Monday, January 21, 2013

What the Feck (WTF): Love Triangles, Love or Hate Them?



What the Feck?! (WTF?!) 
Is a new feature here at The Book Nympho.
Every Monday we will post a book related topic 
that had us thinking WTF?! while reading a book 
or talking to others in the book community.





Love Triangles 
When do they work and 
when do they just drive you to drink?
by Jonetta


I’ve often wondered what’s going through an author’s mind as she’s creating a story where the main character gets entangled with two desirable people. Isn’t the author running the risk of disappointing some of her readers with the ultimate choice (unless it’s erotica and a ménage is the solution)? One of the characters is going to be on the losing end of the deal and will be hurt. I’m not talking about those stories where the choice is fairly obvious, one character being so unsuitable you know it’s just a matter of time before the true couple ends up together. Most of the really good stories featuring a love triangle don’t draw the lines so simply or neatly. The great stories make it even more difficult. So, that brings me back to what was the author thinking?

Before I get too far along on this topic, I must admit that I have avoided storylines with love triangles like a flu virus! I’m pretty soft-hearted and empathetic; I will feel the character’s pain long after I’ve finished the book. That’s not where I want to be so why even choose to go there. One of the reasons why I don’t read much in the YA genre is because most seem to always involve a love triangle and a lot of young angst (I don’t like recalling from my own youth). Why are they at the center of so many YA books and series or have I just picked the wrong books? I don’t remember having THAT many choices at that age. Is this a part of the story you enjoy?

Well, recently, I’ve had reason to rethink my decision to run away from these books. In the last month, I read two books where a love triangle was the central theme of both, one I stumbled into and the other I picked up with full knowledge of what I was getting into. Both were emotional rides but were so well written that I ended up feeling great when they ended.

So why have a triangle? Does it make the story better in some way? What I noticed with one of the stories (Paradise Hops by Liz Crowe) was I ended up getting immersed in the characters, knowing their true motives and emotions (she really mastered the presentment of three points of view using a third person narrative!). My reading preference seems to be character driven so this really worked for me. Liz clearly wanted her readers to be as conflicted about the situation as the heroine and mission accomplished! There were times when I couldn’t decide which guy I wanted – really! There was no way I was going to be disappointed in the end since both were equally appealing…and flawed.

The times when a triangle doesn’t seem to work so well is when the situation is soooo drawn out, especially in a series where it keeps going book after book. You end up wishing they would both go away and leave the character high and dry. I haven’t read the books but I’ve seen many complaints by followers of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. She’s at 19 books and Stephanie still hasn’t chosen between Ranger and Joe Morelli but her readers seem to be entrenched in one camp or the other. I bailed after the first book.

I started Rachel Vincents' Shifter series and really liked the first book. But, it was sort of clear that Faythe wasn’t all that ready to truly commit to Marc, or at least Jace was going to be an ongoing, trouble making distraction. Bailed again.

Another series where the love triangle had me conflicted (this was the stumble I referred to earlier) was Allison Pang’s Abby Sinclair series. Brystion and Talivar couldn’t be more different and offered Abby very different things emotionally. I went back and forth between these two and Trace of Moonlight, the 3rd book in the series, didn’t really make it clear who won, which in an odd way worked for me. I’m almost hoping this is the last book…

I read a western historical romance last year by Lorraine Heath where the heroine’s lover left to seek his fortune before he found out she was pregnant. Her father’s ranch foreman stepped up and married her to protect her good name. Of course, you know what happened next. After these two found affection, the baby was born and they were living a good life, the baby’s daddy shows back up, ready to collect his family. I bawled my eyes out and this book, Sweet Lullaby, ranks as my most favorite romance book…ever.

I’m now completely hooked by a series with the ultimate in love triangles. Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series keeps me up at night. Chess drives me nuts when she runs to Lex whenever she hits the ditch with Terrible or some other problem arises. Of course, Chess should be with Terrible and just ditch Lex. The problem is, every time I think I can put Lex in a little box and make him unworthy, he shows another side of himself. No, I’ll never change my mind about Chess and Terrible being THE couple, but I’m getting myself prepared to end up feeling bad about Lex and that’s not where I want to be.

