Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes to Romances in Books
I'm not sure I can say if there really are ten things I can list for things I may or may not like or dislike in Romances. I know of a few types of plot devices or cliches that drive me batty. And I know of a few specific types of romance plot devices that I particularly love.
I can be a hopeless romantic, but at the same time I can also be a big party pooper on the romantic front because I'm not as easily swayed as say... my BFF when it comes to grand romantic gestures and the like.
There are certainly a lot of tropes, cliches, plot devices, or the like that irk me to no end in a lot of stories that contain romance... but off the top of my head, I'm not quite sure I can pull too many of them out.
But I'll try.
What I Like:
1. The Bickering Romance -- There's nothing like building a cute, yet somehow adorably sweet fun romance starting off with two people who just can't stand each other, but are somehow attracted to each other, or will become attracted to each other at some point in their love story. Also, I love watching two intelligent, yet antagonistic people hold their own when slinging wittily crafted verbal insults at each other.
Some good examples can be found in any Julie James novel: Practice Makes Perfect, Something About You, A Lot Like Love, About That Night, Love Irresistibly, It Happened One Wedding.
Some other examples of a Bickering Romance: To the Limit and Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard. Amber Beach, Jade Island, Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell.
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, The Burning Sky and The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas.
I'm sure there are more.
2. Genre Based Romances with specific devices:
a) The Cross-dressing Romance -- This is an automatic attention grabber for me in any book that has romance. The suspense of watching the girl disguised as a boy trying to maneuver life without giving herself away. It just ends up being lots of fun.
Examples include: Hanazakari no Kimi tachi e by Hisaya Nakajo; You're Beautiful K-drama; Alanna: The First Adventure of the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce; Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
b) The Undercover Pretending to Be a Couple Romance -- Again, this is an automatic attention grabber as well. When two people are forced to (or choose to) pretend to be a couple for whatever reason, all sorts of hijinks can and usually will ensue. And it is always all sorts of fun. It's even more fun when the romance throws in the Bickering Romance device. A pair who are forced to pretend to be in love, but who really can't stand each other?
Examples include: A Lot Like Love by Julie James; Tempting the Player by J. Lynn; various K-drama series (because I realized I haven't really read very many of these types of romances in books, but I've seen a lot in K-dramas)
3. The Best Friend to Lovers Romance -- I don't know why. I just like this type of Romance trope. They're sweet. And I can't think of any good examples, but I'm sure there are a lot out there.
What I Dislike:
1. The Love Triangle -- There is no questioning the fact that I'm not a fan of triangles... or any other pointy polygonal romance available in most YA literature nowadays. Of course, I don't hate all triangles (they just aren't my favorite romance ploy in the world), and when written tastefully, I can accept them.
It's really the ones where the girl barely knows the guys she's supposedly in love with and they do nice things for her, or they don't do nice things for her, but they obviously love her that get a bit out of hand. Because then she can't seem to choose who she wants more so she laments the fact that there are two guys interested in her and she can't decide who to love. Cry me a freakin' river.
It gets even more frustrating when the YA we're reading is in the middle of a life or death situation and THAT is the crisis on her mind at the moment.
(Tangent: One of the reasons why I like Romantic Suspense novels is because there are usually no triangles involved. There is enough going on to put obstacles in the couple's way without there being a love polygon to deal with.)
There are subsets of The Love Triangle that I could even get into:
- The Not So Triangle in which we know, and she knows, and he knows and the entire world in the book knows who she will ultimately end up with. But the other guy is still lurking there as a good "fall-back", though we know she'll never be in love with him and so he's really just a casualty being led on for 90% of the story.
- The Confusing Triangle in which both men are on equal footing and the girl has never shown one way or the other which guy she is more interested in (or that she's interested in either of them), or she shows equal interest in both men, but in the eleventh hour, finally makes her decision and chooses the guy she claims she's always been in love with. Of course, if written tastefully, this particular triangle can be pretty inspiring.
- The Back and Forth Triangle in which the girl is in love with one guy, they get together and have great romance... but then something happens and they break-up for some petty reason. The girl immediately jumps into a relationship with the other guy who's been lurking on the sidelines waiting for her to be available and then they have an amazing romance. But then for whatever reason, the first guy comes back and chooses to tell the girl that their misunderstanding was a stupid misunderstanding and that they should try again. Well, now... the girl is caught within a triangle because now she's got two guys she's in love with who both want her affection and whom she can possibly have an awesome romance with. Who to choose, who to choose? So much conflict.
Again... honestly, written tastefully, this particular triangle isn't so bad. I've had my fair share of being conflicted by which ship I want to go down with.
2. Instalove -- Because nothing says forever like falling into eternal and endless love with the guy you met in your science class two hours ago... or the guy who walks into your shop to buy an amazing gift for his betrothed... or the guy who tries to kill you on your first meeting. It's love and we all know it and it'll be a love that lasts forever and we'll be damned if she falls in love with someone else... or if he falls in love with someone else.
I'm fine with instalust. Instalust is real. Beautiful people attract beautiful people. And beauty is relative anyway. But that doesn't mean that attraction = instant eternal love forever and ever and ever. We build relationships, we develop deeper feelings, and we learn about one another before we even know that love exists.
3. The Replacement Lover -- Basically, Girl is in love with Boy A. Boy A is the bad boy (of course) and does what he can to make Girl not fall in love with him, which of course, only causes Girl to fall deeper in love with him. But for REASONS, Boy A just thinks it's a bad idea to be in any kind of relationship with Girl. And so he continues to push away. At some point, Girl finally decides that she will willingly walk away from Boy A... and straight into the arms of Boy B.
Because she can't live without having any Boy in her life? It really irks me that rather than just getting on with her life, the girl feels as if her only choices are to either A) continue to pine after Boy A who wants nothing to do with her, but whom she loves with a passion and will never stop loving, or B) force herself to be with Boy B who loves her with all his heart, but whom she can't be a hundred percent happy with because she can't be a hundred percent in love with him.
How about option C? Move on with your life and quit basing your happiness around whether or not you have a man in your life to love you? Maybe?
Do I just not understand romance or something?
4. Romances that Glorify Unhealthy, Non-consensual, Aggressive Acts of (non)Love -- Because nothing says "I love you" like a guy who forces a girl to do things she has verbally given a "Nay" to in the name of "I'm a socially awkward asshole who just can't control myself around you and, oh yes, you like it anyway, so let's just do it because I want it." And yes, apparently she DOES want it despite the fact that she voices her "Nay"s and she feels uncomfortable and she's feeling violated and she's crying and well... maybe there's something wrong with her cause she's not enjoying the sex being forced on her...
I'm not down with that.
If she says no (or "stop" or "don't" or "let go of me" or any other variation of "get your slimy mitts off of me and get out"), she means no, and you stop moving and step away, ASAP. You don't make excuses, you don't manipulate, and you don't try to convince her she likes it rough anyway.
But, unfortunately, because the guy (or girl) is usually good-looking or sexy or any other such alternative for dangerous yet physically attractive, we let them get away with it.
I'm definitely not down with that.
And yes, it's not just "alpha males" on women, because I'm sure women could be the one doing the forcing as well.
Oh my. This became a soap box... Looks like I got a little carried away. Anywho...