One thing you should know about me is that all of my childhood, I was a hopeless romantic. Starting with Prince Philip of Disney's Sleeping Beauty lore, my love for stories with happy endings grew with me. This is a good thing, I suppose, for someone who writes romance!
But somewhere along the way, I learned that the best kind of romance looks different than your garden-variety fairy tale.
With the dust settled and Maleficent vanquished, Princess Aurora and Prince Philip probably discovered some differences they didn't have the chance to learn in their short courtship -- during half of which Aurora was asleep, mind you. After her own happily ever after, I can also imagine Cinderella having very real issues she didn't know how to process when the roles were reversed and a servant arrived that first morning to bring her breakfast and help her dress.
That's why my favorite fictional romances these days are built in the messiest of trenches -- maybe stronger than they would have been were it not for those struggles.
While I love being taken to faraway lands, wooed by a couple falling hard for each other, and enchanted by sweeping rescues, there's another side of romance that just doesn't compare. Give me a hero who puts everything on hold for a while to support his heroine in her professional dreams, knowing she'll do the same for him in a heartbeat. Give me toes touching at the foot of the bed after being up all night with sick kids. Give me couples who face loss and pain and heartbreak and lean in -- couples who lean in even further when one of them starts to fade away.
When circumstances and attitudes and other human things threaten to pull them apart, the best romances are forged by what's worth fighting for, both in real life and on the page. So even though there's so much life and story after happily ever after, I love stories that let me witness the characters' arrival to the place where they learn about each other deeply and consequently grow in their understanding of who God is.
What story comes to mind when you think of your favorite fictional couple? What is it about them that does it for you?
Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author, freelance editor and PR consultant, and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God's love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.
Her debut contemporary romance novel releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming.