Top Ten Romances That Would Work in the Real World

“[Glenda thought] in theory this is a romantic-novel situation and I am about to learn about ships. Iradne Comb-Butterworthy never puts a ship in her books. They probably don’t have enough reticules.”

Terry Pratchett

  1. Glenda/Nutt – Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett. Pratchett, it has to be said, is generally not fantastic at romance, but he is good at working against the sentimentality that enshrouds a lot of fantasy romance. Glenda and Nutt have their priorities nicely in order: “I think we should be doing the things we should be doing,” Nutt says at one point, and they are Different Things, and Necessary Things, and both of them understand that, and, you know, that’s how relationships work in real life. Plus, interspecies romance!
  2. Sissix/Rosemary – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. Firstly, I love how this gay interspecies romance just turns up in the book with a minimum of fuss (no “but they’re both women!” and no “look how empowered they are, wow”). I love that Sissix and Rosemary are even possible. And, secondly, I love that they both lay out their needs and their boundaries to each other, and they’re open about where they want the relationship to go from the start, and it’s simultaneously heartwarming and completely believable.
  3. Alana/Marko – Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Alana and Marko just complement each other: each protects the other from their own mistakes as well as the crap the universe throws at them. But they also have their own separate lives and angsts and passions; their relationship doesn’t cure everything, and they can’t always help each other, and that’s OK.
  4. Sabriel/Touchstone – Lirael, Garth Nix. We see this pair grown into a King and an Abhorsen in the second book of the Old Kingdom trilogy, and despite the fact that they’re often apart and despite the pressures of politics and, you know, putting the Dead to rest and all that, they still manage to look at each other with fondness and do their jobs properly at the same time. So often in fantasy all we get is dysfunctional and loveless political marriages, and it’s just nice to get a model of a functional, healthy long-term romantic relationship.
  5. Laurence/Jane – the Temeraire series, Naomi Novik. I mean, these two just get on with it, so to speak. There are no sweeping declarations and no drama; but they write to each other even when they are literally on opposite sides of the world, and their mutual affection is muted but palpable. Plus, Jane calls Laurence out when he’s being an idiot, which is great.
  6. Hugo Lamb/Holly Sykes – The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell. “You know that ship sailed in chapter two, right, English Student?” I’m still in denial about Hugo and Holly. I know they didn’t work – but if they had, they would have been spiky and independent and unconventional and functional.
  7. Anne/Wentworth – Persuasion, Jane Austen. These two have a history, and they both know what it is now to let others make decisions for them, and their path ahead is not going to be easy (far from it); but I think we can see them talking things through, steering around obstacles when they can and riding them out when they can’t.
  8. The Dragon/Agniezka – Uprooted, Naomi Novik. The Internet has admittedly awakened me to the fact that the age difference between these two is kind of creepy. But: I love how organic and understated their romance is; how it grows and blossoms into something without anyone needing to name it or pin it down; how neither the Dragon nor Nieshka ever bothers to do anything even remotely resembling pining. They do the things they should be doing.
  9. Juliet/Dawsey – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I just think it’s a good sign that Juliet does the proposing, in an endearingly awkward and straightforward manner, and also that they fell in love over books.
  10. September/Saturday – the Fairyland series, Catherynne M. Valente. There’s a lot of weirdness around this relationship – Saturday is a Marid and has a non-linear relationship with time, which means among other things that September meets their child after knowing him for about a week – which Valente doesn’t shy away from: September freaks out, and they talk about it, and September and Saturday both get things wrong and they’re both unafraid to call each other out, and in short they are adorable.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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