To Romance or Not To Romance


*Contains swearing and words like “Glory Hole” not to mention a reference to my own sex life… You have been warned.

It has become apparent to me that I need to explain why I don’t read much romance.  It isn’t really about the sex, it’s about the characters.

I do not enjoy Damsel in Distress books.  I feel a good female character should be able to stand on her own, without a man.

I hate alpha male characters.  They come across as bullies, assholes, and bastards, not the type of guy I would want to be with and for the most part, I find them mildly abusive to the female lead.  Even mental abuse is abuse and even in the fictional world I don’t enjoy it.  Over the last decade or so, more and more romance books have begun to fall into this formula.

On the flip side, I hate really sappy romances where guys bring the girls flowers every time he sees her and writes her love notes to leave under her windshield wipers while she’s at work and tells her, often, that he can’t live without her.  Turns out, I’m not big on codependency and needy characters either.  Usually, I consider these guys to be borderline stalkerish and start wondering if the girl should file a restraining order.

So, there’s very little about romance books that I like.  I know, it sounds like I’m hating on the genre as a whole, but really, I’m hating on a stereotype of the genre that brings in a ton of readers but turns me off.  And to be honest, I like a little porn with a plot from time to time, but the characters have to be realish or I put the book down and move back to my blood and gore.

What would make a good romance book for me?  Here’s a list:

  • No plot holes and they certainly shouldn’t have glaring plot holes
  • An actual plot.  I have beta read about 12 books in the last half dozen months where the book didn’t actually have a plot, it was just a rambling narrative about something that happened and didn’t go anywhere.
  • Character dimension – I know this is not a requirement for every book or every reader, but I like books that have characters that have depth.  I can even ignore some plot issues if I love the characters.
  • Some effort has been made to have the book professionally edited or proofed.  Editors and proofreaders are human, they miss shit.  That’s why beta readers exist.  My betas catch about 12 errors per book and I suspect they miss about 10 or so.  I’m okay with that, because if someone is really into a book, they tend to miss the errors, which is why my betas tend to miss some errors (might also be why the editors and proofers occasionally miss things).  However, a reader can tell when zero effort has been put into editing and proofing.  If I can.  They can.
  • The book makes sense.  This is a big one for me.  I have mentioned in the past that I once read a book where a cop and a rape victim stopped in the middle of a car chase to have sex and the killer the rape victim escaped from got away for several more chapters.  What the fuck?!?  That plot twist makes no sense to me and as a result, it ruined the entire book.  I can suspend a lot of belief, but to think that a homicide detective would stop chasing a serial killer to have sex with a rape victim (and she wanted to have sex despite the bruises and stitches still being on her body) was well beyond anything that I could suspend.  In my head, the dialogue became “ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, don’t touch that, yep, that’s sore, ouch, what the hell, nope, that hurts, don’t touch that either, you want to stick what where, um, nope, that hurts too, just stop.”
  • Sex should be… I don’t know how to word this one, I’ll have to use examples.  I hate sentences like the following “He thrust his throbbing member into her glistening glory hole and sighed at the feel of her velvety folds.  She moaned against his shoulder, moving him deeper inside her, taking in every bit of his manhood, slicking it with her own juices.”  Um, no. I have never met anyone that thinks that way about sex.  Trust me, I’ve had plenty of dirty conversations with my girl friends, with my SO, with random people that I have nothing else to discuss and not once have any of these words ever been used.  As a matter of fact, if one of these words were used, it would probably make the conversation lag as everyone involved in the conversation processed them.  If you want to write good, convincing sex, I recommend watching some porn.  I don’t remember ever hearing Carmen Luvana use the word “Glory Hole” to talk about her lady bits.  I’m also pretty sure the words “velvety folds” have never escaped her lips either.  Or think about your own sex life, do you describe your lady bits as “velvety folds”?  Probably not.  If you’re a guy, you probably don’t refer to your dangly bits as “a throbbing member” either.**

I don’t really mind sex or romance in a book.  It has it’s place.  I am actually a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum series (or was, I haven’t read the last 3 because she needs to just make a decision already between Morelli and Ranger).  And some of my favorite books are in fact romance novels: Phantom of the Opera, Pride and Prejudice, Practical Magic (this one falls into multiple categories), The Stephanie Plum books, the first 5 Anita Blake books, the first 3 Meredith Gentry books (that will shock several people), Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead series (another shocker consider how much I hate weak female characters), Gail Carriger’s Soulless series, and Lynsay Sands’ vampire books. 

About the ** 🙂  So, after writing this post, I walked into the bedroom where my SO was watching TV and playing on his phone and asked if he would like to slide his throbbing member into my glory hole, letting the velvety folds of my lady bits wrap around his hard manhood.  He blinked at me twice and started laughing.  After the laughter died down, he responded with that is the worst sexual proposal to ever come out of your mouth.  Velvety folds of your lady bits makes me feel like you have attached some sort of soft furry animal to your lady bits and I’m worried about it’s level of happiness and how many teeth it has.  Especially if you expect me to stick any sort of member, throbbing or otherwise, near it. Plus, I’m not sure which hole is the glory hole, I might need a help with that one, I’m not sure if you want regular sex, anal sex, or oral sex because any of them could be considered a glory hole by a guy, but I’m sure you have a much different definition for it.  We’ll just consider tonight a no go, because the only way you could have turned me off more, was to show me naked pictures of your dad.

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3 Comments

  1. Penny

     /  July 2, 2016

    Ok Lady I couldn’t agree with you more! Hallelujah that you are putting into words what I have thought for seven years ( since my contentious divorce) 😉
    I also want to commend you on some of your reading choices … LKH the first five of Anita Blake are the most read in my library of three authors ( of which you are the predominant one)
    I love a great female kick ass character , of which ACE is my favorite . Thank you and please never stop writing.
    Penny
    Edmond , OK

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Maria D.

     /  July 2, 2016

    Yes, I find that in many contemporary romances the male hero is a complete asshat, the female heroine is emotionally weak and possibly mentally weak too. I think the guy who calls all the time and is thinking of his love interest 24/7 is a stalker who needs to be dealt with. The “purple prose” really turns me off – it’s just uncomfortable to read and like your SO said – the most repulsive turn off. I think part of the problem is that they don’t have a well developed plot before they start writing – they don’t have any idea where their story is going and as a result they have to fill a lot of pages with something so let’s make it sex. I agree about the early Anita Blake, they were great, so were the early Meredith Gentry. Then they just got too obsessed with the sexual parts. I haven’t read “Practical Magic” – didn’t know it was a book and I’ll have to add it to my list. I also loved the Mary Janice Davidson books but got tired of them after a while – it got kind of convoluted. I haven’t read the Stephanie Plum books but i liked the movie so I have the first couple of books on my kindle and of course I’ll read Aislinn and Malachi till they die – lol.

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