Something that piqued my interest was today's discussion of the romance element and its varying levels of importance. I'm currently reading a book called "A Discovery of Witches," a new urban fantasy novel set in Oxford. The protagonist is a witch in her mid-20s, and the principle love interest is (surprise surprise) a vampire. The plot of the book involves an ancient conspiracy, evil witches, all that good, solid epic stuff. BUT. So much of the book (the first half, anyway; I haven't suckerpunched my way through the rest yet) is caught up in this romantic subplot that it turns into the main plot. All the focus is on when the characters will get together, and whether it's destiny, and if Matthew will manage to curb his hunger for Diana's extra-tasty witch blood, blah, blah, blah. This is within the first 100 pages of the novel, mind you, and that just strikes me as ridiculously unnecessary for anyone but Nora Roberts. I picked up this book for the magical elements and the nifty ambiance of the setting, not for a painfully predictable romance that plays out with practically zero tension after the initial meeting.
But, had I read this book when I was in my early teens, I probably would have been all over it. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I loved that starcrossed lover bullshit. I loved the predictable impossibility of the vampire/mortal relationship; I loved the equally predictable tension as the plucky heroine struggled not to fall for the smoldering, edged-with-danger hero; I loved it all. Now, as a college student in my early 20s, it bores me and I'm having trouble finding motivation to finish the novel. I don't really have a final point in all this. Just found it interesting how much that element of romance means to different age groups, and how much it can really affect the success of a novel.