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Amber’s take on Fated Mates.

the-time-travelers-wifeAre you a fan of the Fated Mates trope?

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.  a-hunger-like-no-other

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.

BloodReunited_cover (2)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?

18 thoughts on “Amber’s take on Fated Mates.

  1. Amber,
    I totally love this trope, and always have – you wrote it so beautifully between Uta & Bel. Edge of my seat – Will they? Won’t they? Will they? They have to, right? But, oh, holy goodness that line Bel tosses Uta in reference to making sure she does the job right if she wants to be a hero like his mother – NICE!

    One paranormal I loved with this trope is Lion’s Heat by Lora Leigh. That story worked for me on so many levels.

    Thanks for sharing how you puzzle yourself out of corners you’ve painted yourself into. Nods head with solidarity.

    Good luck with Blood Reunited!!

  2. Great post Amber. I think it works when it’s hard for the couple (or at least one of them) to accept the fact that fate rules…LOL. I really enjoy when the H/h take a long and winding road to HEA!

    • Debra, what a great point! I think there is always that one who has more to lose (often the paranormal one) at first. And I love it when the tables turn and suddenly its the other person who fights for the relationship!

  3. Fascinating article, Amber! King of Darkness is a fated mates story, so I guess I’m rather fond of the trope myself. I guess I have a biased opinion, but I think fated mates work when there’s still free will and maybe resistance on the part of one (preferably both) parties, like you discussed with your characters. So the story still has tension and conflict. I’ve heard the argument that fated mates stories are a foregone conclusion, but if you think about it I mean, *every* romance novel is a foregone conclusion, we just have to try to make the journey interesting. 😉

    • Yes! Exactly! That foregone conclusion thing is a fun layer of irony for me as the reader. I think you’re right about the free will part, especially when one mate is willing to suffer without the other, just to avoid them. That twist is so much fun!

  4. I do love the fated mates trope, almost all shifter series have it. But I do enjoy it more if they still have to fall in love with each other, if the one who just knows it, has to work for the other person (often the human) to accept him. Carpathians by Christine Feehan, Shifters by Jennifer Ashley.

    • Hi Aurian, you’re so right about shifters, which makes me wonder why that goes together? Not that many animals actually mate for life. Penguins, right? Maybe that will be the next big thing!

      And yes, the secret of one knowing and the other not knowing is great! The revelation of that big secret is the opening of Blood Reunited, and boy oh boy did I have fun writing that scene!

  5. I’m a fan of Fated Mates, but I’m an ever big fan of Enemies to Lovers. Something about all that snarking really ratchets up the chemistry, though I’d never want a relationship like that in real life!

    I can’t wait to read Uta’s book. She’s a fantastic character!

  6. You make an interesting distinction between romantic and romance I ended up using the fated mate trope in my story because otherwise it couldn’t be explained. I love the word brash lol
    there’s a young adult series: My sister’s a vampire. About twins one human one vamp; very cute

    • Hi Sue! Well, a romance has to have a happy ending, right? So that disqualifies some very romantic things, like Romeo and Juliet!

      Twins with one a vampire–I don’t read much YA but that does sound cute! Is it a fated mates story?

      Do you mean the attraction between the pair couldn’t be explained? Because fated mates does go very will with opposites attract!

      • No the YA is not a fated mates story –they’re high school kids.
        I used fated mates cause why else would a human want to be with a devil’s agent?

  7. Great food for thought, Amber. I’m a fan of the Fated Mates trope. And when combined with Enemies to Lovers, it’s so much fun. One of my fav. series using these tropes = Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. You already mentioned it, but I had to mention it again. 🙂

    • I’m sorry I read all those before I met you–they would have been so fun to dissect over lunch 😉 Two of my all-time favorite sex scenes in romance novels involve bathroom vanities, and one of them is in that series. A free copy of Blood Vine to anyone who can guess both. Anyone besides Celia! She already knows 😉

  8. Oh I have the fated mates with my werewolf series and I LOVE the trope of trying to figure out how these two will ever make it work… 🙂 It’s almost like paranormal’s answer to the “Arranged marriage” trope in historicals… 🙂

    Congratulations on the new release!

    Lisa 🙂

    • Yes! That’s a great connection, Lisa! Like Aurian said, I guess Wolves are very often fated mates–part of the rules of that genre. And you’re totally right…making it work is so fun!

  9. {raises a dissenting hand} Oh, I *loathe* fated mates.

    In general. Not saying it can’t ever be done well. Kresley Cole is an amazing writer. I cringed at ‘A Hunger Like No Other’ because the heroine was such a wilting weed, not because it was a fated mate story 🙂

    Maybe it’s just how authors handle the trope. Too many times, it’s: a) coupled with insta-lust, so it’s like, “oh, noes! Fate says I must shag this totally sexy man! but I am My Own Woman goddamit whatever shall I DO?!”; and/or b) used to hide the fact that there’s no real resolution of the conflict. “Sure, he’s my Ancient Clan Enemy and murdered my mother and eats babies for breakfast and but alpha dude hot smexxing orgasm OMG FATE what the hell.”

    Romance is inevitable enough without this fate business! I’d like to read a ‘fated mates’ where they’re actually physically repelled by each other. Where their conflict is actually irreconcilable, not just a matter of pride or misunderstanding or ‘you are my Ancient Enemy because THE RULES but now I don’t care because FATE’.

    I dunno. Maybe I just don’t believe in fate 😉

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