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Top Ten Fictional Couples

What makes a great couple? I don’t mean in real life, because honestly, no-one cares how great your best friend is with her boyfriend. We don’t commit to other people’s coupledom in real life (unless there’s a wedding, because who doesn’t love a party?) the way that we do in books and movies and tv shows. We want them to get together, we want them to look up and see that other person and make it work. Then usually, when they’re together, there’s some sort of terrible break apart or they settle into boring domesticity and we forget how invested we were. No matter! As part of #weloveromance I’m here to list my top ten favourite fictional couples, in no particular order:

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1. Jess and Rory (Gilmore Girls). I shipped these guys hard. They made sense. She’s already got bored of her very nice and very boring boyfriend, he’s the angry new kid who dislikes everything about his new home but her. He’s also crazy smart and ends up writing a book, when she’s been afraid he’s got no ambition. Love me a male lead with a bit of bite to him.

2. Max and Neve (You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me- Sarra Manning). I love this book. And I love the characters. Neve is nervous and self-flagellating, Max is a mess pretending to hold it all together, and somewhere through having sex and arguing, they manage to teach each other something. It’s fun, and funny and still deals with those awful issues you carry with you, and don’t really trust other people to handle.

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3. Kat and Patrick (Ten Things I Hate About You) They’re both smart arses with attitude, they both learn to be vulnerable, he fights for her, twice, loses the bad image, and really, who wouldn’t want to be serenaded with ‘I Love You Baby’?

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4. Zoe and Wade (Hart of Dixie) Yes, I know it’s over. I have to get over it. I know that. But they were so good! She’d gotten over the good boy boring lawyer, she’d chosen sex over fairytale love, and then somewhere along the line, sex turned into love. Except he screwed it up, because she was being too supportive and he felt like he wasn’t good enough….but until then! I particularly liked this because it dealt with the whole ‘we have nothing in common’ situation, except what they had in common was that they liked spending time together. Life lesson!

5. Walter and Hildy (His Girl Friday) Once again, a testament that choosing the boring nice guy who doesn’t really know who you are isn’t a good idea. Yes, they’re exhausting, but the back and forth is excellent. Hildy is a strong female character who wants the affection and life that comes with marriage, as well as being a kick ass reporter. Plus, Cary Grant. ‘Nuff said.

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6. Laurie and Curly (Oklahoma) My absolute faves. I watch Oklahoma when I’m sick or in need of a really good story. The romance follows the typical arc with them hating each other, then liking each other but not saying anything, then another guy likes her, Curly has to do some protecting. Plus, there’s singing and dancing and being all snarky to each other. And the Hugh Jackman version pretty much makes my heart aflutter.

7. Tabby and Harry (The Last Word) Okay, so they’re my characters, but I love them. She’s emotionally scarred, he’s better at hiding it, she tries to keep it casual, he’s open to more. Why are men always the commitment phobes? Sometimes we’re all just trying to protect ourselves. Plus, snarky and sarcastic and originally disliking each other as mentioned in Oklahoma.

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8. Sam and Jack (Stargate SG1) The majority of my pitiful teenage years were spent writing fanfiction to correct the travesty that was never getting these characters together. Spending years offering gentle prompts that these characters had feelings for each other, followed by some pretty solid life decisions in season 7…and yet. Nothing. No closure. Now I’m just bitter.

9. Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) Yeah, okay, obvious. But these guys were the original opposites attract scenario, and the original ‘present the male character as bloody awful and then realise that he’s actually appealing’ which has been done in countless books and movies since. You trendsetter, Austen.

10.Aladdin and Jasmin (Aladdin) My favourite disney movie as a kid. Come on, romance is sitting on a magic carpet ride being sung to. Although the idea of that makes my skin crawl now, as a child, it was the perfect synergy- here’s two attractive people, they’re from different classes, they’re both independent and strong, he’s trying to impress her with stuff she doesn’t care about, she just wants someone to see who she is. They go on adventures and save everyone from the evil dude. Yeah, Love conquers. Woo

BONUS NUMBER

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Only because I forgot this one til now, and they’re my FAVOURITE. Especially in the continuation of snarky, refusing to give in to attraction, and making smart arse comments all the time, (and is kind of already included because of number 3):

Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) I’m really including this because I love the Catherine Tate and David Tenant version so much. They’re perfect- they’re argumentative, strong, yet sure of their feelings, yet vulnerable, and also just hilarious. I like my characters with some energy, especially if it’s misdirected!

I’ve noticed from reading this through, I really love opposites. Love when characters clash and compliment each other all at once. Romance doesn’t mean sitting around staring into each others’ eyes and making daisy chains, it’s those moments of clashing and laughing and flirting and realising you have a connection with this other human, no matter how surprising or extraordinary. But, that’s just me. Why don’t you search #weloveromance to find some of the other Carina authors doing the same list today? And add your favourites in the comment box!

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Let’s talk about (safe) sex, baby.

This isn’t REALLY for #weloveromance but as far as I’m concerned, you can’t have one without the other!

Do romance writers have a responsibility to present safe sex?

 

This was the question I wondered as I read a really great romance recently. It had all the things I love, a snarky love interest, a crazy family, excellent characterisation and backstory. The sex scene had been delayed long enough, and was really hot and then… when asked by the male she was just about to sleep with for the first time if he should get a condom, the female replied ‘Don’t worry, I’m on the pill.’

 

Now, here’s the balance: do we present safe sex, knowing that young women learn about the ‘normality’ of relationships through books like these, OR do we stay true to what sex is actually like, and that sometimes that stuff happens?

 

Here’s what bothered me- I wouldn’t judge a woman I know, or just met, if she told me that story. I might have rolled my eyes and said that the pill doesn’t protect against STDs and it’s not really the same thing, especially when you’re sleeping with someone for the first time, but I wouldn’t have judged. But I judged the writer for presenting me with such a character. A cautious and thoughtful character, who never takes risks and is always in control…and yet, this. Especially after they’d just had a whole discussion about the fact that the male character has had multiple fuck buddies at the same time.

 

Fair enough, a lot of people don’t like writing condoms into sex scenes- they think it loses momentum, breaks down the romantic bit, or the ‘ravaging in process’ bit. Personally, I don’t think that’s true, and I make a point to include it, especially in the first few sex scenes. It doesn’t need to metaphorically flick you in the face every time you start a steamy scene, but it’s a part of sexual experience. We don’t tend to write about all the gross stuff that happens in sex either, because we’re writing the ideal most of the time. But the ideal includes being safe, doesn’t it?

 

If we were writing to be true to life, we’d include all the nitty gritty gross stuff, so I can understand ignoring it altogether, I have no problem with that. But bringing it up, only to dismiss it for something that doesn’t actually address the situation? That’s the kind of excuse brought up in erotic fiction on the internet, where rape fantasies and incest stories hide away. They bring it up to get it out of the way, so that women are expected to give that answer, and ta-da! There sits your male condom-free fantasy. Except….the majority of readers of ‘chick lit’ are female…so what is achieved here?

 

I haven’t got an answer for you, but I’m interested in what you think! Do writers have an obligation to present safe sex, or do we ignore it and accept that it’s just fantasy? Comment, I’m intrigued!