Valentine’s Day is once again bearing down upon us. It may seem churlish to dump on a day dedicated to the celebration of romantic love. But as the years have gone by, I have to admit, I’m getting pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.
Some of that is the way the holiday continues to ram tired gender roles down our throats, such as the assumption that I want flowers. No, my husband likes flowers, not me.
But mostly I think it’s all the ramped-up expectations of Happily Ever After and True Love, most of which is ultimately nonsense. Happily Ever After doesn’t just happen. Good relationships take real work. I’ve got nothing against the rush of early love, but what makes it special is the time and care taken to make it last. In fact, keeping a relationship going is way more interesting to me than the struggle to get together.
I think that’s why all of the romantic aspects of my stories seldom end with a kiss at the altar. For example, my novel My Sweet Lisa is running on this blog as a serial. It’s Book Seven in the Operation Quickline series and guess what? The logline is “It’s Real Love. Now what?” The book isn’t so much about Sid and Lisa finally accepting that they are in love with each other, but what that acceptance is going to mean for their relationship. Along with taking care of a defecting KGB agent out to play everyone against each other.
There are eight more books in this series planned, plus I’m starting a second series with these same two main characters, Sid and Lisa. I’ve strung these two along on their romantic journey longer than I have any of my other characters. In the Freddie and Kathy 1920s series, they’re married by the end of Book Two, Bring Into Bondage. There isn’t much romance in the Old Los Angeles series, but Maddie is a little too content with her widowed status. The romance is coming in that series. I just have to work out how it’s going to continue.
Valentine’s Day, without question, has its place. I like romance as a part of the books I’m reading. We do need to celebrate romantic love. It’s an important part of life. It’s just that it doesn’t end there, nor should it.