Top Ten Tuesday: All About Love

Posted February 13, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 24 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a love-themed freebie.

There are some relationships in books which live in my head rent-free, so this list is about all of those. The books aren’t necessarily romances (though some of them are) — just books where a central relationship has well and truly taken up a place in my own heart. I stuck to romantic relationships, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, though platonic relationships are the beating heart of many stories, and I love them too!

Cover of The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System vol 4 by MXTX Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison Cover of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews Cover of Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

  1. Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe (The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù). Let’s start with an obvious and recent one. Sure, it took until the third book for me to be really swept away, and the fourth book (which contains short stories from various parts of the story’s timeline) to really cement it… but now I’m actually rereading the series (already!) to better understand these characters, what makes them tick, and especially Luo Binghe’s thoughts during certain parts of the plot. I’m not saying this is an exemplary relationship or something: these guys are messed up. But I love them.
  2. Maia Drazhar and Csethiro Ceredin (The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison). I love The Goblin Emperor so much, though I’d be delighted to get a little more “screen time” for Csethiro. I love that she’s clever, that she’s not willing to just do anything to marry an emperor, and that she genuinely comes to care for Maia. Her scenes are some of my favourites in the book, and I’d love to have seen a lot more of her.
  3. Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring (Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman). These two are just so cute, and come of age together in a way that… yeah, maybe I’m a bit envious of. Like Charlie, I was outed at school, but it didn’t go as well for me (and it didn’t go great for Charlie, at least at first). They’re just solid and wholesome and maybe a little too ideal at times, but it’s nice to be reminded that that genuinely happens for some people.
  4. Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart (Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews). I had so much fun reading this series, and part of it is the bond that gets forged between these two. They’re both strong, stubborn, and in need of one another — and they can only really win by leaning on each other, trusting each other, and trusting that the other won’t break. It takes time for them to get there, but once they do, they’re unstoppable.
  5. Philip Rookwood and Guy Frisby (Band Sinister, by KJ Charles). This is one of my favourite of KJ Charles’ books. I was originally going to pick a different couple of hers, Kim Secretan and Will Darling from Slippery Creatures… but Philip and Guy are the ones I first really fell in love with, in Charles’ work. I enjoyed her work before, but the way this relationship works — the communication and care that Philip teaches Guy — sticks in my head more than anything.
  6. Griffin Moss and Sabine Strohem (Griffin & Sabine, by Nick Bantock). Part of the attraction here is the mystery of it, it must be said: why are they connected? How? And let’s be fair, the novelty of the presentation of this book is a huge part of my fondness for it. But even still, I find myself thinking about these two sometimes. I’d love to read the sequel trilogy, though the books tend to be pretty expensive.
  7. Tobias Finch and Henry Silver (Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh). It’s funny remembering how mad I was about the start of Drowned Country when these two were clearly not together anymore, ha. The duology handles this relationship in a lovely way, and it’s one thousand percent worth reading Drowned Country as well… but it didn’t start with them in the position I really wanted to see them in: secure and safe with one another. Drowned Country develops their relationship and their individual characters beautifully, though.
  8. Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey (Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers). In a way, these two should probably have been first on my list. In the end, I think Sayers’ books became much more about illuminating the relationship between these two characters (and what it says about each of them, singly and together), more than the mystery plots they were wrapped around. The mysteries were intrinsic to Peter Wimsey’s life, but once Harriet came along, she quickly became the guiding star (both for him, and for me as the reader).
  9. Sir Gawain and Rhian (Camelot’s Shadow, by Sarah Zettel). I love Sir Gawain as a character, though I’m often picky about how he’s deployed. Zettel understands the dream of Camelot very well, and handles a bunch of disparate myths and stories fascinatingly to create her world where the sons of Lot of Orkney are central to that dream. Gawain and Rhian in particular stick in my mind, though I love all four of the novels. To be honest, it’s probably part of why I’m so fascinated by Gawain.
  10. Charlotte Neville and Karl von Wultendorf (A Taste of Blood Wine, by Freda Warrington). It’s been a long time since I read these books, but I keep thinking about reading them again, because I loved the way they handled the vampires — frightening, amoral, intense, and alluring all the same. Warrington went to town with her vampire romance, fully cognisant of what she was doing, and it makes for a lush story. You can’t say Charlotte and Karl have a healthy relationship, but it’s a powerful one that sticks in the mind, and there’s no doubt of their love.

Cover of Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock Cover of Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh Cover of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Camelot's Shadow by Sarah Zettel Cover of A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington

Are there any literary couples that stick in your mind? I feel like I could go on and on, especially with KJ Charles’ characters… and I didn’t mention Jordan L. Hawk, or Cat Sebastian!

Very curious to see where other people have taken this freebie week!

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24 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: All About Love

    • Haha, some of my choices weren’t actually from romance-focused books — and I was veeery tempted to write about platonic relationships instead, but I decided to stick closer to the spirit of the theme.

  1. An interesting list. I’ve not read any of these. I want to read Heart stopper, but I am put off by the whole graphic novel thing. I struggle with that format in terms of reading a comic and so I have never seriously sat and given a graphic novel a proper go.

    Have a great week!

    • I’d say Heartstopper is pretty straightforward as comics go — it’s not too adventurous about the form, and the art is easy to follow! So it might make a good way to dip your toes in (and each volume is a pretty quick read).

  2. I really loved Philip and Guy in Band Sinister, too. Nick and Andy from Cat Sebastian’s We Could Be So Good are also in my top picks for favorite literary couple. Lord Hawthorn and Alan from Freya Marske’s series also come to mind, along with the other main couples from that series. There’s just too many great couples to pick. I could go on forever. lol.

  3. This is a great list, and I love that you chose books where the romance stood out to you as central to the story, even if it wasn’t necessarily a romance book. I haven’t read any of these books, but so many of these couples sound interesting enough to make me want to add the book to my TBR (if it isn’t already on there).

    • Sometimes it’s the relationships between characters that really make a book, isn’t it? Though in some of the ones on my list the romance is just part of the overall development of the character, even so it adds so much.

  4. Nick and Charlie also live in my head rent-free, and I’m sad to see their story coming to an end (but also completely content to know that they will for sure get a happy ending that’s sure to warm my heart). I absolutely love Tobias and Henry, too! They’re so different, but so incredibly perfect for each other.
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