Romances I mostly dislike: Insta-love romances.
Romances I mostly despise: Obsessive angst-filled romances.
Nevertheless, I do often like a romance element in fantasy novels, particularly if it slow or subtle or both. So:
Super-slow romances in SFF: I mean the kind of romance where the protagonist may not even realize that romance is in the offing till the second book. *That* slow. Here are five SFF romances that are particularly slow to develop:
CJ Cherryh – Morgaine tetralogy. Cherryh gets all the way to the 4th books before she moves ahead with the romance element.
CJ Cherryh – Paladin. A single book, but a long one, over the course of which the two main characters’ relationship slowly shifts from master-student to commitment and understated love.
Andrea K Höst – Touchstone trilogy — I was going to stick to fantasy rather than SF, but I particularly love this very slow romance. I just *love* how Cassandra hardly even notices Kaoren at first. And even though she is a little obsessive for a while, not annoyingly so.
Lindsay Buroker – the Emperor’s Edge series. Sicarius is admittedly more than a bit over the top. But I love the relationship between him and Amaranthe.
Naomi Novik — Uprooted — not quite as slow because it’s one book rather than a series, but it certainly feels slow as you read the story.
Subtle romances are a little different from slow-burn romances. These are a handful of romances where you frankly might miss the romance entirely if you weren’t paying attention, at least at first. The author really puts the romance in the background, where it may be super important, but definitely does not spatter the entire book with little glittering hearts.
CJ Cherryh – The Goblin Mirror. A slow, subtle story in general, with a *very* subtle romance.
MWT – The Queen of Attolia / The King of Attolia. Super subtle, even though the relationship is extremely important to both Gen and Irene.
MWT – A Conspiracy of Kings. Again, very important and very subtle.
Robin McKinley – The Hero and the Crown. The romance between Luthe and Aerin is quiet, but the one between Aerin and Tor is both quiet and very subtle.
LMB – The Curse of Chalion. I love the way the relationship between Caz and Betriz develops.
And one more story that I think offers a subtle romance: