Today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is fill-in-the-blank: if you taught some sort of 101 class, on a topic of your choice, what ten books would you use as examples? I cast around for a while before choosing my topic, but once I had it I knew it was the once: Slow-Burn Romance 101. Be careful below, because each of these features pretty major spoilers for their books/series.
1. The Harry Potter series
This series is basically one big slow-burn, because the characters all start out as little kids and discover their feelings for each other slowly as the books go on. You'll notice, class, that there are two main romantic couples at the end of the book: Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione. You'll also notice that Harry and Ginny waited five (and a half) books to become official, but Ginny had been showing signs of a crush on Harry for a lot longer than that. Ron and Hermione never really seemed romantically interested in each other through the usual signs (blushing around each other, forgiving the other's faults, etc.), but it came as a shock to no one when they got together in the last book. Why? Because Hermione yelled at Ron just a little too often, and because Ron actually read that book about complimenting girls so they don't get mad at you.
2. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
Yes, class, this is the infamous Percabeth that you've heard about. The key again is to notice the little things: the way they immediately had strong (though rather negative) feelings for each other at the beginning of the first book, foreshadowing that they would always have very strong feelings for each other. The way Percy kept a picture of Annabeth in his school binder at the beginning of the second book. The way he was the most upset out of everyone else at camp when Annabeth was kidnapped by monsters in the third book. The way Annabeth is absolutely furious when she found out that Percy spent a few weeks with Calypso in the fourth book. When you add in the more obvious signs (like Annabeth kissing Percy in book four), it's extremely clear by the fifth book that Percy and Annabeth love each other - which makes it that much sweeter when they finally get together.
3. All Fall Down (Book 1 of the Embassy Row series) by Ally Carter
This one is a little bit harder, because the rest of the series isn't out yet and Grace and Alexei's relationship isn't set in stone. But I'll bet anything that they wind up together in the end, because I can sniff out the signs. Grace turns to Alexei when she becomes overwhelmed, and he knows her well enough to take her to sit on the wall and detox for a while in silence. His father wants him to steer clear of Grace, but Alexei refuses because he doesn't want to stop being with her. If these aren't the signs of a slowly blooming romance, I'll . . . I don't know, I'll eat my projector.
4. No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
Yes, class, I realize this is a Middle Grade novel. But who says there can't be great slow-burn in MG, too? The great thing about the romance between Wallace and Rachel is that you get to watch it evolve from both sides, because the story is told in multiple-POVs. At the beginning, Rachel despises Wallace as the jock who's ruining her play, and Wallace despises her for being the drama geek who starts complaining whenever he suggests a minor change to the script. They slowly begin to thaw toward each other as the story progresses and they get better acquainted. When Rachel is the only person defending Wallace when he's under attack for sabotaging the play, and Wallace is so determined not to let the real saboteur ruin her beloved play, you can see that the slow-burn has reached its peak and is ready to burst into flame.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What's a literature class without a Jane Austen book, right? Pride and Prejudice is the classic slow-burn romance novel, the one everyone points to as an example. Lizzy and Mr. Darcy's romance simmers for a long time, kept tiny by a combination of Darcy's pride (his initial refusal to dance, which puts Elizabeth on edge, and then later his reluctant to explain his past with Wickham) and Elizabeth's general stubbornness (her refusal to believe Darcy could be a decent person, her attachment to Wickham, etc). They both have to completely abandon their previous misconceptions about each other before they can get together, and so you can see their relationship grow as they slowly inch their walls down. And when Darcy pays Wickham to marry Lydia, and Elizabeth refuses to promise she won't marry Darcy, you know that things have finally come to a head.
So there we go. I've only got five today, class, because it's hard to come up with good examples of slow-burn! Have you read any good slow-burns? If so, please let me know in the comments below.