Insta-love vs. Fantasy Romance: The Supernatural Factor
Anyone who’s ever read a few romance novels has likely run across the infamous “insta-love” many reviewers bash books for quite often. Though some of us romantics believe in love at first sight and have no problem with a certain element of instant attraction and chemistry between characters in contemporary romance, others can’t fall in love with a book that doesn’t have the “slow burn” romance.
I say, “To each their own.” Book bashing over something that’s simply a preference or a personal belief in love and romance is a bit off the mark from reviewing a novel based on characters, plot, and writing. I can forgive certain factors not being exactly “my cup of tea” if the story is compelling, the characters are well-developed, and the writing draws me in.
But the issue of “insta-love” really belongs in contemporary romance… You know, the human world where things should be based in whatever you believe to be how things work in reality.
In Fantasy Romance or Paranormal Romance, the rules of the human/contemporary romance world go flying out the window. There are supernatural, otherworldly influences at play to impact how things work. Be it vampiric allure, werewolf mates, a prophesied destiny, or some other variation of fantastical persuasion of the heart and mind, these stories don’t play by the same rules and neither do the romances within them.
What does this have to do with my book FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS and the overall Stars and Souls Trilogy and world?
My heroine, Caitriona Hayden, is a strong and independent young woman with no interest in getting married, thrown into the unfortunate circumstances of getting busted by sovereign law for carrying on life after the passing of her uncle, her only family, and; therefore, the patriarch of her family. Laws being what they are in the world at this time, that’s a big problem. Women can’t go running around unprotected by either a familial patriarch or a husband at the young age of twenty-one (which Cait thinks is total BS), and so she’s forced to either marry or end up part of “the system”.
Like most government programs, you can imagine that’s not a great option. At least the king throws out somewhat of a better option: marry him.
Hm. What? Marry the king? Why would the king want to marry some random chick?
Trust me. He’s not without his own self-serving reasons. Cait’s uncle was a very wealthy vampire, and she inherited everything. She’s high society and has all the makings of an appropriate queen… among other things. King Corrin can definitely see her as a viable option for his needs.
Did I mention King Corrin is a vampire? Yeah… There’s that.
But then there’s the dragons. I mean, the book is titled FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS for a reason. The Dracopraesi (shapeshifting dragons) have a purpose for their existence, part of which is to protect innocents, and Cait basically fits the bill for that. Yet dragons are a bit more complicated than that.
They’re also responsible for guarding those with great destinies, people (though not necessarily human) with whom a “ward bond” connects them. Dragons will protect their wards at all costs.
This is where it gets sticky.
One of the King’s Guard dragons, Theo Pendragon, ward bonds to Cait, and he isn’t too keen on King Corrin’s idea of a marriage proposal, inciting Theo to claim her, and pitting two hot-tempered supernatural alpha males against each other.
Well, that escalated rather quickly.
Cait doesn’t find any of this amusing.
Enter Dante… reasonable, logical intellectual, probably the most levelheaded one of the lot. Oh, and he’s a demigod, like on a level not to be dismissed by any means.
As a relatively neutral party with ties to both the monarchy and the dragons, Dante suggests he marry Cait, solving the whole issue… And that goes over like a lead weight.
Thankfully, King Corrin’s brother is the Secretary of PR and capable of quick-thinking on how to handle sensitive matters which will likely end up hitting the tabloids and giving the monarchy bad press if they go awry… you know, like a disastrous forced sovereign marriage of the high society heiress of a multi-billion dollar international investment firm.
PR remedy? Yes, law states she has to marry, and they can’t go running around letting people off the hook just because they’re rich, but let Cait choose between the three. King Corrin’s annoyed stipulation? Do it in seven days, or marry him anyway.
Piece of cake.
Cait wants to blow a gasket.
So far, none of this sounds like anything close to “insta-love,” right? Sounds more like a pissing contest between alpha males, a couple reasonable people trying to smooth things over, one furious chick caught in the middle, and a complicated mess.
Oh, you haven’t seen complicated yet…
As the story unfolds, the curious case of “is it insta-love or a fantasy romance” deepens.
Dragons rarely ward bond with females, and the side-effect of doing so brings about a whole different level of intensity between Theo and Cait.
Remember how dragons only ward bond with those who have great destinies to fulfill? Hmm… Cait’s not exactly your average mortal human being, but what’s different about Cait is the big secret no one will tell her, though it affects everyone around her… and her, even when they don’t realize it.
Sure, Cait’s physically attractive, intelligent, sassy, and interesting, but there’s more to her, more than she knows, more than Corrin or Dante know, and more than Theo recognizes for a while, despite dragons being able to see people’s destinies. Cait’s is complicated.
The pull, the draw, the attraction, the love, the jealousy, the pushing away, the indecision, the struggle these four suffer throughout the book, and even throughout the trilogy in various ways, isn’t about insta-love, it’s about a fantastical world with supernatural influences and destinies beyond human reach.
What would have happened if Cait were simply human? King Corrin’s order that she marry him, thus putting her in good standing with the law and serving his own purposes, would have gone through. There would have been no choice to make, and Cait would be Queen of United Sovereign America alongside her royal vampire husband… even if she hated his guts every day of her natural (and eventually undead) life.
But what would be the fun in reading that?