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I haven't joined in on a Top Ten Tuesday in ages, but I couldn't resist today's topic: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books. This is perfect because I get to talk about some of my favorite (and least favorite) books, including one I've harped on a ton! Be aware, there may be spoilers ...
1. When the author pulls a bait-and-switch
You had to know this one was coming after all of my griping about the Bailey Flanigan series, right? The interesting thing is that I was actually on the Bailey-Brandon bandwagon at one point. (I'd totally forgotten until I read this.)
2. When one of the leads is a stalker
Edward Cullen, I'm looking at you.
3. When the leads have zero chemistry
Is there anything more disappointing in a romance novel? It doesn't make me angry, it just makes me ... bored. If I don't care about the couple, then the book isn't worth my time. Fortunately, most of the books I read don't fall into this category. When I think of zero chemistry, this is the book that always comes to mind.
I'm never a fan of these plots. I know that insta-love actually happens sometimes (my sister and her husband are an example), but I would so much rather read about characters slowly getting to know each other and developing a relationship. Basically the opposite of what happens here.
5. When the conflict could be resolved simply by the leads talking about it ... but they don't, and misunderstandings abound
This is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to romance, and it happens all the time—even in books that I otherwise love! I like to call it "just talk about it already" syndrome. It's the worst.
1. Marriage of convenience plots
Here's where you have all your mail order bride plots, but I prefer the marriage of convenience stories that don't involve a mail order bride. The first marriage of convenience story I remember reading is Grace Livingston Hill's Marcia Schuyler. I have no idea if it holds up now, but as a preteen, I thought it was the most romantic thing ever. It's in the public domain now, so you can read it online for free or get a free Kindle version. Twenty years later, I still love the marriage of convenience trope. (Seriously, though, if your book features a marriage of convenience—mail order bride or not—and it's clean, I'm going to read it. Even if it's terrible. I can't resist.)
2. Fake relationship turned real
Wow, today's topic is sending me down memory lane! The first "fake relationship" story I remember reading is Mary Davis' Newlywed Games from the late great Palisades line. I think that one may still be on my shelf—I should dig it out and give it another read through! More recently, Denise Hunter and Katie Ganshert have written fake relationship novellas that I adored.
3. Friends falling in love
If I hate insta-love, I must love friends falling in love, right? Sometimes, this type of story also has a fake relationship turned real (like Ganshert's An October Bride). Other times, it's friends who have known each other forever—one has usually loved the other for a long time—slowly finding love. Denise Hunter's fabulous Dancing with Fireflies is a great example, as is Betsy St. Amant's wonderful All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes.
4. Laugh-out-loud funny
I'm not really drawn to books that are marketed as romantic comedy, but I really enjoy romance novels where the humor sneaks up on me, like in Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart and in practically all of Suzanne Woods Fisher's novels.
5. Older heroines
I think this is a case of wanting to read about women like me—women who are no longer in their early 20's (or even in their 20's at all) ... women who have a little life experience under their belt. Kaye Dacus's contemporary novels are a great example. I especially loved her The Art of Romance. Beth K. Vogt's Catch a Falling Star is another example.
How about you? What do you love/hate in romance? Let me know in the comments, and if you've written your own list, please leave the link so I can visit your blog!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."