Where’s the Love?

OK, maybe this marks me as a crotchety spinster (heck, maybe this is why I’m a spinster, crotchety or not) but lately I’ve come across a number of romance manuscripts in which there’s all kinds of lust…and hardly any romance.  The protagonists take one look at each other, realize that their opposite number is sizzling hot, and after that there’s nothing but lust, interspersed with quarrels and story obstacles—and almost nothing of getting to know each other, getting to like each other, discovering why this really hot person is worthy of being loved…

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a prude.  I don’t have any problem with a good sex scene.   (Though when you’ve got one every 20 or 30 pages they do get kind of repetitive.)  I also like nudity in movies, and profanity in most forms of fiction.  But if you’re going to call it a love story, shouldn’t there be a bit more connection in this personal connection?

I also have to confess that I don’t read a lot of romance (like you hadn’t guessed that already) but surely there should something more heartfelt, to even category romances than a classy version of, “Oooooh.  I’d like to get me some of that.”

I’ve lately found that even in the romances I read (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth Lowell) I’ve been more interested in the relationships between minor characters than the protagonist’s romance, or with the mystery than the romance.

And maybe it is me…but whatever happened to “the meeting of true minds?”  Whatever happened to hearts and souls, as well as bodies?

In fairness, I should say that I think it’s a lot harder to create characters who fall in love for reasons of character, instead of hormones, and that I don’t think I could do it—though I’m beginning to be inspired to try.

For my money, the best romance writer today is SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, and I think the reason her romances work so well for me is because her characters aren’t interchangeable.  In most romances, you could probably swap any of the author’s heroines or heroes out for any of their other protagonists, and write exactly the same book—but I can’t imagine Aral or Cordelia ever loving anyone but each other.  The Sharing Knife series is the most “romantic” of all Bujold’s books, and Fawn and Dag’s May/December love story works for all kinds of reasons.  But mostly it works because, while I must admit that Fawn might have been able to find happiness with someone else, she was clearly Dag’s last chance for happiness in this life—and he gave up just about everything to hold onto her because he knew it.  (Though I have to say, that first sex scene between Fawn and Dag was delightful—but that was probably because it was more about Fawn and Dag than about sex.)

Anyway, does anyone but me feel the same way?  And what authors have you found, whose characters fall in love, as well as in lust?

 Bell_Thief_cover-12-16Hilari writes SF and fantasy for kids and teens—without, it must be confessed, a lot of romance.

3 thoughts on “Where’s the Love?

  1. I’m not a romance reader either, but romance works its way into just about every other genre because it’s so important to people. That said, yes, I agree with a lot about what you said about romances lacking personal connections between the two characters. When I pair characters, I try to pair them in such a way so that each has something the other needs–for example, the hero might be more reserved, and the heroine more outgoing. (This is why Mr. Darcy doesn’t do anything for me, BTW–we’re both introverts and do better paired with more extroverted people.) But sometimes, my characters start pining for someone else, so I must be doing something wrong. 😉

    I do like Bujold, but I’ve only read the first book in the Sharing Knife series.

    Have you read Soulless by Gail Carriger? I love the banter between Alexia and Lord Maccon.

  2. Soulless is awesome, i loved the whole series. But romance does seem to be very hard to get right. I haven’t read on in a while, but most of the romances ive read seem very droll in retrospect, headstrong romantically-wronged-in-one-way-or-another woman meets not-supposed-to-fall-in-love major hottie. very blah.

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