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So I do read my share of romance novels, although I like to think I am relatively picky when it comes to them. I don't read the traditional Harlequins, historical bodice-busters, or the currently popular BDSM/erotica books. I like to read books that are more rom-com. So what follows is my likes and dislikes for today's TTT. (And can we all just agree that the covers tend to suck across the board?)
Realistic Characters: I like for my characters to have more than two dimensions. There needs to be depth and a sense of realism to the characters I enjoy reading about. They have to have a background, friends, and just basically a life outside of the romance.
Humor: This is pretty much a must for me. Books that are too serious can bore me quickly when it comes to the romance genre. I'm not saying the whole book has to be funny, but every once in a while there just needs to be something to make me laugh.
Action (and I do not necessarily mean between the sheets action): I find that the best romance books I've read combine a mystery into the story, usually adding a few action scenes to the book. This makes the book read faster, and it also heightens the intensity of the story. As for the other kind of action, see below.
Side stories: I like for the friends and family members in a book to have personalities. Usually this means that they get to have a little bit of a background as well, maybe a subplot of their own. I realize that this can become tedious if there are too many, but I like a couple.
Attractive men: Alright, I'm a female. Reading romance books. The man in the book has to have some appealing qualities.
Clumsy Women: I absolutely hate it when a female character's main flaw is that she's "clumsy." This is not a good thing, people! Humanize them!
Men who are jerks until they suddenly aren't: This is an annoying one. I hate when the male character is a jerk the whole book, but is suddenly changed due to love. Now, if you background this well, it isn't always bad, but some romance authors just flip the switch.
Gratuitous sex: I realize that romance novels frequently feature sex, but some of these novels overplay it for no good reason. If a sex scene has lasted more than three pages, it's too long.
Gross details: This kind of goes with the above. Figure it out yourself.
Lack of a storyline/conflict: Some of the books that are heavy on sex lose out in story. Also, it is so annoying when the conflict is something so easily fixed. I know a lot of these books use a simple misunderstanding, which can work, when done right, but more often it is done wrong.
Bonus sixth thing I dislike!: Violence of any kind in the romantic relationship. It's not okay.
Some authors I think do it right: Jennifer Crusie (my favorite!), Meg Cabot, Christie Craig, Kristan Higgins, and Susan Mallery (touch and go for me).
What do you think?