As an aspiring author I’ve made it a point to read everything I can about what editors and publishers are looking for in a manuscript and what they don’t like, or have seen too much of.  Now I’m proud enough and stubborn enough to make sure I’m still writing for my own pleasure and not just the writing industry.  However, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the quirks of the people who would likely be buying my book.  And I take note and adapt if I agree with their point of view

On the same subject, I’ll note that as a reader there are many pet peeves I have when I read a book.  Now, I’m no newbie to reading romance.  It will be almost 40 years since I picked up my first (probably without my mother knowing as I stole it from her DONE pile) and devoured it.  That’s what I do with good books; devour them.  Unfortunately there are some books that take me a bit longer to chew.  And still others that I have to spit out.

Why is it that I have trouble digesting some of these books?  They’re all romance books.  They all have the same formula, right?  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, trouble keeps them apart, they find their way back to each other for a Happily Ever After.  I should love them all.

But I don’t and that’s where my own pet peeves come into play.  Here are a few:

–          The Quick Ending  – There’s nothing worse than getting all the way through a romance and then having it end abruptly.  It’s still happy but when I get little more than a quick explanation, an ‘I love You’ from each and then we pan into the sunset, I’m upset.  I feel cheated.  I need to SEE that these two will live happily forever.  I didn’t waste my time watching them fight and struggle through their whole relationship just to be given a fast ending.  PROVE to me they’ll be happy forever!

–          Stupid Characters – Or ones who you don’t like.  Just read one recently and couldn’t stand her.  She was too stupid for words.  Or maybe it was just the really idiotic sayings she kept spouting.  I know she was a southern gal but really, “Well, paint me green and call me a pickle.”  and “Slap some bread on me and call me a sandwich.”  were some of the lovely sayings she had a habit of spewing.  And the poor hero had absolutely NO clue what they meant and she had to stop and explain.  To top it off she kept DOING stupid things.  *sigh*

–          The Miscommunication or Easy-Fix  – Yes, they have conflict but if the whole problem can be fixed by telling the other some information they didn’t know, really?  Or if one believes the evil ex of all the lies they told … really?  They were evil for a reason, didn’t you see it?  I spend the whole book yelling at these characters.

–          Inconceivable Situations – I know romances are fiction and we have poetic license but when something so far fetched happens that you scratch your head and go ‘huh?’   Like the lady who has been running all over the world to protect her child from his mercenary father.  So she hires another mercenary ( a hot one)and leaves her son with his friends, also mercenaries in a decrepit Mexican fort so she can go with hot mercenary to kill father mercenary.  Yeah, she’s getting Mom of the Year!!

–          Condom at the ready – Sure I can understand reaching for that protection when you’re at home or maybe if you planned for the date but so many times the condoms come out of nowhere.  In the mercenary story, hot mercenary had packed a whole box of them.  No, he didn’t trust the lady but apparently he thought she was good enough to have hot monkey sex with a few dozen times in the jungle.  And this is the guy you fall in love with?  He planned on boinking you after knowing you for an hour.  And he gave up precious space for water in his backpack to make sure he had a box of condoms.  Honey, you should have known after you fell in love with the first mercenary that you had poor taste in men.

–          The Sex ListI know that nowadays if the heroine is a virgin, we MUST explain it, heaven forbid anyone have morals.  But must we also give a list of every lover or boyfriend the heroine has ever had?  It’s like we have to justify that yes, she isn’t a virgin any longer but she hasn’t been sleeping around.  Fine, but we could also just give the poor girl her privacy and allow her to meet this new hero without her list being dragged out.  You’ll notice the hero doesn’t usually have a list.  He’s allowed, and almost encouraged, to be a man whore.

–          Songs and Movies – Music is great and I know many authors are inspired by it but must you tell me what song is playing at every turn?  I’m old and I have a five minute commute to work.  I don’t have the opportunity for listening to much music.  So those songs you keep listing, I have no idea what they are and they mean nothing to me.  Same goes for those movies.  Simply say a ballad was on the radio or their favorite rock cd was in.  Or they were watching a classic romantic comedy.  I’ll get the allusion so much better.

