The Love (stories) of our Lives?

princess bride

Synergy is back! This is the second installment of the monthly feature. The basic gist is that one of our contributors offers a single question for our other contributors to give answer to  mixed in with thoughts from talented outsiders who we force (mostly through begging) to participate.

The question fielded this month is Damon’s, and most appropriate for today as we share our single favorite romances/love stories from the 20th century on (I realize one stretches that clause, but this for fun after all!). We’ve assembled a talented group to give their answers this month; from writers, editors, an actress, and some of our own contributors!

I hope everybody enjoys and has a happy Valentine’s Day!

Mark Chadbourn – I read a lot, and I’ll be honest – in the vast number of books I’ve consumed very few fictional love stories have had any effect on me. The writing may well have been great, the characters perfectly formed, but somehow the end result usually fell flat. It’s not that I’m particularly unromantic – quite the opposite, I like to think. It’s that love is a hugely powerful emotion and also incredibly personal. To work, for me, it has to move me deeply, yet also feel “real”, or what my idea of real is.

For that reason, I have absolutely no interest in, say, the Aragorn and Arwen romance, which just about defines unreal. Tolkien wrote women as if they were some alien species. He writes romance like someone who’s never felt love. I know some people like that high-minded, idealised love, but to me it is truly fantasy. To all intents and purposes, it may as well be an emotion with another name entirely because you never see any evidence of it in the world around us.

My own favorite love story is that of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. It feels real in the way Thomas Harris wrote it – subtle, deep currents shifting slowly, often beyond the understanding of the two people involved. Like real love, it also comes with a lot of confusion, and infected with strands of other, conflicting emotions. Clarice is afraid and attracted, yet for all Lecter’s deeds, never repulsed. She understands him, and in a way, accepts him, despite his flaws. Lecter is confused by his attraction to someone for whom he should really feel only contempt.

It is also, perhaps, and ironically for me, as high-minded as Tolkien’s love. There is no hint of physical attraction. It is about a love of the mind and spirit. It is never consummated in any way at all (I prefer to pretend that ‘Hannibal’ the sequel never happened).

And now, perhaps, I need to go away and reflect what this choice actually says about me!

Mark Chadbourn is an English fantasy, science fiction and horror author with eleven novels (and one non-fiction book) published around the world, and has won multiple British Fantasy Awards. His Hellboy novel, The Ice Wolves, is forthcoming later this year.In addition to his novels he also is a scriptwriter for the BBC drama Doctors

Brea Grant – One of my favorite love stories (I say “one of” because I’m a sucker for a sweet, love story) is from Pillars of the Earth between Jack and Aliena. I read this book fairly recently after a guy I work with told me it would be the best book I’d ever read. I have trouble with favorites – in fact, I don’t have a favorite book, movie or band – but this is definitely up there as far as best stories go. Jack is this quirky, red-haired boy who we watch grow up under the worst of circumstances – from living in a forest with his mother, which actually wasn’t so bad, to years and years of disappointment in his village to becoming an architect, only to lose the girl of his dreams, Aliena, to his mean, abusive stepbrother, Alfred. Aliena is a headstrong girl of nobility who loses everything and must beg on the streets. Using nothing but her own intelligence and willpower, she becomes a successful businesswoman only to lose it all…again. She then must marry the aforementioned, terrible Alfred. Up until this point, Aliena and Jack almost get together. In fact, they sleep together right before Aliena’s wedding. Okay – not so great, yet. But these characters and all of the characters in Ken Follett’s book are so great because of their ability to adapt and stick by their dreams. When Aliena gives birth, after hiding her entire pregnancy, Alfred throws Aliena out and searches for Jack, who has gone to search for information about his father. SHE goes after HIM! It’s a great turn for a story – it’s the woman looking for the man, baby in tow, all alone putting all of her hopes on finding the man of her dreams. Pretty amazing. And she finds him, after searching a long time. It’s worth the wait. Of course, things don’t go super well from there. There are always problems for people in Pillars of the Earth. But the two not only have a great love affair leading up to their eventual pairing, they also continue to be loving once together – sneaking off into the forest to enjoy each other alone and supporting each other even when they are not allowed to marry. I think it’s rare we see a couple actually together, being happy after the romance from initial courtship has worn off. It’s a beautiful story. I would never want to live through the mess they had to live through, I’d take the romance and undying love any time.

