Our Love is in The Trope

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Credit: Bigstock images

Happy Valentines Day, AO&R readers!

Whether it’s something you celebrate or not, I think it’s hard to survive February without getting sucked into the cutesyness of it all. The huge red hearts, the dozens of roses, the white teddy bears. It’s everywhere you look. Even at my kids’ school, where the little ones where handing out lollipops to one another.

Anyhoo, all this loving got me thinking about romance in books at how there tends to be set tropes that are followed. Even in YA! Just thinking about the last half a dozen books I’ve read, every single one of them follows a similar romantic path. Even though it’s predictable as readers we often gravitate towards the same trope over and over.

So what are these romance tropes? Ah … here’s the ones I think are most common in young and new adult books:

The Love Triangle: The dreaded love triangle is actually one of my favourites. I think perhaps it was overdone a few years back, which is why so many readers now shy away. I’m still a sucker for a well written triangle though, where the heroine (or hero) has to decide between two suitors. Some of my favorites = The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. Matched by Ally Condie

Friends turned lovers: When the characters have been friends for years and suddenly their friendship grows into more.  I think this one makes for a sweet story. My favourites = Frigid by J Lynn. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.

Enemies to Lovers: When the characters hate each other’s guts, but we all know hate is only a step away from lurve. The sizzling tension that comes with this trope gives me all the feels! It’s got to me my absolute favourite. Best examples = The Lux Series by J L Armentrout, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Forbidden Love: This is a fun one too, and it also sizzles with sexual tension. Usually the couple are deeply in love/lust with each other but the can’t be together because Montagues and Capulets. My favourite examples = Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Opposites Attract: She’s a book nerd, he loves sports. She hates self absorbed people, he is one. (well she thinks he is) This trope can work well too, although I haven’t seen as much of it in YA as I have the others. Top picks = If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Sephanie Perkins.

Are there any other typical romance plots you’ve noticed? If so share, share away in the comments. I’d love to hear all about them.

 

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Stacey NashStacey Nash has written one of all of these tropes. To find out more about the love stories she’s had published or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

My top three romance likes and dislikes

Aussie_Vday Pink

This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re talking all things loooooove. I don’t read much pure romance but I do enjoy romantic subplots in other genres, so this got me to thinking about what romantic plotlines I love … and which ones set my teeth on edge.

Loves

Characters who are friends first. There’s no doubt that the sizzling attraction of lust-at-first-sight is a thing (and is totally hot), but I love the slow build of a relationship that turns from friendship to romance. Traditionally this is written as one person realising before the other. Then awkwardness often ensues. But still, I like the basic idea — probably because it feeds into my own experiences.

The realistically developed romance. This is tied into the point above, but it applies regardless of whether there’s an existing friendship. I’m not saying that sometimes people don’t jump straight into the sack together (that’s basically a new adult trope!), but I like it when the development of the underlying feelings happens over a period of time.

Diversity in relationships. The more LGBTIQ+ plotlines I read, the more I adore them. I don’t know what that says about my own tastes, exactly — but it’s someting awesome, for sure! 😉

Loathes

Insta-love. I know I said I like lust-at-first-sight, but love-at-first-sight? No. Nuh uh. I’ve very occasionally seen it done well, but only in instances where some supernatural element — reincarnation, say — is at play. I get really grouchy when two sensible-seeming characters decide that they are destined to be together forever after one date. Ugh.

Plots that rely on characters not communicating. I hate it when characters don’t speak their mind when everything suggests that they should, including their own personality. I once threw a book against a wall because the husband commented that his wife must really like the father of the baby she just had, and she said yes (trying to be coy and meaning it was him). He assumed she’d had an affair, because his question was in the third person. And she didn’t correct him, even though he was standing right there. (I still get mad about that.)

Broody, unpleasant love interests. You know the trope: he is a prick to her, either because he’s caught up in his own thing or he’s “trying to drive her away for her own good”. I HATE THAT AS A PLOTLINE. It’s so patronising! I’d prefer to see a man* who is willing to fess up about whatever the problem is and let the female lead decide what she’s willing to tolerate. Even worse are books where the man is “fixed” by the woman tolerating his BS until he gets over it. Ugh.

