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Guest blogger: Rhoda Baxter

26 October 2014

Rhoda BaxterThe wonder of a slow burn romance

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?

You can find Rhoda here: website | Twitter | Facebook

Dr JanuaryDoctor January

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.

14 Comments
  1. Jeanie M permalink
    2 November 2014 8:25 pm

    I like the slow burn – I recently read a book with instant fireworks and I was a little disappointed that the couple came together so quickly. I like multiple rocks in my couple’s path, the more complications the better!
    Beta boys are definitely one of my faves🙂

    • 3 November 2014 10:44 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. When they’re together at the start and then torn apart, you lose a little bit of that ‘will they? won’t they?’ thrill.
      Beta boys are the best.🙂

  2. Zana permalink
    27 October 2014 7:31 pm

    I’m also a fan of the slow burn and the beta hero which puts Dr. January into my TBR pile🙂

  3. bernimoonhouse1620 permalink
    27 October 2014 2:28 am

    Definitely the slow burn . . . sizzling and building up to the fireworks! Makes the finale so much more enjoyable.

    • 27 October 2014 4:12 am

      Thanks ladies! I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes my romances to be slow building. 🙂

  4. Margaret James permalink
    26 October 2014 10:49 pm

    I love slow burn too and don’t like being hurried. Why gobble when you can take your time and enjoy?5

  5. beverleyeikli permalink
    26 October 2014 9:38 pm

    I just love Beta heroes, too, Rhoda. And slow burn romances! I must say, I did love Marsh in your last book, Girl on the Run. This one sounds great!

  6. 26 October 2014 9:31 pm

    Great post! I agree with Liz, in that I can appreciate either so long as the story rings true. But the slow burn does have a very particular appeal – I was totally hooked on Moonlighting for that reason!

  7. Liv permalink
    26 October 2014 9:03 pm

    I like either a slow burn, or an explosive start which goes horribly wrong. And I much prefer beta heroes. Great blog, Rhoda.

  8. 26 October 2014 7:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Rhoda Baxter and commented:
    I’m getting out and about today. I’ve never been to Australia in real life…

  9. 26 October 2014 7:03 pm

    Lol, Liz! I much prefer the slow burn – but it has to feel authentic. If they’re just being awkward, it isn’t as satisfying.

  10. 26 October 2014 6:20 pm

    An enjoyable post, Rhoda.

    I’d be happy with either – fireworks on page one or slow burn with explosive climax – provided it was well done. If my life depended upon coming down on one side of the fence, I’d go for the slow burn.

    • Melanie Hudson permalink
      26 October 2014 7:58 pm

      Great blog, Rhoda.
      Liz – You took the words out of my mouth.

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