Yuck! Mushy love stories!? Gross.
Pull a random “romance” from the dark and frightening caverns of a library’s paperback fiction section and it very scary. Though, to tell the truth, I have never been able to actually read a whole one of this type through, I pull it off the shelf and see the cover with a beautiful woman on it and a man without a shirt and with rippling abs and I cannot bring myself to open it!!
No thank you, no books about love for me.
You see, what I object to in books about love is that you can’t set out to make a story about love. Love does not work that way! For, although it is the very reason for our existence and should be the reason behind every action, it is not so simple that it can be reduced to The King’s Daughter, who loves perfectly and always succeeds, not is it so earthy that the man with rippling abs can explain everything about it. There has to be more to the plot that love.
(Except for the Bible, that is the ultimate love story without being smarmy, but then, that is God for you. Only He can show love perfectly.)
However, good wholesome adventure stories which happen to have true love in them are quite lovely! Take the story of Conan and Anne, in The Red Keep.
As a young boy in Medieval Normandy, Conan saves the life of a young girl, the daughter of the Lord of the Red Keep (a castle made of red stone), as she is left for dead among her slain family, she is taken back to castle of Conan’s lord and there she grows up, always dreaming to reclaim her fief. While Conan, whose only ambition is to become a knight, is completely oblivious to her hopes and dreams, and her growing love for him. (Though I was never sure why she would love the idiot he was in the beginning). Then something happens to turn his world upside-down and he is faced with challenges and choices that help him to grow from being as cocky boy to a wise and competent young man.
Finally, at the very end he realizes why he fought so hard against his enemies, why he fought for something that was not his own; it was because through her eyes he was shown something good and desirable, something that was larger than himself. And on her part, Conan gave her hope in a hopeless situation. He gave her something to relay on other than herself, and in this way made her gentle and not the fiery little wild-woman that her red hair implied.
This story is not about love, for most of the book they are not even together! it is a story about life, it is a story about friendship, it is about courage and honor, deceit and treachery, it is about adventure and secret tunnels!
But it has love in it (as life does) as a purpose. And it is the life in the book that makes the love real, not the other way around.