Jul 15, 2013

Posted by in Question | 12 Comments

Question – What Makes A Long Term Couple Keep Sizzling?

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Cat & Bones.  Kate & Curran.  Adam & Mercy.  All couples from urban fantasy books that have been ‘together’ since the beginning of their respective series.  Now, some may not have been a couple from the very first book but they have been ‘doing the dance’ since the first time they met and are now certified couples.  Cat & Bones are at book seven, Kate & Curran are at book six and Adam & Mercy too are at book seven.  Even with being together for so long, they still have a spark.  They still have that special something that keeps us coming back to visit them the moment a new book hits the shelf.

What is it about these couples, and couples like them, that make them so appealing even after so many books?

I think an important part of it is, even though they are all dealing with weird supernatural crap, they still deal with ‘normal people stuff’.  Insecurities, ups and downs, happy moments and devastating moments – things we can all relate too.  Add to that the fact that these are characters we have grown attached to over the years so we feel extra when they surpass something together.  Also, we know that these people will be together for the rest of their lives in their own versions of ‘happily ever after’.  I think that helps us stay attached to them.  Reading a couple and knowing that within the next couple of books they will be over, it’s hard to feel that ‘deep connection’.  Why would we as readers get attached to a couple when we know they will ultimately not be a couple?

So that is my two cents.  What is yours?  What makes a long term couple keep sizzling?  On top of that, who are your favorite long-term-ies?


  1. Readsalot81 says:

    I agree with everything you said Julie! 🙂 I also think that all those authors do a really good job w/ letting you know new things about the couples – discovering tidbits of information along the way while you’re reading. All those couples struggle with communication, and while they most definitely love one another, they still get annoyed, frustrated, mad etc. (Definitely like real life lol) They’re all a work in progress, and it’s a joy to read about them on the pages —

    You named some of my favorites already – Kate & Curran – Cat & Bones –

    I also love Lon & Cady, October & Tybalt, Anna & Charles 🙂

  2. Great question Julie! I definitely agree with the fact that they go through things that we can all relate to. I also agree that we have a connection to the characters since we were able to see them come together from the very beginning. I also think they keep sizzling because they are always up to try new things, keep the sexin fresh and fun…it always shows how great of a connection and chemistry they have when something new happens in the love department and they act and feel the way they did when the first got together.

    Cat & Bones is definitely the first couple that pops into my head when I think of a long term series. Most of the other series I read have a different book for each character, but I always enjoy how Gena Showalter continues to bring back the other couples in all of her Lords of the Underworld books. 🙂

  3. Adam and Mercy, Kate and Curran 😀 yes those you already mentioned 😀

    And what makes them sizzle…I honestly do not know. There has to be something

  4. I don’t know what it takes; so long as they keep doing it!!!

  5. What a great question – you hit all my favorites, with the exception of Anna and Charles! Although I wonder what makes them stop sizzling? I felt like some of the magic was really missing in the last book with Adam & Mercy and I know several others who agree, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on what was “off”. I hope it was temporary because they’ve been one of my favorite couples for a while!

  6. It’s a very good question. You have to remember that there’s a requirement for audience gratification to Romance, so authors have to tread lightly when it comes to quirks and flaws in their romantic pairs. And yet, that’s where much of the humor lies. After some reflection, I think that me to want to read about the ongoing adventures of a particular couple, there has to be a believable balance between them. I lose interest fast when they seem to be mismatched, with one being spectacular and the other just lucky. Also, there has to be humor as well as heat. Cat and Bones remain favorites because they both evolve as characters. I’ve also enjoyed the leads in Frosts’ night Prince series, Vlad and Leila. Dragos and Pia are not strictly speaking a recurring series pair, but they show up in many of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races books, and they continue to please.

    Probably the quality of the writing itself plays a role in how well the couple wears. If there’s sparkling dialog, I keep coming back for more.

  7. Erica Pillera says:

    This is a great question.

    I agree with above, it comes down to the author if they can pull off a believeable couple then they can pull of a couple that can stay together forever keeping the flame alive.

    Plus all that danger and life threatening battles they go through cant hurt the whole adrenaline thing.

    Cat and Bones is a great example they really do have what it takes to keep it sizzlin and Jeaniene Frost really has a knack at keeping things fresh and exciting in the sexy parts.

    Agree also with Pia and Dragos they are a hot couple. And Gena Showalter what a talent.

  8. Danielle says:

    I think the best romances are when there’s no insta-love. Insta-lust is ok with a build up to a relationship and love, but I have a harder time with them being in love when they don’t know each other. It has to feel real for me to believe in it and keep me hooked.

  9. I think we love these couples because they represent The ideal relationship, our own deep wish! It doesn’t matter if was “insta-love” like Danielle says or a love that comes in time. Both are good. Still, I believe that “insta-love” exists. I meet my husband 24 years ago, was insta from both sides and from that moment we live our ‘happily ever after”. Problems? Yes, but just around us not with us.

