PDA

View Full Version : Deal Breakers in Romance?



sunandshadow
08-09-2006, 07:15 PM
This is only for romance, because the rules for what's acceptable in women's fiction are different. So what for you is a deal-breaker, something which would make you quit reading a book? I ask because I recently had the unpleasant experience of buying 2 new romance novels and not finding either of them readable.:Headbang:

In one case the deal breaker was an apparently nice old woman getting murdered right in front of the heroine's eyes while the hero's beloved wife, poisoned by the same man, lay dying and he cried over her; oh yeah and meanwhile the heroine's best friend dissapeared and was presumed murdered by this guy. That's actually a double deal breaker - violence and irreperable tragedy, and if the hero's truly in love with one woman at the beginning of the story it's never going to seem quite right for him to be madly in love with the heroine a few pages later. It's okay if he's mourning when the book starts, but it's just not okay for the hero's love to die in chapter 1 and, with no years skipped in between, the heroine to become wife 2 by the end of the book. In the second book the problem was just that it was badly written - the development of the relationship made no sense, there was no plot beyond the development of the relationship, and the heroine was spoiled, ignorant, immature, and annoying.

Violence, grossness, horrible tragedies, and lousy plot/character development are probably the most common reasons I reject books, but one other reason I've tossed a book in the past has been unrepentant sexism.

So what would make you reject a romance novel that otherwise looked worth reading?

Susan Gable
08-09-2006, 07:43 PM
I simply cannot tolerate alpha heroes who are not just alpha, but arrogant as*h****. There are still some of those types of romance novels out there, and I just can't read them. When the hero makes me want to strangle him in the first two pages, and he's such a jerk that I can't imagine LIKING him, let alone loving him, I'm gone.

I can buy into the dominating hero. Just not the arrogant a** hero. Some people love them. Different strokes for different folks. :)

Flagrant infidelity is still a no-no for a romance novel, imho. (There are "gray" zones for me. The heroine who was married but is now living as someone else because her first husband was abusive. Technically she's still married, but, since he obviously didn't deserve her fidelity in the first place, I've got no problem with it.)

Susan G.

JanDarby
08-09-2006, 07:50 PM
I tend not to read books with violence in them, but that's just me, and not really a "romance" deal-breaker generally, because there are readers of romantic suspense who cope with violence better than I do.

The real deal-breaker for me, across the romance genre, is disrespect between the hero and heroine (and any disrespect they show to other human beings, b/c if they can disrespect Person A, they can disrespect their lover). The h/h can banter and argue and so on, but the minute it's done disrespectfully, I'm outta there. That includes both emotional (mean-spirited name-calling and putdowns) and physical disrespect (actual assault). Because a character who acts that way is not, in my mind, redeemable or worthy of my time.

Stupidity is another deal-breaker for me. Not simply low IQ -- there was an old H/S book featuring a mentally handicapped hero that was really well done -- but the sort of reveling in stupidity that's in vogue now in the "dumb & dumber" sort of movies. Where it's considered stylish and fun to act stupidly. Definitely a deal-breaker for me.

JD

Gillhoughly
08-09-2006, 08:02 PM
Ugh! Who published THAT one, 'cause I don't want to read it either!

Dark is one thing, but going for the throat like NYPD Blue on uppers is quite another in a romance. I don't mind if a character gets killed, but violent, graphic multiple murders are a turn-off.

Yet another reason not to believe the cover copy but delve in to the first chapter before buying. That's saved me from wasting a lot of money. Soon as I see a VP shift without a break between, clumsy writing, a character too stupid to breathe, or figure out the writer has no idea what she's doing the book goes back.

(Sometimes not. I had to edit such a story, and though covered with blue penciling the "aww-THOR" had turned into a *Name* and was now too good to be edited, rejecting every suggestion. What a moron.)

I *did* once have a chapter where the killer did away with a room full of people (it was a mystery, though). It was from his POV and he was clearly crazy, but I had to call a friend who'd knew more on such things to tell me how to do it.

