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Friday, February 27, 2015

Like, Lust, Love--Where Do They Fit in Romance Novels?

By Linda Lovely

Can you lust after someone you don’t like? Can you love someone yet dislike that person? Can you like and lust but not love? These are questions all authors should ask as they plot their books and consider the best ways to add conflict or increase tension if they’re writing novels that include romantic relationships.
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?      

5 comments:

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Excellent blog, Linda!

Ashantay Peters said...

Yes! I agree! I want that HEA for the characters. Sexual tension sets the scene - the more the better, whether it is in dialogue form or touching with a promise. Sometimes just a hot look is enough for me. (grin)

Enjoyed the post!

Sarah Raplee said...

I do agree, Linda. There are times in our HEAs in real life that it's the like and love that get you through. The lust may be impossible to satisfy due to accident, illness or age, but with the like and the love, the loving relationship can endure.

Linda Lovely said...

Yes, Sarah, LIKE and LOVE often have far more longevity than LUST.

Judith Ashley said...

I find it difficult to write a hero who doesn't have traits I'd like or that I would personally require in a relationship. Humor is one of those requirements so we share that personal peccadillo.

My February post earlier this month talked about love being more than a feeling. I think lust is a physical feeling and involves our hormones and less logic. Love must come with loving actions and, it is my experience, it also has a foundation of friendship or like if it last a very long time.

I agree with Sarah - to get through the rough waters most every relationship travels experiences, like and love can weather those storms.