I am a fan of romance in movies and books, but BOY does it come with a lot of problems. I usually prefer romance in the subtext or as a subplot in entertainment because it doesn’t often hold well as a main plot (for me). I don’t read erotica, so bear that in mind. Here are the most common issues I come across in romance (main plot or subplot) that make me like a book less:
#5: Not Enough Conversation
It bothers me when a romance is TOLD rather than SHOWN. I like seeing a gradual progression in books, but some authors seem to think that conversations between two characters who are supposed to fall in love is going to bore the reader. Transitions between scenes turn into paragraphs like this:
Julia walked along the beach with Trevor every morning for the next three weeks. They talked about their dreams, past adventures, and shared grievances, from sunrise to noonday, until a mutual attraction began to bloom. Julia wondered if their friendship was growing into something more.
Yawn. This tells me nothing about either character. I don’t want to skip to where they love each other. I want to see how they develop up to that point.
When I read a book with romance, I crave “watching” the characters interact as much as possible. I want to see light conversation intermixed with plot, deep conversations laced with raw emotion, and passionate arguments. Dull conversations where nothing of substance is communicated should be cut out completely, regardless of the genre.
I also hate when the love interests are separated from one another for most of the book (unless their romance has little to do with the plot). In The Queen’s Wing, for example, Bel hardly interacts with Con at all, and when they do talk, it’s very brief (because they are hardly ever alone). Most of Bel’s thoughts about Con up to the point where she loves him revolve around how they barely know each other and never have time to talk. They do have a couple of intimate moments, and by the end their romance is believable, but I would have liked more anyway.
What are some examples of books you’ve read that fall short in this area?
#4: Love Triangles
Ugh. I hate them. I especially hate books where the protagonist is already in love with someone before they meet another love interest. I understand the appeal, but those plots simply are not for me. When a character is torn between two other characters, it’s usually pretty obvious to me who should be chosen, because one of them is rude and proud, whereas the other one is a soft cinnamon roll who doesn’t deserve the rejection (*cough* Maxon *cough*). If you love both, choose the nice one. Please…
Not to mention the girl in the love triangle is almost always self-centered and deep as a rain puddle. You’d kinda have to be brain dead in order to get stuck in a love triangle in the first place.
I think one love triangle I liked was in The Archers of Avalon by Chelsea Fine, but it has been several years since I finished that series. The conclusion was emotionally satisfying, if I remember correctly, so I would recommend it.
Can you think of examples where a love triangle is actually compelling? Please comment below! I’m open to recommendations.
#3: Teenagers + Ancient Supernatural Creatures
I look at teenagers in real life and shudder at the thought of them romancing a 300-year-old demon. I suppose it might be “realistic” for an ancient man in a young man’s body to fall for a teenage girl, since Back in the Day girls often married in their early teens, but it still grosses me out. Plus, teen girls drive me bananas. Books I found highly entertaining in high school no longer appeal to me because they are narrated by immature, selfish, unremarkable females, the same kind of female I was when I enjoyed the YA romance genre.
One thing that many people might not have considered is how long such a relationship would last. How often do adolescent females (or females of all ages for that matter, haha) change their minds? How often do they fall in and out of “love”? As potent as infatuations are in high school, they almost never last. I had an all-consuming crush on a boy for three years, until one December when I was sixteen, I looked at him and realized I hated his guts. Now, you think this wouldn’t happen if the girl fell in love with a powerful vampire (because how could you fall out of love with such a rare specimen, especially when the desire is mutual?). But… I promise it would happen about 93% of the time. Plus, a guy like that would be more likely to use the girl until she bored him than marry her, for crying out loud. He has lived a hundred years, and now he’s going to settle down? With her?
#2: Rushed in the End
… Don’t write a romance where nothing meaningful happens between two characters until it’s too late and you suddenly have to rush it in the end, ‘kay? Drag it out into a sequel if you must. Slow burns are the best.
#1: Physical/Emotional Abuse
Does this need an explanation? Perhaps the definition of “abuse” varies between individuals, but to me it includes: (1) unwanted physical contact, (2) insults, (3) persistent lying, (4) cheating, (5) stalking, (6) emotional manipulation, (7) spreading rumors/gossiping, and the list goes on. As long as neither love interest is a cruel, lying, domineering sack of garbage, the relationship might be palatable.
What romance tropes are you tired of seeing? What makes a good romance to you? Do you disagree with any of the above? Let me know in the comments! 🙂