Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts and Flowers and Cupids… not.

It’s Valentine’s Day, when flower and chocolate company CEOs rub their hands like Scrooge drooling over his bank book.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when my husband brings home flowers and pays me sweet compliments while giving me a neck rub. However, all that frolicking through the fields and sappy poetry and watching the rain slide down a window while mooning over your lover’s absent face? Blargh.

In the interests of full disclosure, I think I did read a romance… once… when I was snowed in and had already gone through every other book in the house.

I’m a sexual tension kind of gal. I love it when the “couple” isn’t. When they bicker and tease and steal a kiss, but an hour later are making pointed comments about the other’s choice in blind dates. Maddie and David in Moonlighting, for example. Their dialogue was enchanting. Booth and Brennan in Bones. How I want those two to get together, yet the writers keep finding new ways to ramp up that tension.

Of course there are the classics: Bringing up Baby and His Girl Friday. Cary Grant was a master with both Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell. I didn’t care if Grant and Russell locked lips as the closing credits rolled, because getting there was an hour and a half of bliss.

Then there are two of the classics: Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Congreve’s Love for Love. I’ve loved both these plays since I was a swooning over David Cassidy. (What? It was the 70s. The pickings for pre-teen girls were slim.) Only when I started writing did I realize that I’ve been a fan of sexual tension longer than I realized. Poor Cyrano never gets the girl, and Valentine only gets Angelica after five convoluted, witty, sometimes-frustrating acts.

So, fellow readers and writers, what’s your choice for The Day of Romance? The traditional Romance-with-a-capital-R or the “will they or won’t they” kind? Perhaps a mix of both, depending on you and your ssweetheart's mood? Whatever it is, Happy Valentine’s Day, and watch out for heart-shaped arrows--unless they're made of chocolate.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alice, I'm a fan of the sexual tension and banter. but if it gets dragged out too long, as it often is in mystery series, I roll my eyes and think twice about reading another book.

G.M. Malliet said...

With Sue Ann. The long, drawn out will-they? won't they? stuff can seem so contrived... Especially since you *know* they will.

Lois Winston said...

Alice, the biggest problem with most genre fiction is that the reader knows the ending up front. Romances by definition ALWAYS have a happily ever after. If they don't, they're not romances. So you know going in that no matter how much sexual tension there is, the hero and heroine will get together by the last page.

As for traditional/cozy/amateur sleuth mysteries, you know going in that the fearless protagonist will solve the crime by the last page.

So to me, the sexual tension is always a bit phony. But since I know that from the start, I just sit back and enjoy the ride. Any author who can take me on an enjoyable ride for 300-400 pages is a successful author, whether she's got sexual tension in her book or not.

P.S.: Loved David and Maddie and love Bones and Booth!

Kathleen Ernst said...

While I agree that sexual tension can be dragged out wa-a-ay too long in some series, I think it can work very effectively as long as the author finds a way to keep the relationship growing and moving forward. Not an easy thing to do, but wonderful when it happens.

Happy Valentines Day, all!

Keith Raffel said...

Alice, I hope you know that Allison Pearson has just written a novel about an adult looking back on a teenaged crush on David Cassidy.


P.S. Your husband brings you flowers and gives you neck rubs? We will drum him out of the union.