(Me: Hey, Psycho? I need to kill a room full of people...yes, this is an open line, why do you ask? Oh. OH! NO! NOOOO! This is for a BOOK, I'm not going after that one publisher, my car won't make it that far. Here's the set-up....)

Ahem. What I wrote was not nearly as graphic as your description of that romance's violence!

Some years back I did a critique for a lady whose historical romance opened with the lady or the castle (9 months preggers) being found stabbed to death in a lake of her own blood, her stepson naked in bed next to her, the bed on fire, and she'd had her unborn baby cut out of her and it's gone.

That was on page one. Historical. RO-MANCE.

Sheesh, I don't wish ill on people but I rather hoped that the publishers gave it a pass. I suggested a re-write and having the heroine listening in on local gossip at the pub since the horrid business was tweny years in the past.

What I've had driven in to my head from romance editors is focus on the LOVE STORY. You want to kill people then do thrillers for the guys and use a pen name.

I've written romance and...well, so far the body count in them has been zero!

:D

stephblake24
08-09-2006, 08:04 PM
I don't like formulatic storylines. Danielle Steel comes to mind. I don't read romance, though--or chick lit. I like good old fashioned stories with meaty characters. Alice Hoffman, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, and Joanne Harris and Elizabeth Berg.

sunandshadow
08-09-2006, 08:28 PM
In one case the deal breaker was an apparently nice old woman getting murdered right in front of the heroine's eyes while the hero's beloved wife, poisoned by the same man, lay dying and he cried over her; oh yeah and meanwhile the heroine's best friend dissapeared and was presumed murdered by this guy.

The book in question is Midnight Shadow by Laurel O'Donnell, published by Zebra Historical Romance. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, published by Dell Fiction, is another one with some truly horrifying torture happening in it. That one with the baby cut out of the woman's stomach sounds horrifying.

Susan Gable
08-09-2006, 09:13 PM
Huh. Actually, I think the cut-the-baby-out-of-the-stomach lends itself to some interesting possibilities for a story. Yeah, for a romance. (I'm a huge CSI, LAw&Order fan, and don't get grossed out easily -- especially not by words on a page.)

I think most of you here need to stay far away from any rom sus, which has become more gritty and realistic of late.

Sometimes I like gritty and realistic.

I just read Jennifer Armintrout's debut book from Mira called Blood Ties: The Turning. (first book in a triology) It's a paranormal, obviously, and it's got a young doctor who finds herself accidentally turned by a vamp that's brought into her ER and then morgue. It's very gritty, very realistic, and written in first person. (Which is not my prefered POV choice.) And I loved it. The reason I loved it because it WAS so damn realistic -- for a vamp book. <G> The heroine responds in very realistic, believable ways, imho. She also sleeps with two guys in the book - the vamp who first sires her, and the other vamp who's a vamp hunter. (i.e. both the "bad guy" and the "good guy.") This actually made sense for me, given the way Jennifer set things up and motivated things.

So, a really good writer can make me tag along for the ride even if there's something that, taken in isolation, I might say "EEEWWWWW" at.

As editors are so fond of saying, "It's all in the execution." :)

Susan G.

Cathy C
08-09-2006, 10:08 PM
I'm one of those who likes a little violence in my romances. Our body counts are fairly high, and while blood doesn't run in the streets, there is more than a fair share of ripped out throats (but hey, I write paranormals! :ROFL: )

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that paranormal is a cross-genre, and some of the readers came from a SF/fantasy base where there's more action and bloodshed.

But things that truly bug me are TSTL (too stupid to live) people--which is why they often die in our books. ;) Another thing that bothers me are gaping logic gaps (like getting in the car in New York and arriving in the Florida Keys in time for a leisurely lunch. Sheesh!)

