This post compares and contrasts two of my favorite couples in contemporary literature: Claire and Jamie from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, and Bella and Edward, from the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. Both couples have fascinating and frustrating relationships and, in both couples, the partners are utterly suited for each other. The stories, too, both feature strong women (I know there are some out there who would disagree with me about Bella being a strong woman.). Finally, for both couples, the beginning of their relationship was rather inauspicious, but both suffered against the odds to find a love that is lasting, sustaining, and fulfilling. Ah, true love and the notion of soulmates.
Claire and Jamie first meet each other after she travels back in time 200 years, from a stone henge in post WWII Scotland to Scotland in the 1740s. Claire is suspected of being a spy for the British or a witch because of her medical abilities, and is held captive by members of the MacKenzie Clan, of which Jamie is a member. The clan is finally convinced that she is not a spy and to protect her from the British, who want to arrest her, they convince her she must marry Jamie. This is surely something she does not want to do, as she is already married 200 years in the future, but she does so anyway because she cannot tell them her secret. A marriage of convenience becomes a marriage to envy in the end.
Bella and Edward could not have met under worse circumstances, I think. Edward, a vampire, had not tasted human blood in many years. As a vegetarian vampire (one who only feasts on animal blood), he has forsworn feeding off of humans and has lived peacefully among them for a very long time. Along comes Bella, and her scent drives him to the point where he thinks he is going to throw years of discipline away in order to feed off of her. That first hour of their acquaintance is probably the longest hour of his existence. In the end, Bella and Edward have a strong bond that goes beyond what their marriage means to them; she considers the term “husband” to be not nearly enough to explain Edward’s connection to her.
Watching their story twist and turn from their first meeting is great fun in both books. There are times when the woman’s stubbornness drives the man to distraction. Both women are strong minded, Claire from the very beginning and Bella as the books continue to tell her story. Claire is much older than Bella, of course, and had been a nurse in wartime. Her resolve and strength are borne of years’ tending to men who are missing appendages. Bella’s bravery increases as she faces one harrowing situation after another. Because of their bravery and strength, both women tend to speak their mind and defy the men they love. Jamie and Edward are both very protective of their mates; the defiance drives them absolutely nuts. Jamie decides some tough love is in order, which is scene that leaves one rather…conflicted. Edward leaves his kill and pulls a critical piece of the engine from Bella’s truck before she can drive to La Push to see her friend, Jacob. He forbids her to go to see Jacob, fearing for her life, but finally backs down when he realizes that his heavy-handedness with Bella is doing nothing but driving a wedge between them. (Oh, by the way, Jamie realizes the error his way quite differently, but you’ll have to read the book.)
Edward and Jamie are both “protector” types, who feel it is their responsibility to shoulder any physical and psychological burdens of those they have chosen to protect. Of course, that includes their mates. As much as they struggle with their partner’s stubbornness, they also struggle with their failures. Edward is practically tortured by them. When both men realize that their partner is a lot stronger than they thought, things become much easier. Watching them arrive at that conclusion can be annoying at times, as both are so unwilling to relinquish that role, but when they do, true partnerships form that are based upon the strengths of both involved in the relationship. I also think that the men are truly much happier when they do not feel they have to hover any longer.
For anyone who likes a good romance, I highly recommend both series. They will keep you busy for quite a while as both authors love to write very long books.
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