* I realise this sounds sexist, and I don’t mean it to be. I simply can’t recall ever seeing the roles reversed, with the woman driving the man away for his own good. If I read a book with that storyline, I’m sure I’d hate that too! I’m an equal-rights hater of patronising, cranky characters.

Obviously this list is highly subjective. I’d love to hear what you think, regardless of whether you agree or disagree!

Cassandra Page is a writer of speculative fiction. You can find details of her books here.

Cassandra Page

The Month of Love: Rheia and Alexandros

 

Aussie_Vday PinkTo celebrate the Month of Love, Aussie Owned & Read are giving our followers exclusive content! It may be a love letter between characters, a special date, or a scene you’ve never read before.

Today, Cassandra Page is giving you an excerpt from her newly drafted fantasy novel, which she describes as “Beauty and the Beast meets Ancient Greece”. There is kissing. Such as, for example, this scene…


Alexandros stared at her, a wondering smile slowly blooming on his lips, in his eyes. But, although the muscles of his back tensed under her hands, he still didn’t move. “Is this real, or just a dream?” he whispered.

“It’s real.”

Heart in her throat, Rheia slid one hand up his ribs and around to the nape of his neck, pulling his head down so his soft lips met hers. They were parted with surprise or anticipation, and, remembering their last kiss, she slid her tongue between them, darting it in and out to test his reaction.

He moaned softly, pressing their lips together as though he wanted to breathe her in. Or eat her up. His hands were on her back, tangled in the cascade of her hair, and he pulled her to him, closing the distance between them. Her belly fluttered and a fire grew in her at the feel of his hard muscles against her chest, the rasp of his cheek against hers as their tongues tangled. His hands slid down to the curve of her waist, his strong fingers against her hips. “Rheia,” he breathed against her lips.

“Yes?” she said, taking a trembling breath. Her lips felt swollen from his kisses, and she wanted … more. But she didn’t know what. Her mother and Charis had explained what happens between a husband and wife, and that it could hurt or be marvellous. Rheia had found the notion intimidating, but now, wrapped in Alexandros’s arms, she found a new courage within her. She was sure it would be marvellous. He would be marvellous.

“We should stop,” Alexandros said.

“I don’t want to.” She caught his lips with hers and he surrendered to her for several moments before pulling back. She growled, low in her throat, and he laughed softly. “Alexandros…”

“I won’t tumble you in Yalee’s sick room.”

That thought cooled her ardour a little. She pulled back to peer past his shoulder at the still-sleeping girl. An impish smile turned Rheia’s lips upwards as she remembered Yalee silently encouraging her to embrace Alexandros the first time they’d talked, when he was grieving. “I doubt she’d mind.”

“No, but I would.” He bent forward to kiss Rheia’s nose, his hands sliding back up to the safer territory of her back. “You deserve better. A bed covered with flower petals.” He kissed her cheek. “Wine and sweets.” Her ear, the breath tickling her until she squirmed. “A wedding.”

Cassandra Page books

Cassandra PageCassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat — despite being allergic to cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

Her urban fantasy novels include Lucid Dreaming and the young adult Isla’s Inheritance trilogy.

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Pondering the best romance

Aussie_Vday PinkSo the results of our Best YA or NA romance are in, and the winners, by a fairly convincing margin, were Rachel and Isaiah from Katie McGarry’s Crash Into You.

Crash Into YouThe girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

V-Day poll results

I confess I haven’t read Crash Into You, but the results got me to thinking about what I would have picked as the best romance. I’m not a shipper (someone who worships a particular literary relationship), so I don’t have an instant go-to couple. Sure, I smiled when Ron and Hermione finally bumbled their way together. I loved Vanyel’s relationship with Tylendel/Stefan. And I was happy for Clary and Jace when they finally hooked up properly (although the wait was torturous!).

I also haven’t read an actual romance novel in 20 years, although I have read some paranormal romance, that subset of spec fic where romance is still the main plotline but the boyfriend may have fangs, wings or body hair issues during a full moon.

I have a pretty clear idea of the sorts of relationships I root for1, though. Stacey mentioned in her interview with Lauren that some people like the loveable boy next door and others like the sarcastic bad boy with attitude. I lean more toward the boy next door, but if he must also have a sense of humour. An example from popular fiction would be Clary’s best friend, Simon, from The Mortal Instruments. I just finished those, and I pretty much adored him.

