Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top Ten Literary Love Stories

Following on the heels of Valentine's Day, the Broke and the Bookish inquire: what are some of your favorite bookish love stories? This is going to be rather difficult for me, because I don't read a lot of books with romance in them. Most of my reading is nonfiction,  and when I do read about a romantic pair in fiction, they're usually already together.

1. Max and Liz, Roswell High (Melinda Metz)

When Liz Ortecho catches a bullet in the stomach,  secret alien orphan Max breaks his cover to save her life, even though it means he might be exposed to a soulless sheriff. Though both science geeks with a longstanding interest in the other, Max doesn't want to let her get too close, given how much danger his life might put her in. Eventually they get together, and a friend of mine and I were so fond of them that we  referred to  Phil Collin's "A Groovy Kind of Love" as "their song".

2. Horatio and Barbara, Captain Horatio Hornblower (C.S. Forester)
"What are we  to do?" he asked feebly.
"Do?" she replied. "We are lovers, and the world is ours. We do as we will." (Beat to Quarters, C.S. Forester)

As soon as these two appeared on deck together, I wanted their spouses to disappear so they could be together. I felt kinda bad about that when their universe of war and disease obliged me.

3. Jean-Luc and Beverly, Death in Winter (Michael Jan Friedman)
"I find you extremely....extremely...-- of course, we haven't time for that sort of thing!"
"What sort of thing?"
"Oh, god, would I love to show you."

For seven years and four movies, these two denied what was bleeding obvious to everyone else. Picard finally realizing  that he's getting a bit too long in the teeth to keep his feelings at a distance is the highlight of the book for me.

4. Heinrich and Ludmila, WorldWar (Harry Turtledove)

In 1942, Heinrich Jaeger is a German tank officer doing his best to acquire Russia for the Fatherland. Ludmila is a diehard daughter of the Bolshevik revolution. By all rights, they should hate each other: their countries are at war, and their nations' ideologies are fundamentally hostile to the other. And yet, when space lizards interrupt the human-on-human bloodshed, these two become an unlikely pair of comrades, friends, and later lover-commandos.  Aside from Sam Yeager, they were my favorite characters in the series.

5. Sidney Carton, Lucie, and...another; A Far Better Rest (Susanne Alleyn)
Carton's love for Lucie Manette reforms his life in A Tale of Two Cities, but while in Paris he meets another woman, and while I can't say a thing without hopeless spoiling the book for anyone else reading, suffice it to say I continue to be impressed by Alleyn's talent for character drama.

6. Sam and Caroline, Redcoat (Bernard Cornwell)
I never expected to become interested in a love triangle  (of all things) when I picked up this novel of the American War of Independence, but so help me I did. I was rather irritated at Cornwell when I realized all three characters were good people who I didn't want to see hurt.

7. Romeo and Juliet, "The Tragedy" thereof. (William Shakespeare)
They're a cliche, I know, but the play has some great lines in it from start to finish, and I think it nice that their twin suicides brought their families together.

8. Kathyrn and Chakotay, Full Circle and Unworthy. (Kirsten Beyer)

I would have never picked this prior to 2010. I didn't like Chakotay. But Kirsten Beyer made me not only like the guy, but actually root for this pairing. Full Circle is just that good.

9. Jacob and Rachel, Hebrew scriptures
You're awfully white for a mideastern chick, what gives? 

I'm not Jewish or religious, but I woke up this morning with these two on my mind. Go figure. If you're not hip to the Hebrew legends, once a fellow named Jacob ran away from home and fell in love with a girl named Rachel. Jacob asked Rachel's father for permission to marry the fair lass, and the father says "Sure! -- if you'll work for me for seven years."  Jacob, who apparently finds Rachel quite fetching, agrees. After seven years Rachel's pop walks his veiled daughter down the aisle, and Jacob takes her to bed only to find out -- oops -- he just married Rachel's homelier older sister, Leah. Turns out in Daddy's tribe, younger sisters can't marry out of turn.  Jacob protests, and daddy tells him that he can marry Rachel, too, if he'll work seven MORE years.

Now, seeing as this guy has already proven himself an untrustworthy cheat, there are a great many things I might be tempted to do to him -- but taking him at his word and working seven more years isn't one of them. But apparently Jacob thought Rachel was worth it -- worth the work, worth the humiliation of having been cheated, worth the lack of satisfaction he may have gotten from kicking daddy dear in the hind quarters.

Later on Leah  mocked her sister for not being able to have kids. That gal  is a real prize. No wonder daddy had to lie to get her married.

10. Rudy and Kelly, The Rainmaker. (John Grisham)
Sometimes doing the right thing means suing an insurance company. Sometimes it means helping your girlfriend get away with offing her abusive husband because the judge won't put him away.


  1. Hihi - I love that Jean-Luc Picard qoute! ;")

  2. Well, that's quite the memorable list. Can't say you didn't warn me, however.

    Here's mine: www.readerbuzz.blogspot.com

  3. Nice list and nice call on Jacob and Rebecca. Didn't even think about Romeo and Juliet, but if I had they probably would have made my list.

  4. I haven't read a Star Trek book in years but I was always rooting for Crusher and Picard. I will have to check out the Voyager book. I really miss Star Trek :(
    My fave Trek author is Peter David (Imzadi is on my list). Have a great week!

  5. Romeo and Juliet are my favs. I don't care if they are cliche, they are also the most charming couple in history.

  6. here's mine http://tributebooksmama.blogspot.com/2011/02/top-ten-tuesday-top-10-book-to-movie.html

  7. Wow, lots of new books and love stories in unexpected places. My "to read" list is getting even longer! :)

  8. I only know Max and Liz from the Roswell tv show which I absolutely loved. I have to track down the books. Are they similar?

    You can find my list at: www.booksinthespotlight.blogspot.com

  9. @ Rummanah: After I bought the 3 seasons of Roswell on DVD and watched them, I wrote an embarassingly long comparison/contrast about the book series and the television show. The ten-book series had a preplanned arc, so its story unfolded much more neatly than the shows: its focus tended to drift from sci-fi to team drama with no clear overall story. The show did many things well, though, and I enjoy watching it. The aliens make more sense and are more interesting the book series, but I LOVE what the shows did with Sheriff Valenti and his son, Kyle. In the books they're evil and pathetic, but in the show they're favorites. I'm in the middle of re-reading the first Roswell book, and it's jarring to see the good sheriff from the show replaced by a grey-eyed monster.

  10. AH STAR TREK COUPLES. Yes. I agree with both of the couples, though I have to admit (and I can't believe I didn't think of them!) that Riker/Troi (Imzadi) and then Tom/B'Elanna are my favorite Trek couples.

  11. This is a great list - I enjoyed reading it. And I am so glad to know that Jean-Luc and Beverly do get together at last, if only for one book. Oh, and I always kind of liked Chakotay, so I'm glad about that romance, too.

  12. @ Joy: Oh, they're together -- married -- throughout the TNG relaunch. Beverly is even pregnant!


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