Cheryl St.John: 20 Pet Peeves Found in Romance Novels

I love romances. Really. I write them and read them. But there are some things in romance novels that just make me crazy, and I know I’m not the only one.

In no particular order these things irritate me:


1 . The heroine has tiny feet. How many people actually think of their own feet as tiny?


2 . The heroine falls asleep thinking about what’s going to happen. Yawn.


3. The heroine has “small perfect” teeth. Or pearl-like or even. Why does the writer feel the need to tell us that?


4. Jumping in and out of heads/point of view. Do readers notice or care when we know what the cab driver is thinking?


5. A couple jumping into bed before I care about them – or before they care about each other. :::yawn:::


6. The ending feels rushed, as though the author only had a few remaining pages in which to resolve everything.


7. A story that starts out with so much backstory that I feel as though I’ve missed the previous book.


8. Heroines who giggle.


9. Heroines who only need a shower and a little lip gloss to look like JLo. Yeah, right.


10. Heroes with bad attitudes and nobody ever calls them on it. He’s full of himself, bossy and arrogant. I just don’t like jerks.


11. Heroes who growl. Really? If a man growled at you would you fall all over him?


12. Heroines who purr or mewl. :::meow:::


13. Impossible dialogue tags: “He husked” How does one husk?


14. Ridiculous dialogue tags: “He barked” Excuse me? Are you barking at me? Down boy.


15. Euphemisms. You know the ones I mean. Call a body part by its name or simply elude to it,  but don’t bring pomegranates or roots into a love scene.


16. A heroine who cries. A good cry once—maybe twice—is acceptable as long as it’s well motivated. For me, the black moment or an overdue confession is a good reason to cry. But please not weeping and tearing up all through the story. A lot more emotion can be conveyed if the character holds back tears. Strength can be great characterization.


17. Characters who say the other person’s name repeatedly. I understand all about keeping story people separate for the reader, but people don’t speak to each other that way—unless they’re angry, usually.


18. Couples who argue without good reason. This is not conflict, people, this is bickering!


19. Heroines who are too young. Ewww.


20. Purple eyes. Do you know ANYONE with purple eyes?


I doubt I’ve covered it all. Is there anything I missed that sets your teeth on edge?