But, given the relationship choices made in a lot of YA fiction, I seem to be in the minority.

Who do you want the girl to get? (I was going to write “to get the girl”, but where’s the fun in that?) The bad boy, or the boy next door?

1. Har har2
2. Americans, in Australian slang “rooting” is another word for, well, you know. Happy fun time. This is why we giggle like schoolgirls when you talk about rooting for your team, because that takes COMMITMENT!

Given Cassandra Page‘s lack of serious shipper credentials, she thinks it’s kind of weird that she’s posted the AOR Valentine’s Day poll two years in a row.

Cassandra Page

Best YA or NA Romance

Aussie_Vday Pink

Romance

noun 1.  a tale depicting heroic or marvellous achievements, colourful events or scenes, chivalrous devotion, unusual, even supernatural, experiences, or other matters of a kind to appeal to the imagination

2.  a romantic affair or experience; a love affair.

3.  a novel or film in which romantic love, usually leading to happiness, is a prevailing element.

Ah, romance. The delicate—or tumultuous—unfolding of a new relationship, laid bare for the reader to delight in. (Like a butterfly pinned to a foam board NO WAIT THAT’S NOT RIGHT!)

Romance is a staple of YA and NA books, especially those of the contemporary and paranormal romance varieties. There are many celebrated couples, and last year we voted on those: Clary and Jace came first, and Ron and Hermione were our runners up. (Maybe if JK had seen our poll she might have realised she was walking on hot coals with her recent comments. Someone should tell Cassandra Clare, quick!)

This year at AOR we’re looking at which YA and NA book couples have the best romance. I gathered nominations at my blog, and now it’s your chance to decide between our chosen nine! (It’s too late to nominate extras but if there’s someone you think is missing, please leave a comment below.)

And here are their Goodreads blurbs if you want to browse them and decide who to vote for!

Anna and the French KissAnna and Étienne
from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Crash Into YouRachel and Isaiah
from Crash into You by Katie McGarry

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life – that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker – a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

Daughters of DarknessMary-Lynnette and Ash
from Daughters of Darkness by L. J. Smith

There’s something strange about the new girls in town. Briar Creek, Oregon, has never seen anything like the supernatural grace of Rowan, Kestrel, and Jade, three sisters who move into the dilapidated old house next to Mark and Mary-Lynnette Carter. Mark is obsessed with Jade – but she and her sisters have a secret. And when Mark and Mary-Lynnette follow them into the woods one night, they are plunged into a nightmare beyond their imagination. Because the sisters are fugitives from the Night World, and their brother Ash is hot on the trail behind them. He’s ruthless, gorgeous, and he has orders to bring the girls back at all costs. And when he sees Mary-Lynette, he decides to take her too…

Eleanor and ParkEleanor and Park
from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under…

ObsidianKaty and Daemon
from Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownTana and Gavriel
from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Fault in our StarsHazel and Augustus
from The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

These Broken StarsLilac and Tarver
from These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Throne of GlassCelaena and Chaol
from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Cassandra Page added several books to her TBR list after reading the blurbs for these nominations. How about you?

Cassandra Page

Results of the Choose Your Favourite Couple competition…

The winner of the favourite couple poll with a decisive 12 per cent lead is … *drumroll* … Clary and Jace from “City of Bones”! Ron and Hermione from “Harry Potter” are second!

And the winner of “Keir” by Pippa Jay is … *drumroll that segues into epic drum solo* … Sarah Epps! We’ll be in contact with you shortly to arrange delivery of your prize.

Thanks to everyone that voted, entered or both. 🙂

Graphics (and poll) thanks to Polldaddy.

Graphics (and poll) thanks to Polldaddy. (Click to see a non-blurry version. WordPress won’t let me display it any bigger embedded in the blog. It’s a conspiracy!)

Cassandra Page is an editor and writer who has to confess she’s never read “City of Bones”. Time to remedy that! You can find her blog here.

Valentine’s Day: The Choose Your Favourite Couple competition

Your Aussie Owned and Read bloggers were discussing what to post for Valentine’s Day, and got to talking about our favourite young adult couples. After some vigorous debate (things may* have been hurled across the interwebs!), we were unable to agree on one couple that best represents devotion, sacrifice, sexual attraction and all those other mushy things that go together to make up true love.

