Hated Elements in Romance Books

Taking a break for a moment to post something other than a review. Lately I’m highly disappointed with the books that have past my way and honestly, I’m tired of writing the negative reviews. Bad writing, cliché plot, author should have known better. Hell, someone with eyes should have known better. I don’t want to dislike books :/. It’s no wonder some people simply refuse to write bad reviews. So in addition to this post which are just a few random thoughts of mine, if anyone has some suggestions for good books new or old I’d love to hear it.


Hated Elements in Romance Books

This is a topic I rather enjoy as it is so reader specific. There are long, long, long, long lists (longer than most porn scenes) about the dos and don’ts while writing sex scene in romance books. Now, if anyone actually goes by these lists you’d never actually have anything IN your book because absolutely everything is a don’t from blue eyed men to blowjobs and wouldn’t the world be a worse place without blue eyed twinks giving blowjobs in our romance books?

Anyway, there are a lot of controversial elements within romance books but I wanted to talk about the one particular rule I personally feel is hard and fast for romance books. Everything else is debatable and can be chalked up to personal preference and good writing (HINT: good writing means there are NO don’ts because it’s good writing). But I do believe that there is one rule that no one, not even Oprah and her vaulted list can cross in the romance genre. 

The happy ending.

Yes, yes I hear the groans already! But it’s true. You must have a happy ending to your romance and if you don’t want to include one—simple, don’t call it a romance. Shockingly simple I know but follow me here. From traditional romance to any subgenre that exists, the reader wants a happy ending. We’re ok with happy for now endings as that is still, a happy ending. And authors should frankly LOVE this rule as it’s a total get out of jail free card for almost anything*. 

*Granted, here again this really only applies carte blanche to well written authors, but you know what I’m saying I hope.

If a story is going to include elements such as cheating, beatings, rape, angst, ménage (dirty word there), and a whole slew of drama ridden content, the average reader will go along for one reason—there is a happy ending. You can torture your protags all you want. You can let them have sex with man, woman, child, even sheep if you so desire and for the most part readers will go with you. But if you don’t offer a happy ending for all that drama and angst, oh… well you’re totally screwed then.

The happy ending is the payoff for going along with you with elements that romance readers may not particularly care for. Authors everywhere like to comment about how their stories are “fantasy” and “escapism material” which is absolutely true. Romance as a genre is meant to entertain and likely offer an outlet not available to the majority of readers. Even if the reader is 100% happy and in love with the pirate stud/dette of their dreams, the entertainment portion still applies. They want to step outside of the world of cruelty, angst, and drama and read about people falling in love. To keep that interesting, authors have to get creative of course and the flip side for readers to stay tuned, they have to have a payoff.

The happy ending. It’s not a bad thing. 


21 thoughts on “Hated Elements in Romance Books

  1. Absolutely! If I read a murder/mystery I expect the murderer to be caught. If I read a horror I expect the monster to be vanquished. If I read romance I want and expect a happy ending. Genres become genres for a reason.

    • I love reading genre and you’re right. I *do* get grumpy if Mr. Evil gets away but even more so if I’m not given a believable happy ending.
      On the flip side, I’ll just stare at your icon if you don’t mind and create my own happy ending.

  2. I agree with you so much. The real world offers enough suffering and heartsickness. I want the promise of happiness ahead for the characters I follow faithfully through so many pages. It doesn’t have to be a fairytale perfect ending for me, but I’d like at the very least a hopeful one.

    • I agree! I’m perfectly happy with a transient happy ending if it’s fitting. I don’t expect nor necessarily want something outrageous but when I follow their problems, I want them to be happy. Especially so as I do like angst stories because I know in the end it’s ok. It’s like skipping to the end of the movie to see who dies first.

  3. If I wanna read about the grittiness of real life? I read memoirs. If I wanna read about bloody, gory zombies eating people? I read horror and don’t expect everyone to live. If I wanna read about true love and finding happiness, I read romance. And like you said, I expect some kind of HEA or HFN. If I don’t get one of…well then I feel gipped and I want my money back. That’s because I bought something billed as a *romance*. There must be love, preferably of the sticky and gooey kind. πŸ˜‰

  4. Whoa, this is a hard act to follow — but I’ll chime in and second the motion for happy endings. I am so steeped in all the science-fiction and fantasy and mysteries that I’ve read that I sometimes feel like I have to check every m/m piece I write to make sure it’s actually a romance. But at least I’ve always liked to write happy endings even before I realized that they’re mandatory, ha, ha!

  5. Kassa, are you saying you’ve come across books that are promoted as romances but, in fact, aren’t? I don’t think I’ve seen a book categorized as a romance or erotic romance without HFN or HEA ending.

    • I have actually but it’s extremely rare. The post was more the 7 or 29 degrees of separation my mind goes through. It occurred to me what was the single rule you can’t break–the Happy Ending of course! So why some complain about it is a bit of a mystery.. but random thoughts.

  6. Hell yes! If I’m reading romance I must have my HFN or HEA.
    What I don’t want? The ‘oh shit’ approach to a HFN or HEA. You know the one I mean – the one where an author appears to be coming to their word limit and suddenly realises ‘oh shit I’ve got to do that bloody happy ending, don’t I’. Well yes you do, but for God’s sake give the readers some damn credit for recognising a rush job.

    • Oh yes *nodsnods* definitely . I hate the unbelievable happy ending as well. Where the the author ignores all the problems but we’re told “and all is wonderful”. What happened to the professor in the billard’s room with the machete ?

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