By Linda Lovely
The Power of Lust
In fictional romances, one of the tropes is a heroine who lusts for a hero she despises. She gets all tingly the moment he enters a room. It’s as if he’s a force field. She tries to fight her attraction but she’s powerless to squelch it. Of course, if the book is a romance, she eventually discovers the hero is not despicable, and she falls in love (usually before she satisfies her lust). The issue of “like” may or may not be fully addressed.
Okay, given the right circumstances, I can suspend disbelief and buy into this oft-used plot device. Our hormones don’t always listen to reason. While “like” is a thinking/logic idea, lust (and love) occur at a more subconscious level and sometimes defy logic. So it’s not hard to imagine lusting after someone you don’t like—especially if your dislike is based on assumptions and hearsay. In this case our logic—the reason we don’t like someone—may be flawed. Thus, the enemies-to-lovers trope can be believable if done correctly.
However, there is a point where I draw the line. If the heroine has actually witnessed (or experienced) a man doing something detestable, say backhanding his mother or kicking a cat, I have a harder time believing her lust “force field” wouldn’t break down. (Unless, of course, we later learn an alien being killed his mother and is inhabiting her body or the kicked cat is a shape-shifter.)
Like Versus Love
A friend of mine, a mother, confessed to me that she loved all four of her children equally, but she couldn’t help liking two of them a lot more than their siblings. Love of family members—whether they’re likable or not—is another trope in fiction. This is the blood is thicker theory. Of course, what’s called “love” in this instance may actually be better described as clan loyalty.
But, I couldn’t love a man I didn’t like and respect. So, if I’m writing a romance, the hero has to win the respect of the heroine before she can truly love him. In my case, the hero also has to be able to make the heroine laugh in order for her to fall madly in love. Okay, that’s a personal peccadillo.
Like, Lust and Love
I do think it’s possible to really like someone and yet find it impossible to take that next step to love. As noted earlier, like is a function of logic. Lust and love not so much. This reality offers lots of fictional opportunities. Movies like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” do an excellent job of exploring such disconnects among friends when one longs to move her/his relationship to the next step only to find the sentiment isn’t shared.
That’s why if I’m reading a romance, I want the whole kit and caboodle—like, lust, love—to convince me that a hero and heroine will actually have a happy ever after (HEA).
Do you agree?