So we decided to put it to you, our readers. To the winning blogger go eternal bragging rights. To you, for helping us decide, goes the chance to win a fabulous science-fiction romance, Kier, by Pippa Jay. More information on that, and the poll, can be found at the bottom of this post.

But first, each of us will make our case to you for why you should vote for our choice.

* Ok, not really. The other girls are the souls of decorum. Me, not so much. 😉

Clary and Jace – from City of Bones by Cassandra ClareCity of Bones

“You love each other – anyone can see that, looking at you – that kind of love that can burn down the world or raise it up in glory.”

The Mortal Instruments is a series about loss, discovery, friendship and love, demons, vampires and shadow hunters. Wait, stop. Shadow Hunters? They’re the good guys who keep all the paranormals in line. When Clary enters this supernatural world made up of her worst nightmares and wildest dreams, she meets Jace: snarky, witty, determined to get under her skin. Their relationship builds slowly, but their attraction is so strong you can feel the pages sizzling. Yet something always stands in the way of their love. Over and over they can’t be together, but it never changes the way they feel—they can’t fight it. The strength of their love is death defying and soul melding; they sacrifice everything for each other and to be together over and over again. Oh, and Jace will love Clary until he dies, and if there is life after that, he’ll love her then too. Vote for Clary and Jace! – Stacey

Hazel and Augustus – from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green The Fault in our Stars

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labour has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

The Fault in Our Stars may just be my favourite book in the history of books. It’s hilarious, heartbreaking, cute and fantastically romantic. The relationship between Augustus and Hazel is about existential jokes, misuses of literality and the fact that having cancer doesn’t automatically make you a good person. It’s about an infinity within the numbered days, as John Green so aptly put it. They don’t love each other because of their cancer, but the sickness helps to define their inevitable connection. Despite jokes about pedophilic swing sets, the relationship between Gus and Hazel is one of the most profound I’ve ever encountered in fiction. And that’s why, for Valentine’s Day, they are my pick. – Emily

Layken and Will – from Slammed by Colleen HooverSlammed

I got schooled this year by a boy. A boy that I’m seriously, deeply, madly, incredibly, and undeniably in love with. And he taught me the most important thing of all… To put the emphasis on life.

I am a sucker for a romance. A good ol’ fashioned heart swoon moment leaves tears in my eyes any day (but then again, so do RSPCA commercials, so perhaps I’m just an overly emotional person). Slammed was one of the first YA books I read and I think for that reason the romance of Layken and Will just stuck with me. It’s your typical triumph over adversity love story, without one of them having to change for the other (I’m sorry, but I will not turn into a vampire for any man. EVER. So don’t even bother asking). It’s the sort of love that grows over time and is giving, the kind that I think any and everyone should aspire to. It comes with public declarations and they even write poetry for each other *cough, boyfriend please write me poetry, cough*. Is it my favourite book ever? No. But do I love this couple and everything they stand for? Abso-loving-lutely. – Lauren

Luce and Daniel – from Fallen by Lauren KateFallen

“It’s not like it’s that hard,” she said, stuffing her hands into her pockets because she wanted to reach out for him. “To be good enough for me.”

Daniel’s eyes looked like they were falling; all the violet that had been in them a moment before turned a deep, dark gray. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, it is.”

Luce and Daniel’s relationship is the ultimate struggle of forbidden love. There is something incredibly romantic about the sacrifices both of them go through in order to love each other. Luce is cursed. For thousands of lifetimes she falls in love with Daniel over and over again, only to be ripped away from him each time she realises the truth. Daniel has waited for Luce for thousands of years, and his loyalty to her is unwavering. I love the Fallen series by Lauren Kate because for me it encompasses the true meaning of sacrifice when it comes to those we love. – Kim

Lucy and Shadow/Ed – from Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley Graffiti Moon

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist. Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.

