What I Love/Hate About Romances in Books

February 10, 2015 Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 27

Hello Bookworms!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a great topic, and perfectly appropriate for Valentine’s week. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have challenged us to list what we love and/or hate about romance in books. Hoooo boy, I’m excited about this one!


I’m a softy, really I am. I do love romance in books. However, I can be a little picky about it. I’m going to start with a list of a few things that drive me bonkers in bookish romances. And follow it up with what I love. Ending on a happy note is important, no?

The Hate List

1. Insta-Love: I am firmly in the Elsa camp on this one. No, little sister, you are NOT going to marry the dude you just met today. You are NOT in love with this person after 10 minutes and a musical interlude. You do NOT abandon your entire life to follow your latest infatuation. Just. No.

2. Girls without Identity- I like my romantic heroines to be a little spunky. I’m not saying that every heroine has to know exactly who she is, but girls with no sense of self who just throw themselves into crazy relationships and morph into femme-bots who only like what their boyfriends like? Not cool. (I’m throwing some serious shade at you, Ana Steele. Hmph.)

3. Poorly Executed Love Scenes- Book Riot put together a list of some hilarious (and horrible) euphemisms used in romance novels to describe human anatomy. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. If a love scene makes me giggle, it’s not a good thing. (Well it kind of is a good thing, because I like laughing, but it’s unlikely that’s what the author intended so… Yeah.)

4. Secret Keeping- I read a romance novel once in which the male character tried to convince himself not to get too close to the female character because (get this) there was a CHANCE he had an incurable (but non contagious) blood disorder. He’d basically convinced himself he was going to die without getting confirmation from a doctor and therefore couldn’t selfishly start a relationship. REALLY? “We can’t be together because SECRETS” is a terrible plot device. Stop using it, please! (The character in question turned out NOT to have said disorder, he married the heroine and I think they had babies. I didn’t want to leave you in suspense.)

5. Gorgeous People Who Seem Unaware of their Hotness: I’m all for humility, but the prevalence of women who find themselves revolting despite hoards of men falling at their feet are tiresome. Nobody is that deluded, unless they have serious psychological issues. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be in a romance novel, they should be getting the fictional help they need from a fictional therapist. Sheesh!



Well, now that I’ve got that vitriol off my chest, let’s talk about some of the things I love about love in books. Loooove!

The Love List

1. Awkward People Finding Love: Some of my favorite love stories are all about the weirdos. Suave debonair gentlemen with all the right lines bore me. Give me a cantankerous bookseller with a heart of gold or a case of verbal diarrhea on a first date. That’s the good stuff.

2. Witty Banter: Inside jokes, pop culture references, and trivia make my world go round. Having had a number of these sorts of goofy conversations with my husband, I realize they don’t often translate easily (I’m pretty sure nobody would find our nonsense charming who wasn’t us) but I appreciate the effort. Yay for witty banter!

3. Well Executed Love Scenes: I’m not a prude when it comes to love scenes. I enjoy them when they’re thoughtfully put together. I’m not sure there’s a great way to define what separates the cheesy from the steamy, and it’s likely all in the opinion of the reader. Still. When done well, love scenes can be a great addition to a novel.

4. Love for the Non-Traditional Body Types: Rainbow Rowell has written some of the best plus size romantic heroines ever. I just get really happy when someone who isn’t the media standard of beauty finds love. Tall, short, heavy, thin, buxom, tattooed, birth-marked, pale, and what have you. Real people in normal life aren’t usually breathtakingly beautiful. That doesn’t mean they aren’t appealing, and that sure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find love.

5. Historical Romance: Wait, did I just admit to digging bodice-rippers? I might have. And it might be true. Eeep!

Talk to me Bookworms! What do you love and hate about romance in books?! 

27 Responses to “What I Love/Hate About Romances in Books”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I skipped this one because I don’t read much romance and sometimes cringe when there’s a poorly done romance in some other genre. But, if I’d done a list, witty banter would definitely have been on my “like” list. I’m thinking about Me Before You.

    • Words For Worms

      I don’t necessarily seek out traditional romance novels, but sometimes it’s kind of hard to avoid love in any kind of book. Me Before You was a great example! Loved it!

  2. Jennine G.

    Great lists! I can’t read plots that are romance driven. There has to be some other bigger event(s) going on as well usually. Romance can tie in, but I want to care about the events of the book beyond just the romance.

    • Words For Worms

      Most of my reading has romance tie into it as opposed to being strictly romance novels, so I totally understand where you’re coming from. That said, I do like pure romance from time to time.

