During this last reading slump, I did a lot of thinking about the things that I like and the things that I don't like when it comes to romance novels, and recently I posted about my hatred of all things vampire and were-related. What I realized is that I am very picky when it comes to the books that I read because there a lot more things that I hate than there are things that I love, and even the things that I love don't always work for me.
Things That I Love
1. Friends to Lovers: I am a huge sucker for the friends to lovers thing, which is probably why I shipped the hell out of Monica and Chandler on Friends way back when. There is just something about two people who have always been there for each other realizing that there is something much deeper than friendship going on. One of the things that I really liked about Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn was that Honoria and Marcus were friends before they fell in love. The same goes for Henrietta and Miles from Lauren Willig's The Masque of the Black Tulip (2nd book in the Pink Carnation Series). These are characters that already understand each other, so they're less likely to be tripped up by some "Big Misunderstanding" and they already have the foundation of a relationship. What was so sweet about Black Tulip was how much Miles realized Henrietta meant to him once he decided that he couldn't love her because of his friendship with her brother, Richard. There is one point in the book where he realizes that she matters even more to him than her brother and it is completely sigh worthy.
2. Reunited Lovers: I guess this is somewhat related to the friends to lovers thing because these are also characters that have a history with one another; they loved each other once, but for some reason it didn't work out. One of my favorite books that did this was the 2nd book in Nora Roberts's Key Trilogy, The Key of Knowledge, which is about Dana, a librarian, and Jordan, an author, who had been high school sweethearts, but broke up not long after they graduated. Nora did this really well in Face the Fire, the third book in the Three Sisters Island Trilogy, as well. Julie James came very close to this twice--first in Something About You, in which Jack and Cameron got together three years after their first attempt, which ended when he was transferred to Nebraska and called her out in front of the press, and then in About That Night, in which the two main characters ended up canceling their first date ten years previously because Kyle's mother died the day before. The second book is a bit of a stretch considering they only knew each other for about 30 minutes, but they did know each other and then were reunited later on.
3. Surprise, I'm a Spy: Honestly, I'm not really sure if this is really a thing, but if it isn't, it totally should be. I've read a few books in which the heroine (it is almost always the heroine) finds out that this person she has either known for a very long time or has just met is a spy, who needs her help for some reason. The first book I read this type of thing in was Secrets of the Heart by Candace Camp, in which Rachel, the heroine, discovers that her husband of 10 years is a spy for the British and has been lying to her since before they got married--the entire time, she thought he was just a really boring guy, who she was forced to marry. Then, there is The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, in which Amy sets out to unmask to elusive Purple Gentian and join his spy ring, only to find out that she already knows him. (In truth, I blame my obsession on this type of thing on True Lies and Chuck.)
Things I Don't Like
1. The World Is Ending: For awhile everything that was published or released in the movies was about the end of the world--I blame the Myans. People were really into that, but I can't stand it. I tried to read the Myan Prophesy Series by Heather Graham, but it was just awful. It was so awful that Dust to Dust became the very first book that I reviewed on my old blog. To say I hated it is an understatement. The only people that could save the world belonged to a vampire conglomerate? Really? *Rolls Eyes*. Then, there was the 7 Deadly Sins series by Allison Brennan. I got about 10 pages into that book and had to stop, and eventually I donated it to Lady Jane's Salon, hoping that it would at least help some woman learn to read (all books collected by the Salon go to Women In Need).
2. Angsty Vampires: Ever since Twilight became popular, everyone and their mother jumped aboard the vampire train, and as I blogged a few weeks ago, I am sick of it. Some of the books were good (The Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts and the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin), but most of them were trite, repetitious copies of Twilight for adults. Why is it that every single vampire has to be angsty? Can't they be happy about being immortal? It is so depressing.
3. Rapist Heroes: Thankfully, this is something that has started to become obsolete--very few authors make the mistake of thinking women find rapists sexy or romantic--but back in the 70's and 80's it was common to find a heroine to marry the man that raped her. That's just sick. Unfortunately, those books are still out there, waiting to be picked up by some unsuspecting person.
4. Consanguinity: I know that in the past, family members married each other with some regularity (FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were cousins) and it was something that was done by members of the British aristocracy as a way to keep titles in the family, but that is just a little too reality for me. I don't want to read a book in which the main characters are related in any manor nor do I want to read anything about step-siblings marrying each other if they grew up together.