Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike in Romance Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When it Comes to Romance in Books. There is romance in all kinds of books, but I'm keeping it restricted to the romance genre specifically, just to keep some focus.

What I Like:
1. Smart heroines.
2. Heroes who aren't macho.
3. Pretty dresses and fancy balls. I mean, who doesn't?
4. Modern sensibilities in historical novels. I know it's less realistic, but I like when a hero can overlook that his heroine has had sex before (and maybe even a kid), or who accepts that she owns a business or some other thing not generally acceptable at the time
5. Unusual settings. I haven't read many like this yet, but Gunpowder Alchemy comes to mind. (I also apparently like rural settings, which is odd since I grew up in a rural setting and have no desire to live in such a place again.)
6. Surprisingly, cowboys. Or maybe Lorraine Heath is just incredibly talented.
7. Humor. That's what I loved most about Just Like Heaven.
8. Women who eat. In Just Like Heaven (there was a lot to like about this book), Honoria and Marcus eat an entire tart together. More romances should be based on a shared love of baked goods.
9.  Sex that seems real but is still sexy. In Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover there's a scene where Georgiana, who has had a baby, mentions her "oddy-shaped, strangely stretched bits." This scene acknowledges the reality of our bodies and is still sexy.
10. Adventure. I loved that about both Texas Destiny and Gunpowder Alchemy.

What I Dislike:
1. Neurotic/overthinking characters.
2. Misunderstandings based on not explaining oneself. This is frequently used to further a plot. Many a time I have yelled at a character "Just TELL him!" or "Don't assume such-and-such, you nitwit!" A great deal of aggravation and lost time would be averted if only they would listen to me.
3. Women who do not eat, or who are constantly losing their appetites. I've never lost my appetite in my life - what is wrong with these people? (This goes for all of literature, not just romance. It's an epidemic.)
4. Possessive men.
5. When bits are ignored/forgotten for the convenience of the plot. So many times I think "Yeah, but, remember when so-and-so explained that?" Keeping secrets when no it's longer necessary, or stubbornly clinging to things that are no longer true makes me crazy.
6. Weak heroines. Luckily, there are plenty of strong, smart women in romance novels these days, but there are still some helpless ladies to be found and they do not interest me.
7. Terrible sex writing. I think at this point enough writers know to avoid some of the most stock phrases ("throbbing manhood") but they still try to be creative, and sometimes creativity doesn't pay.
8. For the most part, contemporary romance. I think I'm too cynical to buy it, plus these days there's not much keeping people apart aside from their own neuroses (see #1.) Also, many include heroes who are business men in suits, and business men in suits do not appeal to me at all. (But The Best Man was a pretty good contemporary, so I hold out hope there are others I might like.)
9. Characters that just aren't well-developed. Sometimes a character will be given an unusual feature or some quirks, but that alone doesn't make them seem real.
10. Paranormal romance. I'll admit that I haven't actually read any, but for some reason I can't bring myself to even try one, though I've read plenty of books outside of the genre with paranormal elements.

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