Every romance couple has challenges, but some of them have major ones—things that make it seemingly impossible for them to connect, let alone make it all the way to a HEA. These are the couples that make you wonder why nobody jumped up during the ceremony when the minister said, “If anyone has any reason why these two should not be married. . .”
Here are a few of my recent favorite unusual pairings, who somehow managed to end up being perfect for each other:
Lothaire: When I started reading this book, I thought Kresley Cole had finally let me down. Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, is paired up with the Goddess of Death. That makes perfect sense. But wait—there’s more. His bride, Saroya, resides in the very comely body of a young Appalachian woman, Ellie, and our introduction to her, er, them, is when Saroya goes on a killing spree, via this innocent young woman. Ellie ends up in prison. On death row. Lothaire has to save her from being executed, because Saroya is dormant inside Ellie, but at some point he’s going to extinguish Ellie’s soul to let his goddess bride have complete use of the body.
It’s the ultimate in threesomes, only two of them are plotting to off the third one.
As if that weren’t enough of a stumbling block to a blossoming relationship, Ellie isn’t remotely close to what Lothaire has visualized for the bride who will help him reclaim kingdoms:
A muscle ticked in his jaw. “Because fate would not slight me so unspeakably. I’d seek a noon-day sun if I were paired with one such as you.”
“Such as me,” she repeated blandly. She’d been mocked too often over her lifetime to take offense. Her skin was as thick as armor.
“Yes, you. An ignorant, mortal K-mart checkout girl.” He took the sharpest knife from his place setting, absently turning it between his left thumb and forefinger.
“K-mart? I should’ve been so lucky. Those jobs were hard to come by. I worked at my uncle’s outfitter shop.”
“Then you’re even worse. You’re an outfitter checkout girl with aspirations for K-mart.”
“Still better than a demon.”
Lothaire is attracted to her, naturally, but to his surprise he’s also intrigued by her, which will end up being his downfall, no matter how much he fights it. Here, Ellie tells him what she’s learned about him while snooping through his room:
“I was curious about you.”
“Curious to find a way to thwart my plans? And what did you discover about me that you didn’t know?”
“A few things.”
What? What? Anticipation teased him—because he had no clue what she’d say. He sat at his desk, impatiently waving a hand at her. “Thrall me.”
She took a deep breath, then said, “You’re an insomniac. You speak and write at least two languages, but you have difficulty centering your thoughts enough to write anything at length. You’re obsessive-compulsive with your possessions, which leads me to think that very little of your life outside of these walls is how you want it to be. You had no friends growing up and that hasn’t changed since. You’re narcissistic—but I knew that upon first looking at you.”
He tilted his head, grudgingly impressed, though his tone was anything but. “First of all, I’m not narcissistic.” When she opened her lips to argue, he said, “I know Narkissos of Thespiae—while we might share traits, I came first, so he’s Lothairistic, not the other way around. Furthermore, I speak and write eight languages. As for my obsession with order, that’s obvious from my closet. Insomniac is easy enough to guess. The sheets are twisted.”
“And the metronome. You use it to relax you.”
Observant human. “My supposed friendless state?” She had him dead to rights there, other than his young halfling admirer.
Then Lothaire frowned. No, he’d once had a boon companion. Until I was betrayed.
“I knew by the puzzles,” Elizabeth said. “They’re a solitary recreation. A couple look very old, so I’d guess you’ve been interested in them for some time, probably since you were a boy.”
Again, how unexpected. She was actually entertaining him.
Even though I had a crisis of faith when I started this book, I was thrilled to have it completely and irrevocably restored. I was as flummoxed as Lothaire was when he realized how this woman with her limited education and lack of worldliness was his perfect match. Now I can’t imagine how I thought anyone BUT the whipsmart Ellie could be his lifelong partner.
Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin—Technically this is an urban fantasy, not a romance, but there is a definite romantic connection, not to mention intriguing obstacles to this couple’s potential happiness. Alexandra is a Toronto police officer, hot on the trail of a serial killer—who happens to be the brother of her new partner, Aramael, not that she knows that. Aramael is an angel, sent to capture his fallen angel brother, and protect Alexandra, which doesn’t always mesh with her investigation. Another problem: unbeknownst to Alexandra, she is a Naphil, the source of the rift between the various levels of angelkind, and not the person Aramael wants to have feelings for. Also, Aramael has to keep his angelic identity secret from Alexandra. . .Well, as you can see, this one is going to take a little while for the characters to work through. But it’s wonderful to watch it unfold.
Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase—Marcelline is a talented dressmaker, intent on being London’s most successful one. All she needs is a celebrity customer and her shop’s future success is assured. She sets her sights on the Duke of Clevedon’s future bride, Clara, and the way to get to her is through him. So, a duke, intending to marry another woman, and a shopkeeper, with a child from a previous marriage. . .yes, there are indeed some challenges here. The biggest one is not being able to admit their feelings for each other, so they spar instead:
“You’re big and arrogant, and I think you know just how intimidating you can be.”
“Alas, not to you.”
“Still, perhaps all is not lost,” she said. “That sort of possessive behavior is typical of your kind. Furthermore, I am your pet. You brought me to the party for your amusement. And I did make it abundantly clear to the company that I’d come to drum up business and was using you for that purpose.”
“But that isn’t what happened,” he said.
“That is exactly what happened,” she said.
“What happened was, we waltzed, and it was plain to everyone what we were doing even though we had our clothes on,” he said.
“Oh, that,” she said. “I have the same effect on every man I dance with.”
“Don’t pretend you weren’t affected as well.”
“Of course I was affected,” she said. “I never danced with a duke before. It was the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in my mediocre little bourgeois life.”
So what odd couples are your favorites?