Dishing Junk – The act of dispensing ideas of little value in a casual or silly manner.
When book bloggers and readers discuss Romance novels – there is always something – some term that is brought up, some nuance, that just makes or breaks that Romance novel. From insta-love to love triangles and everything in between, you either love the trope, hate it, or think it’s over-used…but most of the time you have pretty strong opinions on it. It’s what makes us avid Romance lovers, some things make us SQUEE, some flinch…unfortunately the stuff that makes us flinch stands out.
Ten Ways a Romance becomes…a Bad Romance
1. Heroine is treated like a child.
Biggest Turn Off Ever. The hero calls his new sexy-time partner things like “Little One” “Small Thing” and I’ve even read one where he called her “child.” Then there are the types where the hero carries the heroine around like a baby, lifting her, moving her around, flipping her over to screw her upside down and sideways. And she’s just like “Weeeeeee!” I read one romance where he strapped her to his chest, while they ran across the dessert or field – or some other nonsense – in a baby type carrier / sling gadget – because he was so much bigger and she was so small and fragile. Of course this whole time she was naked and he was — well happily nestled inside her womanly folds. I couldn’t figure out the dynamics of that particular phase of the story (see item #3) but she seemed to enjoy it.
2. Patty Hearst is my Hero.
The kidnapping of the hero or heroine. And during that kidnapping period the hero or heroine falls in love with their abductor. This happens all the time in Romance. ALL THE TIME! Especially in Paranormal Romance. Either the couple starts out as sworn enemies, or the hero or heroine is trying to do some major revenge or redemption deed that involves kidnapping or killing their eventual mate. Sometimes it works, but where it usually fails for me, is when the aggressor doesn’t redeem him/herself in my eyes, there is literally no reason to fall in love with the guy or gal, other then the fact – “he’s really hot.” If all it takes is an explanation to redeem an attempted murder…well there would be a lot less people in jail.
3. How is that possible?
Ever read a novel where the couple is engaging in sexual activity that you can’t even fathom? Like how is he licking her toes and titillating her female nubs at the same time? Does he have six foot long arms? From the aforementioned baby bjorn episode to a scene where the couple was on a roof top and I think there was some rain and they might have been upside down…some sex scenes are just waaay way way off the charts. You are trying to picture this encounter in your head – but the mechanics of the situation are just defying the mind. This would happen a lot in the Anita Blake series – but then there were like ten guys involved and all would be banging up on Anita. Obviously she had a few extra orifices.
4. Ever heard of honesty?
The couple loves each other, but for some reason they just can’t tell each other their secret. You know that big DARK secret that they are keeping from each other because of some inexplicable reason? They keep secret upon secret, they can’t tell, no they can’t tell the secret! Why? Why do they keep these secrets? Oh yeah – to create angst and prolong the plot. Okay, you had a baby that you gave up for adoption. I understand that might be traumatic, but chick, you agreed to marry this guy – time to fess up. The dumber the secret, the harder for me to accept it as a worthwhile reason for keeping the couple separated.
5. Raunch for the Taking…
There are some situations that just aren’t sexy for me, or romantic. The PDA Moment. The couple is making out in front of the whole family (we aren’t talking a sex club – this is at a wedding, or I’ve even read a funeral one) and everyone around them just sighs and moans about “falling in love.” I mean really – the dude is rubbing his “love” all over her crotch – that is better described as lust. Or how about Apocalypse sex? I just recently read a dystopian erotica – those can get really bad – called The Pulse. I’m not saying it was bad, but the author had a penchant for oral and the characters were constantly engaging in said aforementioned act. All the time. The characters also hadn’t bathed in weeks. Clothes were described as, “ripped, torn and stained.” They didn’t have clean underwear or bras. That picture in my head is not going to make any of the characters nether regions sexy enough for close inspection. I just get and ermagawd that is just gross, kind of reaction. Call me a prude, I guess the characters have gotten used to the smell of BO and the fact that they probably haven’t used toilet paper in months – but I can’t.
