BTT: Coupling


At first glance, this week’s Booking Through Thursday is a great question:

“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”

Well, of course my favorite couple is Mitchell and Kerri. That goes without saying. I created them. (And wait until you see the couple I’m working on now!)

But then I began to think a little more deeply about the books I’ve read lately. Know what?

I can’t name any relatively recent couples.

There are a bunch of triangles — and I like triangles — roaming around out there. Colleen Gleason‘s got Max and Sebastian. I haven’t read Stephanie Meyer, but it sounds like there’s a triangle with Edward and some other dude.

Notice something else? Those are both series I’ve just named.

There hasn’t been a great epic novel in a long time — epic like Gone with the Wind epic. Those are the novels that let us really get to know a couple, to allow us readers to spend enough time with them that they become alive. So now we need the series novels to make that happen.


A lot of the series I’ve been reading — Kim Harrison comes to mind, as does Rachel Vincent, although I’m not current on either series (and what does that tell you about how frequently books are being pumped out lately?) — don’t have couples in them, per se. They feature women and men and yeah, there’s some attraction and chemistry, but the characters don’t couple off. Not permanently, and at least not up through the books I have gotten to (so many series…).

Yet then there’s Queen Betsy, and Sookie Stackhouse… (Although again, I’m far from being current on either series)

Another exception to this rule that isn’t holding up worth a dedication page: Jennifer Estep‘s Bigtime series. These three novels all feature the classic romance formula: boy and girl meet, boy and girl make the long-term commitment. Boy and girl also return in the other books in the series, albeit in limited roles, so that we readers can revisit old friends. (But not, you’ll note, continue to get to know them)

But as for couples like Rhett and Scarlett, I just don’t think we’re seeing as many of them anymore. Society’s changed. Our wants as readers have changed.

Or have they?



  1. BeadedTail

    October 23, 2008 10:31 am

    I’m drawing a blank on couples in the books I’ve been reading lately. I can only think of the characters from James Patterson’s Cross series and also his Woman’s Murder Club series. Not any great love stories that’s for sure!BR/BR/I’ve tagged you! There’s no obligation to play along but check out my blogged for more information! 🙂

  2. netta

    October 23, 2008 11:35 am

    Hmm. The only one I can think of off the top of my head comes from the fantasy genre, and it was a book published in the late 60’s to this day. The big romance was F’lar and Lessa, although that wasn’t the cornerstone of the series. As far as recent reads, I can’t think of one on a par with Rhett and Scarlett, and that’s a shame, really.BR/BR/Thanks for stirring the brain cells!

  3. Susan Helene Gottfried

    October 23, 2008 11:36 am

    Yes! I’d thought of F’lar and Lessa, too, but I’ve mentioned them before here and didn’t want to bring them up *again*.

  4. On a limb with Claudia

    October 23, 2008 11:56 am

    How awesome that you picked your own characters! Now that’s true love! BR/BR/I think I would go with Nick and Nora. They are just favorites of mine.

  5. Thomma Lyn

    October 23, 2008 1:22 pm

    Crud, I think Blogger ate my comment. Let’s try again!BR/BR/I’m hard-pressed to think of lovey-dovey couples in recent books I’ve read, though I can think of some messed-up ones.BR/BR/I love Mitchell and Kerri, too. They’re a great example of a lovey-dovey couple who isn’t idealized and who come across as real people with real ups and downs. They love each other very much and are deeply committed to each other.BR/BR/And I think readers would Ilove/I more of that sort of thing. I know I do, as a reader and as a writer.

  6. Carol

    October 23, 2008 5:12 pm

    I don’t think I’ve read any of these authors. Time for me to do a search on Paperback Book Swap?

  7. Brenda ND

    October 23, 2008 6:44 pm

    Well, let’s see. I think of Stephanie Plum and Ranger and Stephanie Plum and Morrelli. :0)

  8. Susan Helene Gottfried

    October 23, 2008 7:09 pm

    Ooh, good one, Brenda!

