Romance Readers Reading Challenges discussion

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RRR Discussions & Top-Lists > Romance Themes You Love or Hate

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message 1: by Yz the Whyz, Moderator (new)

Yz the Whyz (whyz) | 9327 comments As romance readers, or as readers in general, there are certain themes that attracts us, and I'm sure a few that repels us. Which ones are your favorites, and which ones you would not be interested in?

Personally, I like bestfriends turned lovers stories. I also enjoy good girl/bad boy pairings. I also like heroines that are willing to go after their guy.

A major distaste for me, is if the heroine actively dislike the hero at the beginning. I don't mind an out-spoken heroine, but sometimes author's think that that is synonymous to being bitchy, and I don't like that at all.

How about you?




message 2: by new_user (new)

new_user Oh, I totally agree, Yz. I hate that kind of heroine too.

I love the best friends theme too, and the bad boys. I also like enemies turned lovers.

I don't like gimmicks, like pirates or spies.

I also don't like the "strong" heroine who puts down the hero for 300 out of the 400 pages while the guy apologizes for his gender and admires her "strength". Huh?


message 3: by Lori (new)

Lori  (moderatrixlori) My favorite at the moment is the "gay for you" theme like in the Heaven Sent series. The guy has always assumed he's straight and then he meets "the guy" and discovers that he's actually gay. I like both bad girl/good guy and good girl/bad guy pairings. I loved Tabitha and Val in Seize the Night. Tabatha owns a sex shop, has a scar down one cheek, wears leather and kicks ass...Val wears cashmere, is cultured and cold. She's the fire to his ice. They were perfect together.

Major dislike to me is the heroine or hero who are too stubborn to realize that they belong together. A little bit of angst makes for some good sexual tension but when it goes on too long...I'm like fuck already.


Sarah ~Sehrenity~ | 367 comments I'm with Lori on the dislike of "too stubborn to realize they belong together". You just want to slap someone and say "Hey, wake up!".

I also dislike heroines that stand back and let their hero take a fall for them. She should stand up and get in a few hits of her own! Case in point: The Princess Bride. I LOVE The Princess Bride, but IMHO, Buttercup should pick up a stick and bash a few ROUSs over the head instead of letting Wesley get bitten. I'm just saying, if the stick is there, use it.

Right now I really like stories where the hero and heroine meet over a crime/mystery and they fall in love while huddled together over solving it. If she's human and he's vamp/other, even better.


message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 1239 comments My problem with some romance books is the sometimes absurd miscommunications that keep the main characters apart. Most of the time though writing style comes into play more than who the characters actually are. If there is too much "inner dialogue" going on and they are trying to talk themselves out of being attracted to one another, I get annoyed.

I'm with Sarah on the falling in love while solving a crime. I also really like the soulmate type of books and the love at first sight books (as long as there isn't too much keeping them apart until the last chapter!).


message 6: by Yz the Whyz, Moderator (new)

Yz the Whyz (whyz) | 9327 comments Yes, I like stories where the hero and heroine help each other in solving a problem and in the process falls in love with each other. I like each one to be an active participant, with their own individual strengths, so definitely the female should be able to hold herself. That is a common pattern with Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz books that I love.

I'm with Lori. I don't like it when it takes them too long to figure out that they like each other or too stubborn to admit. I like plenty of humorous flirting or light sexual banter.




message 7: by new_user (last edited Jan 22, 2009 06:00PM) (new)

new_user Definitely agree with you, ladies. I find a lot of manufactured "obstacles" where the hero or heroine talk themselves into running away from "their love" or something.

I do like when they're a team trying to overcome/accomplish something.


message 8: by Jess (new)

Jess I also hate when the herione obviously despises the hero.. what's the point in that.

I don't really like it when the hero sees his woman for all of 2 seconds and is immediately fiercely protecting her. that annoys me. I don't mind love at first sight... but come on. Give it at least a day or so!!