6. Monotony to stall.
Most romances go to crap the moment the couple hooks-ups or really when they declare their love. The romance is cemented, what more is their to go over? This is when the author will schedule a series of stupid reasons the couple can’t be together or monotonous events to keep them apart just for the sake of turning a one hundred page novella into a 300 page novel. The heroine has to paint the floor– so she is too busy and can not commit to a relationship at the moment. Or maybe he just has too much going on in his life right now, he has to break it off. Television shows do this all the time, extending that romance to the bitter end – Hello Dark Angel! – but in a Romance, where the whole point of the book is the love of the couple, it is monotonous and aggravating.
7. Ménage Madness.
The ménage is a whole subgenre of erotica and is very popular, the majority seems to be M/M/F (male male female). I’m not any kind of expert on this (sticks fingers in ears and claims innocence), but I would think that an introduction to this type of lifestyle might be discussed before it actually takes place, instead of said third party showing up while the couple is otherwise engaged in the moment and then sticking his happy stick in an available orifice with everyone cool with it. This actually happened in the first ménage book I read. The guy just popped up in the bed and it was about two-thirds into the book, the couple had already declared their love and the hero had smuggled his buddy into their bedroom for a little surprise, the heroine had no idea, but was all “oh yeah baby” when he jumped into the fray. A definite WTF moment. Another one I read was I believe, with triplets, where they kept switching and the chick on the reveal was like – “oh yeah, let’s all try it now.” She was also supposed to be in love with one of them. I can’t even put myself into this situation, because if my man did this to me, he wouldn’t be my man anymore. “Get your boyfriend out of my bad asshat!” It is usually a lot more believable when the heroine is introduced to both parties and consents to a group fling – instead of any sort of surprise union.
8. Stupid Descriptions.
This is my main reason I do not enjoy historical romance. I don’t like to read about throbbing members, mons, petals, cups…manflesh, or ripped bodices. How about some modern euphemisms please, or some new ones? Wang, Dipstick, Johnson…no just kidding. Some of the dumbest names for parts of the bodies I’ve experienced in a Bad Romance novel….it usually involves flower metaphors. Then there is the plot descriptions – ever read a bad romance novel where adjective after adjective is used to describe a setting? I understand you want to paint a picture, but, do you really have to spend pages describing the heroine’s kitchen? Or the damn shopping trip she took, or the clothes they wear, the friggin’ garden, her own appearance as she looks in the mirror and contemplates her own beauty? I might really really like adjectives, but sometimes enough is enough.
9. Insta-Love Time.
The fate/mated couple, the couple that falls immediately in love even though they spend only 24 hours together. The made-for-you couple, the one that he is the only one that can touch her, because she has some weird pheromone problem that kills anyone (but him) that she comes in contact with. These types of couples drive me bat-shit. Even worse – the mate. The only one woman for me, she’s a virgin – be he’s whored his way through his paranormal community, drive me nuts. Some work, some don’t. Kresley Cole is famous for this, her 500 year old virgin finds his fated mate. Hers work though, because even though they are mates, she makes them work to find the common ground. A lot of novels employ the fated mates and then the couple just rolls with it. “Well he’s my mate…I gotta love ’em.”
10. The Make-Over.
The main character, usually the heroine, is rarely noticed. But, she either comes into her own (grows up one summer or moves back after years away) or gets a make-over and suddenly that guy is totally into her. Oh, you only like me cause I’m pretty? Ok. *rolls eyes* This pisses me off, mainly because it perpetuates the bull that only pretty girls can find love and you need to “turn” pretty to get anywhere in life. Knowing full well that the person that wrote that book is still hoping that one day, she’ll turn pretty and find her own knight.
What do you think? What Romantic cliches, traps or tropes drive you nutty?
Similar post was previously published on parajunkee.com, but was substantially revised...