Mostly, I am.
I adored the book The Time Traveler’s Wife, and while not strictly a Fated Mates story, the way Henry and Claire’s lives crisscrossed in time gave it that feel. It’s not a romance novel, but it is one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read.
One of my all-time favorite paranormal romances, with one of most memorable openings, is A Hunger Like No Other, the first book in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. In the first scene, the werewolf hero, who has been chained up and burning in a magical fire for something like two hundred years, smells his mate above ground on the streets of Paris and finally finds the strength to break free. There are a lot of great, fun, sexy moments in that book—an ideal fated mates story, in my mind.
Obviously, the rules of paranormal worlds vary a lot, and they change the dynamic of the Fated Mates trope quite a bit. Do creatures only ever get one mate? How do characters physically react to meeting their mate? Can a person find happiness apart from the mate? Only reproduce with their mate?
These can be some of my favorite romances, or some of my least favorite. Sometimes the rules of the world constrain the romantic relationship in a way I don’t enjoy—this happens sometimes in sequels, when the world was built around the first book and the subsequent conflicts fall short. I didn’t find this to be a problem in Cole’s series, though, because there were such a variety of creatures with different rules.
In a way, a Fated Mates story grants the characters the same knowledge every romance reader already assumes: these characters MUST end up together. Sometimes it works brilliantly, as the characters rail against their fate or one determines to sway or seduce the other with a delicious irony for the reader.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, or wine and cheese, the Fated Mates trope goes so well with another of my favorites, Enemies to Lovers. Cole has lots of these in the Immortals After Dark series–my favorite was Regin and Declan. My new release, Blood Reunited (Book Three in the Blood Vine series) is also one of these Fated Mates/Enemies to Lovers stories.
I honestly didn’t understand romance tropes well enough to know what I was doing when I first conceived of the premise of this book years ago, though now I see I stumbled upon a great set-up. I had invented a brash ancient female vampire as a secondary character, and also made one of my vampire patriarch’s sons a vampire halfling without entirely figuring how one becomes a halfling. All I knew was he was about two hundred years old and he drank bourbon, not blood.
In the epilogue of Blood Vine, when my brash vampire-ess sent a message to the Kastel Estate Winery, Bel was less than pleased to hear from her. I didn’t know why, so I had to investigate, and what I learned made me cackle with the kind of sadistic glee only authors feel toward their characters (you know, that peculiarly loving kind of sadism, because WE know what’s best for them).
Holy cow. The following parenthetical note turned out to be a whole paragraph: (I expect half of the writers reading this blog will have a heart attack to hear me say I write this haphazardly, and the other half will nod knowingly and feel solidarity. It works for me. I write myself into a puzzle, or a corner, and storytelling my way out of it is the source of a lot of my creativity. I don’t think I could publish a serial like Suzanne has, because my writing style requires a lot of mid-story revisions.)
Anyway, this is what I discovered: Vampire biologist Bel had been investigating the mystery of his existence for his whole life. Vampires can’t have babies, so how the hell was he conceived? The answer lies in an ancient and secret method which Uta helped his mother undertake. What Uta did not know was her help would cause a blood bond between she and the baby, making them mates, fated to love one another without any choice in the matter.
Uta feels guilty, Bel feels trapped. Deeper than that, they love each other in every cell. He is stubborn, brooding, and determined to use his scientific expertise to free them from the bond, once he’s saved all the vampires from their wasting disease. She is stubborn too, and her brashness covers an Atlas-like sense of responsibility for all that’s wrong with the world. And truly, I’ve never had more fun writing a story than this one, about these enemies and fated mates wading through the secrets of their past and working together to save the vampire world.
So what do you think?
Fated Mates as a trope–when does it work? When does it fail?
Do you have a favorite book or world with this trope?