It’s been ages since I’ve posted one of my beloved “List-o-Rama” posts, and I can’t for the life of me recall why I quite creating them. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d revitalize Listorama and bring a few of my favorite fictional couples.
Some of these are from straight up romances, while others are from novels with significant or memorable romantic elements. No worries, though, all of these picks have either a happy ever after or a happy for now ends--no one gets hit by a bus at the end in an attempt to make the novel appear to have more literary significance.
Contemporary Fiction (Adult)
Neve & Max, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
It’s a wonder I’ve not written about my love of this book and this coupling on here before, because Neve and Max are a delightfully satisfying mess. These two spend the bulk of this 500-plus page novel in what they’ve dubbed a “Pancake Relationship” (fake boyfriends, FTW!) and, of course, they inadvertently become a couple. Bonus points here for handling body image and perception versus reality of one’s physical self better than nearly any book I’ve read, with the notable exception of Conversations with a Fat Girl by Liza Palmer.
Frannie & Sam, More Like Her by Liza Palmer
I’m pretty sure that this is my second favorite Liza Palmer novel, after her newest, Girl Before a Mirror*, but I don't think Frannie and Sam get nearly the love they deserve from Liza fans. There's just something memorable about the way they both are forced to become vulnerable as their relationship develops, so they hold special place in my heart. And also because the novel’s final scene involving them both is perfection that made me cry like a baby at 2:00am.
*Weeks ago, I resolved to not post on the blog until I finished writing about the particular novel, but I love it too much and I can’t figure out the right words to talk about it.
Meg & Johnafter, Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
I reread this novel last week after, gosh, four or five years and it just nails complicated, messy romance so well, and it just owns that it is at its core a romance. These two on paper should have an inherently problematic relationship, but it works—and I love how Echols characters consistently challenge readers in that way.
Auden & Eli, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
There is a lot of debate it seems as to whether or not Sarah Dessen’s books belong on the romance shelf (I have a lot to say on this subject, but that's a topic for another day), but unlike many of Dessen’s books, Along for the Ride definitely has all the markers of a romance-centric story. Auden and Eli’s relationship blossoms thanks to their mutual insomnia as they drive around, eat at all night diners and find the best convenience stores open at 3:00 a.m.
Romance (Adult, Various Sub-genres)
Maddy & Billy, Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe
Maddy and Billy are a fantastic couple because they didn’t work before and the events that bring them together are their second shot. Older and more able to have an adult relationship, and yet still struggling to figure it all all, these two seem unlikely to be able to come together again, and yet it all works. It reminds me of what Tim and Tyra would have to go through ten years after the end of Friday Night Lights to finally find their way back to each other.
I could quite literally include four or five Molly O’Keefe couples on this list, if we’re being honest—she writes perfectly imperfect couples that are tough to forget.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell & Gabriel St. John, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
I’m admittedly not much of a historical romance reader (I'm mostly, “Hell yeah, contemporary!”), I love this book and this particularly pairing. Callie is a spinster in Regency England at the ripe age of 28, and decides that it's high time she enjoys life. This intrigues a notorious womanizer who’s fascinated by this very different sort of woman who defies his expectations. It’s an age-old setup, but MacLean creates vivid, unique characters that leave you rooting for them.
Kori & Ian, Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent
Shadow Bound is all about contrasts. Kori is angry, closed-off and foul-mouthed; Ian is steady, clear-headed and patient. He brings a lightness to her dark world that is a big emotional payoff. In the gritty, terrifying mob-tinged world Vincent’s created, their relationship feels like it really can transcend anything.
Urban Fantasy (YA)
Tana & Gabriel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The complete opposite side of the coin from Sam and Grace, Tana and Gabriel are at their core problematic: Gabriel is a possibly evil vampire, Tana is a human at high risk in Coldtown, a walled city designed to isolate a vampirism epidemic. But their chemistry is practically combustible, despite their relatively small amount of time spent on the same page. This is one of the few vampiric couplings I can get behind.
It was ridiculously tough to keep this to just ten couples--there are so many that I really love! Others I adore are Jessica and Marcus from the Jessica Darling series (one of the best long-haul stories ever), all of Liza Palmer's couples (duh), Taylor and Jonah from Jellicoe Road, Puck and Sean from The Scorpio Races and oodles more.
So, who are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!