Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Other Man...

Originally I was going to title this blog… Reasons why I hate Eileen. But of course I didn’t want to send the wrong message to her especially when I just finished her book… Don’t Kill the Messenger… which I LOVED. Also I would like her to produce the next one as quickly as she possibly can so I don’t want to risk offending her.

But I hate her a little and here is why. I love the hero in this story. He smells like cinnamon and I’m pretty sure I want him to be my boyfriend. But then there is this other guy Alex and I like him too. He doesn’t smell like anything but the way she described kissing him it sounded like diving into a York Peppermint Patty – and I LOVE those things.

Now I have a dilemma. I don’t know who I want the in the end. As a hardcore romance reader I’m often not a fan of the other man. I don’t like having those conflicting thoughts. I don’t like the heroine to have conflicting thoughts because in some way I think if you’re conflicted you can’t truly love just one person.

I mentioned the Stephanie Plum books in a comment a while back as a series I abandoned and part of the problem for me was the back and forth between Ranger and Joe. While I know many love the back and forth and have ideas about who she should be with – I was always a Joe girl – I got to the point where I believed that she really can’t love either wholeheartedly. Neither is her “true” love and in romance that’s what it’s all about. Since SP books are technically mysteries I suppose it’s okay. But as a romance reader I had to let go.

But now we are seeing this trend in newer romances where the conventional one guy/one girl approach is changing. There are past lovers, infidelities and multiple lovers. And I find myself in some ways resisting this, but in other ways liking it.
As I get wiser (i.e. older) I see now that relationships are tricky difficult things. That finding that right person sometimes happens in a group. I should know… I’m watching the Bachelorette right now. So the concept of the other man is here to stay and I have to deal.

Which means that I’m going to have to live with the fact that I like Ted and I like Alex. I’m not sure who Melina should be with and what that means. And if she should be with both of them at some point – not together at the same time of course – although that could be fun too - what that will mean. Oh the questions are endless!!! I now I sit anxiously waiting to see how things will progress.

Eileen… I blame you.

11 comments:

Eileen said...

I've never been so flattered to be hated! You know, I love both those guys, too. They both have their moments. Does it help you to know that I resolve things further in the second book?

I think you have a good point about the Ranger/Joe thing. If she can't pick, she doesn't belong with either of them.

Maureen McGowan said...

I was never a hard core romance reader before I started writing and discovered the genre. So the "she can't be torn between two guys" convention was one that bothered me, initially. That happens in real life all the time. (Just watch the Bachelorette. Kidding. Mostly.)

I get that it doesn't support the reading experience that most romance readers want... but it doesn't bother me. I think it can be kind of hot, especially if the heroine has strong, believable and different conflicts with each man. And strong reasons to want each man.

If the writer can make me believe she can't get over either conflicts... then I can believe she can't choose. But there's only so long you can string readers along with that... At some point you stop believing the men would keep putting up with it. (And it sounds like JE went several books too long.)

But I do like the "other man" or the "two men" thing -- where neither is more obviously the romantic hero. I think that's why I enjoy genres like chick lit or urban fantasy or women's fiction better than romance sometimes. Or at least why I can't read romance exclusively.
I like a little "who is she going to pick" tension. I like the uncertainty and I suppose I love the fantasy of being pursued by more than one man. (Reminds me of high school. Kidding. Mostly.)

Speaking of high school. It seems to be very common in the YA's I've been reading lately. In most, two boys want her. Bad. She's not sure whom she likes more. Very common. And not just in Twilight.

Maybe that story element fits better in YA... Adolescence is a time of confusion. But it should be noted that these YA's aren't YA romance. They're YA fantasy, or horror, or UF... not romance.

Anyway. Rambling now.

I get that it doesn't work in a pure romance, but I have no issues with it as a reader.

**Going out to make a Team Alex t-shirt, just to be contrarian.** Hot vampires win for me every time. LOL

Molly O'Keefe said...

I agree with Steph and Maureen - I don't think the two thing is totally supported in romance when part of the fantasy is - soul mates. Or along those lines.

However, if the main plot of the book isn't romance - I am digging it these days. Don't Kill The Messenger worked for me like that too - and Forest Of Hands and Teeth REALLY worked for me on that level.
I think it's about the subtlety of that subplot - the amount of air time it gets.

Maureen McGowan said...

Molly, if the two boys thing worked for you in Forest of Hands and Teeth... just wait until you read Dead Tossed Waves.

Two boys with a very interesting twist about each of them...

But as you said. Those books are NOT about two people falling in love. They are about surviving the zombie apocalypse. With cute boys.

Stephanie Doyle said...

This will probably be another rant/blog of mine but...

Maureen I see your point about the book not being a romance... but still these books do "go there."

As a romance reader/writer I tend to be flattered. People like to use romance to spice up their books. It's an element they "use" - which usually works to suck me in.

But I don't like it when they play with it with no clear path in mind. You want to give me two boys - fine. But at least the author should know ultimately how that romance is going to end. Or if not then something about that character should dictate why a relationship with either is impossible.

Mystery, fantasy, YA whatever. When you bring a romance into the story it should be there for a reason and not as a way to simply to keep people guessing - is it guy A or guy B.

I'll be interested to see where Hunger Games goes with this.

Eileen said...

See, I think the two guy thing has to be reflection (or be part of) the choices the heroine has to make in the book. In DKTM, Melina is stuck between two worlds. She has to choose which world she's going to be in primarily and her choices are somewhat symbolized by whether she goes for the hot cop or the cool vampire.

Or at least that's how I saw it when I was writing. I think.

Maureen McGowan said...

I agree the romance should have a purpose... Just like anything in a story should be there for a reason. And if an author is adding a romance just to spice things up... well, that won't ring true or be very satisfying. I'm sure many authors outside romance would balk at being accused of adding romantic elements just to spice things up. (as much as romance writers balk at being told their work is formulaic.) Although I'm sure you're right and some do. Especially in hard boiled mysteries and some thrillers... But then it's probably more adding sex than romance...

But all this is why not every person loves every kind of book equally. And why I love these discussions.

You've made me think about this some more... and I think I've loved some non-romances largely for the romance elements and/or sexual tension... But for me to love book that's primarily about the romance, it has to be really spectacular.

I have loved many romances, a lot... including yours and Miss Molly's. And I truly admire writers who can write an entire story revolving around a relationship, but in general, I personally don't read most books for the romance.

I do love a story with a great romantic subplot -- even if the romance ends badly -- as long as the ending makes sense to me.

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, and I, too, am wondering how the Katnis love triangle will pan out. For me, the romantic elements in those books aren't working well for me. But so many other things are working well for me, that I don't care. Even if she totally blows that element (and I kind of already think she is blowing it) I've loved reading those books and really admire her storytelling and pacing and worldbuilding, etc.

I think I felt the same way about Forest of Hands and Teeth. I thought the romance was the worst part of that book... (I need to discuss this with Molly some time, I think) but I still loved the book.

I can't wait to talk to someone about Dead Tossed Waves...

Maureen McGowan said...

That makes sense, Eileen...

I think the choice can be symbolic of another hard choice facing the heroine... or represent an internal struggle she's is having... fighting her dark and light sides, for example. Or like you said in your case, being caught between two worlds...

Sinead M said...

The two boys thing works best when the heroine is forced to make a decision. I'm thinking of the Anita Blake books, where at some point she does make a decision, and then more decisions and more decisions and then I lost track.

Steph, I'm a Ranger fan, but I stopped reading after book eight... so not sure how everything ended up..


Eileen, that's a great insight. The two boys should each represent something different for her, an intrinsic choice. That was an aha moment for me today.

prashant said...
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