to dabble in something different, and relationship drama, if between relatable characters keeps me roped into the story. But I do like to see a greater purpose behind it all. What are the characters learning? How are they growing from the on-again-off-again? I want to see a character arc, not just stumbling and making the same mistakes.