Monday 8 February 2010

'I Love You' - Better Felt than Heard?

So last week I reviewed Bound and Determined and noted that one of the things I liked was how Sterling held back from saying 'I love you'. Meaning that when he did finally say it, it felt more honest and real.

Too often I feel that the words 'I love you', don't come with the emotional punch they should have. Usually I think because they crop up too soon in the story/relationship. As regards m/m e-books I think this is linked to the fact that there sometimes feels like there is more story that needs to be told, and as such 'I love you' comes too soon.

Part of me thinks it would be better never to hear the words and really believe that the characters felt the emotions. I only know of one series of books where that happens - The Administration Series by Manna Francis. Toreth is a sociopath and he can never vocalise what he feels for Warrick. As the series progresses, their relationship deepens but there's a sense that if Toreth ever said the words, or Warrick ever said them to him, that Toreth would literally have a stroke. His brain just cannot accept those emotions. Of course, this requires a degree of trust between author and reader, both have to take a leap of faith - the author that the reader will be able to read between the lines, and the reader that the author can be trusted. (There's also the risk that the reader will go down a blind alley with their assumptions instead of the correct plot path.)

I can understand why it's not something that happens very often - it's a risk not to spell everything out, to hope that the reader will be able to see what's there without being told. It requires more of an emotional and mental investment on behalf of the reader. And it's not something that every author would be able to pull off. To be honest, as a reader sometimes all you want is an easy read to take your mind off the crappy day you've had at work. But those are usually disposable reads.

Something that pulls you in and drags you under is more consuming. It's why I'm happy to wait for the 'I love yous'. As far as series are concerned - two or three books is great - I don't want to get to the end of book 1 and feel like everything was rushed just so we could have a fairytale ending. I think patience is a virtue. (lol).

So, what about you? Do you need to hear 'I love you'? Are you happy to wait? Would you be happy never hearing it, but knowing that the characters loved each other deeply? Do you think we hear the phrase too often, too soon, too easily?

I have a copy of Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost to give away to one commenter on this post. Poster chosen on Friday by random numbers at


Nicole said...

For me, I need to hear it at some point. This may be a personal hang-up due to having one guy too many act like he loved me but be "unable to say it." Bull.

But yeah, it does often feel like it's said just because.

Renee said...

I think I need to hear it, but I guess if the story were able to convey the emotions, then I'd buy it without the words.

Acutally, that happened for me in the Adrien English series, and when Jake finally says the words, oh, man that's my favorite scene in the series! So powerful.

You know, I've looked for the Administration series after what you've said about it. Is Mind Fuck only in print? I went to the publisher's site (Casperian), but didn't see an ebook version.

Thought provoking post, Lesley!

Kris said...

I usually need to hear 'I love yous', but I am more than happy to wait for it, especially for, as you describe it, that moment of emotional punch.

Having said that, if the author was able to convey the depth of emotion felt by one or both of the love interests without the need for words then I could more than happily live with that. It just needs to be convincing.

LesleyW said...

Nicole - I understand about how real life can influence your feelings/opinion. There are certain things I struggle to read about unless they are tackled very well. I think the luxury of fiction is that we are able to see inside the character's heads. I appreciate (especially with romances) that an 'i love you' is virtually a necessity. But I wish that some authors would wait rather than have the characters say it at the first viable oppotunity.

LesleyW said...

Renee - I have got to finish the Adrien English series. I think Mindfuck is still available to read on Manna Francis's website. Though I don't know how different it is to the print version.

LesleyW said...

Kris - I think it happens so rarely because it is difficult to pull off. For the most part I would be happier waiting for the I love you's. In Bound and Determined you felt that Sterling did have these feelings but knew he had to keep them back. It worked far better having him not say anything immediately.

Renee said...

Thanks so much for the info on Mind Fuck. I've gone ahead and grabbed it off of her site. :-)