I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. First off, the sea of pink starting the day after Christmas annoys me. Second, restaurants are always crowded. Third, I prefer incidental romance, like when my husband snaps a picture of something he knows I’ll like, or when he helps me fold laundry without being asked.
That being said, the approach of V-day does make me think about romance. I love romance novels and movies. And I’m totally a shipper! I call out my choices and stick to them. (I still think Twilight would have been better if Bella ended up with Jacob… Team Jacob forever!)
- Elizabeth and Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice: I’m a sucker for when people think they hate each other, but then end up in love. They’re both strong characters and end up being so awkward with one another when they start to realize all the ways they were wrong. Their coming together at the end is a delightful payoff.
- Eve Dallas and Roarke, In Death series: Eve Dallas is a homicide detective who thinks that cops make bad life partners. Roarke is a former thief/ smuggler, now richest man on the planet. When she has to interview him for a homicide investigation, he romances her with coffee. (My kind of guy!) They dated for a few books, then got married. 58 books into the series, they still love, argue, and negotiate difficulties of two passionate people being married. Part of the reason I love this series is it’s one of the few romances that doesn’t end with “and they lived happily ever after…” There’s so much more to love.
- Qhuinn and Blaylock, Lover at Last, the Brotherhood of the Black Dagger (#11): The Brotherhood are vampires sworn to protect their people from the Lessening Society, evil creatures who want to destroy them. Each Black Dagger book focuses on a different couple, and I love them all. Qhuinn and Blaylock are my favorite because the title sums up my feelings… at last! All the other couples had a sense of inevitability about them. But Qhuinn and Blaylock danced around one another in the background for many books, first as friends, then they had a falling out. When they finally get together, it was a beautiful thing. Incidentally, it was the last book in the series that I read. The author was starting to focus on characters who’d been in the background before, who I didn’t care about. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday…
- Claire and Jamie, Outlander: I love everything about their romance. I love how they challenge and test one another. Even in book form, their chemistry lights up the page. (I have not watched the TV series) This is another couple who’s story doesn’t stop with marriage, and their devotion to one another is captivating.
- Bishop and Miranda, Out of the Shadows: Kay Hooper writes a special crimes book series where the investigators all have some paranormal ability. Bishop created the unit and is in charge. Throughout the series, it’s alluded to that he’s looking for someone. Well, he finally finds her when Miranda Knight, a small town cop, has to call in the FBI for a series of murders. He wronged her a long time ago, and she’s not sure she can forgive him. Something about their chemistry has always spoken to me and made this book my favorite in the series.
- Noah and Allie, The Notebook & The Wedding: I know some people who like romantic stories who didn’t like The Notebook, and my guess is that they only saw the movie. I liked the movie, but it loses quite a bit of the power the book had. No matter what comes between them, Noah and Allie love one another fiercely, and nothing can stop them. It’s a beautiful love story set across two books, and even death doesn’t end it.
- Katniss and Peeta, The Hunger Games: I was always Team Peeta. I’m a sucker for unrequited, unselfish love, and I never believed, not even for a little while, that Peeta was hunting Katniss. I love that she’s the pragmatic one, and he’s the romantic one, and that we the readers can see her slowly falling in love with him long before she realizes it. The conclusion of the trilogy, while sad, felt right.
- Jane & Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre: I know there are people who hate this pairing, who think that Mr. Rochester was selfish and awful. I get it, but they’re wrong. Mr. Rochester is a passionate, proud man, and as such makes mistakes. Yes, he tries to deceive Jane about his lunatic wife, but his reasoning is sound. He doesn’t consider himself to be married, and in today’s world, he could easily get a divorce. See, if he treated the wife in the attic badly, I’d be all about “down with Rochester.” But he doesn’t. He hates her, but still takes good care of her. He deceives Jane, but never intends to hurt her. Jane is fantastic because, in an age when women were blindly submissive, she always does what she thinks is right. Her passion is a barely restrained thing, in an age where a passionate woman could get herself locked up in an insane asylum. These two perfectly complement one another.
- Will and Louisa, Me Before You: The first time I read this book, when I finished it, I started back over at the beginning. It spoke to me that much. Louisa never quite fits in anywhere. People are always teasing her about her clothing, the way she acts, and the things she says. Will is perpetually pissed off after the accident that left him paraplegic. At first, they don’t like one another, but as time goes on, they learn that the other one is the only one who really listens and understands. It’s beautiful and sad.
- Mia and Adam, If I Stay & Where She Went: Mia and Adam are brought together by their mutual love of music. Adam feels comfortable with Mia and her family in a way he’s never felt before. When a car accident kills her whole family, Mia learns about it from her coma, and realizes she has the power to stay or to go. She looks back on times with her family and with Adam as she makes her decision. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book gave me all the feels.
- Mulder and Scully, The X-files: I was on board for them to confess their love for one another in Season 1! But it didn’t happen that way, and the underlying tension was what made the romance great. I hated any of the rare times they dated or flirted with anyone else, but their close relationship and deep understanding of one another made me certain they were meant to be together. That’s part of the reason I’m enjoying the new series, even though it seems they’re together-but-not-quite. No one understands them the way the other does.
- Jim and Pam, from The Office: I didn’t even want to watch the stupid show. My husband started and thought it was funny. As often happens, he watched several episodes before something caught my attention, and then I was done. Throughout all 9 seasons, I was rooting for them, and I loved that their love story continued (and had conflict) even after they got married.
- Admiral Adama and Laura Roslin, Battlestar Galactica: BSG is not a romance series, and of all the romances that happen, this one is probably the most subtle. I doubt it’s making anyone else’s list, but I love it. They’re both a little older than are typically focused on for romance, but I think that’s part of what makes it great. They don’t get along at first. I don’t even think they respect one another at first. (OMG, this is just like P&P… no wonder I love it.) But slowly they start to learn how to work together, until at one point, Adama admits to his son, “I can’t live without her.” What makes that statement even more poignant is that she’s dying, and everyone knows it.
- Harry and Sally, When Harry Met Sally: There are so many amazing scenes in this movie, but the last scene, where Harry confesses his love on New Year’s Eve, is romance gold. They were enemies, then they were friends, then they fell in love. It seems to happen that way a lot in fiction, and I firmly believe it’s because we see ourselves in the people we hate, and overcoming that is like learning to love yourself.
- Prince Henry and Danielle, Ever After: I’ve always loved Cinderella stories, but I love this one best because: 1. Hello, Drew Barrymore. 2. Danielle isn’t some milquetoast heroine waiting to be rescued. Nope, she challenges Prince Henry, and he becomes a better man because of it.
- Han Solo and Leia, Star Wars: They hate each other until they don’t. Their relationship is volatile but based on respect. Even in the more recent movies, when they’ve been broken up, it was still obvious how much they loved one another. I liked how it showed that a broken up couple can still love one another, even if they shouldn’t be together.
- Kate and Luc, French Kiss: When Kate’s fiancé goes to Paris for a medical conference and meets the love of his life, Kate overcomes her fear of flying to follow him and win him back. She ends up teaming up with a French con man, Luc, who shows her why the one who left wasn’t good enough for her in the first place.
- Honorable mention: Rick and Daryl, The Walking Dead: I realize that they’re not a couple, but their bromance is the best. It’s not uncommon for women in books and movies to have close friendships, but we rarely see it with men. These two have such amazing chemistry that many of the best scenes are just the two of them. Seeing them go from enemies to brothers has been one of my favorite things on the show.
Did I miss any? Who are your favorite romantic couples, in books or TV/ movies?