Hiya fellow bookworms! Yes, the time has come. Today I will be discussing my ten least favorite romance tropes which I find fairly easy to spot since I read plenty of romance. Romance is one of my favorite genres, extremely addicting, pulling me through all sorts of different emotions. Though as all readers know, finding that special book which induces one with such effects is trial and error; and all of those who love romance and plow through amazing books, have also gone though some pretty shitty reads as well.
When it comes to romance, a reader clings to the pages for dynamic, emotion, and drama. A good romance will use various devices, motifs, and clichés to ensure all of these fall into place. All readers have tropes they can’t stand, no matter how small they may seem. Today, I will share the top 10 tropes that make me close the covers…
10. Condescending Nicknames/ Pet Names
In some romances I have read, authors like to have the male love interest use nicknames for the female protagonist (men as the example because I usually see this trope in straight romances). The male supposedly uses nicknames to taunt and annoy the protagonist, an attempt to convey the man as sexy, confident, and charismatic; maybe even as a “bad boy” type character. It doesn’t work. I feel that instead of attractive it’s frustrating, reminding me of others who use nicknames in a similar fashion: cat callers.
9. The Abusive Relationship
In this trope, (usually) the male love interest physically/mentally harms the female protagonist for whatever reasons there may be; and as the book develops, he grows into a kind and relatively good being. I dislike this trope especially because of how it may influence impressionable readers. The story ending with the two characters in love and stable could make it seem like the author is trying to convey, “don’t worry if your partner is abusive, give it time and everything will be okay”! It’s not okay! The type of relationship displayed in this trope is unhealthy and harmful. I become very uncomfortable reading books with this trope, a most definite turn-off.
8. Plain Jane and Mr.Perfect
A trope many have probably seen: the extremely stale, insipid, girl with the intelligent, hot, charismatic, (usually rich) man. How does this happen? Exactly, it doesn’t. I find it exceptionally frustrating when the author uses “he loves her for who she is” or “there’s just something about her” as an excuse for the chemistry to be judicious. If the girl is is an un-interesting person, it only makes sense that no one would be interested in her romantically. For a man that holds all these wonderful traits any girl would fall for, he just had to choose Plain Jane.
7. Surprise Pregnancy
I find this device to not have much purpose other to fill in extra pages when an author writes a book. The story could be just fine; in fact, I could love and really enjoy the plot and characters—until the female protagonist is suddenly pregnant. The reason is always “I had the cold and my antibiotics interfered with my birth control” or the extremely slim 0.01% chance the birth control couldn’t stop the fertilization. Since the protagonist is now pregnant, that is the only subject the reader will see for a good portion of the book. Unwanted drama, yet another huge turn-off.
6. No-Life Romance
When I read romance novels, it confuses me when—ironically—all I see is romance. For example, the story could be set in a college, with all the characters as students. Why do I never hear about them studying? Going to class? If they have a job, why are they never working? It seems that the character only has one purpose and want: to fall in love. For me this is very easy to recognize, making it very hard for me to take the book seriously since the characters lives aren’t believable.
5. Unknown Love Interest
Isn’t it confusing when the female protagonist converses a lot with one guy, kisses another, and has sex with someone else? This is the ‘Unknown Love Interest’ trope, if a girl has romantic chemistry with everybody—then really—she has chemistry with nobody. The reader won’t know who to “ship” or which relationship he/she should be supporting in the book, and that makes the story tasteless and disorienting.
4. No First Kiss
I’ve read numerous of books where the protagonist and love interest completely skip over tension development and go straight to banging each other. It’s frustrating! When a romantic relationship finally blossoms in a book, I want it to be with a sweet, maybe shy, and amorous kiss. When this doesn’t happen, and the characters’ first intimate scene is sex or kissing like they’ve done it a thousand times, how could I believe it? I could honestly read through multiple books for that first kiss, it’s one of my favorite parts in any romantic story. I understand lust and what a character might desire, but it is tremendously more satisfying if the author gives a chance for the relationship to grow.
Everyone’s seen it. Everyone hates it. Insta-Love is self explanatory, two characters immediately fall in love strikingly early in the book. Much to early for any kind of real chemistry to develop, which would generally lead up to a romantic relationship. Because this trope occurs so early, it makes the remainder of the story unsatisfying and unreasonable. I am a firm supporter of the ‘slow burn’ in romance. Make the reader work and plead for physical contact and intimacy! Similar to the ‘No First Kiss’ trope, give a relationship time to develop. It will be all the more satisfying in the end.
2. The Naive Dumbass
Two of the dumbest main characters in literary history:
This doesn’t just push my buttons in romance, I’d hate to see this in any book (or any person). The main character is all around stupid. The author may say “no~, he/she isn’t dumb, they’re just naive”—but no— it is clear that the character isn’t just ‘naive’, they also are extraordinarily dull-witted. One can easily recognize this anywhere. For example: the female protagonist is warned multiple times that ______ is dangerous and it would safer to avoid ______, however she goes ahead and does ______ anyways, and almost gets herself killed, in which her love interest would come and save her. This really stings me, especially since common sense and intelligence are traits I value tremendously in characters as well as people. Furthermore, it makes me question the love interest as well, who would be attracted to one such as her? I have no idea.
1. Assumptions/ Lack of Communication
Here we are, the big kahuna, my least favorite romance trope of all time: Assumptions and Lack of Communication. I’m sure many have seen this before in books or screenplay. In romance particularly, the trope present’s itself as two characters who have good chemistry, but the only reason they aren’t in a romantic relationship, could be solved and clarified with one simple conversation. An example: The female protagonist walks into a bar and coincidentally sees her love interest conversing with another girl. She assumes her love interest is in liaison with the girl, and leaves the bar without saying a word. Hint hint, they’re just friends, and if the female protagonist just asked for clarification from her love interest or the girl, the unnecessary drama and avoidance that would occur for the next manifold of chapters—wouldn’t happen. I understand how different circumstances would occur in a character’s life to interfere with a romantic relationship. Perhaps a life or friendship is on the line, and the character must stay away in fear of harming others or themselves. When these circumstances don’t show up, and the two characters are bright enough to solve the conflict themselves, make them talk to each other! It’s that simple.
So that’s it! My top 10 least favorite romance tropes. I tried to make sure these tropes were fairly common, so readers could relate to me and my opinions. There are many other tropes that one may find extremely exasperating in plenty of other genres, and I’m hoping to write about them in the future along with my favorite romance tropes as well! But for now, I am working to push out more fall book reviews for the cozy season, and hop on board the seasonal tag train! Keep an eye out for future posts! An easy way to do so is subscribing to my blog (on my home page), emails will be send out every time I post new content!
That’s all for now,