I also like when the heroine is strong, but it's sometimes nice for her to get into trouble and have her guy come and save her. It's nice when they mix up the two. No one likes a wimpy heroine.. or a too strong heroine. (Or at least I don't lol)


message 9: by new_user (last edited Jan 22, 2009 06:23PM) (new)

new_user Yeah, a mixture is good. And I agree, it'd be nice to see the hero and heroine "click" or laugh together or have something in common before they're suddenly gaga over each other, although I think that's more plausible in a were novel, for example, where the beast pushes the man or recognizes a mate, etc. Naturally, of course, he would come to realize what jewel he's found. ;) I like something substantial there, not just "destiny."


Nichole (DirrtyH) (dirtyh) Here, here! It's much more romantic to get to experience them falling in love, and see why, rather than the all too commonly used "soul mate/love at first sight" device, or the equally annoying "I hate you until the last two chapters and now I love you" device.

I also like when (after an appropriate amount of time) the guy falls for the girl, but doesn't tell her until she realizes her feelings for him. And then you find out he's secretly been in love with her all along... that's sweet. :)


message 11: by ♥Tricia♥ (last edited Jan 22, 2009 06:27PM) (new)

♥Tricia♥ (siddie) | 407 comments I get that romances are alot of love at first sight but that REALLY bugs me to no end. There is lust and *I want to fuck you* at first sight sure.. lol but love? That sorta has to grow. And I guess on that rare occasion I believe it can happen.

The thing that bothers me the MOST is the use of the word: *hiss*.

As in: She hissed in pleasure when he entered her.

Ok ladies.. we are not snakes.. we dont fucking HISS!!

I tried to make hissing noises to myself to prove to myself I was just overreacting but nope.. we do not hiss.. and reading this in SO many romance novels just irritates me lol.


message 12: by Jess (new)

Jess Nichole wrote: "Here, here! It's much more romantic to get to experience them falling in love, and see why, rather than the all too commonly used "soul mate/love at first sight" device, or the equally annoying "I ..."

Aww I love when the two are denying things to a certain point. But the reader KNOWS that the guy loves her.. but she doesn't know yet. and then you find out :) How cute is that.




message 13: by new_user (last edited Jan 23, 2009 06:51PM) (new)

new_user LOL, well, I think you two are talking about different scenarios. It's a little bit different when the guy loves the heroine but keeps her in the dark vs. self-denial. "What is this... feeling? Is this... could this be... the Hulk! GRAWR!"

LOL, JK. But I really do hate that discovering-love shite. I don't think that ever works on 21st century readers who see love plastered on their screens. So add that theme. LOL.


message 14: by tosca (new)

tosca (catatonichataholic) | 742 comments Saw one of Smart Bitches Trashy Books latest posts and one of the questions they're asking is if the insta-sex (i.e. hero/heroine fall into bed and start bangin' the gong almost immediately - their words not mine) actually works for readers. A lot of the ppl who posted replies are more cynical about the idea of insta-love than they are about insta-sex. What does it say that I'm more inclined to believe an insta-sex moment than an insta-love. Can't you successfully have both in a book AND have it work??


message 15: by Unapologetic_Bookaholic (last edited Jan 24, 2009 02:05AM) (new)

Unapologetic_Bookaholic | 1986 comments I still feel to "new" in the genre to find myself attracted to one theme over the other, or not like a certain theme. I said I'd never like historical (or what I consider historical) and yet I've read 8 romances with historic themes.

I guess I won't ever like the heroine that is always contemplating her weight, or obsessing over her crush, or hates her job but stays there for whatever reason. I have tried reading excerpts from those kinds of books I just know I won't like and the opening always seems to begin like that. Can someone clue me in?


Unapologetic_Bookaholic | 1986 comments Jess wrote: "I also hate when the herione obviously despises the hero.. what's the point in that.

I don't really like it when the hero sees his woman for all of 2 seconds and is immediately fiercely protecting..."


I guess in "romance-speak" the length of a day can be 100+ pages. So this immediate attraction thing, or at least this is how I solve the absurd lol, is for story time. I would rather them spend time getting to know one another, what have you, but most author's know how to write that instant protection/cavemanish (MINE!) attraction thing fairly well.



message 17: by ♥Tricia♥ (new)

♥Tricia♥ (siddie) | 407 comments I agree with that Tosca, I am more inclined to believe in instant sex because of that instant attraction then instant love.

I do enjoy a good story but I think the best ones are when they dont hook up until about 1/3 or 1/2 of the book. If the main story is good enough then this just works the best, at least for me.

I like more then anything a good paranormal urban fantasy story. Sometimes there will be love interests and sometimes not but the story has to be good enough to hook me in.


message 18: by LibraryLass (new)

LibraryLass | 772 comments I agree with nearly all your comments about what themes you like and dislike. I love the protective guy/abused woman theme...though not with the heroine being a weakling. Also love the crime solving thing but usually with the heroine as the one in danger.

I fall down on the side of not liking the couple to have sex in the first couple of chapters of a book...I like to see the relationship grow a little bit first (I know, I know I am old-fashioned). Having said that I have stopped buying historical romances because all the ones I have picked up lately are either very cliched or they are more erotic romances with a historical theme. I like my historical romances for the 'innocence' of the past. Where men salivated over seeing the turn of a pretty ankle. It is what it was like (according to my Grandma & Grandad) and I love that that is different than today. This bed-bashing theme going on goes against the genre (for me anyway). If I want to read erotic romance I'd rather read a contemporary cos that is what today's world portrays relationships/lovers to be like.


message 19: by tosca (last edited Jan 24, 2009 03:58PM) (new)

tosca (catatonichataholic) | 742 comments Maybe it depends on the mood of the reader at the time, as well as how well the author can convince you it could happen. While I enjoy the moments of insta-sex and the characters bumbling their way along from there I also greatly enjoy other books where there's the build up and the getting there is as good as the getting off (to use the vernacular). I think this makes me exceptionally glad to be the reader - I can have it every single way in a variety of diff books. I'd hate to have to be an author and try to meet those demands :-) And insta-love err I'm a cynic. I'd be more prepared to accept insta-attraction which leads to insta-sex and then insta-love (with lots of insta-tension) - how demanding is that??


message 20: by new_user (last edited Jan 25, 2009 11:48AM) (new)

new_user Yeah, insta-sex, to borrow tosca's saying, LOL, is just more plausible. I don't mind if a hero and heroine sleep together in the beginning as long as the author and the characters treat it as what it is: attraction. I don't like characters falling into bed with each other immediately (aka one-night stand) and then going on about love and whatnot. I don't think many writers pull that off well at all. Maybe a few, who realize that it's pretty uncommon and don't rhapsodize about it in walls of text.

LLass, you're right, historicals nowadays can pretty much fall into those two categories. I like historicals that are mostly true to that era but also feature some spicy scenes because whatever else has changed over the years, sex was essentially the same then as now, LOL. So there was pleasure too-- and contrary to what the Victorians would have us believe, they enjoyed it too. (There must have been some motivation for all that adultery, huh?)


Unapologetic_Bookaholic | 1986 comments I read a story where the couple sleeps together after a striptease (one is a stripper and one is the birthday boy). The stripper actually exudes the "I want this, I want you" vibe all during the act but internally feels guilty and slutty for sleeping with a stranger. So it's OK for it to happen right away just keep the dialoge true.


message 22: by tosca (new)

tosca (catatonichataholic) | 742 comments Wow - happy birthday to him LOL Wonder what she does for xmas?? You almost had me wanting to read that book until the 'feels guilty and slutty for sleeping with a stranger' part but I suppose if that's a part of the character's internal struggle toward a happily ever after (why does that sound sarcastic when I don't mean it that way?) and, like you say, the dialogue is true then it works. I've just never been one for the heroine guilt-over-sex complex. Gosh - you guys have great conversations on here!!


