Day four! Today we have Dahlia Adler, author of the upcoming Behind the Scenes, and she is awesome and a good friend of mine. She's one of the people I come to when I look for contemporary romance (and NA) recommendations, and she'll be putting her recommending skills to use in today's post; in this post, she'll be discussing her favorite types of romances and romance-related tropes in YA, and shares some recommendations for each romance type and trope. Let us know if you've read any of her recommendations, and any other types of romance and romance tropes you like best!
But in that time between discovering my love for love and putting it down on paper, I came to realize a whole lot about what makes a romance work, and oftentimes, that's...work. The best romances are those between couples that earn it, that put in the time to get to know each other, and have the fights that need to be had, and contribute to each other's lives and the way they experience the world. And so, for all my romantic fandom, I'm actually pretty picky about which couples make it into my Grand Pantheon of YA Romance. But here's who does, and why:
The Mutual Ability-Respecters:
Obviously every relationship should be one of mutual respect and admiration, but there are some in YA in which this particular trait just leaps off the page. Katsa and Po in Kristin Cashore's Graceling are exactly that kind of couple, bonded by the way each appreciates the other's skill. And, of course, as I've blogged about ad nauseam, every couple ever written by Melina Marchetta, (particularly in Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, and Finnikin of the Rock), because this is what I think she does better than any writer on the planet.
The BFF (Best Friend First):
This isn't quite the same as the friends-to-lovers trope, in which a pair who's been friends forever suddenly realize there's more there. No, for me the most awesome thing is when you get to watch this relationship from start to finish—see a couple meet, spark up a friendship rife with banter, entertainment, non-sexual hanging out, and mutual trust—and then there's more. It's a lot to demand of approximately 300 pages, but that's why I admire so strongly the two books I think do this best: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
The Alpha Girl:
Being approximately equal in seemingly all ways is awesome, and obviously a thing I admire and love in relationships (see above), but sometimes, it's just fun to see the girl be the one in control. Not in a game-playing "I hold all the cards" kind of way, because oh god stop it. But in an "I naturally possess this trait, be it extroversion or cynicism or a general badassery that you cannot control and actually admire, even when it frustrates you" kind of way. Oh, come on, you know the way I mean. Don't you? No? Well then, get to reading some of my favorite examples: Chloe and Duncan in Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell; Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols; and two that would sort of be spoilers so I'm just going to tell you to read both 4-book series in their entirety: Amy and *mmph* in the Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund (not YA, but whatever, just read it) and Ruby and *blaaargh* in the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart.
So which of these did I aim for in Behind the Scenes? Honestly, a little of each. But really, the key for Liam and Ally can be summed up in this one line: "You make my day not suck, and that's no small thing."