Yet another 10 bookish pet peeves, romance novel edition

I'm not participating in the Top ten Tuesdays meme this week, but here is one of my own lists:

These come in addition to the general peeves that I dislike in all fiction (list 1, list 2).

  1. Heroines who need rescuing by the hero all the time. Come on, authors, can’t she solve the problem herself or rescue him for a change?
  2. Alpha jerk heroes. Take-charge is one thing, bullying is another altogether.
  3. Forced seduction”, i.e. heroes who rape or “forcibly seduce” the heroines. Extends to heroines who get Stockholm syndrome and fall in love with the alpha jerk heroes who raped/”forcibly seduced” them. Authors, if you make the heroine fall in love with her rapist I am going to make a voodoo doll with your name on it and stick pins in it until you stop writing that crap. Never, in any set of circumstances is this ever right. Not even when the heroine discovers halfway through the ordeal that she likes it.
  4. Pirate heroes. Read my essay about this subject for the reasons why.
  5. Characters in historical romances who behave like the cast of The Young and the Restless in costume, i.e. historical characters who are so modern in opinion and behaviour that I feel as if I am reading a contemporary novel with all the characters dressed up as lords and ladies of past times. I don’t mind it a little - after all, we can’t know for certain that such opinions and attitudes didn’t exist in olden times - but too much of it and the story becomes unconvincing.
  6. Unnecessary sex scenes. I like it when a sex scene strengthens the bond between heroine and hero or furthers the plot in other ways, but I detest sex scenes for the sake of sex. Especially when they are clearly padding and go on for chapters.
  7. Jealous, evil skanky ex-mistresses, sisters, step-sisters, mothers and stepmothers. Puh-lease, that is so Barbara Cartland.
  8. Lust = love. Authors, if you can’t make the falling-in love development convincing, you have no business writing romance.
  9. Virgin heroines in 98% of modern romances. Of the remaining 2%, the majority are Amish and Christian/inspirational romances, which I, heathen that I am, don’t read, and the remainder are the ones where the author actually managed to make it plausible for a modern heroine over 20 to be a virgin. Virgin heroes are even less believable, but they are so rare that reading about one is refreshing rather than off-putting.
  10. The sassy gay friend. He is funny and endearing and we love him, but he is woefully overused in modern romance novels. How about a cranky lesbian best friend for a change, or how about this: can the heroine actually have a heterosexual male friend, or even just a couple of normal, supportive female friends? I find romance heroines in general to be woefully lacking in friends, which is perhaps why I love to read Jennifer Crusie (who incidentally did write a novel with a hero who had a lesbian friend) and Nora Roberts’ books, because their heroines always have friends.


Anonymous said…

I agree whole-heartily, and I promise I´ll do my best not to fall into too many of these traps too often ;)

Dorte H.
Have to say, I agree with that list. I do like the fact there is actually a literary "award" for bad sex.

I don't know if you were ever a Nancy Drew fan or not, but there was a casefile where her friends and her were talking about how tiresome the whole "wimpy heroine" thing is in movies, and the last page mocked that... very enjoyable. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name.

I did love my Nancy Drews.

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