I thought I'd use this week's TTT as an opportunity to whine, lol! What better way to spend Valentine's day, really? The topic is pretty open-ended having to do with romance:
All About Romance Tropes/Types -- top ten favorite hate-to-love romances (from books or movies or tv), top ten favorite (or least favorite) instalove romances, favorite slow-burn romances, favorite starcrossed lovers, etc. etc. Can go so many ways with this one).I decided to pick on a few of my pet peeves that occur pretty regularly in romance novels. Please note that these are personal preferences and pet peeves - for others these same elements might be their favorite things and that's totally cool and understandable. I should also point out that there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule so there are definitely some books that use these tropes/writing devices that I do like.
1) When the OTP are immediately hot-to-trot for each other.
If they are immediately turned on? I'm immediately turned off. Different from insta-love though in the same family group. MANY, perhaps a majority of romance novels take some time to make the transition to love but don't hesitate to have the hero and heroine not-so-subtly salivating over one another from page one. Some attraction is fine and natural but explicitly stated admiration of the orchestra and balcony right off - blegh! One recent example that was just too much for me was Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis. Heroine meets hero by running her car into his. Her car won't start so he gives her a ride home. She proceeds to initiate a hot makeout session before getting out of the car. This happens in the first 20 pages. What the what? Who does that? #suchaprude This is driven in part I think, by the pressure to include numerous sexy times in romances. If you take your time to develop the attraction naturally, how can you fit in multiple sex scenes? It's partly why I think I prefer to read romance in books outside of the romance genres. In books where romance isn't the main point there is freedom to develop more slowly and naturally.
Geez! I had a lot to say about that, lol. I'll step off the soapbox now.
2) No Sense of Humor
I live for witty banter and hijinks. A romance that is all about the angst and takes itself too seriously holds no interest for me. Examples of this are: Simply Love by Mary Balogh.
3) Alpha-Holes. Most of the time.
I feel like I've included this on many many lists or at least whined about it before. If you're going to have a domineering asshole of a hero, at least develop him enough so that his authoritarianism is understandable. My (least)Favorite Example: Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens. And Alpha-hole that I loved? Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
4) Heroines Who Attract All the Men
Heroines who make every boy/man they meet fall at their feet, bore me at best and infuriate me when they're written as being clueless. Example: Bella Swan in Twilight. Three dudes have a crush on her in the first book. I didn't read beyond that. Interestingly, there are some heroines who I love so much that I get pissed off when every male in their vicinity isn't panting after them. The two that come immediately to mind are on TV and NOT in romances but still: Sam Carter of Stargate SG-1 and Dana Scully from The X-Files.
5) Characters that are very impulsive/thoughtless about their actions
In my mind this is a very specific variant of a Too-Stupid-to-Live heroine. I can't think of any good straight up romance heroines like this. Maybe the female protagonist in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. I'm a planner and suffer from some anxiety so it stresses me out and sometimes even pisses me off when characters are reckless, especially when it has bad repercussions for those around them. I also hate when the hero then finds it adorable. Two popular books that were brought down a notch or two for me by impulsive lead characters were Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho.
6) Romances Where the Ultimate Life Fulfillment for the Heroine is having Children
So, marriage and procreation are an ultimate goal for the majority of women, thankfully, since our species would be doomed otherwise. However I happen to be one of those oddballs that has never wanted children so I get excited when a romance heroine has other ambitions. I can think of absolutely zero examples of a romance heroine who expresses a desire not to have kids. Graceling by Kristen Kashore, which isn't really a romance, comes the closest.
7) Heroines With No Independence
What I'm getting at here is when the entirety of the heroine's storyline and motivations relate to the hero. At this point you may be looking at me a little strangely because the development of a relationship is the whole point of a romance so I think I should qualify this by saying this isn't so much a pet peeve as I get so excited when I encounter its reverse. Basically I love an independent heroine who has an agenda all her own. If the hero fits into that? Peachy!
8) Young Love
In the spirit of the above, I actually don't have a problem with the fact that the average age of the characters in the romances I read is early 20s. However, since I am...ahem...a little beyond that age demographic, I find that, I really appreciate a more mature (30+) OTP. The only one that comes to mind, and it's not really a romance, is Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. I think the protagonists in Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie may be in their 30s.
9) REAL LIFE
This is perhaps closely related to number two on the list but is slightly different. I read romances for escape/fluff and nonsense. I like the characters and the relationship to be developed realistically but I don't want their issues or circumstances to be too real. Courtney Milan is a good example of this. Her books have a sense of humor, they are feminist, they are well written and I do like them but they are also a little too real for me to love them. For example, the first book of the Brothers Sinister series has been praised because the hero is a virgin and the first sex scene is terrible and awkward. I agree that this is a scenario probably closer to reality of the time and is refreshing but I didn't enjoy it.
10) When your favorite secondary character in a romance series finally gets their own book and.... it kinda sucks.
This has happened to me twice and from really awesome romance authors. One was Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn in her very famous Bridgerton series. Colin was my absolute favorite Bridgerton in the first three books in the series and I was SO excited to get to his book and about his love interest. As a secondary character he was so charming and witty and warm.... and then as a primary character he turns into a bratty alpha-hole who is borderline abusive. I've read it twice and my opinion didn't change. In fact I was perhaps more upset the second time and got pissed about different things! The other is Beatrix's novel (Love in the Afternoon) in The Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas. Beatrix was my favorite and her book, while not as bad as Romancing Mister Bridgerton, was a total let down.
Anybody else out there feeling like they need to rant a bit? No? Well then, have a lovely Valentine's Day and may all your romances be amiable and and straight out of Jane Austen!