ETA: <begin shameless happy dance> BTW--in case anyone is interested, we just learned some exciting news about our latest release! Captive Moon hit the Waldenbooks mass market paperback list at #19 this week, debuted on the BookScan Top 100 at #25 and sales are being tracked by the New York Times list! WHEEEE! <end shameless happy dance>

Marlys
08-09-2006, 10:23 PM
ETA: <begin shameless happy dance> BTW--in case anyone is interested, we just learned some exciting news about our latest release! Captive Moon hit the Waldenbooks mass market paperback list at #19 this week, debuted on the BookScan Top 100 at #25 and sales are being tracked by the New York Times list! WHEEEE! <end shameless happy dance>
Congrats, Cathy! :)

Susan Gable
08-09-2006, 10:44 PM
ETA: <begin shameless happy dance> BTW--in case anyone is interested, we just learned some exciting news about our latest release! Captive Moon hit the Waldenbooks mass market paperback list at #19 this week, debuted on the BookScan Top 100 at #25 and sales are being tracked by the New York Times list! WHEEEE! <end shameless happy dance>

Wooo-hoooo!!!! AWSOME news, Cath! Congratulations!!!! Couldn't happen to a nicer person, either. I'm so happy for you! Way to go!

:partyguy: :snoopy: :Clap: :e2bear: :e2cheer: :e2woo: :TheWave: :PartySmil :Trophy: :Jump: :banana:

(Always end a party with a dancing banana. <G>)

Oh, and good on you for killing off the TSTL people. <G> Those "people" deserve what they get in a book. <G>

Susan G.

Kasey Mackenzie
08-10-2006, 12:39 AM
Congrats Cathy! You so deserve this. I love how giving you are with your time and experience around AW. So go you!!! =)

Speaking of which, I'm starting the agent querying process for the book whose synopsis you gave me so much feedback on when I was preparing it to submit to your lovely editor. I've gotten a request for the partial already so I'm feeling very excited. Thanks again for all your help. =)

Oh yes, and to stay on topic. I am also a huge paranormal romance/urban fantasy fan so I don't mind a little (or a lot, if well done and true to the plot) of blood. But I have to be expecting it. If I'm settling down with a sweeter romance or a historical, I definitely don't want to see a lot of on-stage bloodshed. Yuck!

nevada
08-10-2006, 01:06 AM
I second the TSTL (Too Stupid Too Live) characters. Especially the ones that witness violence or have violence done to them and dont go to the police. No, indeed, they trust the handsome stranger who comes to save them just in time, but they dont go to the police. WTF?

In a specific hatred, I'm sooo, sooo tired of the paranormal Bombshells. I want kick *** heroines that kick *** on their own, not chickies who can read minds, lay curses, or are directed by messages in red envelopes by people who see alternative universes. Give me a break. I wonder if that's part of why they're having to re-evalutate the line.

I hate historicals where there is that one wild horse that only the heroine can ride, or the exotic pet taht only the heroine can tame/

oh oh, and I hate when they totally ignore the laws. I read one where the heroine had inherited something and the bad guy wanted it for herself so the heroine wasnt informed that she'd inherited whatever. Hello? The executor MUST notify everyone who is named in the will. That's why they place ads in the paper and spend all that time looking for lost people. It's the law. But in this book the executor left that up to the bad guy. I hate that.

Gee, I hate a lot of things. What a downer. lol

Stacia Kane
08-10-2006, 01:49 AM
Hmmm...violence is totally not a deal breaker for me. I'm a John Woo fan! I love violence in romance. (BTW, congrats Cathy! I loved Howling Moon.) I write fairly violent romance-my current WIP has no violence and I admit I'm having a hard time with that!

TSTL is a deal breaker, though. I don't care how far into the book I am-I have a few I never finished because the heroine did something so freaking dumb I couldn't read on because I knew she wasn't going to meet the messy end she deserved.

Law ignorance is a big one for me, too. Or when we're supposed to believe the heroine or hero is smart but they're ignoring the obvious solution.

