First of all, before the hate mail starts rolling in, we realize that Game of Thrones is NOT a romance. The Red Wedding certainly made THAT clear enough. But in a world like Westeros where love is often cut tragically short by stabbings, beheadings, and, um, witchy poisonings, little glimmers of beautiful POTENTIAL relationships between wonderfully written and portrayed characters give the romantics and dreamers in the viewing audience something that is desperately needed when watching Game of Thrones.
Let’s face it, folks. Westeros can be BLEAK. We’re talking Cormac McCarthy’s The Road bleak. If there’s no hope of a happy ending for at least a few of our beloved characters, why watch at all? (Other than for, you know, the dragons)
So, for all our fellow ‘shippers in the audience, let’s keep clinging to our desperate hope, and those opposed don’t have to read any further, m’kay? Let’s make this a judgement-free zone.
Now that THAT’s out of the way, without further ado, here are the ‘ships we’re hoping to see this season, and the books we’re planning to re-read in celebration of them:
Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth
Here at Romance Rehab, we ‘ship the crap out of Jaime and Brienne, and we make zero apologies for it. And while it’s clear that Tormund would be the safer choice for Brienne (he’d love her forever and treat her like the warrior Goddess she is, we have no doubt), there’s no denying that the moment Jaime first defended Brienne (at GREAT cost to himself) launched a thousand ‘ships. (And he also jumped into a pit to put himself between her and a bear, y’all. If that’s not romantic, then I don’t know what is.) There’s also no doubt that Jaime is a despicable human being who has done horrific things. But when he’s with Brienne, we’re treated to glorious moments where Jaime shows glimpses of at least TRYING to be something other than a sister-f#cking dude who pushes little kids out of tower windows. Her nobility and strength of character make him want to be something better than what he is. And THAT folks, is the stuff that great ‘ships are made of.
And if the thought of a fairly horrible dude finding redemption in the love of a good woman turns you on, you’ll want to read Vicious by LJ Shen.
Sir Jorah Mormont and Daenerys Targaryen
We don’t know about you, but there’s something about unrequited love that hits us right in the feels every time. Every. Time. And it was clear from the first moment that Jorah laid eyes on Dany that he adored her. He’s killed for her, and he’s shown over and over again that he’d die for her, all while she keeps him safely in the friend zone. His longing is palpable every time he looks at her, and that’s what keeps us ‘shipping Jorah and Dany. He’s the clear underdog in the race for Dany’s affections, and who doesn’t root for the underdog every now and then?
If unrequited love is your jam, you MUST read the Julia Quinn classic When He Was Wicked. And for a great unrequited love story where the perspective is flipped, try L.A. Casey’s Until Harry.
Sansa Stark and The Hound (Sandor Clegane)
One of the biggest mistakes Sansa ever made (and that’s saying alot, because, DAMN, this girl made some effin’ huge mistakes) was not escaping King’s Landing with The Hound when she had the chance. The downward trajectory of her life that eventually led to her brutal forced marriage to Ramsay Bolton would’ve been halted simply by taking the out this man (who’d already saved her life...TWICE) offered. (And just to be clear: he asked for NOTHING in return.) Don’t get us wrong: The Hound has done some truly disturbing things in his life. But when he was with Sansa, who was the living embodiment of everything he’d never had in his life (gentleness, innocence, beauty), a gentler side of him surfaced, and that was all it took for us to get on board this ‘ship. And after everything Sansa has been through since she last saw The Hound, we’re thinking she might be ready to appreciate everything he has to offer.
If you’re a fan of this ‘ship, we’re betting you’d also love Tied by Carian Cole, which features a beautiful love story between a tormented, scarred hero and the beautiful, equally tormented heroine he saved from torture and certain death.
(Check out our 5-star review of Tied here.)
And for other awesome Beauty and the Beast-like tales, try Amy Harmon’s Making Faces and Adrianna Anders’s Under Her Skin.
(Check out our 5-star review of Under Her Skin here.)
Arya Stark and Gendry
Ah, young love. These two didn’t have much time together before everything went sideways and Arya got all...murder-y and revenge-y. But the time they did have together was powerful and sweet and everything young love (and first love) should be. We’d love to see the all-kinds-of-sweet (and the arguable heir to the Iron Throne by way of his father, Robert Baratheon) Gendry return and sweep Arya off her feet.
For great reads about a woman out for revenge and the hero who offers her something else to live for, try Sawyer Bennett’s Sugar Daddy and books 1 and 2 in JA Redmerski’s In The Company of Killers series.
For awesome reads about first love/young love, try Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan, Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder, and The Full Tilt duet by Emma Scott.
(Check out our full review of Archer’s Voice here.)
Jon Snow and literally ANYONE other than Daenerys Targaryen or Sansa Stark
Look, we love Jon Snow as much as the rest of you, and we truly want him to have his happily ever after. God knows he’s earned it. And we know that in Westeros, political marriages are all the rage, and a union with either Daenerys or Sansa would be advantageous. But even if he doesn’t know it, Dany is his aunt, and while she isn’t really his sister but rather his cousin (hey, it’s complicated), Sansa is still family. We can’t get behind a ‘ship between two blood relatives. There’s a certain...ick factor there that we just can’t overcome. (And for those of you who are about to argue that marriage between cousins wasn’t frowned upon in tons of old timey cultures, just...don’t. It’s still icky.)
(Aside: But if we were going to make a suggestion on who Jon should end up with, Lady Lyanna Mormont gets our vote...in about ten years, of course. She’s a total badass and we adore her! Jon could definitely do worse.)
So, since we’re literally on board with ANYONE other than Dany or Sansa settling down with Jon, for reading suggestions, check out our All Reviews page, pick out a 5-star read that appeals to you, and get to it.
But, for those of you who aren’t icked out by a well-written taboo story that features a relationship of the Jaime and Cersei kind, check out Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. And of course, there’s always the VC Andrews classic Flowers in the Attic.
What about y’all? Who are you ‘shipping this season? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
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