So I'm reading a book and it's pretty good. I like the protagonist, I like the writing style, the plot is gripping and intriguing. Mid-way through the protagonist is being lead somewhere and realizes this boy he only met once and barely had any interaction with is a woman. Well no problem there, how he recognizes her gender is pretty well thought out. And then, from out of left field, he thinks she's the most beautiful thing in all creation and I want to throw the book across the room.
Another book, a fascinating guy, an interesting character, sees this beautiful healer and BAM instant I'll die for you I love you blah blah blah allow me to scream bullshit and another book dents the wall.
I hate this trope. I hate it so much. So so much. It's as if the men only fall in love with the women because they are beautiful and the women, naturally, love them back because it is true love, love at first sight and blah blah blah. Can love at first sight happen? Sure I guess. I'm not debating it. But there are two things about this trope that really grind my gears.
1) The woman gets no characterization other than how she relates to the male lead.
No really. She's beautiful/sexy and that's it. Oh, sometimes they'll throw in things like, she's really not a stereotype because she can fight. Fighting ability does not a character make. I don't care how many hobbies you give her, if she is just there for the hero to bicker with/save/have sex with/whatever--with no problems of her own except to serve for angst fuel or a chance for the hero to save her she is a token chick, flat and thin as cardboard.
In relation to this, she is almost always beautiful, the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder but how funny, everyone else seems to think she's beautiful too.
I haven't seen this trope too much reversed. Like a female heroine falling in love with a man just because he's hot. Usually there's something about his personality that attracts her. Of course this leads to the girl loving the guy who is an asshole but at least he is more developed than simply being a beautiful woman.
2) It's lazy. So lazy. Oh they love each other. The only arguments they have is because she is a spitfire and doesn't need help from any man! rawr rawr! The fighting is lazy conflict. Oh but they do love each other because of course after that they sleep together. That's not love, that's lust and it's also lazy.
I want to see characters who build up a romance. Who are both unique characters in and of themselves with good sides and bad sides. I want to see compromise. I want to see them trying to build a relationship and go through all the ruffles and problems real people going through a relationship have. Otherwise, I cannot and will not buy it as any sort of romance. I want them to know each other, get to know each other, be there for each other and not take any bullshit from the other. I want to see partners as well as lovers.
Also it would be nice to see a little less heteronormativity but that is another rant for another day. But at least in the few non-hetero fantasies/stories I've read such as The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling or The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon, the couples know each other as people before they fall in love and forming that love and keeping the love going is a work in progress. It never becomes perfect. They always have to work at it. I couldn't say this is true for all non heteronormative fiction and I doubt it is but these are the best examples.
The point is love is stronger when it has to be worked at. Love is stronger when you know your partner. Love is a continuing process. It's compromise, it's hard, it's more than just she's beautiful/he's dangerous we snipe but I really love him/her forever.
Don't be afraid to take that leap...