Love at first sight or slow burning romance?
I’m sure we all have our own idea of what the perfect romance is. But do you prefer the slow burner, the kind that takes a while to grow, or the kind where it’s love at first sight, that as soon as the hero and heroine meet they just know they are meant to be together? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments, we would love to hear what you have to say!
I think from my reviews it’s pretty obvious that I LOVE the love/hate relationship. You know the kind. The hero and heroine meet, hate each other with a passion but actually fancy the pants of each other, albeit secretly (and sometimes even unbeknownst to themselves) and then slowly fall in love. This is my favourite kind. But does that mean I love the fact that they instantly fall in love but hide it with snarkiness and angry banter, or do I like it because it takes a while for them to declare their love for one another and therefore it’s more of a slow burner. It’s hard to decide.
I’m not sure I prefer one over the other. It’s all about how it’s written. If love at first sight is written well, with depth and good pacing, then there’s nothing better than instant passion that quickly turns to love. However, without the right build-up or pacing love at first sight can feel rushed and unsatisfactory, making the whole situation unbelievable. The same goes with the slow burn. The author has to get the pacing right and to know when it’s time to get their characters together otherwise the slow burn can fizzle out with readers getting bored and annoyed. But if done well the slow burning romance can be magical as it leads up to that first kiss, first night and the characters slowly falling in love. In many ways, I think this is the most romantic, with the love at first sight being the most passionate. So I’ll be talking about two of my favourite romantic couples that for me show both love at first sight and the slow burn.
One of my favourite couples has to be Elena and Raphael from Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance series, Guild Hunter. I fell in love with both these characters almost immediately – love at first read? Their love is pretty instantaneous and happens within the first book of the series. They have their problems as the series moves along, but their love is already set. This is the lustful kind of love that just takes your breath away as you’re swept up in their passion for one another.
Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series holds one of the all-time best romance couples, Chess and Terrible. To me their romance is quite different from Elena and Raphael, as I see it as a slow burner – it grows from mutual respect and friendship, although there’s lots of sexual chemistry too. It takes them a little while to get together and also to declare their love, but once they do fireworks happen. It’s one of the most unusual and intense relationships I’ve read in urban fantasy or paranormal romance. Their relationship is always an emotional roller coaster and has me in bits at the end of each book.
When I first started to think about writing this topic my initial thought was both, I love both! But during this week I have been listening to an audiobook and went it got to the point where the hero declared his love after barely three dates, well, more like two and a half, I found myself rolling my eyes. How can you possibly know after three dates? Where was the getting to know each other, the will they, won’t they plot-line and surely you need to have sex more than once you know… to know?!
If I think about some of my favourite romances, PHANTOM WALTZ by Catherine Anderson, THE DARK HIGHLANDER and KISS THE HIGHLANDER by Karen M. Moning, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, JANE EYRE, Chess and Terrible in Kane’s Downside Ghost series, Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE… as always when it comes to listing my favourite books I really could go on (and on). But they are all slow burners.
I adore that ultimate moment when the hero and heroine finally realise how totally in love they are with one another. That heart-crushing, bone-melting, delicious moment when they know they cannot live without one another and they were born to be with that person. I love the fact they often don’t even know until that pivotal scene that you’ve been desperate to read for the WHOLE book. The anticipation is half the fun.
That is not to say I don’t like reading love at first sight books, I do. But…. I have to believe them. I have to buy into the heady, intoxication. The chemistry, the passion, the ‘I want to spent the rest of my life with this person even though I’ve only just met them’, craziness. Rather than just thinking, oh please, already… really? So like all things when it comes to a good book, it comes down to good writing. At the heart I think I will always be slow burner girl as I love the slow, unfurling journey to satisfaction. But, sometimes it’s nice to be blown away by that smoking lightening bolt.
When it comes to what I like in my romance, it all depends on the book I’m reading. More often than not, I do prefer the slow burner. There is nothing better than watching the sexual tension build and the attraction between the couple in question become harder and harder to ignore (Stop the sniggering at the double entendre you people at the back!) Yet, there is the danger that if the author draws it out too long, then you will become bored. It’s a very difficult balance to keep. A good author knows when it is the right time to give us what we want. This slow burning romance is mostly seen in books with love triangles, in the case of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.
On the other hand, the love at first sight/instant attraction also has some benefits too. When boy meets girl, the proverbial sparks fly and even if it is a love hate relationship, all doubt is pushed out the window. You know that they are going to be together. More often than not, it is due to some unexplainable pull. In PNR it can be due to their souls matching or in the case of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, a bonding scent is witnessed by the male.
I am noticing a trend where more often, the slow burning romance is seen in books that are parts of long series, centred around one main protagonist. It is also seen much more prominently in urban fantasy books. That’s not to say that you don’t see it in one off books, but I’m just noticing it more and more. I think what I am trying to say is it depends how quickly I want to get to the Happy Ever After of the main characters.
Ah… what a choice… love at first sight or slow burn. Well, for me, I think it has to be slow burn. Perhaps it’s because I am more of a slow burn type in real life. I enjoy the teasing side that you get from an author when they do the long lingering thing. But, on the flip side of that, unless it is written well, it can be really annoying and you can find yourself just yelling at the book..”OH GET ON WITH IT!!”