Here are some other popular characters and their books/series featuring love triangles. Do you have others on your list? (I’m only through the first book for some of these so the triangles may already be resolved.)


  • Mercy, Adam and Samuel (Mercy Thompson series) 
  • Claire, Jamie and Frank (Outlander series) 
  • Merit, Ethan and Morgan (Chicagoland Vampires – I’m only at Book #2) 
  • Mac, Barrons and V’lane (Fever series) 
  • Elena, Phillip and Clayton (Bitten, Women of the Otherworld series) 
  • Charley, Reyes and Garrett (Charley Davidson series)


I think I’m now at the point where I’ve got to admit that I must not really hate a love triangle as I love too many of these characters and stories. So, maybe “hate” is too strong of an emotion but some do just drive me to at least want a drink.

Where are you with these three-way relationships? Do they make you crazy or do they actually work for you on some level? Or maybe it’s just a love-hate relationship that you can’t do without. Whatever it may be, we’re interested.





26 comments:

  1. I'm not a fan of the love triangle. I think it is way over used in most stories. I haven't read all the stories you listed above, but I've read several of them.

    If it is done well, you can see the main character grow and determine the right person for you. For example, Chess, Terrible and Lex. Chess is going through some tough times, and let's face it, she isn't known for making the best decisions. I'm not sure she would've realized how much she wanted Terrible if there wasn't that scene in the graveyard with Lex.

    The same is true for Faith and Marc. Though, not to the same extent. I think Faith saw Marc as trying to push her to be someone she wasn't. He really wasn't. It took her a while to figure that out.

    There are more, some are done better than others. I just get sick of them because it seems like the author is doing it to follow the special formula to get a best seller (i.e. 1980's hard rock bands). I have never had a love triangle stop me from reading a book, but it could pull down how much I like the book or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That graveyard scene ripped me apart, too. Though I've never stopped reading a book because of a love triangle, I have stalled on a series.

      Delete
  2. I actually don't mind a love triangle. I think its nice to read each authors take on it. As you said, some are done well, & some aren't. I have to be in the mood though. If I'm in the mood for a quick, easy read that won't leave me devastated afterwards, I won't pick up love triangle. I know what usually happens with them. I am a fan of The Stephanie Plum series. It doesn't piss me off like it does alot of her fans. I know what I'm getting when I read Janet Evanovich, a screwball Romantic Comedy!! The Joe, Stephanie & Ranger triangle is fluffy & unrealistic. I read the books for what they are, a fun read that always makes me smile at the end :) Its not the same kind of triangle as other hard-hitting books are, like Megan Hart's 'Tempted' or the ones you mentioned. I won't turn down any book if it peaks my interest, so I've read a bunch of love triangles. One I know that is going to devastate me is the Ryo-Dani-Christian triangle that KMM is setting up. I can't wait to read what KMM does with that mess!! She is a literary genius though, so I have no doubt she will blow me away :) I've actually only ever read two YA series, and both had annoying love triangles. I'll stick to my adult love triangle books, thank-you-very-much! :D Fun topic!!!

    -Selena Mc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your point of view about Joe, Stephanie and Ranger. Taking it in as a comedy probably helps.

      Uh, oh. I haven't started Ice yet....

      Delete
  3. Love triangles have been over done but with that being said there are a few authors that can do them right.

    What I've noticed is that for the most part they are about 1 chick and 2 dudes (at least in the books I've read). Is this because it's a woman's fantasy to have two hot guys fight over them?

    Or is it because most of the books I read have women as main characters?

    Where's the books where the dude has two chicks fighting over him? LOL

    I'm reminded of a scene in a movie where a guy asked why all the guys are falling over one girl, "does this chick have beer favored nipples?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I can't think of an example where it's two women and one guy. That's probably because we'd have issues with it:)

      Delete
    2. How strange...I just finished a mystery, Rules of Prey, and there were THREE women involved with the main character, only two with any meaning but I found myself very irritated with him. I was surprised by just how much it distracted me from the main story.

      Delete
  4. I can't do love triangles. They drive me crazy. I too love the Downside series and this last book just about killed me. As much as I love it, if Chess ever hurt Terrible in that way I'd stop reading the series because my heart would just break.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't even plant that seed about Chess and Terrible:) The cemetery scene was tough enough!