Now just because a book has one of these doesn’t mean I won’t like it.  But it may not make it on my ‘have to read again’ pile.  And I’m sure I could come up with more but these are the ones that have pissed me off the most lately.  I know when I write, I probably do some things that make others cringe but you won’t see me doing any of these.  That I’ll guarantee!

About kari lemor

Author of contemporary and romantic suspense. Love on the Line series now available from Kensington Publishing.
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11 Responses to READER PET PEEVES

  1. Great post, I totally agree with the scrimping on the ending pet peeve. I was totally guilty of that when I started writing, but I so enjoy a fulfilling ending 🙂 Agree with the condom at the ready too, it seems downright funny in some situations!

    The only one I don’t agree with is this ” I know that nowadays if the heroine is a virgin, we MUST explain it, heaven forbid anyone have morals.” Mainly because I don’t think people who have sex early are lacking in morals, nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex. I am also so not down with any slut shaming in books, just because a character has sex with someone quickly doesn’t mean she should be judged.

    Very thought provoking post!

    • kari lemor says:

      Have to clarify this. By saying heaven forbid we have morals, I just meant that I have heard from editors it is absolutely impossible for anyone who is an adult (older than 20ish) to possibly still be a virgin. That the woman must have a reason to still be pure. Why can’t someone just CHOOSE to be chaste and NOT have sex? Believe it or not there are still people who do and it has nothing to do with religion or trauma.

      And the list thing is agreeing with your slut shaming. Why do we need to know anyone’s sexual history? Unless it’s important to the storyline, it doesn’t matter. But too many authors feel the need to excuse their heroine from her sexual past. Why? It’s almost like saying, “We can’t possibly have her be a virgin because NO ONE is nowadays but her past relationships must be explained so she doesn’t seem loose.” I don’t think the past is important unless it affects the future. Hope that makes a little more sense.

      • Oh yeah I totally understand your point (and I didn’t mean you were slut shaming by any means, I happened to read something about a book that did it relentlessly of late – that was more my 2c about my personal annoyances in books).

        I just don’t get the whole ‘purity’ thing – so if you have sex you’re impure? This could possibly be a language/cultural difference between Australians and Americans? I don’t think people should be judged. And if people don’t want to have sex before marriage because of their religion more power to them.

        Also, I must preface this with the fact that I’m a bit sensitive on this topic thanks to some really ignorant comments someone made today about someone I know.

      • It’s almost like saying, “We can’t possibly have her be a virgin because NO ONE is nowadays but her past relationships must be explained so she doesn’t seem loose.”

        I completely agree with this, it’s strange. Seems like the hero can do what he wants but the heroine has to be ‘explained’.

      • kari lemor says:

        Oh, sorry about the comments from the ignorant person. Yeah, sometimes things hit at the wrong time. I think with the vocabulary it’s more definition. Virginal, chaste, pure, virtuous, they are all synonyms and used interchangeably. But they don’t always mean exactly the same thing and they have several meanings. Pure I think is just a word that traditionally has been used to mean “not having had sex” but that is obviously only one definition. So sorry I hit a sore spot today. We’ll have to find a much more fun topic to talk about soon.

  2. Too funny. This made me laugh out loud!

  3. Amy Lamont says:

    Kari, I’m right there with you on the quick ending. Nothing makes me want to throw a book against the wall more than sticking with the ups and downs of a romance for 200 or more pages to get only a half a page of happily ever after. And as an author, I can’t imagine getting them to that point and not wanting to pour more of the good stuff out on the page.

  4. Kari, you made me laugh out loud! I love your list. I think the condom at the ready is the funniest one – he packs a box of them? Also the improbable situation of going to hell and back to save your child and then leaving him to go with hot mercenary guy. Too funny!

    • kari lemor says:

      Glad you enjoyed this, Maria. Yeah, I had an editor question my heroine taking a shower in the hero’s hotel room the first time they meet. But this same editor was the one who had the story where the lady leaves her 3 year old with two gun-toting mercenaries to go on a week long jaunt with hot guy, the one who brings condoms. I’m a mother, and I’d rather shower naked in front of sex-starved inmates than leave my child in that situation.

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