Book Meme: Mel’s Day Twenty

Book Meme Challenge:

Favorite Romance Book

What is a “Romance Book”? Is there such a thing as a book that has only romance? Who would read such a dull piece?

I have a feeling that this category is meant to include those paperbacks that litter an aisle of Kroger or Target and have bylines like “She had his baby . . . but could she have his looove?” (Inflections are mine.)

But while I read the covers sometimes, I would not touch the insides with a ten-foot pole.  But the covers make me laugh. Anyway, I do not have favorite among those books. Obviously.

(And Jane Austen does not count as something that is only romance. The Romance is only a structure that allows her to reflect on society, humanity, and the interior lives of her characters. Just so we’re clear.)

And while my favorite romance-peripheral-to-the-main-evolution-of-the-story-and contained-in-one -book-and-is=charmingly-sweet-and-shiver-inducing is definitely Persuasion, Anne and Wentworth lack one baby detail to really bring their love story to complete fruition for me.

Therefore, I must declare that my favorite romance in literature be that of

 Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

These two fight, bicker, tease, out-quote each other, and have first-class battles of wits. Constantly.

They continually (and mutually) struggle against their innate selfishness that prohibits their understanding of one another.

They discuss the nature of humanity, think about their vocations and the practical applications thereof, and search for the balance of intellectual and personal life.

Harriet begins writing a sonnet, and Peter finds the final turn couplet for her. Peter suffers from noblesse oblige, and Harriet’s common sense forces him to take himself less seriously.

It takes several books, many intellectual and logic show-downs, a few murders, and mental and spiritual surrender before the romance becomes active. While Lord Peter chases around  the commoner – and author, to the horror of his family! – Miss Vane,  it is only in Gaudy Night that they come and understanding. Their partnership, already a thing of natural almost-perfection, becomes a full communion of friendship, respect, and love.

I forget how many times Peter proposed, or in what awkwardly casual situations; but while he was being a silly widgeon and Harriet was being a  modern woman they established a rapport and chemistry that sweeps the readers off of their feet.

Gaudy Night is followed by the play Busman’s Honeymoon, and the unfinished Thrones, Dominations, chronicling the progression and trial of their relationship. If only Sayers could have finished Thrones, Dominations it probably would have become my all-time favorite. As it is, someone else finished it and the suddenly low standards of wit and repertoire are quite noticeable.

Following the couple as they find their mutual strengths and limitations in marriage, allows for the readers to really see a working relationship. It is not ideal or perfect, but a human marriage where both parties must work at it. It is beautiful.

And the last point, that seals a romance for me?


Children are the solid proof of love. Any story that ends only with a kiss and not with the incarnation of the marriage itself is only telling half a story.

But this romance is complete.


4 thoughts on “Book Meme: Mel’s Day Twenty

  1. Oh!! Very well chosen, my dear, and beautifully put.

    Also I’m fairly certain reading this makes me love them both even more. Excuse me while I go read Talboys…which shall probably be referenced quite frequently should I ever have children…

  2. Also, I hadn’t even guessed that the prompt referred to Harlequin romances…perhaps you and David are keeping my mental standards higher…

    Obviously I have no favorite Harlequin either, but once I read a story which mocked the genre with an in-story Harlequin book called Passionate Trousers.

    • …also also, I have finally read Persuasion for the first time. So I see what you mean about Captain Wentworth being flawed but beautiful and the love story being excellent-though-unconsummated.

      Now I need to read Talboys again.

      • Haha! I am madly in love with Wentworth. And I am afraid that this semester of Austen class will only feed this regard. only Tilney can close to the awesomeness that is Wentworth. And then, what love story is ever really really brought to it’s full glory in books? other than Dante . . .

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