Unapologetic_Bookaholic | 1986 comments Oh Tosca I should clarify. I read m/m romance so this was a male stripper =P. But anyhow it works in either situation. I am not done with the story so I am not sure if it's HEA (I don't require HEA in my romances btw) but that is just one bridges the stripper crosses in the beginning. It is sorta sad b/c he (the stripper) has caught his partner cheating so he broke up and is sleeping in his van and then goes to this job where the he is mega rich and offers to want to sleep with him. in his mind he is saying "don't fall for him. you just broke up with someone. he doesn't want more than sex tonight." I was like awwwww! This may end being a "hate" theme. Too much of a sad story. Ugh.

I love how there gals here actually talk about books. hehe. it is hard to tear myself away for here and read. i try and make deals. read for 2 hours. check messages for 2 hours. doesn't EVER wrok tho, haha!


Sarah ~Sehrenity~ | 367 comments I just found another dislike. I'm currently reading Immortals: The Calling by Jennifer Asheley, and the scene I'm thinking of involves the hero and heroine being chased and attacked by a mob of angry vampires. So, instead of running away like a sane guy, he stops to kiss the frightened heroine senseless.

Excuse me? She's scared. They're murderous. I sort of want to slap him and say, "Run now, kiss later!"


message 25: by Yz the Whyz, Moderator (last edited Jan 25, 2009 07:44AM) (new)

Yz the Whyz (whyz) | 9327 comments Sarah,

That made me laugh. In movies, scenes like that infuriates me, and now they are doing that in books, too. I remember reading a scene from Cheyenne McCray's Chosen Prey, where the hero and heroine are running from members of a cult, but have time to make-out in the getaway car in the parking lot...Aargh!

If the get caught, they deserve it...LOL..


message 26: by LibraryLass (new)

LibraryLass | 772 comments new_user, I agree with you re: historicals. They definitely have to have sex! But some of the sex scenes in the historicals lately have fallen down on the side of 'erotica'. But totally agree that a good romance has to have great sex scenes :)


message 27: by new_user (last edited Jan 25, 2009 11:50AM) (new)

new_user Definitely, LLass. ;)

I'm also adding the "I'm resisting love because I can't afford a distraction on this case or something" theme. Weak. Even though a lot of novels use this one for lack of any real conflict, LOL. I say in that case just use the villain as the conflict, hello.


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura (laurapo) | 8 comments I love the 'secret baby' theme which I know a lot of people hate, it's a guilty pleasure of mine.
I love the 'mistress turned wife' theme too.
The ones I stay away from are the reunion stories (sorry but the heroine who becomes a born again virgin waiting for the hero to come home from his frolicking just seems sick to me) and the h/H who hate each other in the first 100 pages and then fall in bed.
BTW the book I'm reading right now (I'm about a quarter way through now) has this theme. But she's my favorite author, so I' sticking to it


message 29: by new_user (last edited Feb 03, 2009 03:34PM) (new)

new_user I don't like it when they hate each other either. The bickering just gets tiresome. I do like reunions though, when they meet again because of some circumstance. A lot of reunions, most of them imo, it's not because the heroine waited (such as Doomsday by Lori Handeland).


message 30: by Annie (new)

Annie (themadnessofhamsters) I think it's all a matter of how well it's handled. Life is so weird, that almost any situation can be believable - if the writer does a good job.
Even liked themes can become hated if done badly.
I don't mind secret baby - it's ok, depending - it might have been my teen self, but there's an 80s super romance that did well Into the light by Judith Duncan - it involves evil step father, rape, and death threats...
http://www.fictiondb.com/author/judit...

