I read a lot of trashy romance novels on my Kindle. Once I factor into deals I get from BookBub and Reading Deals, and what I can borrow from my local library, it is rare that a day goes by that I don't put something free or very low cost on my e-reader. I'm also a big fan of supporting authors, so if I read a good book from an author that I got a deal on, I'll actually buy more. But since I am getting a lot of these books for free, I also get some duds. Here's what will make me delete the book from my e-reader and vow never to read another from that author.
1) Instalove - Our eyes met across the crowded dance floor, and that was it. Our love was fated. This is bullshit. I totally get that physical attraction exists and some people just have physical chemistry, but that is not love. It may even turn into love with some, you know, time, conversation, and honesty. But as soon as a character chimes in with "as soon as I saw him/her, I knew that my future would include him/her," I will delete that shit.
I understand the the genre of romance novels is built upon unrealistic expectations and that happily ever after isn't really a real thing, but most of the time those fortuitous meet-cutes are just based on one of the characters finding the other character perfect in some way and I refuse to let perfection interfere with my submersion into the fantasy world I'm already implicitly buying into. If you immediately meet someone and feel attraction, rock on, that's great. But "I fell in love" with his/her eyes/rear end/curves/muscles/ is just not going to cut it in my world, especially when the character who says this consistently refers back to that physical characteristic as a reason for love. It's an inability to recognize that your partner may not always be perfect, physically or otherwise.
2) Abuse turned affection - I'm not a fan of the near sexual assault/drunken "hook-up" that is actually RAPE that turns into long-lasting love. Because NO. That's not what happens.
If your partner is too drunk to get him/herself home, your partner is too drunk to give consent. If your partner is going to wake up in the morning and ask "what did I do last night?" you do not get to answer "I took off your clothes and seduced you" as code for rape.
3) Dumb plot points - I know I've talked about this before, but if your entire tension is built around something that could be cleared up with a simple conversation, I'm going to get pissed and probably stop reading. I do understand that misunderstandings happen in the real, non-romance novel world, but this just drives me insane because usually it just makes people look dumb, like communication is the world's hardest skill. And, frankly if this is your "one true love" and you can't ask them why they weren't at the office when you called and they were supposed to be there, your relationship is fucking doomed. Don't give me that excuse that it "was just a little misunderstanding." You're going to continue to have these misunderstandings until you get divorced. Got it? Stop doing this, romance novel authors.
4) The kid question - There are so many romance novels I love until I get to the epilogue and it's in a birthing room. Children do not mean happily ever after. Frankly, I'm not even a fan of the epilogue that's a wedding. I mean, both weddings and (some) children are great, but what makes a life is the day to day happiness. It's the laughing over how he forgot to defrost the turkey for dinner again, the silly dancing around the living room to the theme song of your favorite television show, and the joy of just another day together.
I also will stop reading if someone is really only with a partner because of kids. They want kids, they have kids and need someone to help them care for the kids, or they're being bribed into having kids (think Great Aunt Mildred left me this giant house but only if I get married and have kids within two years). I just can't read this shit.
5) Just get a copyeditor, already - Okay, I know. I make a ton of punctuation and grammatical mistakes in this space, but I don't edit my entries, charge to read this site, or pretend that it's my "career." It drives me batty when I notice mistake after mistake in novels. I know that a lot of them are independently published and authors are trying to save money, but authors need to pony up the money for a copyeditor. If your mistakes are distracting to me, chances are that I will not get much beyond a chapter or two.
It's weird to complain about something I get for free most of the time.
Next time I'll tell you about some of my favorite trashy novels. That will be less whiny.