Top Ten Tuesday: things I love/hate about romance novels

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re discussing our favorite things (and biggest pet peeves) in the world of romance novels! I don’t actually read romance as a genre per se, but I have read a lot of YA and other genres in which romances feature prominently in the plot, and there are definitely some things I love and hate about the romance in those books. So here you go:

1. I HATE insta-love. I think this is going to be a common complaint this week. YA seems to be the worst offender for this one. I get having a spark or being instantly attracted to someone, but love takes time to grow…even if you’re 16 and trapped in a dystopian novel. (Or perhaps especially in that situation.)

2. I LOVE the slow burn that takes forever to build. The first thing that leaps to mind is actually not a book, but a TV show: Fringe. I know some people hate waiting forever for two people to get together, but I love seeing how a relationship slowly progresses. And it makes it all the sweeter when they finally admit their feelings to each other. See also: Brooks and Braun from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I’m sure a lot of people are peeved to go through multiple books and still not see these two hook up, but I like that things are moving slowly. I think it would be out of character for Eliza to rush falling in love.

3. I HATE one-sided love triangles. You know the kind I mean: where it’s really really stinkin’ obvious who will win the heroine’s heart. Biggest example that leaps to mind: Gale/Peeta/Katniss in The Hunger Games. (And I do love those books, I really do. But come on. You know Peeta is going to win in the end!*)

4. I really HATE cheesy sex scenes. I mean, c’mon, if it’s going to be in there, make it good. I stumbled over all the really cringe-worthy scenes in the last Outlander tome. It felt like the author was getting bored and didn’t know what she was writing.

5. I HATE, HATE, HATE controlling boyfriends in books. Why is this considered sexy? The worst one I read was Hush, Hush (see the full review here). I just don’t get it. Someone who is controlling or physically threatening to you is not a good pick for a mate.

6. That said, I do LOVE me some bad-boy boyfriends. Think about Damon from The Vampire Diaries. He’s basically an asshole. But he’s hilarious about it. And when the chips are down, he quits joking around and gets serious. Also, I like that he’s protective of Elena without being a controlling jerk. There’s a fine line there.

7. I HATE characters that are considered desirable solely based on looks. Sure, being attractive in a physical sense is going to catch someone’s eye, but when that’s all the MC thinks about…even after several chapters or several books? Does this person not have a personality? Or do you just not care about it because you’re too focused on their body? I just can’t fall in love with someone based solely on their looks–I need that person to be smart, funny, etc.–so it’s hard for me to buy into a romance and get emotionally invested in it if all I know about the love interest is that they have really great hair.

8. I HATE it when characters change as soon as they fall in love. I think you do change a little bit for the person you’re with (as in, you pick up your socks off the floor and don’t tell dirty jokes in public), but characters–especially slightly villainous characters–who suddenly become mushy and soft once they’re in love drive me nuts. That person I liked so much to begin with is now gone.

9. I HATE heroines that constantly need to be rescued by their love interests. Why can’t they be evenly matched? Why can’t she save herself once in a while? Helpless girls drive me nuts.

10. I LOVE love. I can’t help it! I love love. I love shipping characters. I love cheering for them to overcome their struggles and be stronger on the other end. Books without are fine, but I do love seeing characters meet, fall in love, and develop as they go. I may love villains and dark mysteries, but the softer side of me loves a sweet, sappy ending, too.

What are your biggest love/hate points for romance novels? What are some of the best romance novels you’ve read, or novels in other genres that featured really great love stories? Leave me a comment and let me know! (And if you did TTT this week, leave me a link so I can check it out!)

*Apologies to anyone living under a rock for the past several years for whom this revelation was a spoiler. Sorry.

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. LOL @ really great hair. Totally agree – there needs to be more to the story. And I cannot stand the changing when they fall in love thing, or the controlling to the point of stalking thing. (I also am not a fan of things that are painted as romantic, but are really abusive – like pretty much anything in 50 Shades of Grey).

      1. The success of that series concerns me. I know a lot of people read it because they were curious (and later abandoned it because it’s terrible), but one imagines a lot of women really got into it. Is it because they are too embarrassed to read proper erotica? Or they don’t know where to find better alternatives? I don’t get it. But what worries me the most is that people who don’t know anything about BDSM may come away thinking this is a realistic portrayal. It’s not. It’s a portrayal of an abusive relationship between a sadist and an infantalized girl. It’s not sexy, and it’s not BDSM.

        1. I think it’s a little of both…I read somewhere (can’t remember where now sadly) that a lot of women get hooked on these stories because we want to be the one to tame the bad boy, the special one who can break through. It’s like a challenge or something. And then you combine it with that fairytale stuff we’ve been fed since we were little girls–swept off our feet by a mysterious, rich, charming prince–and you’ve got a lethal combo.

          It’s funny because even my husband, knowing nothing about the series, saw the movie trailer on YouTube and was like, “Wait, is this a romance? Is he supposed to be the romantic lead? Because I’m getting a real creepy vibe off him.”

  2. I completely agree with number 7 and that really annoys me in books. It’s just so shallow and really gets old after awhile to read about. After awhile it’s like I GET IT. HE’S HOT. ugh.
    I actually kind of prefer one-sided love triangles. I really don’t like it when I ship a couple and then they aren’t the one who is chosen by the main character :(

  3. I agree, Martha! I hate helpless girls and I don’t want them to be rescued. :) Mean, I know. But it is just so boring. And characters that change as soon as they fall in love make me want to puke. And bad boys are oh so entertaining! Love them!

  4. you hit all the right points, though for #7, it seems to happen more because they always seem to write characters that are beautiful on the outside and forget about the inside, all those ya books are offenders. I have not read any character who is just semi-good looking and still gets the boy/girl. I suppose no one wants to read someone who isn’t good looking.

    anyway, hope you have a lovely day.

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