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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Love Beyond Pages

Aleish Cuaresma
Although we can see love around us everyday, the love present in our favorite pieces of fiction are still very dear to us.

February is considered the month of love and admiration. While some people live to celebrate Valentine’s Day, many others loathe it because it is an unfortunate reminder to many who are single and alone for the lovey-dovey month.

As a romance book enthusiast, I love February because I get to reminisce on my favorite fictional couples who have, quite literally, become my standard for perfect relationships.

Starting off strong with one of my more recent favorite fictional couples, Diana and Dallas from “Wait For It” by Mariana Zapata. Zapata is one of my favorite authors and she’s known as the queen of slow-burn on Booktok and Bookstagram, and for good reason, too.

Diana, a single guardian to her nephews, and Dallas, a recently divorced baseball coach, are neighbors. I love their romance because of how natural their growth was. We get to see them as tentative friends before anything else, and that sort of natural tone simply reeled me into their story. I loved how wholesome their relationship was and their focus on trust and respect before anything else made me swoon for both of them.

A relationship that I felt was similar to Diana and Dallas is Cal and Grace from “The Brightest Light of Sunshine” (TBLOS) by Lisina Coney. TBLOS is about Grace, a ballerina with a sad past, and Cal, a tattoo artist whose number one priority is his little sister Maddie. I loved how Coney wrote Cal to be a respectful gentleman and seeing his interactions with Grace were so sweet, and had me kicking my feet and giggling in excitement.

I mean, he literally brought her her favorite books and took her out for foodie dates. That is literally adorable.

Like Dallas and Diana, they had a very natural growth to them, starting as friends and becoming closer. I love that sort of romance in books because it allows a reader to form a connection with the characters, which I think is so important, especially in romance novels. Characters are truly what drives a book since the entire book revolves around them, and relies on them to execute the plot.

However, I liked Cal and Grace’s dynamic because there is realistic trauma that changes them, and it’s refreshing to see how Coney handled it in a very healthy yet meaningful way.

Of course, I cannot pass up any opportunities to talk about Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, dubbed Percabeth, from Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” universe. I consider Percabeth my original Roman Empire, the first character that I truly felt connected to and simply fell in love with.

I think a prime reason why I love Percy and Annabeth so much is that we got to see their relationship develop over the course of multiple books, where they grew older and their relationship grew older too. As a middle-grade fantasy, there are high stakes involved with them, and every twist and turn had my heart hurting for them. They go through a ton together, forcing them to gain each other’s trust and friendship right off the bat.

Many people classify them as enemies-to-lovers, but I say that they’re just two twelve-year-olds who didn’t like each other when they first met. I adore their banter and their love for each other is unmatched. No spoilers, but… they fell for each other (literally), and I ate it up.

Another fictional couple that has such a sweet relationship that I admire is Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell from “Stalking Jack the Ripper” by Kerri Mansicalco. Like the first two, their natural growth as just two colleagues (read: academic rivals) trying to track down murderers was so endearing, especially since their personalities have such a stark contrast. Audrey Rose is quiet and more calculating, while Thomas is more of a sunshine boy. They bring out the best in each other throughout the course of the series, and that’s why I loved them so much. They have a balance that you don’t often see done well in romance books.

An honorable mention goes to Adrian Friedman and Thea Scriven from “Ellipsis” by Ellie Owen. Owen was able to create a powerful female character, where the male character is the simp for her. It’s different from many popular romance books and it’s exciting because readers gain a different dynamic of a romance between two characters who are different, yet still give each other balance.

The fictional couples I mentioned are some of my favorites because their romances were raw, emotional, and genuine. I read a lot of books, especially those that classify  in the romance genre, so I have high expectations for what a good romance novel should be.
Many romance books are similar in that they have a basic foundation of: a guy and girl meet, fall in love, one of them does something stupid, said stupid do-er does something silly to gain their lover’s forgiveness, then happily ever after. Alas, life is not like that at all and it’s rare to find those realistic fictional relationships that have a genuine touch to them, and that aren’t toxic and unhealthy.

So as much as I love a morally gray love story, I love the ones where there’s a real aspect to them because it makes them even more sweeter and enjoyable.

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