I’ve been reading the Dragon Kin series by G.A. Aiken. This is one of my favorites (there are quite a few—maybe 15 or so series make my top ten list—I never was much good at numbers). This is my second time through this series, and I’m only on Book 2 right now. One of the fun things about reading these books for the second, third or even fourth times is that once I know how everything works out in terms of the plot, I can pay more attention to the deeper elements of the story: the characters, the themes of each book/series/author, etc. (and yes, I get that most of the time, the girl gets the boy or vice versa, the bad guy gets what’s coming to him and all the secondary characters fade cheerfully into the sunset or get set up as the protagonist of the next installment—unless you are George R.R. Martin, in which case all bets are off).
One recurring theme in these books of shape-shifting dragons (one of my absolute favorite kind of shapeshifters—but more about dragons in another post) is the idea that there is someone out there for everyone—no matter how seemingly unlovable, irritating or nasty they seem.
Have you ever known a couple who appear (at least to others), to work extremely well—meaning they seem content with each other and well-suited, but you think to yourself, I can’t believe he/she can stand him/her? I’ve known couples like that where the guy is rude, crude and socially unacceptable, but the woman seems totally devoted, or vice versa. When that happens, I create all sorts of scenarios in my head where she had an abusive upbringing and is wildly insecure and was willing to settle for whomever she could get so that she wouldn’t have to be alone. And yes, I have an overactive imagination, I know. But back to Felix and Oscar (you remember The Odd Couple, or am I dating myself? Look it up—hilarious stuff). In reading about Annwyl and Fearghus or Talaith and Briec (as an aside, do you ever wonder where these authors come up with the names they use? I mean, how perfect is Voldemort or Khaleesi, which I now understand is a popular baby girl’s name in the US! But I digress--again).
Anyway, these dragons-who-can-assume-human form and the women who love them turn out to be made for each other. I mean, come on, Fearghus the Destroyer and Annwyl the Bloody? You’ve got to love that. And Talaith is a “harpy” according to the author, and Briec’s ego is so large his head barely fits through the door. And they delight in calling each other “rude bitch” and “arrogant bastard” as terms of endearment. I’m thinking that might not fly in my house. How about yours? But they adored each other in the book, and there are other couples like them in real life, so it must work for at least some folks.
Another of my favorite series, Thea Harrison’s Elder Races, has a later entry called Kinked, in which the two lovers’ romantic and sexual proclivities match extremely well (I’ll give you a minute to let your imaginations roam on the way in which a book called Kinked explicates complementary practices). And then there is another, stand-alone book by one of my very favorite authors, Kresley Cole, called The Professional. This book was published in three parts, which was a bit frustrating at the time, but ultimately satisfying, as it made the good parts easier to find on my Kindle (and, no, I’m not above re-reading certain scenes again and again like they’re Penthouse Forum stories—just sayin’). In The Professional, the two main characters are literally made for each other (and we know this early on because they have the same kinds of “toys”)—and one of the reasons I love these kinds of books is the endlessly imaginative ways that the authors find to engineer the plot developments so that the story not only holds together, but the specific character traits of the protagonists actually contribute to the advancement of the plot. Very clever stuff, that.
But back to the idea that there is someone for everyone. Not despite their personality peccadilloes, but because of them. I have a strong personality, for example, and I need someone who not only appreciates that, but loves me because of it, all the while not letting me steamroll over their personality. I can be a bossy bitch, a demanding princess, and a very particular perfectionist, and my husband (usually) sees me as being a decisive woman who knows what I want and need (so that he doesn’t have to guess), who is also ambitious, and competent to do what needs to be done. Someone else, not so much. Which is why I’m married to my husband and not someone else. How about you?
I love the idea personified in so many of these books that we don’t have to be someone we’re not just to attract a mate. And in fact, in being who we are, instead of who we think we should be, to ensure that we don’t die alone and childless (as one of my friends used to express her greatest fear) is a wonderful idea that too many of us don't actually believe. We can attract the right mate—the one who sees the and all aspects of our characters and not just the warts, when we are our authentic selves, and not the person we think someone else might want.
Because in the right circumstances, stubbornness becomes perseverance and recklessness becomes courage—right? But sometimes we all need help reframing our perceptions, even about ourselves—or especially about ourselves. So, it’s OK to be who we are. In fact, it’s better than OK. Because no matter who we are, there will be those out there—be they friends or lovers—who love and appreciate all of us. Warts and all.