Michaeline: How Do You Know?

Is it in his protective stance? Is it in his quick thinking? Or is it in that adorable curly hair? How do you know when it's love? (Via Wikimedia)

Is it in his protective stance? Is it in his quick thinking? Or is it in that adorable curly hair? How do you know when it’s love? (Via Wikimedia)

One of the fun things about blogging is hearing different points of views. When I did my piece on Groundhog Day, I got to see that in action, and I could “see” from those points of view for a little bit. A nice little vacation from my own brain!

I had to agree with Kay that Andie MacDowell is not my favorite actress, and that her character, Rita, was a bit dishraggy. Ie: limp and wet, without much agency. I think Jilly pointed this out, too. It’d be a better story (maybe) if Rita had more power and characterization – but it also might be a different story. The point of Groundhog Day is that many of us live the same days over and over again, without much satisfaction. How can we break that cycle? Rita was part of the cycle, not part of the solution. And I think that’s the way this story has to go. Change must come from within, at least in this story.

I did learn a little bit about love, though, from Rita. How do we know when it’s really, truly love? I think for a romantic story, there has to be some sort of physical feeling – some fizzy whizbang that makes the reader empathize and melt a little bit. But, we’ve all read stories and seen in real life cases where the physical has not been enough for a Happily Ever After. He’s a good kisser, but he can’t keep a job, and he abandons his partner. She’s hot as all-get-out, but she can’t hold a conversation and terrible with money.

How do we know, when we can’t trust our heart?

Well, Rita gets proof. First, she sees the approval of the community. She’s not just relying on her judgment, but the judgment of other people. Second, she sees that he’s a good man to other people, not just to her. With these external validations, when Phil is put up on the bachelor’s auction block, she is spurred to acknowledge that she wants this guy, and if she wants him, she better win the bidding or lose him for the night.

She gets a third validation when she sees a snow sculpture that he’s made of her. She realizes that he sees her with a loving eye, and that she is beautiful. She feels this is the truth, and she trusts him. A lot has been said about “the male gaze” – I haven’t seen so much about “the female gaze” but being seen as beautiful or handsome can be a powerful aphrodisiac for either sex.

Of course, none of these are fool-proof. The loving heart is blind, the community sees only the facade, a partner may love and care for others but neglect his or her spouse, and of course, we know how an artist can lie. But all these things taken together . . . it could mean a Happily Ever After. At least, hope springs eternal in the human breast.

How do you know? Is it in his kiss?

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: How Do You Know?

  1. I think you definitely need a fizzy whizbang, a physical something, and in a romance novel that has to be there right from the start. I think it must be chemistry, some kind of physical super-awareness or response. I don’t think it has to be insta-lust. It can be – there’s very hot and heavy insta-lust on both sides in Lord of Scoundrels, and Loretta Chase makes it sexy and funny – but I think it’s been over-used and often in the worst kind of heavy-handed way, and that’s tiresome to read.

    I do think you need more than a whizz-fizz though. We all love the airconditioner in Agnes and the Hitman because it’s such a non-romantic gift which is so perfect. Shane sees what Agnes needs most and makes it happen, no fanfare, no fuss. He demonstrates that he understands her and makes her needs a priority. Love Shane. I already bashed Andie and Bill, so I won’t go there again 😉 .

    • It’s true that you need more than fizzy floaty feelings to get an HEA. Phil and Rita don’t really show an instant attraction to each other that I can see — or maybe it’s the minuses that tamp down their initial reactions. Phil doesn’t want ties, period. Rita sees Phil as shallow and immature and only concerned with himself — and she’s right! But there are lovely moments.

      One of my favorite scenes in the film is where he’s desperately trying to recreate one of those perfect, lovely moments, and ruins it because he is so impatient. He’s following a script, and it shows.

  2. I just started reading J.D. Robb’s (okay, Nora’s) In Death series and I think the spark between Dallas and Roarke is just about perfect. (After I posted my first review on Goodreads, one of my sisters said, “I didn’t know you liked to read mysteries” and I thought, “I’m reading it for the romance” Although I do like the occasional mystery.) Early on, Roarke, who owns 28% of the known universe, gives Dallas two gifts: real coffee from his coffee plantation in South America and, even more telling, he gets the heater in her cruiser fixed so she’s not shivering in the cold. The coffee says, “I know you,” and the repair says “I want to care for you.” Roarke made me take a step back and realize just how far short I fell with my demon hero.

    • (-: In general, I don’t like mysteries. The world is mean and nasty, and there are several people who would like to kill a person. But if it’s got great characterizations, and at least some redeeming qualities, the darkness is a very nice counterpoint to the lightness of the physical feelings. Sometimes you have to go waaay dark in order to feel the happiness and light.

  3. Instead of insta-lust, there can also be insta-dislike. IMHO, that trope has to be used with a light touch. When this goes on too long or when there is too good a reason for the h/h to dislike each other, I root for their HEAs to happen with someone else.

    • Oh, yes. “There’s a fine line between love and hate,” the narrator intones in a fruity voiceover while the heroine (usually the heroine) pitches a temper tantrum. Used correctly, it can intensify the arc. But used incorrectly, it makes some important character look either dumb or petty. Or both.

      I think it was handled fairly well in “In Happened One Night” though. More distrust than dislike, though. They come to trust each other through well-crafted incidents, though. Although, at the end, he relapses into distrust which he probably shouldn’t . . . . But it made the plot move.

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