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.
I wouldn’t say I avoid classics, but I definitely wouldn’t count myself as “well-read” in this genre, either. Here are ten classics that, somehow or another, I have not yet managed to read (but definitely plan to in the future):
1. Emma, by Jane Austen–I loved the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow, so I figure it’s high time to read the book!
2. The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde–currently reading this on my Kindle.
3. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace–I feel like this is sort of a “modern classic”. I’ve just always been put off by the sheer size of it.
4.-5. The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells–I think this entry is especially bad, since I devoured The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky (which feature Wells as the protagonist).
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger–I feel like this is one of those classic coming-of-age novels that everyone is supposed to read as an angsty teen. I never did so.
7. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–my husband actually just had to write a paper on Thoreau, so maybe now is a good time to pick this one up?
8. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller–I use the phrase all the time, so I should probably read the book.
9. The Thousand and One Arabian Nights–I tried to start this when I was younger and never finished it. I’d like to pick it up again–maybe one of the beautifully bound hardcover editions from Barnes & Noble?
10. Grimm’s Fairy Tales–I read part of this last year. This is another classic that I think I’d like to purchase in a beautiful hardbound edition.