I’m coming to really despise this one romance trope

November 5, 2018

Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot. I’m still on my quest to read a bunch of romance so I can figure out what makes the genre tick, and I keep stumbling on this trope that I’m coming to really hate.

The first quarter of this book I read last week, I absolutely loved it. The characters were great, I really liked them, the situation was intriguing. And then they did That Thing.

Every romance has an obstacle. The couple discovers each other, falls in love, then something keeps them apart for a big chunk of the book and we keep reading to see how they get back together.

In too many cases, the obstacle is the characters being stubborn and obtuse.

After a steamy fling, each character decides that the other character doesn’t really love them after all. They harden themselves in response. Thereby further convincing the other that they don’t really love them after all.  This is a natural mistake, a thing that happens. But then every single bit of dialog between them following this is constructed to ensure that neither of them gives any indication that they actually really do love each other. It becomes contrived, repetitive, and torturous.  Like, if they would just actually talk to each other like normal people and have an adult conversation they could figure it out. But they never do. At least, until they do for the purpose of the plot.

In this case, this contrived, repetitive situation between unpleasantly stubborn characters went on for 100 pages. What had started delightful became excruciating. I almost didn’t finish.

When I get around to writing my romance, the obstacle will be external. Something will land in their lives that makes it difficult for them to stay together. Travel, duty, other obligations, other conflicts. Something. I don’t know. I just can’t imagine writing a hundred of pages of dialog where two characters withhold information for no other reason than that the plot demands it.



8 Responses to “I’m coming to really despise this one romance trope”

  1. Vickie Browning Says:

    What you just posted is pretty much why I don’t read romance these days. I used to love them, then they got formulaic and what you said. I will read your romance when you release it. I know it won’t bug me.

  2. Tee Says:

    Hmm, maybe you need some good romance examples, not just stubbornness, external conflict is used more in weak romances, versus ones where maybe the hero or heroine think they can’t be together for the good of the other person, or feel betrayed and leave for their own good.

    Some good examples from Linda Howard include –
    Midnight Rainbow, White Lies, Almost Forever, Come Lie With Me, and her just recently released The Woman Left Behind, all good emotionally driven romances with action too, not just external conflict

    I looked thru my recent reads for other highly rated by me newer romances – here are some other examples –

    Flat Out Sexy by Erin Mccarthy
    When the Duke was Wicked by Lorraine Heath
    Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockman
    Indiscreet by Mary Balogh
    That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran
    When it’s Real by Erin Watt

  3. Jazzlet Says:

    It is an awful trope, having adult that ‘adult’ rather than ‘teen’ is to my mind a prerequisite of good romance.

    If you havent come across them it’s worth checking out Smart Bitches Trashy Books https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ It’s the kind of thing they hate too, along with several other tropes that I am pretty sure you would hate too.

  4. If a problem could be solved by the characters talking about it, there should be a believable reason why they can’t or don’t. If I find myself muttering “Just freaking TALK to each other!” as I’m reading, it’s a strong indicator we’re on the road toward DNFville.

    Seconding the Smart Bitches recommendation. Some of the most interesting and thoughtful discussion about romance that I’ve read has been there. The podcast is also excellent.

  5. Amy Kazanas Says:

    It’s right up there with the stupid misunderstanding trope.

  6. Thomas Stacey Says:

    So I really like this post and I have found that I mumble, “Just TALK to each other already. No games or bs or left out information.” sometimes too even in books that just feature a romance but aren’t about it. Once of my favorite series with external obsticales to the heroine’s romance is the Study series by Maria V. Synder the first book of which is Poison Study. I think it is really more fantasy but I originally found it when Barnes and Noble had it in the romance section and it has since moved back and forth between romance and science fiction/fantasy a few times.

  7. reharrisson Says:

    YES! I put the book down once non-communication becomes the driving plot line. A waste of reading time. Recently I read some Georgette Heyer (Regency Romance) and was very impressed. I’ve only read two, so I don’t know if her books differ enough or are formulaic.

    I just finished Spinning Silver, which does, indirectly, deal with marriage, love and loyalty.

    Fire, by Kristin Cashore is also a book that is plot driven but happens to have romance on the side.

    Now I’m off to check out some of the above recommendations. (Thanks folks!)

  8. David Bowles Says:

    To be fair, even Twilight is better than that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.