1. Well developed characters, including side characters. Not enough popular authors create characters are anything other than the other half of the relationship. Side characters are used to scene set ups and aren’t real people. Authors that can transcend that issue and create characters who are truly well rounded are the ones I look for, like Colleen Hoover and K.A. Tucker.
2. Getting the Falling right. This is why people read romance novels. Especially people who are already in love. We tell people about how we met our spouses and we hear other people tell their stories because there’s something so amazing about falling in love with your soulmate. Whether it’s love at first sight, like turned into love, or falling in love with a current friend, I love when an author pulls me in and makes me melt right along with the characters.
3. Amazing Plots. I love a good romance that also has a good plot. After all, a good book should have a good plot, right? It’s why I like to read things like Urban Fantasy, where the focus is on the setting and the romance is sort of secondary. I love when a romance has an intriguing world and it’s what makes paranormal romance one of my favorite genres.
4. Anticipation/Frustration/Tension. This is why YA romance can be so amazing. No one normally hops into bed as fast as adult romances tend to portray it. There’s always a ton of moments where you are fighting the urge to go too far. It makes the moments when things happen that much more epic to me. I mean, look at the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning? How many of us would have loved Barrens if he and Mac had gone at it the minute they both felt the urge? Or Chapter Sixty-Two of Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi? *Swoon* It’s one of my favorite things about romance.
5. Good writing. While some romances are the most ridiculously written things on the planet, I’m actually shocked by how often I come across well written ones, especially in the paranormal genre. While popular fiction tends to stay simple and I notice many mystery and action novels are straightforward and the opposite of wordy, I find it funny that so many people are quick to judge romance readers for reading trash. A historical romance can have the wordiness of an epic fantasy. I love it.
1. Too much steam. Or more specifically, nothing but steam. That isn’t a book. It’s a handful of erotic scenes. Quit selling those as complete stories. They aren’t. It’s an EPIDEMIC in New Adult and it drives me nuts.
2. Too much preaching. Contemporary romance is notorious for this. People always have lessons to learn and they should most certainly learn from them, but I feel like some authors are a little too preachy with the execution and others try to push the Bible a little too often. Often, characters can’t be better people unless they find Jesus and that’s not real life. I don’t mind that books like that exist, I just hate when I can’t pick them out of the pile and end up reading a book I didn’t want to read.
3. Babies. This is why I’m often stuck with YA and NA romances. So many adult romances follow the First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage formula. As an adult who doesn’t want or have kids, but is very much in love and happily married, I hate stumbling upon adult romances that always feature pregnancy and babies as a happy ending. It’s okay every once in awhile, but I find myself immediately alienated by that kind of ending. Sometimes, we should just let the reader do what they will with the happily ever after ending and just end it with the couple being happy. No mention of having or not having kids.
4. Grunting alpha males. I love a strong male lead, don’t get me wrong. I can even appreciate some grunting/using as few words as possible in certain scenes. But over the top, controlling, violent cavemen should have at least a couple vulnerable moments, redeeming qualities, or something. And no, the virginal heroines vagina should not be what motivates him to be a loyal and soft person. That’s just insane.
5. Doormats and wimpy characters. I don’t think characters should be heroic and badass and unemotional and controlling 100% of the time. I actually like weaker characters many times. But it’s because I typically find some strength somewhere along the line. But I can’t stand girls who never have backbones and let some guy control them. I can’t stand weak guys, either, who cry a lot or are super sensitive and can’t fix a motor. That’s a personal preference, though, I just don’t think that’s attractive. And I hate when girls cry on every page. Happy, sad, stressed.. some characters cry 99% of the book and I hate it.
And this will be 6, but perhaps the most obvious… Terrible Names for Body Parts and Actions. But I think it’s basically everyone’s most hated thing about romance novels.
What about you?