  9. Judy

    October 23, 2008 7:24 pm

    Hmmm, Rhett and Scarlett…seems to me that was a threesome throughout the book…how about Ashley? Of course, the “affair” was mostly in the mind of Scarlett, but, had it not been for Melanie, I think Ashley would have been a willing participant. Oh well, that would be rewriting it and I like it the way it is!

  10. spyscribbler

    October 24, 2008 9:00 am

    Should I skip this one? Because you already know I’m going to say Stephanie and Ranger!

  11. spyscribbler

    October 24, 2008 9:01 am

    But that answer BTT’s question, not yours. Good point! With the popularity of series, it’s hard to have a pairing, because to pair them permanently, it diminishes a lot of the energy.BR/BR/Oh! There’s Rourke and Eve in the In Death series. But even there, I feel it’s lost a bit of its fire for me. I’m not sure.

  12. Julia Smith

    October 24, 2008 9:57 am

    I’m a big fan of the heartbreaky triangle stories, so I must be tuned to that vibe. I can’t think of any really strong fictional couples in books that aren’t part of a triangle, so there you go.

  13. FRIGGA

    October 24, 2008 12:56 pm

    I don’t think we’ve changed all that much… just look at the success that The Notebook has had. :-0BR/BR/Happy Friday!! 🙂

  14. Alice Audrey

    October 24, 2008 2:38 pm

    I’ve been asked that couples question before, and never have I come up with a good answer to it. I like different things about different couples, and don’t really have a favorite.

  15. Ann

    October 24, 2008 8:18 pm

    OOh, you want couples do you? I’ve got plenty o’ couples. BR/From mystery:BR/Anne Perry’s Monk series: William Monk and Hester Latterly- can’t stand each other when they first meet, but keep finding themselves fighting on the same side during their investigations and end up married, great series, awesome characters, wonderful development of their relationship.BR/Anne Perry’s Pitt series: Thomas Pitt is an inspector with Scotland Yard and Charlotte is the daughter of a wealthy man and sister of one of the victims of a murderer, they are married by the end of the first book but that never impedes her from involvement with the investigations. Both series are set in different periods and are alive with period details.BR/Elizabeth Peters- Emerson-Peabody series- they too are married by the end of the first book and have a relationship as equals.BR/From fantasy: BR/Maria Snyder’s Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study- the two main characters are not always together for great parts of the trilogy, but they are definitely a couple, and the relationship works.BR/C.E. Murphy’s Negotiator series- Grit (short for Margrit) is a lawyer from NY with a penchant for running in Central Park at night, and Alban…is a gargoyle who falls in love with her. Great characters, great story, and great couple. BR/I could probably think of more if you want me to.BR/P.S. How about Faye Kellerman’s Rina Lazurus/Peter Decker books? BR/Have a great weekend. 🙂

  16. Cherie

    October 24, 2008 11:57 pm

    I think nowadays it’s much more socially acceptable for women to be single than it was a few years back and this concept is coming through in an author’s writing. Many single females in their 30s want to assert themselves as strong, independent women and don’t necessarily believe in society’s view of a legal marriage (take me as an example LOL). BR/BR/So these female heroines of today that aren’t dependent on having a male around to take out the trash… you go girl! And I’m glad to see this change in many of today’s writers as well. :)BR/BR/PS – must remember to email you sometime with a couple ?s on doing the Booking thru Thursday. I assume this is same as the former Thursday 13, right?

  17. Billy

    October 28, 2008 3:24 pm

    Dashiell Hammett (because he’s a distant relative way out on the limb) and Lillian Hellman, with Hammett writing Nick and Nora Charles. A “two-for.” 🙂

  18. Lex Valentine

    October 29, 2008 2:28 am

    You know what the best thing about Betsy and Sinclair is, don’t you? In public they argue all the time. They’re snarky to each other. But when Betsy’s scared or upset… he’s who she runs to. And when Sinclair is making love to her… his thoughts are the most awesome thing ever. I love that.

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