Genres: Contemp Romance
Today I want to welcome author Stacey Agdern to the blog. She is borrowing us for the RomBookLove hashtag, which if you have Twitter, you should definitely check it out. There are lots and lots of great book recommendations and good ol’ fashioned book chat. I miss the days of book chat on Twitter, so any time I have an excuse to get back to that, I jump on it. Today Stacey Agdern will talk to us about Impossible Relationships and some personal favorites of her own. Take it away, Stacey!
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Many people come to the romance genre with different definitions of what an impossible relationship is. Which means it’s important for me to begin this essay with my definition. Quite simply, an impossible relationship is when a couple is separated by both time and wildly impossible circumstances, knowing that they are bound together emotionally despite everything
Authors who write this kind of a story focus both on the idea that tension turns into angst due to both the force of obstacles separating the couple and how important it is to them to surpass those obstacles. Because this isn’t just a soulmate or starcrossed lovers situation. It can be. But it doesn’t have to be.
It isn’t just conflict either.
So what is it?
My own interest in, and the desire to find a definition for my favorite variety of impossible relationship began with Evelyn Vaughn’s ‘AKA Goddess’ and ‘Her Kind of Trouble.’ These two stories, told through MMC Maggi Sanger’s first person POV are a ride, containing suspense, grail theory, international travel and goddess worship. But what makes these books stick now and forever for me is the years of backstory tying Maggi Sanger and Lex Stuart together , told in italicized flashbacks throughout the story. Their relationship is impossible but they can’t walk away no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path. It takes two books to resolve this and it’s gorgeous.
Nalini Singh’s ‘Heart of Obsidian’ is another impossible relationship. I adore Kaleb and
Sahara for many reasons, but when I started to find myself codifying a definition of an impossible relationship, I settled on this one. The story of her charm bracelet, his absolute conviction that he will find her. And her love for him that spans through the most difficult moments. You can also find an impossible paranormal relationship in Kelley Armstrong’s ‘A Stitch in Time’ (time crossed lovers for the win ) and hints of it in Shira Glassman’s novella ‘Wet Nails.’
But impossible relationships aren’t just a feature of Paranormal romance. Cat Sebastian packs so much angst and longing into the historical novella ‘Tommy Cabot was Here’ that I couldn’t stop reading it. Duty vs love, power vs emotional honesty. Angst. And then the payoff. Tommy and Everett were two men who are deeply devoted to each other, and no matter what life threw at them, they found themselves back together, where they belonged.
I’d argue that Tracey Livesay’s ‘Sweet Talking Lover’ slides into the contemporary version of the impossible category. Duty, love, power, and emotional honesty each have a place here. Both Wyatt and Calia are pulled by both duty and longing, responsibility to their past and their present, their family and their responsibilities. And yet they have absolutely no choice despite their circumstances, but to end up together. If you unpack this story just a little bit, you could see them fighting against time too if they needed to. Laura Florand’s ‘The Chocolate Touch’ falls into this category of impossible in contemporary as well.
Impossible relationships manifest throughout romance, in contemporary, in historical and in paranormal. They’re the kinds of stories where characters fight seemingly impossible odds just to find their happy ending. They make a reader root for these characters because when they’re done right, not even fate, time or the writer can deny the inevitable.