Brea Grant is an actor best known for her roles on the television shows Heroes and Friday Night Lights. She’s also an avid blogger (at Breagrant.com), reader, and general enjoyer of life. She is currently writing a comic book entitled, We Will Bury You.

Jay Tomio – The question seems a very direct one that allows very little room for interpretation, but I found myself actually rather intrigued with the instances that immediately came to mind and of their nature. This questions asks for a single example, and I will keep it to one, but I thought it was interesting that I was first exposed to the four that first jumped into my mind at an age that was before my own personal experiences with the opposite sex occurred. It made me wonder how instances that seemed so natural in coming to me may have effected what I myself would look for in romance or later identify as acts of love.

So what story drew me in and why? The answer reveals more than a favorite writer, actor, character, or show. It reveals less about artistic appreciation and more about what we may ourselves value and admire beyond fiction. We mourned for two losses. The loss of a unique individual and what was between the couple— too many times, stories are about only the latter. That said, we felt uplifted, and we felt love eternal.

I’m not sure if any that would be inclined to make such lists would put James Clavell’s Shogun up as a great piece of modern literature – it’s ultimately much too readable to garner such accolades – but it remains to me a foundational piece of my reading experience in many ways, one of them being the love story between Blackthorne (Anjin-san) and the Lady Toda-Buntaro (Mariko). It could be said that this story has the advantage of being in two mediums. Not only did I enjoy the novel, but the 9-hourish miniseries is one of my favorite television experiences ever.

During an interview that I am conducting with novelist Peter Brett we talked briefly of Shogun, and he noted that it’s very much like a Fantasy book in that we have a familiar protagonist exploring an unknown – even alien – land from his perspective ( before people go crazy, for those who don’t know, I’m half-Japanese). It shows that not only can you find something in the unknown, but also you can come to love it. We recognize true love, even righteous love in the midst of what was really deplorable – in some moral sense – situation. Both Blackthorne and Mariko were married, and both in a society where it wasn’t quite the throwaway institution it is now (again, for some of us). We believe Mariko as being both a devout Christian and the truest of Samurai, yet throughout the story we want her to forsake those values for Blackthorne. We wonder if Blackthorne would ever truly leave Japan if given the opportunity.

We want them together.

This was not a story of love lost or unrealized. It was from the very beginning the very act of love in motion. Both learned from each other, and both in their own ways were adrift. What’s intriguing is that the dominant perspective really comes from the male in the relationship, who marvels at the exploits of Mariko. If there is a hero in this novel, it’s Mariko. Her sacrifice is that of – as Toranaga himself puts it – the sacrifice of his queen. Blackthorne doesn’t just desire her, he comes to respect her and her world even as she herself was making clandestine plans with both the Christian Church and her Liege Lord that could cause her to no longer be a part of it.

Again she tried to bring the Gray to battle, cutting thrusting, always attacking fiercely, but the samurai slid away avoiding her blows, holding her off, not attacking, allowing her to exhaust herself. But he did so gravely, with dignity, giving her every courtesy, giving her the honor that was her due. She attacked again but he parried the onslaught that would have overcome a lesser swordsman, and backed another pace. The perspiration streamed from her. A Brown started forward to help but his officer quietly ordered him to stop, knowing that no one could interfere. Samurai from both sides waited for the signal, craving the release to kill.

In the crowd a child was hiding his eyes in his mothers skirts. Gently she pried him away and knelt. “Please watch my son.” “You are samurai.”

Blackthorne himself is not only subject to that aforementioned “stranger in strange land” motif, but he is also part of the “falling for your teacher fantasy”. This is a rather shallow observation, but it is because of these origins that the fierceness and complexity of their love later is something I find so compelling. As brave and as adaptable as Blackthorne proves himself to be in the most unusual and dangerous of situations, his feats are secondary, both in an epic and personal sense. The sacrifice was not one made to be in love or for the sake of a future together, it was for love itself as it was. A different kind of love revealing a humbling devotion. Often we hear that ‘sacrifice’ is a part of love, and though one makes the ultimate sacrifice, this story showed me that this is not entirely true. In true love, there is no consideration of sacrifice. There is no weighing of options, there is only ever one. In her letter Mariko knows not which afterlife hold dominions of when they will meet next, but only that it will happen. When Blackthorne and Toranaga finish one of their last discussions, Toranaga simply says ‘Without her. . . “ and leaves the end to float as the future Lord of Japan acknowledges – for a moment – a barbarian as an equal in testament to her and the life she lived.

