|"Love is an Open Door" from Frozen. A lesson about the perils of insta-love! :-)|
If you read my reviews regularly, you know that insta-love is usually a major negative for me. You all know what I'm talking about - boy meets girl and both are instantly drawn to each other. They've never felt this way about anyone before. Surely no one else in the world could ever complete them the way that this person they met five minutes ago can. It must be love. It's a great way to ruin an otherwise excellent book.
But there have been times where insta-love (or something akin to it - an instant connection or attraction) was involved and I found myself enjoying the book anyway. At first I get nervous. I find myself waiting for the horribleness of insta-love to kick in and overshadow everything good in the book. But it doesn't happen. Somehow the author manages to make it work.
So, what's the difference between insta-love that works and insta-love that crashes and burns and makes me cringe and cry and ... oh, you get the idea ...?
- A supernatural connection. I read a lot of paranormal book and fantasy books. Often, in these books, there is a supernatural reason for two people to feel a connection to each other - a prophecy, a mate (often in the case of werewolves), a spell, a soul mate, destiny, etc. These can all be valid reasons for the beginnings of love (well, valid in that supernatural world). If the author gives me a reason that the characters are drawn together, I'm more likely to accept it. BUT (and this is a big but), the whole relationship cannot be based off of this initial connection. The author has to then convince me that there is more to the pairing than a supernatural tie. I need to see it develop and grow into something more.
- Heightened circumstances. The truly instantaneous connection really doesn't work in a contemporary (though there could be exceptions to this - anyone have any?), but there are certain circumstances that can kick a romance into high gear. I find it much more believable when characters form a connection because they are thrown into some type of heightened circumstances together, whether it be some type of danger (like in a thriller) or just extreme emotional circumstances (an intense family issue, a death, etc). When the characters are thrown together in extreme circumstances, the stakes are raised and heightened emotion is much more acceptable. The characters bond over this shared experience.
- Development after the initial connection. There is a big difference between two characters who meet and, within days, are utterly and hopelessly in love and two characters who feel an instant connection, but then take a while to explore it. Like I said above, an instant connection or attraction is okay as long as it's then developed into something stronger, something based on reality. This can't happen at 10% into the book. If it's rushed, I won't believe it (which I guess is kind of the definition of insta-love, but I still had to say it :-).
- The amount of gushing. If the characters are in love, but don't feel the need to gush about it, it makes it much more tolerable. Insta-love is at its worst when the characters are so over the top in love that they can't stop thinking or talking about the other person. When the character is constantly thinking about how connected they are or how they could never feel this way about anyone else or how incredibly attracted to the other person they are ... the more they go on and on about it, the less convinced I become. Obviously, when you're falling in love you think about that person a lot, but when that crosses over into gushing over your undying devotion you've lost me. When a character is skeptical of the feelings they're having that can sometimes be a good thing. (But if a character just keeps denying over and over that can be bad too - "No, I couldn't possibly be in love! How could this be? But these feelings are so overwhelming. But it's impossible ..." Yeah, that gets old fast.)
So, what do you think? Does insta-love generally bother you as much as it bothers me? Can you think of other reasons that insta-love does or doesn't work in some cases? I want to know!