I read. I read a lot. Anything. Even toffee papers and the back of cornflake packets, if there isn’t anything better available. But one of my favourite genres is urban fantasy; I like the idea of magic in the modern world. I wonder if it’s an atheist thing? I don’t believe in magic – but I’d like to.
Anyway, back on topic. An awful lot of urban fantasy books have a ‘romance’ element, or at least, that’s what they call it. But really, it more often seems to be lust. You know the sort of thing – guy and girl meet, and you just know that before you get half-way through the book, they’ll have fallen into bed (together). No getting-to-know-you, no dating, no comparing reading lists, or even favourite colours. Just straight to the sex. Take The Taken, for example (for my part, you can take it as far away as possible): the heroine (Kit Craig, who needs a slap) meets the hero (Griffin Shaw, who needs some things explaining to him, by hand), and before you know where you are, yep, they’re making the bedsprings creak. They know next to nothing about each other, and don’t seem to be interested in finding out. And don’t get me started on the ‘love triangle’ in the Alex Craft books – two gorgeous men, she gets busy with both, yet doesn’t seem to be remotely interested in either of them as anything other than hot bodies.
Does anyone else find that rather icky? Not to mention sleazy. For pity’s sake, get some self-respect!
On the other hand, we have Kim Harrison’s Hollows series: I’ve read up to book 9, and the tension between the heroine (Rachel) and one of the other recurring characters (Trent) is palpable. And so far, I don’t think they’ve even kissed. Harrison seems to be determined to spin it out. And these two are learning more and more about each other – from enemies in the first book, they’ve now turned into something more than allies. There’s actually a relationship there, not just sex (well, not even sex, so far).
J.K. Rowling did the same in the Harry Potter books. I seem to remember reading somewhere that she wanted Harry to have a bit of experience of love, and to get to know Ginny properly before they finally got together.
Makes me wonder – you see people getting married, and a year or two later, they’re divorced. Did they actually get to know their partner, or did they think that sex was enough to keep a relationship going? Are we seeing more of an emphasis on sex and less on actually knowing your partner?
Being really sociopolitical, one might wonder whether a woman’s right to control her own sex life has somehow transmuted into pressure to have sex with any man who’s available, just to demonstrate that she isn’t some kind of old-fashioned prude.