I love the story of Lucy and Shadow/Ed. For starters I love that they start with a love/hate relationship, having already been on a disastrous date. But one of the main things for me was it felt very real. The story also brought back a lot of memories for me as my best friend used to double me on his bike, and even though we weren’t romantic, I used to love the feeling of being so close together riding. It’s an authentic YA romance and it’s so Australian. – Sharon

Ron and Hermione – from the Harry Potter series by JK RowlingHarry Potter

There was a clatter as the basilisk fans cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.

A romance that began with an eleven-year-old boy saying “she needs to sort out her priorities”, Ron and Hermione’s love seemed impossible. But as the years passed and the magical elements in Hogwarts seemed bent on never letting the trio of best friends rest, something blossomed. Jealousy arose when Krum showed interest in the bookworm girl and took her to the ball, but Ron, being the teenage boy he was, didn’t do anything about it. Then, when Lavender comes along in hot pursuit of some good making out from the ranger, Hermione struggled to keep herself from turning him into a newt. Finally, as they face death while destroying a horcrux, they fall into each other’s arm and have the long awaited kiss. Potter fans everywhere cheered! The best part though was seeing them ten years down the track sending their children off to school and knowing their love continued and always will. – Katie

Taylor and Jonah – from On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta On the Jellicoe Road

“I don’t want to let go, because tonight I’m not looking for anything more than being part of him. Because being part of him isn’t just anything. It’s kind of everything.”

Seeing as we’re an Aussie blog, I thought it would be good to highlight an Aussie couple from an Aussie book written by an Aussie author (just making sure you understand that my couple is Aussie… you got that?!). Taylor and Jonah’s story is different to so many other love stories. There is very little romance and they are both from seriously dysfunctional backgrounds, on different sides of a vicious turf war. Taylor is the leader from the local boarding school, and Jonah is the leader of the enemy cadets. However, they have a history that goes beyond that, and together they embark on a journey of heart healing. I love them because they fight a lot and aren’t all mushy and lovey dovey; yet they need each other and can’t stop thinking about each other. They each hold the other together, helping each other to not fall apart. Their story made me laugh out loud, but it also made me weep out loud (poor hubby didn’t know what to do with me). This couple give me all the feels. ALL. THE. FEELS! And that is why I implore you: VOTE FOR TAYLOR AND JONAH! (I’ll love you forever and ever if you do…and you know that’s worth it!) – Susan

Vanyel and Stefen – from Magic’s Price by Mercedes LackeyMagic's Price

“If you had any idea of the number of times I’ve daydreamed of being right where I am now, you’d laugh…”

Magic’s Price is the third book in The Last Herald-Mage trilogy. In the first, young Vanyel met his true love, his lifebond, in the impulsive and wild Tylendel. When Tylendel dies, Vanyel nearly goes mad—and he resolves never to let anyone get that close to him again. Years later, enter the sweet, charming and, above all, determined Stefen. He doesn’t care that Vanyel is 35 and he is 17. He doesn’t care that gay love is not socially accepted. He knows what he wants, and what he wants is Vanyel. Watching him slowly wear down the older man’s self control, I was just as frustrated as he was. But this relationship isn’t just physical, either. In the end, Stefen saves Vanyel, over and over, because they are in love: the kind of love that transcends death. Twice. – Cass

The Prize: Keir by Pippa Jay

Our prize: an ebook of Keir

Our prize: an ebook of Keir

Wondering why you’d want to win this ebook? Keir is the recipient of the “Best May–December Romance” SFR Galaxy Award. Here is the extract from their website:

Tarquin has spent centuries pursuing the alien monster that destroyed her homeworld. Her chase brings many unexpected joys and conflicts, but perhaps most unexpected of all is true love. Despite their many differences, Quin and Keir find common ground and build upon it. This story kicks butt, with sea monsters, dragons, psy, time travel and more. The romance builds slowly and realistically between the couple. Keir is published by Lyrical Press, Inc., and was released on 1 August 2012.

Also, look at the cover. Look at it. He’s ripped!

If you want to learn more about the fabulous Pippa Jay, you can do so at her blog. That’s also where you can find details of where to buy the book yourself, if you just can’t wait for the contest to close.

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 17 February. To enter, vote in the poll and then leave a comment explaining why you’ve chosen who you did, and whether you’d have nominated a different couple.

Cassandra Page is an editor and writer who enjoys a good love triangle … in her fiction! Her FICTION! You can find her blog here.