Gillhoughly
08-10-2006, 08:29 AM
or are directed by messages in red envelopes by people who see alternative universes.

:roll: I'll let the writer (Rachel Caine, BTW) know about that one. I'll be over at her house this Friday to talk shop. :D

The Bombshell people are still going strong on the line, last I heard. My agent's been bugging me to submit some proposals.

I happened to be at the table at a romance writer's conference a year and change ago when Rachel Caine was talking to the editor in charge of the line. Caine's Weather Warden books were starting to take off.

Caine: Well, uh, how many Bombshells are you looking for me to do?

Editor: How many can you write?

At that point I choked and dang near swallowed the little umbrella in my drink. My friend had hit the literary lottery! Editors don't ask that sort of thing lightly unless they have tremendous confidence in the writer. I'd be pea green, but she's a terrific writer and deserves all the sales she can make.

Since this info is in her blog I can pass it on here once again. Rachel holds a full-time job with sometimes 80-hour work weeks, manages to kick out 4-5 books a year, and last year did it all while going through some very scary radiation treatments, fighting off breast cancer. She won.

Oh, yeah--SHE IS a kick-a** heroine -- all on her own. I'm proud to know her.

.

Susan Gable
08-10-2006, 06:07 PM
The Bombshell people are still going strong on the line, last I heard. My agent's been bugging me to submit some proposals.

.

I heard at conference that at this moment, Bombshell isn't accepting proposals. (At least, not from outside the house.) That there is some repositioning going on for the line, much like they did for Harlequin American a few years ago. That doesn't mean the line is going to fold (American has come back stronger) just that they're reconsidering the direction/focus of the line.

My theory is that they want to make sure they have strong romances in there, since it is a Silhouette line.

Susan G.

Gillhoughly
08-10-2006, 07:37 PM
I'll ask Rachel if she knows anything new since my stuff is decidedly out of date.

Right now I'm tied up with the current WIP and couldn't break away to do proposals if my mortgage depended on it.

Oh, wait...it DOES! :eek:

.

dragonjax
08-10-2006, 11:30 PM
Wanna know what really makes me roll my eyes and say "Oy"?

When the h/h have sex at stupid times.

The bad guys are coming! They're going to find us and kill us! Quick! Make love to me! Now!

:Headbang:

HoosierCowgirl
08-12-2006, 06:30 AM
Yes, wild horses that no one but the heroine can ride ... tried that IRL and ended up in the ER. ;)

Violence against humans and cruelty to animals are deal breakers for me.

Ann

Lolly
08-20-2006, 12:21 AM
I don't like formulatic storylines. Danielle Steel comes to mind. I don't read romance, though--or chick lit. I like good old fashioned stories with meaty characters. Alice Hoffman, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, and Joanne Harris and Elizabeth Berg.


I don't like chick lit., either. I like strong heroines and so the ditzy ones in chick lit. drive me crazy. :rant: I read Bridget Jones' Diary when it was popular, and I kept wanting to scream "Get a life!" at poor Bridget. And I was single at the time!

Heather Lewis
08-20-2006, 12:43 AM
Good question! Like Susan, I don't like "the arrogant a** hero." I also don't like his counterpart, the completely helpless & naive heroine. Just a personal preference that is usually a deal-breaker for me.

Another deal-breaker for me is an overt political agenda on the part of the writer. And I will definitely abandon a book with too many logic gaps or bad writing style.

Too stupid to live characters or characters who have sex at stupid times...definitely annoying! Not usually a deal-breaker, though, until the author's next book comes out and I don't read it...

MelRandall

Stacia Kane
08-20-2006, 01:51 AM
Another deal-breaker for me is an overt political agenda on the part of the writer.


Ugh, YES! I hate picking up a book to have a good time and getting lectured on politics-even if I agree it bugs me. Leave that stuff OUT--don't assume everyone thinks the way you do!