Tag Archives: romance

YA Romance with all the feels

I just finished reading Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, and I absolutely loved it. Rishi may be my new favorite book boyfriend. And Dimple is driven, fierce, unapologetic … in a word, fantastic. Seriously, if you’re looking for a great love story, read this book. For those who are curious, here’s the summary from Amazon:

When Dimple Met Rishi.Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers … right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him — wherein he’ll have to woo her — he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

And if you’re looking for another book like When Dimple Met Rishi, I recommend the following:

The Sun is Also a Star.The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This book takes a similar look at the role of fate and the universe in bringing people together. Like Dimple and Rishi, Natasha and Daniel both have complicated relationships with their family’s culture, and how it fits with their American identity. And this book also has a practical girl who’s interested in STEM and a romantic boy who’s artistic. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store — for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Selection.The Selection by Kiera Cass

This series also features a kick-butt girl who wants to change the world and a boy who’s a hopeless romantic. Like When Dimple Met Rishi, the chemistry between America and her love interest (I’m being vague to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet) gave me all the feels. And that’s not a phrase I use often. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon — and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Anna and the French Kiss.Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Like Dimple and Rishi, Anna and Etienne have complicated relationships with their families, and they’re navigating life without their parents (though in this case they’re at boarding school, not a summer convention). While this is more of a slow-burn romance, Etienne is just as sweet as Rishi, and the story will keep you turning pages. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna — and readers — have long awaited?

Have you read any of these books? What would you add to this list? Please share in the comments!

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Genre Lessons: Romance

Image adapted from photo by Flickr user Jamoor

Image adapted from photo by Flickr user Jamoor

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more widely — at least one book in every genre (including nonfiction topics). I’ve also joined a book club of librarians reading a different genre every month to help us make more informed recommendations to patrons. January’s genre is romance, and in the last few weeks I’ve read two YA and one adult romance. Here’s a summary of what I learned about the genre — both what readers connect with and what writers are doing.

1. Little to no denouement. All three books had a build-up to the climactic moment when the characters get together (in the YA books) or decide to get married (in the adult book), but the story always stops right after that. I guess it makes sense — the whole book is about the relationship, so once it’s where it’s supposed to be, there’s no reason to include anything else. But to a non-reader of romance, it felt a little jarring. I’ve spent the whole book rooting for this couple; I’d like at least a paragraph telling me what happens to them!

2. Lower stakes. At no point was I worried a character might die or make a decision that would completely sabotage their future (drop out of school, get fired, permanently alienate a friend or family member, etc.). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; sometimes I really want a book I know I’ll be able to pick up and put down quickly, one that I know will have a happy (if somewhat predictable) ending. The lower stakes allow the writer (and the reader) to focus more on character development. I thought this was done very well in the YA books I read, though most YA tends to have at least some coming-of-age/character growth involved. I thought the adult book fell a little flat here — the female protagonist changed a little, finally standing up to her gold-digging mother, but her love interest started out and ended up as exactly the same person. Maybe I would’ve been more okay with this if he hadn’t been a viewpoint character, but after he was given that face time, I wanted to see him more affected/changed by their relationship in some way. Also, every time there was an opportunity for some real conflict in the adult book — an ex showed up, the protagonist ran off scared — it was quickly resolved — protagonist and girlfriends conclude (correctly, and somewhat conveniently) that the ex was trying to stir up trouble, love interest is patient and accepting without question. Again, some people are looking for this type of book, but I was especially annoyed by it after reading (and agreeing with) all this writing advice about raising the stakes and making your characters suffer throughout the book. Conflict equals excitement; its absence equals boredom, which equals readers finding something else to do. The YA books I read both got this — characters were sufficiently miserable (wow, it feels horrible saying it like that, but hopefully you get what I mean) before they reached their HEA.

3. Viewpoint do’s and don’ts. Both the YA books I read were in first-person with a single narrator, but the adult was in third-person with multiple narrators. When it started out in third limited following the female protagonist, I kind of expected to get her love interest’s perspective at some point. It would’ve been a great way to round out the story and further develop both characters by seeing how other characters (both main and secondary) view them. And I did get his perspective, but only a little, and I felt like those scenes didn’t really add much. Because he had no conflict of his own, all we got to see was him talking with a buddy about his relationship and thinking about how much he loved the female protagonist. And then we started head hopping even more, to minor characters, for a couple paragraphs at a time — with no line break or indication that we were about to switch narrators. This was jarring, and felt like it was done entirely for convenience — the author wanted to show something that was happening when neither protagonist was present, so she had a secondary character take over. I think a close third with one narrator would’ve helped the writer tell this story better. But this is where we see the subjectivity of the book industry — this book, which I wasn’t crazy about, was a bestseller, and the author has written numerous bestsellers both before and since.

So, that’s what I’ve learned from my study of romance. I didn’t go too in-depth with this; someday I’d like to read a few more adult romances by different authors, to get a better feel for the genre. But for now, I’m going to take a break from romance and explore another genre. Maybe horror?

Do you read or write romance? What do you like/dislike about the genre? What lessons do you think other writers can take from studying it? Please share in the comments!