      Delete
  5. I agree with your Chicagoland Vampires Series as a pick. Ethan, Merit and Morgan triangle drive me nuts! It has been drawn-out waaay too much. I've finished reading the series up to book #5. This past new release and the one coming I believe next month I'm waiting-on reading them and future installments. I've come to the point of throwing-up my hands with this series UNTIL it's finished. And then I will reevaluate it at that point. I might then finish it but that's a BIG maybe. Who knows. At this point of time I just don't care anymore either way.

    I did absolutely ADORE Abby Sinclair series though. I've always loved Brystion (ION) more than Taliver. I liked Taliver as a character but Brystion always seemed so much more appealing to me.

    I have the the first three audiobooks of the Downside Series to-read yet so I can't say. I have the Fever series in audio too (up to the newest release) on my to-read shelf. And the Mercy series (up to book #5) on my kindles to-read shelf. Ya'll have me a little worried about these series. I really hope they're not anything like the Chicagoland series. *crosses fingers* I just can't stand to read another one of those.
    DeAnna Schultz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could have just as easily been Team Brystion and I went back and forth!

      Don't let me scare you off Downside! I am SO hooked and the audio format is outstanding. I'm waiting on the 5th book now. Me, who hates triangles, loves this one:)

      Delete
  6. HATE IT! It's very rare that this happens in real life regardless if the H/h is hot or not. Now crushes I do believe that you can have a lot of those at the same time. Crushing on a fine attached dude is one thing, getting bent over them at first sight/encounter isn't very common. Plus they make the girls slutty. Not desirable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! I definitely would hate it in real life!

      Delete
  7. It really doesn't bother me as long as it's not the main plot of the book. If the book has more going on than just the romance I'm good. I am Team Terrible all day but I have to say Lex is starting to grow on me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, that's what scares me...that Lex will get under my skin!

      Most of the time when I happen upon a book with a love triangle, it seems to end dominating the story.

      Delete
  8. I'm not a big fan of love triangles, especially if they go on for more than a couple books. Just pick and move on! I haven't read any series where the actual triangle goes on and on without resolution. Suzanne Johnson's Sentinals of New Orleans has a love square (3 males suitors!) and so far (2 books) it's not annoying - mostly because our heroine hasn't really chosen to be with any of them to a serious degree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It often makes more of a difference when the heroine has her toes in both ponds. Those I have issues with.

      Delete
  9. I. Hate. Love. Triangles. It's the main reason why I don't read YA very often. I hate the whole "Team" thing too.

    There are times when the a love triangle can add to the suspense, but ultimately, I think Guy B always feels like a plot device and I can never take him seriously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get it! I wonder why this plot device is used so much in YA stories.

      Delete
  10. I hate them when the author keeps them going for too long. Case in point, Stephanie Plum; I waited until book nine, and then I said "NO MAS"
    Some of the other stories I didn't mind, Mercy and Claire picked pretty quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mercy and Claire DID resolve theirs very early on, pretty much in the first book. While Claire's was a more complicated situation (and well written), Mercy's conflict was never exploited in the story. They're good examples of how to do it right.

      Delete
  11. Hate them! :) I didn't realize you had just done a write up so I am going to reference yours in my write up on Monday. I haven't met a triangle yet that I love. I have met a few that I accept but still didn't love. There are a few that I don't ever think of them as love triangles (Jamie/Claire/Frank, Mercy/Adam/Samuel , Charly, Reyes, Garrett (if only because I think Cookie is her soulmate--yes in a non-sexual way but they would make great old biddies together) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! I'm reading your blog on the topic now.

      Delete
  12. Love love triangles! However....there are books that do not need them. When they get incorporated into these books, it often feels unnecessary, and I'll call those out in my reviews.
    Like Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi: [SPOILER ALERT] Kirra is a necessary character to the book, but there was NO reason for her to get involved in one of the main characters of the book, and create a love triangle. The book could have stood on its own without it. [/SPOILER ALERT]

    Not ever book needs a triangle to be interesting and have that chemistry.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've never been a fan about love triangles. Actually, let me rephrase this: I hate them. I feel like only very few books/stories actually need them. Yes, there are some great stories with love triangles. But I just feel like the character's not in true love if she flips so easily between characters.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.