Guest blogger: Rhoda Baxter
I write romance, but my TV viewing is mostly comedy and detective series, rather than love films. In my childhood I loved shows like The Scarecrow and Mrs King, Dempsey and Makepeace, Moonlighting, then there was Friends and Spaced and now I adore Castle and The Big Bang Theory. What do these shows have in common? It’s the slow burn of romance. That delicate dance between two people who fancy each other, but don’t want to admit it. The tension between them leads slowly, inevitably to that first kiss. Even in Friends (do people still watch Friends?) the romantic tension was at its best before Ross and Rachel finally got together. After that … well it was still funny, but no longer the same.
In Doctor January, Hibs is in love with Beth from the very start, but he can’t tell her because she’s still pining over her ex. Besides, when she looks at him, she only sees a friend—on the other hand, the one thing she needs more than anything is a friend. Lucky she’s got Hibs! It takes nearly the whole book for friendship to morph slowly into love.
So what makes the slow romance so appealing? Partly, I think it’s because the happy ever after is earned by the characters. If Ross hadn’t spent all those years yearning for Rachel, making all those little unacknowledged gestures and unknown sacrifices, that kiss wouldn’t have had the same swooping feeling of joy that it did.
1. The anticipation is the best bit: Will they? Won’t they? They’ve GOT to get it together this time … Aw no, they’ve been thwarted. It’s obvious they belong together, you know it, they feel it. It’s the desire to close that gap that keeps us going back to see how it ends. I tune in to watch Big Bang Theory week after week because I want to know if Sheldon will finally commit to Amy. Each week they move infinitesimally closer, but not quite close enough. I love that their first kiss was so satisfying, but not satisfying enough for a complete happy ever after.
2. It’s a good way for friends to become lovers: love at first sight it all well and good, but I love the friends-to-lovers stories. As someone who hung out with a lot of boys as a kid, when I came across a boy I liked, I used to always somehow end up friends with them. Once you’re in the friendship trap, it’s more than just your pride at stake—there’s the possible loss of a good friend. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who was a friend for a long time. Asking him out was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences ever. I think I love a friends-to-lovers story because I understand the stakes involved.
3. Beta heroes. I love beta heroes—especially geek heroes. Where an alpha hero would just stroll in and let the object of his affection know what’s what, the beta hero is the kind of guys who fall in love with a girl and then spend years NOT telling her. These guys are smart, witty, likeable and … a bit shy when it comes to declaring their love. It also means that the heroine can be genuinely strong, because a beta hero isn’t particularly threatened by that. Not everyone’s idea of a hero, but it works for me.
4. The potential for comedy. There are so many funny situations you could get into with this sort of thing. Especially if one or the other part of the couple is trying to drop hints and very bad at it.
5. There’s time to explore other things—issues in the heroine’s life, major events—all can be given a good bit of attention while the romance develops slowly within the folds of the story. Somehow this feels satisfying.
What do you think? Do you prefer fireworks from page one? Or do you prefer the slow burn with an explosive climax at the end?
If you keep looking back, you might miss what’s standing right in front of you …
Six months after a painful break-up from Gordon, Beth’s finally getting her life back on track. She has faith in her own scientific theories and is willing to work hard to prove them. She’s even beginning to see Hibs, her dedicated lab partner, as more than just a lousy lothario in a lab-coat and goggles.
So when Gordon arrives back from America without warning and expects to be welcomed back into Beth’s arms, she’s totally thrown. She also quickly begins to see that Gordon isn’t the man she thought he was … Hibs has always held a candle for Beth, but he can only wait so long for her to realise there’s more to life than being patronised and bullied by the one who’s meant to love and protect her.
Will Beth foresee the explosive nature beneath Gordon’s placid surface before he destroys everything she’s worked for, both inside and outside the lab?
Your can buy Doctor January here.