    Cat & Bones, Kate & Curran are my favourite also. I must discover Adam & Mercy; their books are waiting for me from their shelf.

    I’m watching this blog for at least 2 years and, although I’m not so “visible” (how many of us said this?) I love it.

    What makes a long term couple keep sizzling?
    Beside love and passion, that wish/decision/fact to put everything at stake for person you love

  10. Great question Julie! I would have to say one of my long time favorite couples is Sascha and Lucas from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books. It is now going on book #14 and they were the very first couple in the series, so as a reader, you really get to see their relationship strengthen and grow over the time period that has been explored. Not to give anything away, but they have been through a lot together and to see them still going strong is something that I always look forward to reading about in the installments.

    Cat and Bones would have to be my next favorite after that. I love their sense of snarkiness and affection that they manage to have for one another no matter what they fight or whom.

    Pia and Dragos are becoming another favorite too as Thea writes more and more books about the Elder races. They are both spitfires and it makes me happy to see that they compromise for one another.

  11. Readsalot – You are right about the author sharing new tidbits in each installment. That really makes a difference. 🙂

    Deanna – Gena is great at keeping us in the loop of her past couples. That’s a very important thing to do or we just lose interest. Great point.

    blodeuedd – 🙂

    Diane – lol

    Berls – I enjoyed the last Mercy and Adam book but I know that many weren’t quite in agreement with me lol. And I really have to read Anna and Charles!

    Mzcue – Yes, they have to evolve. That is a must. And matching the couple is another good point. Definitely takes talent for that. 🙂

    Erica – Pia and Dragos are great. I love how Thea wrote another book about them too. 🙂

    Danielle – You are bang on with that one. A certain amount of insta-lust is important but the insta-love is a lot harder to write and make it believable. I think even the most talented author would have trouble writing a believable couple that is hit with insta-love. I think it could be done but just a loooooot harder.

    CCAM – “Beside love and passion, that wish/decision/fact to put everything at stake for person you love” GREAT line. Love that! And thanks 🙂

    Iswari – I have read the first Nalini Singh book but have not gone past that. Not because I didn’t like it – I blame it on time. But I really enjoyed Sascha and Lucas. I’m glad to hear that when I do get around to reading the rest of the series that they will still be somewhat in the spotlight 🙂

  12. Jessica says:

    This is a GREAT question, so great, I’ve been putting off answering it because I wanted to really think through why some long term relationships work for me, and others end up boring me. I’d say, most relationships feel a bit dull after the hero and heroine find their HEA. Some people are going to want to smack me for saying this, but Cat and Bones relationship got pretty boring there for a bit, up until they split, and Cat thought Bones was cheating on her. But Mercy and Adam work for me, as to Kate and Curran, and Ethan and Merit. So what makes some relationships work for me, and others fail?

    Keep the tension alive – this tactic works exceedingly well, because who doesn’t love hovering on that knifes edge of fear, wondering if your hero or heroine will pull through and finally end up together? Unfortunately, the tactic loses credibility after a few books. Yes, I’m talking to you Ms. Neill. You had me going the first five books of your series, but come Biting Cold, I was just about through with Ethan’s one step forward, two steps back routine. This tension is also why I liked Bones and Cat’s period of estrangement – it sort of rebooted their relationship for me, made it fresh again.

    Stop focusing on the relationship, and allow it to fade into the background of the story – I think this is what makes Mercy and Adam work. They aren’t sappy sweet, and lovey dovey. They aren’t all over each other in the story. Instead it’s a given that they are a couple, and Ms. Thompson doesn’t focus on it. The plot of her stories has always stood on its own, the early romance between Mercy and Adam was just a bonus, so now that they are together, she focuses on the plot, and Mercy and Adam work together much the same way as Mercy works with Sebastian, and everyone else in the story. The same can be said for Kate and Curran – but even more so. I’ve noticed that in most books this couple doesn’t even work together for the first 75% of the book. They’ll be separated by duty or circumstance, but come together in the end.

    Delay gratification – this doesn’t really answer the question, as the question assumes the couple is actually together, but some of the most successful romances in books I’ve read are so delayed that you have no idea if the couple is really going to end up together until the end of the series. Andrews kept us guessing about Kate and Curran for numerous books. Moning REALLY kept us guessing about Mac and Barrons – I really didn’t even consider him a definite love interest until the sexual healing bits in Faefever. And Kim Harrison has pulled off the coup de grace by keeping me on the edge of my seat wondering about Rachel and Trent for eleven books. ELEVEN! And none of these authors angered me by keeping me wondering. In fact, I think this tactic may be one of the best ways to keep the romance interesting.

    At the end of the day, perfect happiness is a bit boring in fictional relationships. I like not knowing if my favorite couple is going to end up together. That romantic tension adds so much to the story – taking whatever plot tension the author is creating to new levels. But if they do end up together earlier in the series, I’d prefer the author avoid watering down the exciting bits of the story with too much focus on a relationship that’s quite healthy and happy.


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