Great fantasy relationships—oh, how I swoon over them. I thought I’d start with Adam and Eve. They were nuts about each other. Except… Yeah, not a HEA. So I turned to Odysseus and Penelope. Talk about an alpha male and a smart woman. They worked for me, and the Greek myths are chock-full of romantic couples. Except most mythological relationships end as a Fail for the female half of the duo. Ouch. Macbeth and Lady Mac came to mind—a no-go. Arthur and Guinevere didn’t make the cut, either, given that she fell in love with Lancelot and made a mess of things. Lose!

Finally, I settled on a couple that melts me through and through—Arwen and Aragorn from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga. The mortal Aragorn wasn’t the immortal Arwen’s equal, yet she encouraged and admired him. Aragorn’s love for Arwen remained steadfast, even when the lovely Eowyn sought him out. And Arwen, she made the ultimate sacrifice—relinquishing her immortality for the man she loved. An iconic couple.

Fantasy and fantastical couples always lure me. Ditto for sci-fi, but—oops—in the genre’s early days, the heart-pounding romance usually took place between a guy and his spaceship.

With the advent of Lessa and F’lar in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, everything changed. Finally, my fantasy and my romantic lusts were assuaged. McCaffrey’s alpha hero and dragonrider F’lar believed in righteous stuff, and he met his match in Lessa. F’lar enabled her to shine, and he encouraged her boldness. He supported her, as she did him, in the best of all possible ways. Plus, she was a badass. I confess, I have a soft spot for alpha males and badass women who love each other.

I’m going to varoom into our modern era. Why? Because for several decades so many romantic pairings involved the hero-Male—rescuing the heroine-Female. That never did it for me. While I enjoyed those books, I’d always want the heroine to say, “Dammit, I can do it myself!” Note—there’s nothing wrong with one person rescuing another. That’s fine, as long as there’s balance between them.

Bones and Cat, in Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave, definitely know how to rock a relationship. I adore how their pairing evolves. They go from, “Ick, get outta my face,” to “I trust you.” Their sex is hot. Their relationship is hotter. It’s also nuanced and deeply drawn.

Curran and Kate (Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series) make my pulse race. They fight like Cats and Kate, and if you’ve read the series, you’ll get this allusion. Curran’s volcanic temper annoys Kate, a woman who defines “messed up.” As they come into their “couple-hood,” each accepts the other’s foibles. Balance. Great love. My heart pounds.

Elena and Raphael—he’s an archangel; she’s a hunter of vampires—from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. Their pairing is powerful, action-packed, and enduring, which holds true for all my favorite series. Raphael is never threatened by Elena’s assertiveness, and for such a powerful being, he’s unafraid to show his mad-crazy love for her. The sizzle in their books is great, too.

Clea and Larrimer—my couple in Chest of Bone. James is a powerful alpha male and messed up, much like Kate Daniels. Clea’s a badass, too, but softer—a woman who smooths his edges and opens James to life’s possibilities. Need I say I’m crazy about them?

Simon Wolfgard and Meg Corbett from Anne Bishop’s “Others” series—an oddly unexpected pairing and one I delight in. They’re not lovers…yet. But their relationship is so rich and nuanced, with Simon being a Wolf and Meg a “sweet blood,” that it defies description. As a couple, they ignite my senses with anticipation.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by J.R. Ward, sizzles with passion and romance. All the books get my heart pumping, but I have a special fondness for Lover at Last, and the relationship between Qhuinn and Blay, the first male-to-male pairing I’d read in a “mainstream” novel. And what a beautiful pairing it is, transcending gender to become a powerful love story.

My favorite couple in modern fiction is the gray-skinned, sharp-toothed Brishen and the cream-skinned, flame-haired Ildiko from Grace Draven’s Radience and Eidolon. Few would call him an alpha male. A second son of the king, he is proactively disinterested in politics and power. Yet Brishen’s one of those men who delves beneath a person’s surface. While he finds his bride homely—he likens her to a mollusk—he becomes enchanted by her wise mind, intelligence, and warm heart. Likewise, Ildiko, reacts to Brishen’s physical form with horror. He’s one scary-looking dude. Yet she, too, grows to cherish his nobility of spirit, his utter fairness in all things, and his sense of honor. The pair makes me swoon.

So there you have it. I could note dozens more, but I’d rather hear about your favorite romantic couples. In books, I mean! Then again, if you want to share, who am I to deny you?