In a sense, she gave them both life. For myself I still stand in awe to a story that captivated a young kid who otherwise was watching G.I. Joe and Transformers. Even more personal for me was that it was a bit of enactment of clash in culture that I lived with. Albeit generations before, these were very much my two worlds finding an inner peace, even during a time of war. There were so many labels deemed important throughout the novel by sex, caste, nationality, religion, and more. In Shogun we find two people that find something more important than all of these words too often used to divide, and instead force that world to move – even if only the slightest of nudges – because of what they have.

I look back and see how many times I used the word ‘true’ or a variation of, and I guess that’s what endears this particular love story to me. Clavell doesn’t allow death itself to end the relationship as Mariko’s words via posthumous letter once again gives the pilot a heading. Mariko doesn’t know which faith will have dominion over the setting of which Blackthorne and her will meet again.

It doesn’t matter.

True love conquered all.

Marie Brennan – If I had to name one romance that makes my heart dance like a marionette, it’s the central one in Dorothy Dunnett’s historical series The Lymond Chronicles. (The lady involved shall remain unnamed, since it’s something of a mild spoiler.) That relationship showcases many of the qualities I like best: it develops slowly, over the course of long acquaintance and interaction between the two characters, and it’s built on a foundation of common interest and purpose. By the time it really comes to the forefront, in the last novel of the series, I feel like Dunnett has resoundingly earned the drama she wrings out of it. I’m not a good audience for stories about a Sudden Tidal Wave of Desire that sweeps away two characters who have known each other for barely a week, such that their passions overpower their common sense and make them behave stupidly. I can sometimes enjoy that in a comedy — but in a drama, it usually makes me want to throw things.

Marie Brennan is the author of the Elizabethan faerie spy fantasy Midnight Never Come, as well as the doppelganger novels Warrior and Witch, and approximately two dozen short stories. 

Paul Malmont – The common rap against love and relationships is that people can’t/don’t/won’t change. Groundhog Day, my favorite romantic story, proves that old trope wrong. People can/do/will change for love. Phil is stricken with Rita the first time he sees her playing amongst TV station green screen weather clouds like some kind of hippie angel. But he’s not yet the kind of guy who can win her heart. Only when Phil becomes trapped in some kind of metaphysical loop, reliving the same day over and over again, does he begin to evolve. Phil’s desperation to escape his circumstances gets pretty bleak – he acts out, becomes an even bigger tool until existential despair sets in and he tries to commit suicide – multiple times! Not to get too symbolic, but the repeat deaths purge Phil of his old self, take him down to the bare grain where he can begin the rebuilding process. Become a better man. How long must he have been stuck on repeat in order to learn French and to play the piano? It’s a good thing the movie is a comedy because otherwise it’s scary to contemplate. Though Phil seems to have an infinite number of days at his disposal, he really only has one day in which to convince Rita that he’s become the most honest, caring, decent, truly coolest man around. And he pulls it off – not just dazzling her but proving himself worthy. That transformation, and the way the love story unfolds, is utterly romantic, and gets even more so the more I watch the movie and the older I get.

Paul Malmont is the author of the new novel Jack London in Paradise and the bestselling novel The Chinatown Death Clod Peril

Eileen Gunn – I love a good love story, but I’m not much of a romantic, and unromantic love stories are pretty thin on the ground. The problem with love stories is that the reader has to buy into the fantasy, and I just won’t buy in. I’m a dystopian, and I’m usually pretty sure that all will end badly. Basically, I’m the sort of person who thinks that Ingrid Bergman shouldn’t trust Cary Grant.

But, I have to confess, Geoff Ryman’s novel The Child Garden won my heart, and broke it. It’s a novel, first of all, about the unknowability of the future, and it presents a cheerfully grim future of a genetically altered humanity in a world altered irrevocably by climate change. Milena, the protagonist, is one of the few unchanged humans, adrift in a world of five-year-old geniuses, children who are born with knowledge and language, and who bloom and die before they reach adulthood. In the course of the novel, Milena falls in love with the wonderful Rolfa, a genetically engineered polar bear of a woman – and the reader does too. Rolfa is witty and lively and deeply sad, and she loves Milena too, and all is strange and wonderful until it is not. Rolfa is taken away, and Milena and the reader (well, me, anyway) pine helplessly for her.

Does Rolfa return? You’ll have to read the book.