Now I am thinking about it though, do things start off as “love at first sight”, even though they turn out to be a slow burn? And at what point do you consider the relationship “there”? The first kiss? or does it have to be more than that? If it lingers on throughout a series, I guess that, to me, it would be what I consider a slow burn. If it is done and dusted and they are together by the end of the book, then that would be love at first sight.
For any of you that have read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward, you will understand the up side of the slow burn, but I am not going to say that I am not super thrilled that the next book is the one that we have all been waiting for. Blay and Qhuinn have been the epitome of slow burn, with ups and downs, pregnancies and other lovers. But this has made them into who they are now, and as such will be more inclined to make a stronger partnership.
I am starting to get frustrated with Christine Feehan’s Dark series however, as I think we have been hanging on long enough for Skyler and Demitri’s story I understand that Skyler needs time to grow up, but in a series that can jump decades within the span of a book, I wish she would grow up already and Demitri could come and claim her. The deleted scene from DARK CELEBRATION shows she is very nearly ready, so fingers crossed it will not be too much longer. Sometimes the wait can make me cynical as my thoughts go along the lines of as this is a much awaited book, are they hanging on so long because they know that after this book the series may not be as appealing as it once was?
I am not a writer, so I don’t have the bond with the characters that they do, but if I could pass on a request to all the wonderful authors out there it would be this:
I understand that you can’t write a certain character’s book until they talk to you and tell you that they are ready, but for those of us that love a slow burn romance, please don’t leave it burning too long so that the glowing embers fade out for us entirely on the series.
I think for me it has to be love at first sight, it’s how I fell in love at twenty and within five months I was married. I know love is different for everyone and growing up I always maintained that I would never rush into anything but some things you can’t explain and quite often love makes no sense (in case you are wondering I’m still married 11 years later).
I’m very new to reading as I only started reading in 2009 after the birth of my third child, I kept reading comments on facebook about TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer and the movie came on to Sky so I thought I would see what the fuss was about. I watched and enjoyed the movie so thought I would try and read the book. Edward and Bella were the start for me and their relationship was very much love at first sight, I read Twilight in one day then ordered the next three straight away. I re-read Twilight while I waited for the books to arrive and haven’t stopped reading. As quickly as Edward and Bella fell for each other I fell in love with reading and I’ve been obsessed by both ever since.
I next picked up THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, Katniss and Peeta’s relationship was on the other side of the scale and I think slow burner is a longer lasting, deeper love and is the kind of love that develops after the initial attraction has worn off. Katniss didn’t realise she felt anything for Peeta until CATCHING FIRE and I think Slow Burner love has a way to surprise you.
Another love at first sight read that have stood out for me is THE IRON KING series by Julie Kagawa and the lengths Prince Ash went to to be able to be with Meghan Chase. Despite being natural enemies their love endured all the opposition that was thrown their way.
My greatest slow burner read has to be PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen, who can ever forget Miss Elizabeth Bennett falling for Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy after such a rocky start, I’ll always remember watching the BBC adaption with my mum before going away and reading the book, I’m not sure there has been anything better and still remains a firm favourite.
For me the type of love I enjoy the most is the kind of love that brings out the best in you, which builds up rather than destroys, both love at first sight and slow burner can have that result.
I have read a lot of romance over the years and started out reading my sister’s Harlequin Romances when I was much too young for them. I am definitely more of a slow burn kind of gal when it comes to reading romance and I even prefer it when the couple are indifferent or start out disliking each other as I enjoy seeing how the author will get them together. Jane Austin did this with aplomb in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE as after months of ungentleman-like behaviour it only took Eliza Bennett to see Mr Darcy’s wonderful estate in Pemberly for her to realise to he wasn’t so bad after all. Go girl!
I think that Patricia Briggs has cornered the market on the slow burn relationship. Briggs started out early in her career with slowly developing relationships such as Aralorn and Wolf from the Sianim series of books. It took four years for this couple to declare their love for one another, although Aralorn thought Wolf was an actual wolf for most of this time period rather than a very talented, shape shifting, mage. This was a unique love affair as Wolf was the son of Aralorn’s torturer and looked exactly like him and not the best start to a relationship by any standards. In the Hurog dualogy it took Ward four years to convince Tisala that he was worthy of her and this was after torture, mayhem and a lot of sword fights. In the Mercy Thompson series it took Mercy and Adam years and three novels before they managed to get together. I loved the way that Briggs brought these characters together nice and slowly, especially after a delicious love triangle. It was this series that got me interested in urban fantasy and then later fantasy.
I think my all-time favourite couple are Kate and Curran from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Kate and Curran start out hating each other and fights and near strangulations abounded whenever they were together in books one and two. Curran being the ultimate cat hunts Kate through part of book 2 before the romance started to come into the fore in book 3. However, we have to wait until book 4 before the couple truly get together. I was never bored with their relationship nor did I think that Andrews’ dragged the romance out. The relationship was perfectly paced and didn’t take the focus from the overall plot of the book. I also liked how Andrews used the Curran POV short stories to let you see how the relationship developed from his perspective.
Despite my love of the slowly developed love affair a good story is still a good story even if the couple get together in the first few pages. For me its less about the romance and more story but its an added bonus if there is a bit of ‘stop it, I love it, stop it, I love it’ along the way.