Top Ten Tuesday | Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes to Romances in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers are encouraged to post their own top ten list responses to the topic of the week.  This week’s topic is:  Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes to Romances in Books.  For the purposes of this post, I am going to do five things I like and five things I dislike – want to keep things even around here!  Let’s do this~

Dislikes!

1.  When Romance Rushes In

One of my biggest problems with romance in novels is when a character seemingly falls in love with someone after only one interaction, whether that happens to be glances across a room or some attempt at dialogue.  Perhaps it isn’t really falling in love, but they start to obsess over that individual and then they idealize this person and either the other individual fits perfectly into the expectation and they live happily ever after or they don’t…and it flames out and burns in an oddly beautiful and satisfying torrent of flaming emotion.  I have just never been a fan of a rushed romance, there is just too much that goes into having a successful relationship that rushing can’t account for.

2.  Seemingly Needless Love Triangles

I previously wrote an article about love triangles and have recently read two well written articles on the subject from Jocelyn @ 52 Letters in the Alphabet and Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts.  I feel as if love triangles have become a somewhat commonplace tool utilized by writers to create this sense of drama and tension for the protagonist, especially in the YA genre.  Love triangles when utilized correctly aren’t just about the drama and tension, rather they help to exhibit the difficulty of choice and the freedom to make such a decision.  The truth is, if the relationships are done right, then this choice isn’t going to be an easy one for the individual making it – ultimately someone is going to get hurt.  There will be opportunity costs, there will be a gain in one facet by making this decision but there will also be losses elsewhere.  I feel as if most love triangles are utilized in a manner which makes love seem so fleeting, as if it is a word which is thrown around lightly rather than as the commitment it is supposed to represent.

3.  The Stigma of Smut

I wrote an article a while back discussing the idea of smut as it pertained to romance novels because I feel that smut is a term which gets thrown around quite a bit when it comes to romance novels.  What is worse is that individuals who read these type of novels are often looked at with shifting side-long glances for their choice in reading material.  Heaven forbid someone reads what they enjoy just because it has a few raunchy sexual escapades in it!  I have spoken before about how I am a fan of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton and one of the harshest criticisms against it is its seeming shift in focus from crime procedural featuring the paranormal to paranormal romance which borders on smut.  Sure, her novels have a lot of sexual elements and scenes in them, but if I am still enjoying the book(s) then what does it matter?  I have said it many times, we shouldn’t judge each other based upon what we are reading – instead, we should just encourage and celebrate in our love of reading together.

4.  Stereotypes and Tropes

This is difficult to describe and discuss, but I kind of covered it when I talked about disliking rushed romances.  I really don’t like romances which feel as if they are stereotypical or fall into some sort of trope.  I don’t want a romance which feels as if the author had a list of checkboxes that he/she was going down when writing the romantic story line.  Relationships just aren’t that cut and dry, they are dynamic and ever-changing things because they grow and change as the individuals in them do.  I just think there is so much more to a good romance than ensuring that certain boxes are checked and it is important for this to be recognized in books as well.  My least favorite of these tends to be, “Our world is ending and this could be all the time we have left, how do you want to spend it?” type of thing…there just seems like there would be way too many loose strings to tie up if/when you actually survive the “end” of the world.

5.  Unrealistic Romance

When it comes to romance in novels, I keep mentioning that there has to be some grounding in reality because one of my biggest issues is when romances are just entirely unrealistic.  I become bothered when the romance is just too perfect, or they never fight, their sex is always amazing, etc.  I think that a great deal of idealization goes into the romance of novels, picturing what the perfect relationship is and building that for the characters, but the truth is that relationships are seldom perfect.  People always want to portray themselves as having the perfect relationship, the perfect romance when very rarely is that the case.  All of us have our issues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be happy.  I want that realism to my romance.

Likes!

 1.  Sparks Fly

One of my favorite parts of reading about a romance is experiencing the sensations of new love – sparks flying between two people, that experience of meeting someone new and there is something forming between them but they aren’t exactly sure what it is yet.  I absolutely love reading this, experiencing this – everything just feels so new and wondrous, as if nothing can bring you down.  The sparks and the tensions are always the most interesting part because they make people behave in ways that wouldn’t be expected of them in an effort to understand what it is they are feeling.  New love is beautiful, love in general is beautiful.

