Pet Peeves in Romance Books

Don’t you just hate it when… 


A while ago, Nell Iris wrote a post about one of her pet peeves – shower sex. I can’t say it’s a pet peeve of mine, though every time there is such a scene in a book, I sigh a little. It’s not practical. You may snort, go ahead, and I know writing romance isn’t about being practical, but have you ever had sex in a shower? Slippery floors. A husband that’s 11 inches or so taller than me. Lack of things to hold on to. No. But I wouldn’t list it as a pet peeve as such. 

I do, however, have quite a few. Let’s start with stylistic ones, shall we? I have two. Probably more, but two that on several occasions have made me DNF books. 

The Older Man

Epithets – I just can’t, sorry. If you have a smaller man who looks at the younger man before going into the office to tell his boss about the blue-eyed man who came in to ask if the secretary wanted to grab a cup of coffee during work hours, then I’ll close your book right there. Names, please. I’m fine with an older man smiling at him as long as the older man hasn’t been given a name yet. The first time his name is mentioned,  stick with it. 

I don’t care if he wants to see his boyfriend, kiss his lover, blow his boss. If they have names, they have names. 

He Said

Speech tags – here moderation is key. I won’t quit a book if there is one or two ‘he said’ and you may even find a ‘he whispered’ or ‘she hissed through gritted teeth’ or whatever in one of my stories. There will be very, very few (none) said, asked, or replied, though. I don’t think I’ve included one since I grew enough balls to say no to an editor. My current one has never suggested a speech tag in the 21 stories we’ve worked on, never – I love her. 

So as long as you keep it one or so per page, I won’t growl, skim, quit your story. If there is an ‘X said’ as soon as someone speaks, we’re gonna have a problem. I won’t tell you, or anyone (unless it really, really annoys me) but I probably won’t buy your books in the future either. Yeah, I’m prickly like that. 


Okay, onto plot-related peeves. I already feel a bit like a bitch, so maybe I shouldn’t LOL 

I Can’t Believe I Was That Stupid…

Character talking to themselves – Inner monologue is great! I love a good inner monologue. A character talking to themselves when alone – it’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s insane. If it so happens that they blab some secret and someone else is listening we’re getting awfully close to that DNF. 

Ha Ha, Look At Him

Public humiliation – You might call it a practical joke, and the term would be correct, but it’s no fucking joke. Purposely making someone appear foolish is so off-putting in my world, that I might never be able to forgive you if you have it in your story. So when the best friend talks the new boyfriend into stripping and then have the whole gang of friends laughing at him, you’ve lost me (yes, it was a scene in a book that ruined the entire story for me LOL).  

Look At Them Go

This next one is a bit hard to explain. I could call it voyeurism, maybe, though not really, but… sex with an audience? Especially when it’s like a cultural difference in paranormal romance or sci-fi romance so one of the characters is embarrassed and the other doesn’t get what possibly could upset them. Say the character is abducted by aliens and in their culture, it’s fine, or even expected, to have sex with your partner while there are others around. I just can’t. And I guess it has to do with sexual preferences, maybe. It’s just… I don’t find it hot, not in the least. I cringe. 

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall… 

This usually is over quite quickly, so I might endure, but… Don’t make the character look at himself in the mirror and describe his looks. I’m fine with a ‘the shirt brought out the blue in his eyes’ but when we’re getting to the ‘he looked at his brown curly hair, crooked nose, and wide mouth and sighed, wishing his lips had been a little fuller and that his teeth had been straighter’ we’re getting close to having a problem. If the character’s looks aren’t of importance to the story, leave him be. I know some of you will protest this because you want to know everything there is to know about your character, but steer clear of mirrors. Please.  

“Shh, It’ll Be Better Next Time, I Promise…”  

This one is rare, thank heavens, but when it shows up… throwing book against the wall. Virginity. To begin with, I often quit books as soon as I read that the character is a virgin – that’s on me, I don’t blame anyone for writing virgin characters, I know lots of pervs out there get off on it, but I don’t want to be a part of it. But say I should continue to read. Maybe I like the characters or something in the plot has me hooked, and I think I’ll survive this. I’ll survive an awkward, embarrassing sex scene – I can always skip a few pages, right? If there is pain involved with losing the virginity, I quit. I don’t mean ‘a burning stretch’ or a ‘hiss as he slid all the way in’. I’m talking slicing, bleeding, pain. And you might not think it’s possible, but I’ve read M/M books where they have penetrative sex and the writer has given the poor guy a hymen. Get real! If you’re gonna write a sex scene but never had had sex, do some effing research. I mean this bugs the hell out of me even in M/F stories, in M/M… *eye roll*  

BeaverI think I’m gonna leave it at that or I might step on too many toes. I mean, I like writing fated mate stories, and that pisses off a lot of people, so… One shouldn’t throw beavers in wooden houses LOL 

2 thoughts on “Pet Peeves in Romance Books

  1. “A character talking to themselves when alone – it’s not cute.”

    Hey! I feel personally attacked! I talk to myself when I’m alone!! Are you saying I’m not cute? 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do you use it as a plot device in your life? Do you spill your innermost secrets to an empty room (while someone is listening)? If so, you lost some of your cuteness, sorry LOL

      Liked by 1 person

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