Eileen Gunn is a Nebula-Award winning short-story author and the editor/publisher of the Infinite Matrix website. her fiction has also been nominated for Philip K. Dick Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the World Fantasy Award. For the past twenty years, she has served on the board of directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. 

Bonnie Burton – Some of the best love stories are often one-sided. We’ve all fallen head over heels for someone who didn’t quite feel the same way about us. But what depths would you go to prove your love? J.K. Rowling explores that idea of love conquering evil as she weaves the complicated tale of Harry Potter, his friends, his family and his destiny. However, there would be no Harry Potter, or chance for the good side of the wizarding world to prevail, if anti-hero Professor Severus Snape didn’t make sacrifices to prove his undying love for Harry’s dead mom, Lily. While Lily never reciprocated any romantic feelings for Snape, he still loved her with his last breath.

Bonnie Burton is the author of You Can Draw: Star Wars and Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change

Carrie Vaughn – Would it be ridiculous of me to say The Princess Bride? (The movie version, mostly.) But I could also name a dozen other stories where the elements of romance appealed to me. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, in which the heroine wins over a great Omar Sharif-type hero. The film Labyrinth, which isn’t much of a romance at all, but I challenge you to find anything more sexy and mysterious than the ballroom scene. (I was thirteen when the movie came out, and I’d never seen anything like it. It pushed all kinds of buttons I didn’t know I had until then.) Clearly, anything fantastical with shiny, idealized romance in it that I encountered as a teenager (hence the over-representation of the mid-1980’s) had a huge impact on me. If I had to distill a conclusion from all this, I would say that it isn’t necessarily the romance that appeals to me most. Rather, I like a good adventure with romance as a side-plot, or as a light at the end of the tunnel. True love (as The Princess Bride tells us) is the best reason to fight through an adventure. At least, I’d like to think so, and books and movies keep that fantasy alive.

Carrie Vaughn is the author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio show. The fifth, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, has just been released, and the sixth, Kitty Raises Hell, is due out in March. She’s also had over forty short stories published in various anthologies and magazines such as Weird Tales and Realms of Fantasy

Gregory Frost – While there are half a dozen easy answers that come to mind, I’m going to go with Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. One of my favorite novels, period; and though it is a social satire on the literary and critical pecking order under Stalin (and thus a satire on what Bulgakov himself had to endure) with the devil/magician Woland and his entourage of bizarre characters, it is also at heart a love story. Margarita makes a pact with Woland and suffers unendurable agony as hostess of his demonic ball as a sacrifice for her love, the Master of the title. Granted one wish by Woland at the end, she asks only to be reunited with him, and Woland grants the two of them eternal love…but only through death. The character of Margarita is ostensibly based on Bulgakov’s third wife, Elena Shilovskaia, while the Master is something of a self-portrait by the author. Thus, it’s a tragic romance about a writer. How could I not pick that?

Gregory Frost’s fiction has been finalist for honors like the Hugo, Tiptree, Nebula, and Sturgeon awards. His latest novels are Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet were recently published by Del Rey. 

Lane Robins – Goblin Moon by Teresa Edgerton is a perennial favorite. The barbed relationship between Seramarias and Lord Skelbrooke is wonderful. She’s a lady of stout common sense and calm practicality; he’s a sometimes spy with a tortured past and a drug habit. The whole book is about Romance old school; there are secret vengeances, forced marriages, and trolls in disguise as noblemen.

Lane Robins is the author of Maledicte and the forthcoming Kings & Assassins (Arpil 09). 

Medora – Romance isn’t just candles, chocolate, and champagne. It does not move solely in the realm of the young and beautiful. One of the most moving romances I have ever held in my hands is that between Hurin and Morwen of Tolkien’s The Children of Hurin, a love and an adventure as only Tolkien could have told. Hobbits are creatures of the future and Sauron has yet to rise beyond his position under Morgoth when Hurin and Morwen are parted by war and strife, but their commitment to each other remains strong. Tolkien is painfully honest in his rendering of life and death, and love that knows no boundaries on either side. This love brings hope to those who question the existence of such devotion, and validates the power that devotion carries.

Medora is a young adult librarian and student of American Literature who writes book reviews and nonfiction/academic articles when she isn’t busy adoring her Tolkien-esque chinchillas. 