  3. kristin @ my little heart melodies

    I skipped this one too… I’ve probably read a total of two romance books in the last 10 years, one of which I completely hated and should have DNF’d (Rosie Project—just an utterly awful read for me, only made it through because it was part of a challenge). Romance in books is just not for me—not a fan of romantic movies either, really. Too unrealistic an unattainable in my opinion, I can’t enjoy it.

    I like real-life romance, in my real-life life, though! But not cheesy—subtle, genuine, inside-jokes, etc.

  4. Rhian

    Things I don’t like:
    Royalty – secret or otherwise
    Unexpected pregnancies
    Pretending to be a couple for some stupid reason
    Man who won’t take no for an answer – how is this not stalking/sexual harassment!!

    Things I do like:
    Love that grows over time
    Independent women
    Transformation/”ugly duckling”
    Strong friendships

    Overall I think why I enjoy romance stories is that whole idea of happily ever after. Plus I love to believe that there is someone for everyone.

    • Words For Worms

      Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I forgot the unplanned pregnancy thing, that drives me INSANE! ESPECIALLY when it’s a one-night stand. Seriously, the proportion of pregnancies that occur as the result of one night stands in real life vs. those that occur in books are completely disproportionate. Frankly, I expect an “unexpected” pregnancy whenever a salacious encounter occurs. Cheap plot device, in my opinion.

  5. Akilah

    At first I had an equivalent of secrets (misunderstandings that can be cleared up with a conversation!) but I took it off because…I don’t know why. It’s not like my list is balanced or anything.

    I forgot Girls Who Find Themselves Because of a Boy. I hate those stories, seriously.

    • Words For Worms

      Uuuuuuuugh! Yes! Like “I was nothing, and then I met you and you brought out my secret talents and now we shall frolic in fields for eternity!” I mean. Okay. That might be a little Twilight specific, which, in the interest of full disclosure, my inner 13 year old loved.

  6. ThatAshGirl

    I totally have a love for cheesy Regency Romances and anything with a dude in a kilt on the cover. Juila Quinn, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas? Yeah I’m there!

    I agree with the love at first sight. When I have an issue with a romance novel, it’s usually with the women. I’m not a fan of simpering twits. I’m with ya in that I like them a little spunky and funny. And none of this, having a main character die….I’m looking at you Nicholas Sparks!!!

  7. Megan M.

    Great list! The Big Misunderstanding/Secret thing is something that annoys me (and my husband! LOL) And I hate, hate, hate the “you don’t know you’re beautiful” crap. And the reverse, where (in TV and movies, especially) people act like someone is ugly just because they’re nerdy, when the person in question is, of course, very attractive. And yes, yes, yes to everything on your good list! We’re so in sync, Katie.

    • Words For Worms

      YES. We so have mind-meld going on. It’s like in She’s All That (which I KNOW you’ve seen, don’t deny it) where Rachel Lee Cook has glasses and a ponytail and she’s just sooooooooooo hideous. It’s like… Shut up. We all know she’s gorgeous. And why aren’t glasses sexy again? Because I beg to differ, HOLLYWOOD!

      • Megan M.

        Of course I’ve seen it. I’m not ashamed that I watched Freddie Prinze Jr. intone “Hack. Ee. Sack.” to experimental music. (But he should be.) I don’t get the glasses thing – it’s like they just keep doing it because they’ve always done it, without acknowledging that glasses are so much cooler than they used to be. Annoying. Boys DO make passes at girls who wear glasses!

        • Words For Worms

          Bwahahahaha! I’d forgotten the hacky sack poetry scene! “My soul is an island. My car is a ford.” That’s not Freddie Prinze Jr’s line, but it kills me every time.

    • Words For Worms

      Yep. Like, if my friend told me that she was going to run away with some dude she’d met the week before, I’d have a “stop being stupid” intervention. There would be chocolate there, to ease the pain.

  8. AMB

    I love it when awkward people find love–probably because I identify with them. 😉 That was what I really liked about Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. Lincoln reminded me so much of my husband.

    As for dislikes, I’m with you on “insta-love.” Not only does it conflate love with superficial attraction, but it also cheats the reader out of actually seeing the characters fall in love.

    Great list!

  9. Christy

    The gorgeous people unaware of their hotness really annoys me as well. I read a historical romance recently – A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant – and it was refreshing that the main character, while beautiful, is absolutely aware of it.

    If you haven’t read it already, Courtney Milan’s novella, The Governess Affair, is a good one for well-executed love scene, fantastic heroine and some witty banter. And it’s historical romance.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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