Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About Romance in Books

February 10, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 14

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About Romance in Books.


Stuff I Love
  1. Strong men who appreciate the strengths of the women they love, and come to accept them as full partners.
  2. Nice heroes. Of course everyone has some emotional baggage, but while I don’t mind the dark, broody types occasionally in my fiction (especially if the sun comes out for them in the end), I tend to prefer heroes who are a little more… well-adjusted. The  honorable, upright type who treats others with respect. (Luckily for me, I married one!)
  3. Heroines who have some backbone.  Whether you call it strength or spunk or resolution, I like my heroines to have agency, not be doormats or piners.
  4. Historical accuracy. You get extra points from me as an author if you respect the time period you’re writing about – from clothing to social mores.  (Yes, that means you have to deal with clothing that requires help and time to get into and out of. Sorry, bodices did not have buttons in the Regency era. And for heaven’s sake, learn how long it actually took to get anywhere in a carriage or mail coach! You may, however, ignore how people must have smelled, given the general lack of antiperspirant.)
  5. A supportive supporting cast. There’s a place for star-crossed lovers, but on the whole, I prefer my hero and heroine to have at least a few people who are rooting for them. Unless it’s a book in which the romance is secondary to the suspense or SSF plot, in which case have at them.




Stuff I Hate
  1. Rape or sexual assault of the heroine by the hero. Sorry, that’s not romantic, not sexy, and not acceptable.
  2. Abusive relationships – so-called heroes who are emotionally or physically abusive toward the heroine; I’ve occasionally come across the reverse as well. I wouldn’t put up with it real life; why should I find it attractive in fiction?
  3. Misunderstandings that last the whole book and could easily be cleared up if the people involved would just bloody talk to each other!
  4. Love triangles. They’re ubiquitous in YA, and they’re so rarely realistic. Especially the ones where the girl can’t decide between the two hot guys who both want her. That is so not what I remember seeing in high school and college. There, triangles were usually messy, painful affairs where one person cheated on another, or where A still loved and pursued B even though B had broken up with A and was now involved with C. Enough with the fictional triangles already! Find some other way to build and increase dramatic tension.
  5. Instalove. I’m not saying there’s no such thing… exactly. But in my experience, instalove is really insta-attraction. It might become love – but that takes time. How much time depends on the two people involved, the situation they’re in (people can get to know each other more quickly under some circumstances than others), and, frankly, their maturity level. So if you as an author play the instalove card, you’d better back it up with some seriously good writing.


Those are my preferences and pet peeves when it comes to fictional romance. What are yours?

14 Responses to “Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About Romance in Books”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Nice Heroes rock! Colin Bridgerton. Anthony Bridgerton. Stephen Huxtable. Nice heroes don’t have to be wimpy or bland or weak. 🙂

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I’ve hardly ever read either of those that doesn’t make me want to throw the book across the room at least once. Some authors do pull off the misunderstandings pretty well, but they have to have a darn good reason why the couple don’t communicate with each other. (Leaving the country works.)

  1. Jennifer @ Feminist Fairytale Reviews

    I love how popular insta-love and love triangles are on the dislike part of this week’s theme. Makes me happy that other bloggers/readers feel like me. I adore big casts in romances and nice heroes. Yeah betas!!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I agree. I can see the appeal to young adults of the triangle, in a way, especially if relationships haven’t been working out for you: it’s vicarious, the dream of being popular and sought after. So many teenage girls have such low or shaky self-esteem that it must seem really attractive – flattering and reassuring, in a way, to have two guys competing for you. (Not that I think it is IRL, nor would I have enjoyed being in that situation even then.) But as I said, while that type of love triangle seems to dominate in YA fiction, the real-life triangles were usually more painful and often involved cheating or messy breakups.

      From your post, I love the friends-to-lovers thing, and humor, and falling in love while adventuring. On the other hand, “opposites attract” doesn’t always work for me. I will admit I like some alpha males, if they aren’t too overbearing and if the woman is just as strong and stands up to him. Instalove, love triangles, and sexual relationships that go too far too fast are all irritating and I’d love to see much less of them. Good list!

  2. Kaja

    Ha,I did not know about that button thing 🙂 It’s nice when authors have their facts straight.
    I also love great supporting characters – and the fact that they usually get their own story in the sequel of the book. I like going into the story already knowing some of the cast, it feels like meeting old friends.
    As for rape… I don’t like it when it’s used as a device to make the heroine “damaged” even before she meets the hero, but if the hero did the actual raping, I’d probably throw the book at the wall. Who writs stuff like that?!
    Kaja recently posted…Tough Travels: True LoveMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I don’t know who, if anyone, would write that today (possibly EL James?) I’ve read that some of the early historical romances which first included relatively explicit scenes sometimes had “seduction” scenes that were tantamount to rape (and perpetuated the no-stop-I-like-it myth.) I haven’t read the books, myself, but I gather that’s where the term “bodice rippers” came from. I have sometimes come across books in which the hero persists even when the heroine tells him to stop, though not to the extent of rape. It always bothers me, even if she’s ambivalent or is enjoying it but knows it is unwise in terms of her reputation (or her feelings, or her job, or whatever.) Seriously, No should mean No, regardless of the reason behind the No.