Friday, 11 July 2014

Slow Burn Romance

I have a lot of thoughts about romance in novels.

The first one tends to be, "not this again".

To be fair, this mostly only applies to love triangles. Which, ugh, I have been so over forever. They all seem to be formulaic and just haven't been compelling in the longest time.

After that, my next thought is typically, "why?"

This is usually because the romance feels forced to me. We're told the characters are into each other and bam! romance. This applies to the insta-love just as much as it applies to other forms of romance in books. Sometimes it feels like it's thrown in as an afterthought. "Oh yeah, a YA book, better have a love interest!" That kind of thing.

Romance isn't a requirement for a good book. And I am especially tired of conventional romances... but that's definitely a topic for a different post.

Instead, what I want to talk about today is the slow burn.

As you may or may not have already figured out, fandom plays a relatively big part of my online life. And when I'm not reading a book, I'm probably reading fanfic.

And one of the things that fanfic tends to do really well is the slow burn. 80k of my two favourite characters realizing they have feelings for each other? Sign me up.

So, it's probably fanfic's fault that I'm not usually terribly into book romance. I like the long, drawn out, dancing around each other romantic tension. I like being able to see that the characters are developing feelings for each other, rather than just being told. I want the butterflies in my stomach when one of them finally leans in for the kiss.

I want to ship them, is what I'm saying. I want a book to reel me in slowly and make me feel for these characters. Make me want them to hook up. But without all the dumb soap opera drama/angst/misunderstanding that usually comes with.

I want to watch their journey. Have their romantic subplot run parallel to the rest of the story--not necessarily be the focus of it. I want them to struggle a bit, but that just makes the moment when they come together all that much sweeter.

And less of the, "You're the main male character and I'm the main female character: we must obviously be attracted to each other!"

I would be perfectly happy reading a trilogy where the main couple did not get their act together until the third book. So long as the narrative isn't obnoxious about it.

So give me the slow burn. Build me up. Bring on the romantic tension. Show me, don't tell me.

What do you think? How do you feel about romance in the books you read? Any fantastic recommendations to send my way? Let's chat in the comments!