A lot of the books I read start with a female protagonist who meets a male during her attempt to fix whatever problem the book deals her–solve a murder, go on a quest, conquer a villain. Almost the minute the two meet, readers know this is the beginning of a romance subplot. And we want the two to get together.
This is just me, but I can’t help it, when there’s a love triangle, I’m done. I hate them. I don’t know how many series I’ve stopped reading because the author keeps bouncing the heroine between two men, trying to decide which one is right for her. Ugh! I especially hate it when I like them both, and one of them gets hurt. Then I’m down for the count. Goodbye, series.
One of the gimmicks I like is the enemy to lover romance meme. The hero and heroine meet, and she instantly dislikes him. Could be for good reasons. Sometimes not. I don’t care. He’s usually haughty. She’s independent and feisty, and the two don’t mix. But he wants her. And she swears it’s not going to happen. But it always does:) Because we know they’re meant for each other. I’m thinking of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniel series with Curran and Kate. Pride and Prejudice, and lots of paranormal romances. I’m a sucker for these. M.L. Rigdon’s romances often use these, and I can’t wait until the heroine realizes the hero APPEARS to be a pain in the fanny but is actually the perfect man for her.
In standalone novels, one book solves all the problems between the male/female mating dance. In a series, it might take longer than that. I’m thinking of the Lady Darby historical mysteries by Anna Lee Huber. Lady Darby and Sebastian met in book one, and the attraction was strong, but he had obligations he had to meet and left at the end of book one. And so on and so on until they finally married in a novella, book 4. I’m a fan of Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap series, but if Greg and Jill don’t finally tie the knot in book 15, I’m going to be frustrated. Sexual tension can only go on so long. Enough is enough. And that’s the game plan for romances in series. When do the protagonist and hero resolve the back and forth and become a couple?
The next important question is What do they do after that? I have to say, Ilona Andrews and Anna Lee Huber are great with life after marriage. Instead of working separately to solve problems, the hero and heroine team up to work on them together. And that can be more fun than the romantic part. In M.L. Rigdon’s latest series, The Seasons of War, Torak works hard to win Sorda in book one and by book three, they’re battling the evil sorceress trying to overtake both of their countries together. After marriage…or becoming a couple…the hero and heroine become stronger as a team than they were separately. https://www.amazon.com/GRACARIN-SEASONS-WAR-Book-ebook/dp/B07XBMCYNT/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1660939110&refinements=p_27%3AM.L.+Rigdon&s=digital-text&sr=1-3&text=M.L.+Rigdon
Romance novels are almost always standalones. Boy meets girl. Boy struggles to win girl. Boy finally succeeds. But it’s a different process in a series. Then, the romance is a subplot, and it might go on book after book. I happen to enjoy the couples who become a working unit that’s hard to trick or defeat. But all’s fair in love and war. And to each his own.