So let's talk romance! I'll be honest, romance is not the number one draw in a story for me, and when it is, I like it sweet (spice ruins the flavor). Let's review my favorite couples, shall we?
Believe it or not, this was the hardest section to decide on, not because of overwhelming options, but because since I barely read anymore, I'm not currently excited about many ships. This led me to search for the ones that *really* stuck with me, and it came down to these!
Eugenides + Irene from THE QUEEN'S THIEF
They probably have the worst baggage going into a marriage on this entire list, but despite their sometimes tumultuous relationship, Gen and Irene bring out the best in each other. He saved her humanity, and she encourages his strength. The way they love and save one another without hardly anyone else understanding what's going on is a delight to read!
Farrendel + Essie from THE ELVEN ALLIANCE
They're. Just. So. Wholesome. Social outcast, tortured war vet, elf prince marries a cheerful, optimistic human princess to bring their countries peace? Yes, pleeeease! The humor, sweetness. and tenderness brought to their romance always makes me smile.
Harry + Corlath from THE BLUE SWORD
Harry is the girl, surprise. Corlath is the hot as the burning sand desert king. And this is one of those Guy Kidnaps Girl situations that I do not approve of, but it works in this one due to the circumstances and personalities. The slow-burn way these two fall in love, draw out each other's power, and save their people somehow stuck with me years later. It's understated, but in the best way.
Sam + Sybil from GUARDS! GUARDS and other DISCWORLD books
Ah, these two. THESE TWO. This gruff, jaded street cop and this big-hearted, lonely, eccentric, keeps-small-dragons-instead-of-cats fine lady. So unlikely, so not perfect on the surface, but so much realer and warmer than many a romance I have read. And I love to see the family they build as the series progresses!
Jacin + Winter from THE LUNAR CHRONICLES
These books are famous for their shippable, likeable characters, and I probably chose the most underrated one? But even though it's been so long since I read these books, I looove them. I love their dynamic. The stone walls he lowers only for her, her playfullness with him. Ugh, it's the literal Sunshine + Sunshine Protector trope, and I realize that's a trope that I keep repeating on this list.
Seri x Captain Ri from CRASH LANDING ON YOU
Have you watched Kdramas? If not, start with this one. This is the one that finally hooked me on Kdramas, and even now, it's my favorite. Action, comedy, tragedy, romance, and friendship all served in the most well-balanced five-course meal. It has great acting, clean content, gorgeous music, and fabulous writing, and ugh, just ugh. Anyway, ABOUT the couple. They're the best. They just ARE, okay?
Hiccup + Astrid from HTTYD
I've talked about them in other posts, but I adore the way they grow. From socially awkward Hiccup and overly aggressive Astrid to this confident and courageous chief and chieftess. *chef's kiss* 10/10 character development, Dreamworks.
Rapunzel + Eugene from TANGLED
Yes, I still consider them the best couple Disney ever gave us, no, I don't think that opinion will change. I shall say no more, because I assume you know why they're on this list.
Woo Young-Woo + Lee Junho from EXTRAORDINARY ATTORNEY WOO
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is another Kdrama I recommend, though I'll give a warning for some tough, traumatic themes in a few episodes due to the characters being lawyers. Every single relationship and friendship in here is a treasure, but one of the best is the main romance between our sweet and brilliant heroine and her equally sweet man. The way the learn about each other and navigate the difficulties and triumphs of their romance is extremely heartwarming.
Ashitaka + San from PRINCESS MONONOKE
I've told you before that Ashitaka is the Perfect Guy, and I'll say it again. He's the main reason for this romance being on the list. San is pretty stubborn and brutal, to the point I'm sometimes not sure what he sees in her? But I ship it because his selfless, almost Christ-like love is so steadfast that it makes me happy to see her melt into it.
Speaking of Studio Ghibli, every single of of their romances are so wonderful, I could make a list solely for them. And I'm ashamed to say, but I forgot about Shizuku and Sheji from WHISPER OF THE HEART and they probably deserve this spot on the list, cause I LOVE THEM PRECIOUS BEANS.
Link + Zelda from THE LEGEND OF ZELDA
Really, it doesn't matter WHICH Link and Zelda, they're all golden (and no, i don't mean, just golden-haired, ha.) But my definite favorites are BOTW Zelink and Skyward Sword Zelink! The Knight and His Princess trope is something Nintendo still isn't afraid to make cool, and I appreciate that.
Zack + Aeirth from FINAL FANTASY VII
Crisis Core (the original, better voice-acting) broke my heart exactly as my friend warned it would, but not before Zack and Aerith's relationship had stolen that heart entirely. There's something so precious and unique about it, and I think that's because Zack himself is so different of a soldier hero? He's so warm and friendly and funny. A little obnoxious at first, but quickly matured by war. And yet he never loses that great personality, and Aerith....well, she's just an angel. They were perfect for one another. They still are.
Narius + Vette from STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
I hovered over my brother's shoulder a lot as a teenager as he played this massive RPG game, and we both agreed that the best story-line in it belonged to the Sith Warrior played Light Side (yes, that was an option) and the incredible chemistry he had with his sidekick, Vette. And not only was romance an option, but so was marriage, so woooo! These two could defeat the galaxy with their combined snark and sass. Unfortunately, Narius was custom created by my brother, so you won't see any more Narius and Vette art running around the internet. Le sigh.
Lumine + Xiao
Yet another massive RPG, and one that I've recently been immersed (deep) in. This is probably the least canon ship on the list as it's mainly personal choice? Most relationships in Genshin are left at friendship, with material to read into. And IMO, the Xiao and Lumine content is VERY READABLE as romance. It's got all your good romance patterns, and some of my very favorites: "Secret Softie Buried Under Scars is discovered by Literal Sunshine."
"He Would Die For Her, but now He Will Live For Her, Not Just Survive."
"If She Says So, Absolutely."
"They're healing each other, Your Honor."
Cloud + Tifa from FFVII
And what do you know, those same tropes above also apply to these two. I told you, I've got like four Sunshine + Sunshine Protector's on this list! Also, if you look up Tough and Tender in the dictionary, you should find a picture of Tifa. I'm not saying that you WILL, but you SHOULD. And Cloud is that soft, little, fluffy baby chick that grew up into salty fried chicken. And once again, they heal TOGETHER.
And that probably summarizes all these romances on this list. Because the characters are great on their own, but together? Together, they can reach the stars.