In romance novels, readers often have personal pet peeves and deal-breakers that can affect their enjoyment of a story. These preferences can range from specific plot elements to word choices, and they are highly subjective.
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Romance pet peeves or deal breakers that turn you off
Let’s talk about romance pet peeves or deal breakers that turn readers off from enjoying a novel.
Each person has a unique limit to what he or she can or cannot tolerate in fiction. Romance novels have an unequivocal requirement for happy endings to ensure the positive escapist nature of the genre.
Nevertheless, many books contain what readers consider deal-breakers or hated tropes that may ruin or dispel a pleasurable experience that is meant to take them away from reality for a few hours.
Our Pet Peeves
Some of our negative book reviews at Sweet Savage Flame have pointed to personal pet peeves as reasons we couldn’t enjoy our reading experiences.
In Nadine Crenshaw’s Captive Melody, two harmful tropes were deal-breakers for reviewer Blue Falcon. First, the heroine is a captive who experiences Stockholm syndrome for her captor. Second, the hero seeks to inflict vengeance upon the heroine, who is an innocent party.
Sometimes, there are cruelties that characters experience that cannot be offset by skillful writing or a conveniently happy ending.
Hero Still in Mourning and Madly in Love with Dead Partner More Than Heroine
I’ve stated before in many reviews I can’t enjoy a romance where the hero is mourning the death of a previous beloved. While I prefer a heroine to be the hero’s only love, I can accept a rival for his affection—so long as she is alive. A flesh and blood woman will always pale to the perfection of a saintly ghost.
For example, this trope was present in Dana Ransom’s Love’s Glorious Gamble, which made what could have been a 4.5-star read for me into a 3-star rating.
Common Hated Tropes in Romance
The Biggest No-Nos
As I’ve engaged in romance forums and websites, I’ve encountered various pet peeves readers have regarding their reading preferences. They range from the most minute issues to the most indefensible.
ABUSIVE, CRUEL HEROES
Readers of older romances might have a more “nuanced perspective” regarding the dominant, overbearing Alpha heroes. This may include the hero engaging in any violence against the heroine, be it physical or sexual.
However, among modern readers, this is a contentious issue. Most people outright despise it, yet this trope is still present in “Dark Romances,” so many readers are drawn to this car-wreck plot point.
When it comes to cheating, that is also one of the most common deal-breakers. Some older romances featured heroes who would be sexing it up with their mistresses on page one. He might even do so after he’s met or been intimate with the heroine.
A highly talented writer must make their audience accept and move on from this point. If cheating is the main obstacle in a romance, such as Laurey Bright’s A Perfect Marriage, some readers may not be as forgiving as the heroine.
Other Pet Peeves
TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE SEXUAL PAST
Similarly, some readers don’t want to know about a main character’s past sexual experience. A fantasy that appeals to some romance fans is for the hero to be the heroine’s one and only lover. This is a plot point that seems authentic in historical and vintage romances. For some readers, it’s unconvincing in a modern contemporary novel unless the heroine is young or raised unconventionally.
The abuse or death of animals, the elderly, or children might not often appear in romances, and there’s a good reason. Those issues can be quite emotionally upsetting to folks seeking escapist entertainment.
WEIRD WORDS OR PHRASES
Sometimes, a pet peeve may not be a plot point but a word used. So many times, I’ve heard readers state they can’t stand the word “moist” to describe how excited a heroine gets. No matter how erotic the scene, once that word rears its head, visions of Duncan Hines chocolate cake or alcohol-soaked sanitizing towelettes come to mind.
Final Thoughts of Romance Pet Peeves
What constitutes a deal break or a pet peeve in romance novels is subjective and based on personal tastes. Here at Sweet Savage Flame, we focus on vintage or old-school reads. Consequently, we may review books with”dated” tropes or “politically incorrect” behavior or beliefs that may appear strange, insensitive, or even offensive to modern mindsets.
Reviewers here provide their own opinions and, on occasion, personal insights. Our tolerance levels vary from person to person, which should be.
Whether to accept these books as products of their age or dismiss them outright is solely up to the individual reader. Everyone has a right to their own opinions or idiosyncrasies.
What are your most hated romance tropes? Is there anything that can make you overlook your pet peeves, such as literary skill, or are there some things you won’t accept in a love story?
Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.