Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

A Practical Person’s Guide to Romance

It’s February thirteenth, which means tomorrow is the day most everyone either loves or loathes. You’ve guessed it: Valentine’s Day. I’m personally in the camp that snickers at the cheesy paraphernalia that assaults me as I walk through the aisles of my local Wal-Mart (Twilight conversation hearts, anyone?) and clings to the belief that this special day was a rather clever marketing ploy devised by the candy, card, and flower triumvirate to push frivolous gift items (because nothing says I love you quite like flowers that will wither and die and a five pound box of chocolates that will inevitably cause the consumer to gain twenty pounds in the most undesirable of places).

No, what I don’t like about this so-called holiday is that it’s been turned into this exclusive club with membership limited to only happy couples (No significant other for you? You poor thing, but no you can’t come out to dinner with us). Right up there is the unwritten rule that the female of the species lacking membership in said club must spend this day mourning her single state by planting her unwashed, Snuggie wearing body in front of her television to bawl her eyes out at sad-sack movies while consuming an entire container of Rocky Road ice cream. 

Does anyone blame me for not wanting to conform to that sorry image?  I didn’t think so.  But just because I’m not broken-hearted over the fact that I’m single and I’m really the most practical,  ‘non-romantic’ person you will probably ever meet,* that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate love and romance and want a little of it in my life, even if I’m only experiencing it vicariously through a character in a book.

So, for your reading pleasure, here are a list of books featuring literary couples whose relationship is practically guaranteed not to induce gagging, eye-rolling or vomiting among the practical romantics crowd. Please contribute to the list in the comments section so you, your friends, patrons or whomever can read a great book instead of moping this Valentine’s Day.

Spoilers are ahead, so read at your own peril.

Jamie and Claire of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

These two might exhibit plenty of fire and passion in their relationship, but you won’t find them trading sappy lines ala “I love you.” “No, I love you more.” Their marriage was one of convenience, designed to protect the other from harm, but they both end up loving each other deeply when all is said and done. Claire gets the opportunity to ‘save’ Jamie just as much as he does her, whether it’s stitching up his nasty wounds or whacking a black bear on the nose with a big fish when it’s trying to do Jamie in. Neither is the type to sit idly by or wring their hands when the one they love is in trouble. And forget useless trinkets – Jamie gives Claire practical gifts, like a box of medical instruments and a cat to keep her surgery pest free. The one time in twenty odd years of marriage that Jamie actually gives Claire a posy, it turns out to be poison ivy (though she cherishes the thought behind the gesture and puts the plant on display in a vase so as not to discourage him).
Bonus: Their lives are infinitely more exciting than yours could ever be. Feel free to join Jamie and Claire on their adventures without the threat of bodily harm!

Eugenides and Attolia/Irene of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series.

Unfortunately, this is one of those series whose enjoyment depends upon the preservation of its mysteries and secrets, so read at your own risk!
Hey, if your love for a woman can survive her ordering the amputation of your hand, then you must know you have something lasting. Behind the ruse they’ve created of living separately and their feigned disdain for one another, they really do possess a deep love and respect for the other. You’ll love watching Irene ditch the ice-queen persona and Eugenides become the king and leader you always knew he could be.

Cimorene and Mendanbar of Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles

She’s a princess who refuses to spend her life enamored by dancing and pretty dresses. He’s a king who isn’t obsessed with slaying dragons and rescuing distressed damsels. They go on adventures together and save the day. It’s humorous fun for the whole family. What more could you ask for?


*Though even I would be appalled by someone proposing marriage to me by asking whether I would like a ring or a washer and dryer — way to go, Dad!


7 comments on “A Practical Person’s Guide to Romance

  1. PolishOutlander
    February 14, 2010

    I love Jamie and Claire. More Jaime of course! 🙂 And I love the books too.

    • Jenn
      February 14, 2010

      I have a special place in my heart for Jamie and Claire, which is why they had to be included in this list.

  2. Bibliophilia In Black
    February 14, 2010

    Oh that naughty horse, Latawnya! 😀

    • Jenn
      February 14, 2010

      Latawnya cracks me up! I think the best part of this story, though, is that the author named the characters after her children — I feel sorry for the real Latawnya!

  3. gothougeekly
    February 15, 2010

    *howling* I only heard recently about Latawnya the Naughty Horse, so now I feel privy to one of librarians’ in-jokes.

    Ref Valentine’s Day, I guess I just don’t feel that strongly about it one way or another. But that may be a guy thing.

    • Jenn
      February 17, 2010

      I thank Awful Library Books every day for opening my eyes to the wonderful literary gem that is Latawnya the Naughty Horse.

      Yeah, I think most guys don’t really care about Valentine’s Day unless their significant other forces them to. With that said, I did date a guy in high school who probably thought it was a Big Deal. Bless his heart for having to put up with un-romantic me.

  4. Pingback: Read her: Diana Gabaldon « Women and Words

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2010 by in Reader's Advisory and tagged , .
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