That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer to it. Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story sounds romantic enough, in some ways, and deeply disturbing in others. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin was setting it up as an subversion of romantic stories of knights and ladies and forbidden love, but we’ll see.
For what it’s worth, my own theories… well, I don’t think Rhaegar was in love, as such.  His obsession was the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised, the Three Heads of the Dragon, the Song of Ice and Fire. And he needed a third child to fulfill the prophecy that he himself could not be the focus of. In his mind, he already had an Aegon, a great warrior-to-be, the Prince; he already had a Rhaenys, the dreamer, a sweet and gentle counselor; what he needed was a Visenya, the passionate temperamental warrior.
When he discovered Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree — the small, brave mystery knight who defeated all opponents, who fought only to teach others the true meaning of honor — and even better, she was a Stark, the ice to his fire — he must have thought she was a gift from the gods. He would have done anything to win her, to have her help him fulfill the prophecy and save the world from destruction. It was his duty to do so. But did it ever grow into love? That I don’t know.
As for Lyanna, was it love for her? Well, remember, she was only 14 at the Tourney at Harrenhal. And here she had this Targaryen prince, of incredible beauty, the finest warrior in the country, whose songs made her cry… And he discovered her secret, and instead of betraying her and taking her back in shame to his father the king and her family, he kept it. And he rewarded her for her secret wins, presenting her with the only public award that her gender allowed her to accept.  And on the other hand, she had her actual betrothed, Robert Baratheon, and we all know what Robert was like. I don’t know if she was in love with Rhaegar — but he seemed to respect her, and he was a way out.
Though from the story we hear of how she was holding the blue roses when she died, I would not be surprised to hear it was love, on her side, at least. If Rhaegar told her that he needed her… she might have easily fallen for his charisma, for his fervent beliefs. (And his songs and sad purple eyes and such would certainly have helped.) But the fact that their runaway romance sparked a war, that her brother and father were killed because of her, that she was locked away in a tower, pregnant and alone, while Rhaegar went off to fight and die… well, if it was love, it was a very tragic one.
[edit: Just realized the chronology I put up there doesn’t quite work, what with Aegon being born after the Tourney. So revise that a bit to Rhaegar just respecting her initially, and then thinking of her to fulfill the prophecy after learning that Elia couldn’t have a third child.]
As for the great houses… oh, don’t ask me to play favorites, I can never choose. (My top 10 ASOIAF character list has two people in 1st place and three people in 2nd.) But I love the Starks, because they are my babies and all. And I love the Lannisters, those fierce manipulative bastards. And I love the Targaryens, all their weird and fascinating history. And I really like the Martells, because they’re awesome. Though for what it’s worth, the only house-based blog I follow is a Targaryen one. :)

That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer to it. Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story sounds romantic enough, in some ways, and deeply disturbing in others. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin was setting it up as an subversion of romantic stories of knights and ladies and forbidden love, but we’ll see.

For what it’s worth, my own theories… well, I don’t think Rhaegar was in love, as such.  His obsession was the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised, the Three Heads of the Dragon, the Song of Ice and Fire. And he needed a third child to fulfill the prophecy that he himself could not be the focus of. In his mind, he already had an Aegon, a great warrior-to-be, the Prince; he already had a Rhaenys, the dreamer, a sweet and gentle counselor; what he needed was a Visenya, the passionate temperamental warrior.

When he discovered Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree — the small, brave mystery knight who defeated all opponents, who fought only to teach others the true meaning of honor — and even better, she was a Stark, the ice to his fire — he must have thought she was a gift from the gods. He would have done anything to win her, to have her help him fulfill the prophecy and save the world from destruction. It was his duty to do so. But did it ever grow into love? That I don’t know.

As for Lyanna, was it love for her? Well, remember, she was only 14 at the Tourney at Harrenhal. And here she had this Targaryen prince, of incredible beauty, the finest warrior in the country, whose songs made her cry… And he discovered her secret, and instead of betraying her and taking her back in shame to his father the king and her family, he kept it. And he rewarded her for her secret wins, presenting her with the only public award that her gender allowed her to accept.  And on the other hand, she had her actual betrothed, Robert Baratheon, and we all know what Robert was like. I don’t know if she was in love with Rhaegar — but he seemed to respect her, and he was a way out.

Though from the story we hear of how she was holding the blue roses when she died, I would not be surprised to hear it was love, on her side, at least. If Rhaegar told her that he needed her… she might have easily fallen for his charisma, for his fervent beliefs. (And his songs and sad purple eyes and such would certainly have helped.) But the fact that their runaway romance sparked a war, that her brother and father were killed because of her, that she was locked away in a tower, pregnant and alone, while Rhaegar went off to fight and die… well, if it was love, it was a very tragic one.

[edit: Just realized the chronology I put up there doesn’t quite work, what with Aegon being born after the Tourney. So revise that a bit to Rhaegar just respecting her initially, and then thinking of her to fulfill the prophecy after learning that Elia couldn’t have a third child.]

As for the great houses… oh, don’t ask me to play favorites, I can never choose. (My top 10 ASOIAF character list has two people in 1st place and three people in 2nd.) But I love the Starks, because they are my babies and all. And I love the Lannisters, those fierce manipulative bastards. And I love the Targaryens, all their weird and fascinating history. And I really like the Martells, because they’re awesome. Though for what it’s worth, the only house-based blog I follow is a Targaryen one. :)

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    While part of my heart yearns for a typical star-crossed lovers story for Rheagar and Lyanna, I think your theory fits...
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