If you want a book that does almost EVERYTHING badly - no matter how much you might like the theme - the book I read for the author beginning with f challenge wins! Covert conception by Delores Fossen. I admit I picked it because the synopsis was rivetingly bad... but honestly! Not only do you have secret baby (done surreally!), but there's...
attracted & fighting it & years of antagonism
throw in guilt - the one time they kissed (that they can remember) her fiance(the one she said yes to, to avoid succumbing to her desire of the hero) found them and attempted suicide - then, on his death bed, he made them promise to NEVER be together... and countless weird coincidences that don't stretch - but break - reality.
Yech! it's the sort of book people have in mind when speaking disparagingly of romance novels & readers.
BTW the author seems to love baby themes...
http://www.fictiondb.com/author/delor...


message 31: by ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (last edited Feb 04, 2009 03:38PM) (new)

ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) I started to like suspense romances because there is a plot other than they fall in love. They come together for some other reason and the romance just kinda evolves as they solve the mystery or whatever. Not to put down Harlequin romances because I definetly read my fair share of them, but if they aren't careful, in the short book there is not much plot other than there is an obstacle to them falling in love. The last book I read (The Bride's Baby) I had a problem with it because the couple instantly fell into bed together, without being on a first name basis and then they don't see each other for 6 months, she's pregnant and he doesn't realize it's his and they struggle before finally figuring it all out and get together. The storyline just wasn't believable for me on that one.


message 32: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Sarah wrote: "I'm with Lori on the dislike of "too stubborn to realize they belong together". You just want to slap someone and say "Hey, wake up!".

I also dislike heroines that stand back and let their hero ..."


Inconceivable...



message 33: by Laura (new)

Laura (laurapo) | 8 comments I'm reading now, and about 3/4 through ?A brother's price' by Wen Spencer.
Technically, it's sci-fi, but it has IMO a beautiful love story, tho by stringent standards you probably could not call it a romance.
The hero is REALLY different.
In this world, very few baby boys are born, and so those few marry a group of sisters.
Women do all the work outside the house, and men do all the housework.
If you fall in love and marry, you have to have sex with all your lovers' sisters too.
And yet, the story is beautiful.
I've been in a bit of a reader's slump recently, nothing appealed to me, and this book has been a breath of fresh air!
Has someone read it? If you want a different kind of hero, here he is!!


ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) Definetly sounds different!


message 35: by Lori (new)

Lori  (moderatrixlori) That sounds really cool Laura. I'll have to add it to my list....*sigh*


message 36: by Frezanda (new)

Frezanda | 3 comments Hi, hope I can join this discussion.
I like bestfriend turned lovers theme because the romance feels solid. They know the bad and good side of their other half and they still love each other anyway. Then, hate-each other-at first sight theme. I know some of you don't like it. But I am so happy when an unlikely couple get together (Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are great with this theme). I love this them where the hero is imperfect. I mean the hero has some weakness, he's not just an arrogant, intelligent, broody, muscular type (and other common type in romance novel. Rich also may be). It makes the hero looks more human not just a fantasy. I also like if the romance progress is more detailed and slow.

I am now bored with a soulmate thingy now common in paranormal romance. It feels too easy isn't it romance wise. You fell in love because your chemistry accidentally match up. This theme becomes boring if the author can't elaborate the relationship after that.
I also don't like spy, suspense, and pirate gimmick. It's just the hero and heroine have to fall in love fast at a most difficult circumstances. Sometime I question whether after it gets normal, they will still be in love. And, I hate this...type of scene..How can you still have time to have sex even though there is a high possibilities the enemies will barge into your motel room any time.

In regency novels, after seducing the heroine, the hero then found out that she was a lady then propose marriage. I HHAAATTEEE this!! Does it mean if she were not well bred, he will not marry her? And then, the heroine will reject him and it becomes anguish all around. This theme is boring and already used often enough until it's full of hole.

