Each week, The Broke and the Bookish holds Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book blogging meme. We’re discussing romance in books this week, our likes and dislikes.
I must confess to finding this one a bit difficult to write. While I’m not anti-romance, I certainly don’t gravitate toward romance novels. Many of the things I read don’t have what one might see as a proper love story.
But then again, it’s difficult to read something that is entirely void of romance. Readers enjoy reading about it; writers enjoy writing about it. It’s part of the human experience, and so of course it makes its way into books of all sorts, not just romance novels.
Here are some of my romance-in-fiction pet peeves:
1. Formulaic plots. Does this romance stem from childhood? Is there a Major Misunderstanding? Is one of them Hiding Something That Will Later Rock Their Worlds? Is there a Love Triange? All stock rom-com plots, and though they can be used with great effect, that is the exception rather than the rule.
2. Sloppy or stilted dialogue between characters. This can kill any story for me, romance or otherwise—but it is especially noticeable when two characters are romantically involved.
3. When one partner in the relationship exhibits behaviors that are dangerous and the book does not acknowledge the abuse because Love Trumps All (like when Edward Cullen breaks Bella’s truck to keep her from leaving).
4. The romance is unnecessary to the story or feels tacked-on. I tend to prefer books in which everything clearly advances the plot somehow and/or changes the character. If the romance isn’t doing any of those things, it’s just filler.
5. When the First Love is the Only True Love. It’s just—-too easy, too simplistic.
6. Over-description, especially during sex scenes. Now I’m no prude, and I don’t mind some sexy talk. But I don’t want Hustler stories creeping into my novels.
7. Romance that doesn’t make sense. The characters loathed one another, but suddenly they kiss and everything is awesome. Oh, no.
8. The character suddenly realizes that (s)he has been in love with the Best Friend all along. Best Friend has been sitting quietly through a sequence of lovers, waiting for the main character to figure it out. (I loved My Best Friend’s Wedding for the honesty it handled this with.)
9. The characters spend a lot of their time discussing why it is a Bad Idea to Have Sexy-Times. This is usually something to do with guarding the woman, protecting her from her own desires.
10. A forced relationship of opposite sex characters rather than exploring chemistry between same-sex characters or asexuality. Sometimes characters have chemistry—heteronormatvity be damned.