Jim Hines – I’m an 80’s boy, so I’m afraid I ended up absorbing the idea that true romance meant standing there with Peter Gabriel blaring from the boom box, or falling in love with the foreign exchange student on skis, or … actually, I probably projected onto anything where John Cusack was involved. And then of course there’s the movie Mannequin, which managed to not only plant deep-rooted fetishes in teenage boys nationwide, but also guaranteed I could never again listen to Starship without thinking about Kim Cattrall.

I’m actually writing a romantic plotline in my current book. It was failing miserably until I discovered the secret: Peter Cetera on infinite loop on the ol’ MP3 player.

You know, looking back, it’s amazing I ever managed to keep a relationship going more than a week, let alone get married….

Jim C. Hines is the author of The Stepsister Scheme (DAW, 2009) and the Goblin trilogy (DAW, 2006-2008). He lives in Michigan.

Trine Paulsen – My favourite romance is without a doubt Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Originally published in 1813, this novel is numbered among the great classics of English literature and it has had a very widespread and popular afterlife in the 20th century, something that the numerous movie- and television-adaptations in the recent years testifies to.

My very first introduction to the literary works of Jane Austen in general, and Pride and Prejudice in particular came through the medium of television during the early 1990s. I accidentally stumbled upon a Swedish channel showing the very first episode of BBC’s six-part adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1995) starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as the reluctant lovers Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. I was instantly enchanted with the characters and after the end credits rolled over the screen I was searching my parents’ well-stocked book shelves where I luckily found a Danish translation of the novel. I stayed up the whole night reading it from cover to cover, deeply engrossed by a story that turned out to be one of the few defining reading experiences of my life so far; an experience that not only instilled me with an enduring love for Austen’s work but also made me curious enough to try out other examples of 19th century European literature (such as the Brönte sisters, Tolstoy, Henry James, etc.). I have lost count of how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, both in Danish and in the original English.

What was it, then, that appeal so much to me in the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy? There is much to like in Pride and Prejudice and I find new things to appreciate with each reading, but there are some aspects that are especially appealing. There is the witty dialogue and the subtly ironic tone that gently dissects the more ridiculous characters such as Mrs. Bennett, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine. The irony is never mocking but is tempered by Austen’s elegant style – another aspect of her work that I enjoy immensely. It is, however, the romance between Elizabeth and Darcy that invariably holds my attention. It is a romance where the attraction ironically enough is borne from an initial dislike but cultivated in an intricate game of flirtation that while conforming to the social conventions of the time nevertheless reveals a few glimpses of the fascination and sexual tension shimmering beneath the surface of things.

Jane Austen herself once stated that Pride and Prejudice was altogether too light, bright and sparkling, but it is these very qualities that have endeared the novel to generations of readers in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Another cause for its popular appeal, especially in our times, is that Austen has created a heroine that incredibly likeable, even for modern women. Elizabeth Bennett is intelligent, insightful and very aware of her own worth. She is not flawless and though she is quick to find fault in others, her sometimes judgmental nature is tempered by her capacity for love and caring. Austen leaves the story when the lovers finally declare themselves to each other and we, as readers are therefore at liberty to imaging how the marital dynamic between Darcy and Elizabeth would be (and plenty have written sequels about this subject). I for one believe that Elizabeth is one in charge of that marriage, though Darcy might think otherwise.

Whilst writing this it strikes me just how much my perception of the novel (fx the characters, dialogue and tone) is coloured by the interpretation that the BBC adaptation presents. It is hard for me envision anyone but Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett, the subtle irony of her conversation tempered by the sweetness of her smile or underscored by a pointed glance or a slightly lifted brow. Likewise, Colin Firth is for me, and countless others, the one and only incarnation of Mr. Darcy; a man whose correct and rather rigid exterior mien conceals hidden depths of strong passions that expressed solely on the level of the non-verbal; in the intensity of his gaze or in his almost too controlled posture.

Jane Austen’s novels, Pride and Prejudice in particular, have undoubtedly left its mark in some of the narrative patterns that characterize the genre of romance. The story of a pair of lovers that move from dislike to attraction and eventually to love is, after all, a popular one. However, the witty and effervescent tone of Austen’s writing, as well as the historical setting, has also influenced an entire sub-genre, that of Regency Romance of which Georgette Heyer’s charming novels from 1930s-1950s is the best example. Last but not least, Austen’s influence can also be detected in the currently popular genre of chick-lit. Here the prime example is without doubt Helen Fielding’s bestseller Bridget Jones’ Diary (1996), which was written as an homage not only to Austen’s novel but also to BBC’s adaption. Thus Fielding’s Mark Darcy was written on the basis of Colin Firth’s performance in the television series, and to make matters even more confusing he was the only choice for the role of Mark Darcy in the cinematic adaptation of Fielding’s novel.

