Sep 9 2013 7:10am

What Elements Do You Shy Away from in Romance Novels?

In talking with H&H readers this week as many of us read Anne Calhoun's Uncommon Passion, a few people have said that they normally don't like that kind of book, but advance raves and Calhoun's past books persuaded them to give it a try. What kind of book is that? Not that it's a contemporary erotic romance, but specifically its characters—some mentioned they don't like reading virgin heroines; others said they shied away from military/cop heroes.

What elements do you normally shy away from in romance novels? And what books have taken your disliked element and made it work?

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1. CdnMrs
Anything that involves multiple siblings sharing a partner.
I can't do it, I just can't.

I'm also wary of secret babies .
2. AMG
Secret babies!! Hate that trope with a passion.
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
You know, I don't think I've ever read a secret baby book, but that's mostly because I don't normally read category.
Like @CdnMrs, I can't fathom enjoying a book with siblings sharing someone--except then I read Charlotte Stein's Doubled, and totally loved it. So that's one where I didn't like the setup going in, but was persuaded otherwise.
Lori K
4. LoriK
I try to be fairly open-minded about my reading and take each book on its own metits, but there are some story elements that so rarely work for me that it's not worth my time to even try them without a strong recommendation from someone who knows my taste well.

I agree with CdnMrs about siblings sharing a sex partner. I'm getting tired of threesome stories in general, I think they've become overdone, but the sibling thing is really over the line for me. I'd probably pass on that even with a strong rec.

I also share the hatred of the secret baby trope. There are very few ways to do that story that don't leave a bad taste in my mouth. Fortunately since I don't read many category romances these days it's fairly easy to avoid.

I also tend to avoid love triangles, especially if they carry over multiple books in a series. It doesn't take long for a triangle to get me irritated at all three people involved, and the longer it drags on the more irritated I get. This one is more of a problem for me since it's practically a staple in UF.
5. scarlettleigh
Have you got a while
(grin) Like cdm Mrs I dislike partner sharing between siblings and
or friends - it just seems weird (not sure if she meant at the same time
or at different. I not into any sharing
at the same time. And it bothers me some at different times. Some authors
can make it work, like SEP in Ain't
She Sweet, or Kristan Higgins in The
Next Best Thing but most of the time in the back
of my head I thinking how can they forget sleeping with him/her It sort
of worked for me in Call Me Irresistible, but then the Great Escape ending
brought the ugh factor all back.

I not
really fond of truly tortured heroes. I have in my mind that individuals need
to be in a somewhat good place before falling in love - not that I can't
suspend belief on stressful situations. The movie Speed worked perfectly
for me. But I get tired of reading, about low self-esteem or childhood
issues that are carried on into adulthood.

I am not fond of triangles either. I have
been burned more than once - thinking the heroine is getting together with this
guy, only for the author to do a switcheroo. It messes with your

I not
fond of books where weight is an issue. Because it is so predictable. Ditto
with the cougar scenario. The hero is of course going to say you are
perfect the way you are. . . or realize that beauty is only skin deep and with
the age difference it is always "age is just a number". You shouldn't
let that influence who you love. Truism - I know but not that interesting to

(sorry for the Italics - I turned it for the highlight the titles, but can't figure out how to turn it off)
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
I really don't like Love Triangles. In fact, a lot of times they turn into almost an automatic DNB (Do Not Buy) for me. Mostly because I don't think authors make it believable and my heart and head can only handle so much angst. Also, because 9 times out of 10, you know the heroine is going to end up with hero 1 and I feel like she's just stringing hero 2 along.

There's a Loretta Chase or Lorraine Heath (I can't remember which because I binge read both of these authors at the same time), that has a man and woman sleep together because it was the dying wish of the woman's husband (who is still alive throughout the majority of the book) that the woman get what she wanted and have a child. I loved the book but it broke my heart the entire time and I just hated the setup. The same reason why it took me FOREVER to read Cecilia Grant because she uses some plot devices that are just really hard for me to swallow.

I also almost automatically don't buy books that have the love interest stretching over multiple books. If I'm reading a series I want each book to be contained to a different couple, each getting their HEA by the end of the book. Of course with each of these turn offs there's an exception. Like I love the Chloe Neill Chicagoland Vampire Series, even though I normally shy away from that.
Keira Soleore
7. KeiraSoleore
@scarlettleigh: Agree with you about the weight issue. It's always the heroine who's overweight and always the hero who's a hunk and who loves the heroine despite her avoirdupois. Why can't the hero be the cuddly fellow and the heroine be the svelte one in the story? Why can't both be rounded? Similar to this is the looks issue. It's always the woman who feels that she's not so good-looking and always the man who's a hunk. Why can't the man be self-conscious and the woman be the gorgeous one? Why can't both be ordinary and the word "beautiful" never used in the book?
Keira Soleore
9. KeiraSoleore
@Megan: Secret babies do occasionally pop up in historicals also.
10. LindaMorris
Any kind of hint that rape is sexy/enjoyable/something the heorine wants makes that book an automatic do-not-buy for me. In fact, it usually turns me off to reading anything by that author.
Carmen Pinzon
11. bungluna
Here's my list, which keeps getting longer the older I get:

1. Hate matchmaking seniors with 'teen spirit'.
2. Hate heroines who crash and burn and discover that home and hearth are really where true happiness lies, usually in a small town with a sheriff!
3. Hate olders virgins who stayed pure for no dissernible reason.
4. Hate cute small towns where everybody interfears with everybody else's business. I like small towns done right, imo, like Robyn Carr.
5. Feisty heroines who insist (stamp foot here) in getting in danger 'cause, you know, they are independent. I loved the heroine from Open Season by Linda Howard because she was not this type!
6. Overdone Alpha idiots who manhandle and manipulate heroines in doing whatever they think is right.

As I said before, I'm getting crotchety in my old age. I'm sure I've forgotten some pet peeves, but this list is pretty comprehensive.
12. Megaera
I absolutely will not read anything where the 'hero' was abusive in the past, especially if it's a reunion book where the heroine is the woman he abused. I haven't read any Mary Jo Putney since The Burning Point because of that, and I never will. I keep thinking about some woman who's just persuaded herself that she can leave that SOB who abused her, running across this book in, say, the hospital where she's recovering from what he did to her, and the steam comes out of my ears in billows. Also? Any book that tries to make divorce humorous. Been there, done that. Divorce. Is. Not. Funny. (not a romance novel, but that old movie War of the Roses with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, I'm looking at you)
Kirsten Brown
13. Lumione
So for I avoid books where there is a cheater. As soon as it happens, I do not finish. Love triangles are a big turn off too. I have to have a happy ending as well otherwise what's the point! I'm quite bad because I always check reviews (don't look at spoilers) ... Other that anything goes..
14. wsl0612
It isn't necessarily a total turn-off, but I'm really getting tired of the stereotype regarding women with cats. If we have more than two we ARE NOT crazy, if we are single and have any we ARE NOT crazy and pathetic! Cats are fabulous!!!!!
15. paranormalchic
I avoid books with adultery at all cost. It's a personal tick--I don't think cheating is sexy. I don't think it should be glorified. It will take a lot for me to finish the book that deals with cheating. Highlight for potential Gone Girl spoiler: For how twisted Gone Girl was, I was sort of rooting for the wife. She was twisted, but he still cheated on her.

I also avoid books with multiple partners unless it's done right. I stopped reading Anita Blake because I just wasn't buying it.
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