Top 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
- Strong men who appreciate the strengths of the women they love, and come to accept them as full partners.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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
- Rape or sexual assault of the heroine by the hero. Sorry, that’s not romantic, not sexy, and not acceptable.
- 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?
- Misunderstandings that last the whole book and could easily be cleared up if the people involved would just bloody talk to each other!
- 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.
- 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.