2.  Love Grown

While I have mentioned that I love the experience of new love, I have a fascination as well with the growth of relationships.  I have a great amount of appreciation for love stories which grow from seeming nothingness.  These relationships grow from nothing into something – relationships formed by situations which are built upon by mutual respect and eventual admiration of the other individual which leads you to notice that there is more to them than you originally thought.  It is a simple tale, but an important tale regardless.

3.  Romance Rekindled

Another romance type that I tend to enjoy is couples who fall in love all over again.  I have made mentions in this post about how when we grow as individuals our relationships also grow and change, however they don’t always grow with us and at times we can outgrow them.  This doesn’t make you a bad person!  What I think becomes important is having that willingness to still work with your partner and work on your relationship.  Stories of couples doing this and falling in love all over again are beautiful – any story where love once lost is found again is beautiful.

4.  Lifelong Love

I am a sucker for a story of lifelong love.  I admit, growing up there was this boy who I thought I was going to one day marry and we’d spend the rest of our lives together.  His father was friends with my father and our families became friends, visited each other and went to events together.  It was all so normal, but eventually him and I had a huge falling out.  I think that there is a soft spot in me which still idealizes and romanticizes these types of stories because of some childlike innocence I had thinking that this was how my life was going to play out, kind of naive when I really think about that.  Then again, my best friend and I always joke that my daughter is going to marry her second eldest son (he is a year younger than my daughter and is also my trouble making God-son) for fun.  I really do love to see these types of stories work out, but I know just how rare they really are.

5.  The Little Things

I really enjoy reading about the little things that couples will do for each other in relationships, not like the big overt gestures involving huge shopping trips or vacations, but the little things that they will do to remind each other just how much they care.  I am a pretty simple lady, I don’t require the crazy, overt, flashy gestures and declarations of love.  My boyfriend’s setting up that reading nook for me set me over the moon for days and I still absolutely love it and use it every day.  It is just the little thoughtful things like that which I love, and I love seeing those types of things in novels – the small romantic things that probably mean more to someone than you could imagine.

Share your Top Ten Tuesday with me in the comments below, links to posts or lists in the comments are always welcome!

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15 Comments

  1. Yes, I hate instant love, especially when it gets obsessive. I think that love triangles should be important to the plot in some way and not just there to add problems for the main character or wish fulfillment in having two hot guys in love with her. That’s one I forgot to put. Getting love dovey when your life is in danger! Or she should be focused one something more important like saving the world! And yes it can’t be perfect, real romances are flawed and they fight sometimes. I agree with all of this! Yes it’s the little things that are the most heart warming and special!

    • Exactly Molly, there just has to be more to it than the whole, “LIKE…OMG THERE ARE THESE TWO REALLY HOT GUYS WHO ARE INTO ME AND I JUST CAN’T DECIDE!!!” *shivers* That just gets boring real quick. I think this was a really fun topic for a Top Ten List, especially seeing where we as readers agree and disagree with each other on what makes a good romance.

  2. Aha, I’m glad you enjoyed my discussion on love triangles.

    I feel like when romances escalate quicker than I can tackle one pizza pie then it’s going way too quickly. (Just some imaginary and perhaps relevant guidelines that I just thought up now hah.) Like whoa, two pages ago we were hot/cold now we’re throwing hearts around like loose change.

    I think part of the smut stigma is being perpetuated by covers that don’t do much to suggest otherwise. To the untrained eye, a book can be just a book, and there’d be lesser judgment for what you read (which will invariably still be there) but with certain erotica books it’s like…why not just carry around a flashing neon sign?

    Cheers,
    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – My Favorite Top Ten Tuesday Topics | Reviews of a Self Proclaimed Bibliophile

  4. Wonderful list…ever notice all the What-the-tuck trends in novels? Tucking hair behind the ear (where I get the term WTT), green-eyed characters (despite the low genetic probability of green eyes), extremely rich alpha males, etc. I could go on, but that’s enough for now. I am sure you recognize others. ~nan

    • Hahaha, yes very much so. The hair tuck is mentioned quite often, in reality if your hair was actually getting in your face that often I am sure you’d tie it back or something. I think it is supposed to be this form of innocent flirtation that is easy to depict for writers. Be creative! Yes, yes, yes, all your stereotypes are good ones! There are just so many in romance and writing in general! Thanks for the comment!

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