the manic event of love
Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts, one of which is the DBSA podcast conducted by the ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Dear Author. This is a terrific podcast for anyone who loves romance, romance authors, or smart ladies debating the romance world. First of all, let me say that as much as I love listening to the podcast, I’m scared to death one of these amazing women will read and review something that I’ve written. They are super-smart and not afraid to state their opinions. And boy, do they have opinions. Which is good for reviewers. They should have steady and strong opinions and be willing to stand behind them. I respect that and it makes for good radio, um, podcasts.
Despite my immense awe of these reviewers, I find myself disagreeing with them on one thing you find often in romance, they don’t seem to like books where the love hits hard and fast. Insta-love.
It used to be called love at first sight. And these aren’t the only reviewers I’ve heard who don’t like it. But me? I’m kind of partial to it. At least when it’s done well and the author sweeps you up in their story and doesn’t put you down for a second.
Why? Why am I a believer?
Because I’ve experienced it. Yep, I’ll admit it. I have had insta-love.
It hits hard and it comes from nowhere. For me it was a kind of recognition. I looked up and said to myself, “That one.” And underlying it was a strange sense of déja-vu, of knowing that I knew him- that I’d always known him.
Even though I didn’t think I’d ever seen him before.
I think it may be genetic because it is rampant in my family. My parents were engaged to be married after only knowing each other a few weeks. They were married after one month. And in case you are doing the “wink-wink” there must be a baby involved, my sister wasn’t born until two years later, so that wasn’t it. No, if you listen to them, love was instantaneous.
There are stories from my family’s history of couples that fell madly, passionately in love and, despite their parents opinions, ran off and got married. And were disowned. (Play the dark music here) Thankfully my grandparents didn’t do that, but I think it was a near thing. My grandmother always thought my mother could have done better, even though my mother has always been strong in her opinion that it was love right from the very first moment and my dad is a terrific guy.
I believe in love at first sight. I believe it’is real. I have first-hand knowledge, and second-hand knowledge. If what we romance authors write are romances, and love at first sight is very romantic, why do so many reviewers (and readers) not accept it?
I think there are a few reasons. Keep in mind none of this is scientific, it’s just my brain wondering how I know it exists while so many people deny it.
Number one: for some of them, possibly they haven’t experienced it. Whether through fate, or genetics, or never allowing themselves to believe, it hasn’t happened for them and (like having a karmic or supernatural experience) I don’t think you can be a true-believer without experiencing it. Just as I believe-because it happened to me, they don’t believe- because it didn’t happen to them. Many people have true love without the instant falling. It takes a few dates, or it might be with someone who was a friend, or it might even take years of off and on to realize this person is the one. Not everyone falls in love the same way. That’s why we read romances. Everyone’s story should be different.
Then there is reason number two, it’s hard to write love at first sight. It’s terribly difficult to write of someone who falls in love the second they see someone and have it be believable. I don’t think many authors pull it off, so the reviews are justified. Maybe the reviewers would give some of these stories A++ if the authors pull it off. We believe it in the movies. We canhear the change in the voices, see the pupils widen and the lips part. And, since we are very visual, we go with it. Even if afterwards we might say, “I loved it, but they fell in love too fast.”
And reason number three, if the goal of a love story is to fall in love, and that happens right away, then how can there be a story? This is a very valid point. And the answer is the story cannot be about the act of falling in love, it must be about something else.
Either the distrust of the emotion: I can’t believe I love them, it was too fast.
Or the obstacles between them: Romeo and Juliet fall in insta-love, but the obstacles between them are insurmountable.
I think the author’s job is not to avoid writing about immediate love, but to make it work. We believe Romeo and Juliet. We feel their intensity and their passion. That’s not to say that all modern romances are written with Shakespearean skill, but that the opportunity is there. We know it can work. It has happened. Authors make less believable ideas work every day.
All of my books so far are fast relationships. Sometimes they’ve known each other before, but typically they move fast. All I can say is that I like fast moving plots and fast moving relationships. In some books, you either skip whole periods of time. “Later that week” or “It had been three months of lovely dinners and shopping” in order to accomplish the avoidance of fast-love. Is that any more believable than a relationship that flares up and burns hot?
I don’t think so.
If you are interested in reading an author who has not just done well with falling in love fast, but has made a career out of it, try Tara Janzen. Her Steele Street books feature romances that occur in twenty-four hours. She sells like hot-cakes and the relationships are sizzling, fast, and sexy.
So, where does that leave us, the readers and writers of romance? Do you like stories where the couple falls hard and fast? Do you believe in love at first sight, or can you suspend your disbelief when an author is able to make it work? What other authors write steamy relationships that defy our standards of relationships and have fast pacing?