But, it still depends upon the author anyway. Sometimes, I read books that I thought I will not like but the authors manage to bring alive the story.
For myself, the details in characterization is important. Even the simplest story can be great if the characters come alive.



message 37: by ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (last edited Feb 11, 2009 09:17PM) (new)

ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) I'm not thrilled with all the books lately with pregnant single mothers in them. If they're after a new guy, what happened to the father of the baby? And if she had a one-night stand with him, gets pregnant, then they seem to be tortured before falling in love since they're strangers. The premise to me just doesn't work that well. One book I read this month the couple fell in bed without being on a first name basis and don't know each other enough to basically be on speaking terms (they had a business relationship). He left the country so didn't get the note she slipped in his mailbox to tell him he'd be a father. So the rest of the book was terrible as they were forced into a situation where they had to spend time together, and he thinks she's pregnant with someone else's baby since they don't know each other well enough. It was a very weak storyline and I didn't buy any of it. To make the storyline even crazier, there was a fake wedding in the middle being planned. I only finished the book so I could check it off for a challenge. lol

The pregnant first-time mother storyline can be done well, just not in the last book I read. I remember one humorous harlequin desire that had a single pregnant mom alone on a hot air ballon that was blown off course, and she crashed into his boat out at sea, breaking his anteannae off in the process, of course. The balloon got tied up in his propeller, so they were cast adrift at sea stuck together and couldn't radio for help. One thing lead to another, eventually, and he wondered how it could appear she was a virgin but she was pregant. (She'd used a sperm bank). It was a funny book, something I'm not sure a harlequin desire book was aiming for. lol

Still, the pregnant mother-to-be storylines are usually overdone.


message 38: by Jess (new)

Jess Is anyone else tired of the virginal stories?? The heroine is a virgin, and the hero is sooo happy because he has been her one and only. And then they live happily ever after.


message 39: by new_user (last edited Feb 13, 2009 03:05PM) (new)

new_user Kind of. Mostly, I think, because no matter her personality, the virgin always reacts the same that first night. Her personality disappears and is replaced by The Virgin. I'd like to see creativity and perhaps a more realistic virgin (realistically, no one's completely clueless about sex in this day and age, misled, maybe, but not a blank slate).


ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) I havn't read as many new stories where the girl is a virgin. However, I have a fairly extensive collection of 30-40 year old Harlequins and back then, they all were. lol It's a little odd reading the old ones, since they were written as modern day current books for that time period. I chuckled last year when I read one of the older ones where the tv station went off at midnight with the national anthem. I remember that from my childhood. No computers, they used typewriters. The last old harlequin I read the character was not only virginal but frigid. lol


message 41: by Jess (new)

Jess I also hate how when it's the virginal character, it mysteriously doesn't hurt the first time. Where was I? I must have been doing something wrong lol.


message 42: by Lori (new)

Lori  (moderatrixlori) No only does it not hurt...they proceed to have 3 earth shattering orgasms and also give the guy the best BJ of his life even though it's the first one they've ever done. C'mon...it takes a little practice to get it right!


message 43: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Exactly, Lori!


message 44: by Jess (new)

Jess LOL. Too true!! And then that whole 3 second orgasm.. what is that? I guess some women can get off that quickly, but none that I have ever spoken with. Those scenes are always funny to me.. it reads like: he starts to stick it in.. and off she goes for a 2 minute straight orgasm, and then he proceeds to fck her and she goes off again. I wish.


message 45: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Ya I gotta get me some of that !


message 46: by ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (last edited Feb 13, 2009 12:13PM) (new)

ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) If you ever attend a romance writer's convention (I would love to one day), they have different seminars you can attend. One of them is how to write a sex scene, especially since they are (at least with harlequin) restricted by what language they can use. I'd really love to sit in the back of that seminar! lol

"Tab A into Slot B" without using any words that could be found in a medical dictionary. lol


message 47: by Jess (new)

Jess That's so interesting.. I wonder how that discussion would go lol.


ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ (briansgirlkate) Jess wrote: "That's so interesting.. I wonder how that discussion would go lol."

I'd love to find out. lol




message 49: by Jess (last edited Feb 13, 2009 12:18PM) (new)

Jess I definitely despise the use of medical sounding words. I don't want to read the word va**na or pe**s. That's what my obgyn says.. not a romance book lol.


message 50: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Ya but refering to a woman's "sex" gets a little old.


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