Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books.  I'm going to split it, since I'm neither 100% pro-romance nor 100% anti-romance:

Romance tropes that make me swoon:

average/disfigured/not-quite-pretty girl gets the hot guy - While it's not really a reflection of real life (at least, not from what I've seen; if anything, you see the opposite), it's nice to see in books.  Why?  Because, if it's done right, then the attraction is based on something deeper than looks.  Maybe the guy loves the heroine's kindness... or her intelligence... or the way she doesn't back down when she knows she's right.  (Note that I'm not talking about the self-deprecating heroine who bemoans her imagined ugliness while simultaneously being drooled over by every guy in the vicinity.)

Some examples are All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill and All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry.

characters who have lives apart from pining over each other - I want characters to be defined before the romance begins.  If it seems like they have no lives apart from making goo-goo eyes at each other, I'm going to get bored really quickly.  I want characters to have interests and hobbies and things they can discuss with each other; otherwise, what is the romance based on?  Pure lust?

Good examples of books with characters with back-stories who end up in romances are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

couples who start out as friends - These romances are the ones where the two parties have known each other for a while -- maybe years -- before realizing their feelings have morphed into something more.  These relationships start out on a strong footing and build from there.

Books that use the "friends first" idea are All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry, and Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury.

love triangles that just happen - When there's a love triangle that just sort of happens, where you can't see the author's heavy-handed plotting, then it can work really well.  Often, these love triangles will involve people who've known each other for a while, so when the romance comes into the picture, it seems more organic.

Some good examples of nicely handled love triangles can be found in All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

drawn together by weirdness - Past lives, apocalypses, supernatural powers... these sorts of things have the potential to draw people together when they're forced to deal with them.  I like reading about characters who fall in love despite strangle obstacles.  I mean, if their relationship can survive one party remembering their past life as a werewolf hunter while dealing with frogs raining from the sky during a governmental collapse, as well as trying to harness their new-found invisibility... it can probably survive anything.

Fun examples include The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M. G. Buehrlen, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, Dream Boy by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg, Every Day by David Levithan, My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, and Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.

Romance tropes I wish I could get a restraining order against:

the "bad boy" who's not really bad - Chalk this one up to weak characterization.  If the love interest is supposed to be a bad boy, show him doing bad things!  If he comes across as a decent guy, then I'm going to spend a lot of time wondering why the heroine shouldn't be with him.  His reputation is not enough to answer that question.

Some examples are found in My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

insta-love - People don't generally fall in love at first sight.  Simple attraction is often mistaken for love.  In my opinion, it takes more than attraction to equal love.  It should be built up slowly as the characters get to know each other.

Some good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) examples can be found in Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, Neverland by Anna Katmore, and Timebound by Rysa Walker.

if he tries to control you, it means he loves you - Edward Cullen set the bar pretty high here, but there are plenty of other "control masquerading as true love" stories out there.  If the guy's telling you what to do, how to dress, and whom you can see, there's a problem.  I'm not talking about the stories where this behaviour is addressed; I take issue with the books that normalize that sort of thing and teach girls to put up with being bossed around by a man.

See Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, Splintered by A. G. Howard, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer.

the old, hot pervert - There's a disturbing trend in YA: old men are somehow suitable love interests for teenage girls.  Apparently, if a guy looks young, that's all that matters.  That excuse certainly wouldn't fly in real life, and I'm kind of tired of seeing it in YA novels.  And we wonder why 13-year-old girls keep running away to meet up with 40-year-old men they met online.  The books they're reading tell them it's perfectly okay!

Some squicky age dynamics can be found in Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and Evermore by Alyson Noël.

pregnancy as a plot point - I do not want to see this in the YA books I read unless it's a hard-hitting contemporary novel about the challenges of teenage pregnancy.  Yes, I know teenagers have babies in real life... but in my opinion, it's not romantic and should not be glorified as such.  Chances are, the guy who knocked up the heroine will be gone shortly, leaving his (often) paranormal spawn and responsibility behind.  At least, that's probably what would happen in real life (minus the paranormal part).

Books that should've left the procreating out are Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, and Salt by Maurice Gee.

What do you like or dislike about romance?


  1. Oh, I do like couples brought together by something strange too.

  2. I completely agree with your first trope. :) There needs to be more of that. The only example I can think of is The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

    I agree with your second one and third one. I'm not sure about the love triangles, I think it's because I've only read ones where I'm driven crazy about it. I loved the one in The Hunger Games though.

    I like when characters are drawn together by almost anything, just a connection.

    I agree with the "bad boy" who's not really bad. I mean come on, if you're going to write a bad boy, please make him actually BAD. Great example? Damon from The Vampire Diaries. Bad example? KC from Degrassi (tv show).

    I agree with the insta-love one, of course. :)

    I completely agree with the age gap one, that's just gross.

    1. Yeah, the age-gap one is kind of nasty... but it's fairly common. I wish it wasn't.

  3. I like the first one you list up there as well! Some that I can think of that have this - Alyxandra Harvey's Lovegrove Legacy (Harvey just doesn't put a lot of emphasis on their looks) and The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. I also like your Drawn together by weirdness! Not a book example but Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    1. I've got The School for Good and Evil in my TBR pile. I'll have to try that one! I need more books with not-so-hot main characters. I'm tired of supermodels.

  4. Yes to all of these!! The ugly, nothing-special girls always capture the attention of the hottie. Like in what universe??!! haha so true, Noah Shaw is all talk and no play. He's not bad, he just says he is so people assume so. *rolls eyes* Lovely post <33

    1. In what universe? In an ideal one where brains are more important than beauty. I mean, beauty's nice... but if only the dumb, pretty people were out there hooking up and making babies, the species would be in trouble.

  5. Aw, I LOVE the "average" girl getting the guy! It always gives me hope ;) And now I really need to read All Our Yesterdays, it sounds good! Um, EW to the old pervert. He should not ever be allowed. Blech. Great list :)

    1. Gives most people hope, I would think. I don't know about you, but I don't find perfect specimens of humanity all that easy to relate to... especially if the girl is whining about being too beautiful. Seriously?

  6. I wouldn't have thought to put the average girl gets the hot guy, but I totally agree with your reasoning. I totally agree with the characters being their own person and having their own lives! I had that in the book I just read, Sin Eater's Daughter. I think this is the only time I saw a love triangle on the like side and I agree. When it makes sense to the plot and isn't an add on it can actually add something to a book! Which book is this that has werewolf hunters and frogs raining from the sky? lol

    Or the bad boy whose really just a jerk! I don't think anyone likes instant or controlling love. Why do authors still do this? I didn't think of the magically young looking guy, but yeah eeew!

    Nice list! :)

    1. I think I'd have to write that book, 'cause it doesn't exist, as far as I know. I could call it Silver Bullets and Frog Showers. At least the title would be memorable...

      I want to read The Sin Eater's Daughter! I'm glad to hear it's got a decent love triangle. Just gotta get my hands on the book...

  7. Nice list! :D Friends who end up falling in love is absolutely adorable. I don't like it when the author implies that people of opposite genders who are friends *have* to fall in love eventually, though (it's amato- and heteronormative to begin with, but also just plain incorrect)

    High five for disliking insta-love, that's on almost every list haha~ I also agree with the defined personality point on your list. I want to read two distinct characters coming together in a relationship, not two people whose only personality traits I know are related to their significant other.

    - Connie @ The YA Book Thief

    1. I had to look up "amatonormative". LOL... But, yes, it can be annoying if it's implied that every friendship has to end up as a romantic relationship.