Trine is a thirty-something Danish art historian, who in her spare time is a voracious reader of wide-ranging preferences. She has a decided penchant for well-written and intellectually challenging fantasy and sci-fi, but she also enjoys historical fiction and biographies while urban fantasy and chick-lit remain guilty pleasures. 

Jeri Smith-Ready – My biggest early romantic influences were probably soap operas. They unfortunately gave me a very distorted view of relationships. The notions that no one stays happy (or dead!) for good and that everyone is having constant sex are dangerous ideas when you’re 11 years old. (Parents, your daughters are much better off with a stack of Harlequin Romances than General Hospital.)

By high school, I’d lost interest in soap operas because I caught on to the ways that the writers would lure viewers on with lack of resolution. I wanted happy endings, but more broadly, I wanted closure. I wanted driving off a cliff to be a permanently fatal event.

Perhaps as a result, I gained a strong aversion to manipulation on the part of books. Even though I write series, I try to make each novel stand on its own. As a reader, I’m more likely to pursue a series if the first installment leaves me fulfilled instead of hanging.

So I don’t always need a HEA*, but a HUH?? is right out.

Thanks for listening to my unromantic answer about romance.

Happy Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.

*romance-speak for Happily Ever After.

Jeri Smith-Ready is author of several epic and urban fantasies, including Wicked Game (May 2008, Pocket Books), first in the WVMP RADIO series about a con artist and a cadre of vampire DJs. Her next releases are the mass market version of Wicked Game (March 31) and the trade paperback sequel, Bad to the Bone (May 19).

David J. Williams – Reese and Sarah in TERMINATOR, and I don’t care what anybody says. You might think you’ve had your share of committed lovers (then again, you might not), but how many of them (a) crossed time to get to you, and (b) saved you from an unstoppable killing machine? Talk about a good excuse for bringing a shotgun to the first date. . . Reese set a whole new standard for dedication, even if Michael Biehn was totally eclipsed by Arnold and ultimately blew himself up like an Iraqi suicide bomber. The best part is that the doomstruck lovers only had sex once, thereby providing an object lesson that you should never, ever wear a condom lest you miss out on your big chance to sire the messiah of the human race.

David J.Williams was born in Hertfordshire, England. He lives in Washington, D.C. The Mirrored Heavens is his first novel. His second, Burning Skies, will be released later this year by Bantam Spectra. You can visit him at Autumnrain2110.com.

Sarah Zettel – The Barretts of Wimpole Street, MGM 1934 staring Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Maureen O’Sullivan and Charles Laughton. It’s loosely, and I do mean l loosely, based on the romance between Eilzabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. In parts it’s way over the top. But I adore it, not only for the primary romance, which is magnificent, but Laughton’s portrayal of the villainous father which is utterly superb. Even better (and very surprising for the time) is that it’s a romance of equals, and in the end, it’s as much Elizabeth’s actions and courage as Robert’s that allows True Love to triumph.

Sarah Zettel is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Michigan. She has written 14 novels and numerous short stories. Her novel Reclamation won the the Locus Award for Best First Novel and also garnered a nomination for the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Novel.

Damon Caporaso – I think the romance that had the most impact for me comes from the television/movie end. I am going with Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years. I could go on and on about why this show was great and why the romance between Kevin and Winnie worked so well and was depicted so realistically, but I will keep it brief. I do not think for a show so old I have to say *Spoiler alert*, but just in case I said it. Suffice to say this is one of those shows that brought a tear to my eye when I found out that in the end Kevin and Winnie were not together. They had been through so much growing up together and it mirrored many of the experiences that we went through growing up in the suburbs. Winnie was that girlfriend that knew everything about you, that you could talk about things from 10 years ago and she understood, that pure teenage love where she was as much best friend as girlfriend. Classic romance.

A common thread between most of the impactful romances for me revolve around the time frame that they took place in my life. I think that for me those romances were part of my experience growing up. They helped me understand a bit of the emotion that I felt myself as I dated and had my teenage relationships. I am quite interested to see what people mention based on their ages.

Jay Tomio – Once again, I want to thank everybody who participated!