Happy Valentines! Time to do a list of my favorite literary couples!
I’ve made sure to include all different kinds here, from fantasy and classics to the actual romance genre. Some are from novels where there is very little focus on romance, but what’s there I adore. My criteria was simple, I couldn’t just have loved the couple while reading. These are the characters that stayed with me long after I finished their stories.
Let’s get into it …
Bran and Liadan (Son of the Shadows by Juliette Marillier)
Why: Bran. Bran is the reason why. I don’t really have “book boyfriends”, I tend to just ship characters together. But if I did, Bran would be it. When we first meet him he is a rogue warrior and comes off as a bit of a stone-cold sociopath. I’m not typically a fan of warriors, but I do love loners/outcasts/anti-heroes. Liadan is a young healer trying to save the life of the smith-worker who travels with Bran’s gang of fighters. This is a hate-to-love tale I still can’t get enough of and wish had gone on longer.
Gabriel and Rachel (Archangel by Sharon Shinn)
Why: This is a fantasy romance with a slow-burn arranged marriage plot. Two things I absolutely love!!! On the down side, the rest of the plot has some serious holes and also includes one of my least favorite tropes (when a couple is fated to be together via some mystical force). But despite it’s short comings I devoured Gabriel and Rachel’s angsty journey from beginning to end and still think of them whenever asked who my OTP’s are
Arin and Kestrel (The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski)
Why: They are so helplessly devoted to each other. Even when they pretend not to be or don’t want to be. The angst is strong with this one! Hands down my favorite couple in YA.
Attolia and Gen (The Queens Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner)
Why: When I read the first book in this series (The Thief), I did not see this couple coming. I only read The Thief so I could read The Queen of Attolia, which everyone raved about. This is a political story and you are lucky to get these two alone in a room once-in-awhile, but that is what makes what you do get so good. Not only do I love this couple, but The Queen of Attolia (Book #2) and The King Of Attolia (Book #3) have some of the best plots, being political, psychological, and unpredictable. The King of Attolia also gets my vote for having the best kissing scene of any novel I’ve read. Not for being super-hot or descriptive (which you can find anywhere) but because the context and revelatory nature of it set my heart racing.
Agnieszka and Sarkan (Uprooted by Naomi Novik)
Why: The romance in Uprooted is a more of a background element, but I love the way magnetics between opposites makes both of them more powerful magic-workers. Plus at the start of the book I didn’t think things would head that way and I love being surprised.
Jane and Morgan (In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman)
Why: This story is a bit of a departure for me, mainly because it is a western. I picked it up based on some reviews and the fact that it has a mail order bride plot, which is one of my favorite tropes. I read so many European historicals that after awhile all the ballrooms, aristocrats, and high living has the affect of having eaten too much candy. If the relationship and plot is especially well done, there is something about a love story between less privileged people that ends up feeling a hundred times more romantic. Perhaps because there is no surface glitter to distract from the interactions of the couple. In any case, for me this is hands down one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. It’s rare I actually envy the level of emotion between two fictional characters as I did here. The cover and title are a bit goofy (as I usually end up thinking they are in romance), don’t let that dissuade you.
Beatrix and Christopher (Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas)
Why: First off, I love Beatrix. Every once in awhile Kleypas will write a heroine with some really interesting quirks (in this case kleptomania). Beatrix also likes animals better than people and is quite skilled at caring for and rehabilitating them. This is the story of a soldier who falls in love with a girl he formerly shunned via her letters, which he believes are being written by someone else entirely. After Christopher returns home a different man, struggling with PTSD, his only goal is to reunite with the girl he thinks he has been writing him all this time.
Harry and Poppy (Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas)
Why? You know I don’t know exactly why. Harry is pretty manipulative at the start and Poppy is kind of a Mary Sue. But I still swoon like heck for this book … sorry?
Phillip and Eloise (To Sir Phillip With Love by Julia Quinn)
Why: While there are only two children as opposed to seven, this totally has The Sound of Music vibes to it. Phillip is refreshing as far as historical romance hero’s go. The father of eight year old twins whose wife committed suicide after years of postpartum depression, he struggles with single fatherhood, loneliness, and sadness. Enter Eloise, an “old maid” in her late twenties who isn’t anything he expected.
Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
Why: Rochester is so different in the book than in the film adaptations. Film makers put all the focus on his broodiness while avoiding his manic eccentricities. Why is the crossing-dressing fortune-teller scene never included? Such a shame. Oh, well. I love all the Bronte’s, and while Emily’s Wuthering Heights is my favorite novel, this list is supposed to be about romantic couples and it’s too messed up and tragic to qualify. So Jane and Rochester it is! This is a fun story with unique characters that I don’t think you have to like classic literature to enjoy.
I’m always looking for new one’s, so don’t be shy to share your favorites!