27 January 2009

Why I Hate (Most) Romance Novels

I've mentioned in previous posts that my reading tastes have changed, and that I don't read many romance novels any more. Here's why: romance novels are predicated on the hero and heroine falling in love, despite outward obstacles and their own individual baggage. Not a bad thing in itself. What I hate is when we, as readers, are forced to endure unbelievable characters, contrived plots, and overblown sex for sex's sake (e.g., has nothing to do with forwarding either the character or plot arcs).

Case in point: the book I am reading right now. What's wrong with it?


Let me 'splain.

Hero: Alpha male, which the author has translated to "caveman." Stalks around (wearing black, of course) and broods a lot. Internal monologue consists of "Heroine is so hawt. She's a shrew, but I will enjoy taming her (translation: rape her). I'm so studly I will make her love it."

Heroine: Too Stupid To Live (TSTL), but a Ravishing Beauty (aren't they all?), who stomps her feet and pouts a lot about the Wrongs Done Her. Her internal monologue is basically: "Oh, how I hate this man who has killed my family, claimed my lands, enslaved my people, and constantly threatens to rape me! Oh, but he's so hawt..."

Two-dimensional Friend of Hero (to heroine): You misunderstand him. He's got A Tortured Past. We all have been through Tortured Stuff with him, so we're unquestioningly loyal, even if he is an asshole.

Me: *gag*

I'm about a third of the way through this book, and have lost count of the number of times I've wanted to throw it against the wall. How in the hell did this tripe get published? Granted, the author's use of language is better than many others I've read, but unlikeable, self-absorbed characters like these hold absolutely no interest for me. An author's job is to introduce us, the readers, to sympathetic (if flawed) protagonists in believable situations, culminating in an emotional catharsis. The author of this story, as well as most of her currently published fellows, on the other hand, have introduced me to the fine art of book flinging.

Given the predominance of this type of blather in today's market, Book Flinging could well become the next new olympic event. At this rate, I've got a good shot at the gold.


Nan said...

OMG-like, *twirl hair* don't ya know that hawtness is... like... the only reason to fall in love and that being forced is the only way a "good" girl can enjoy the guilt and stuff. duh!