The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike in Romances. I was in college when I started reading romances but I inhaled them for a solid year and have been on a fairly steady diet of them ever since.
Things I Dislike:
1. The "Secret" -
the "secret" drives me crazy because 9 times out of 10 it's a big nothing and at worst would've caused a minor tiff if mentioned at the appropriate time. I spend a lot of time wanting to shake whichever character has the "secret".
2. The Accidental Pregnancy -
with contemporaries you know if there's a mention of not having birth control you know you're facing at the very least a pregnancy scare. I have read some where it does work but there are several series I've given up on because every book centered around pregnancy. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but pregnancy doesn't equal romantic to me. Pregnancy for the most part equals no ankles and an aching back.
3. The Oh So Proper Heroine who has no problem being not so proper in the library/conservatory/garden/etc.
This is really just for historicals but it's always struck me as strange when you have a main character who is very aware of keeping up her reputation or knows she has to marry well or what have you and yet she messes around with an unsuitable man during a ball. Seriously, we're in a time period where being caught kissing can ruin you and we're stripping down in the garden? I don't care that he's devilishly handsome or what have you. It still seems like a terrible idea.
4. The Immature Heroine -
This is the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for me. When the heroine acts like an idiot and refuses to see reasons or wants a certain response out of the hero and pouts when she doesn't get it. Some scheming is okay but acting like a 12 year old to try and get a certain reaction drives me crazy.
5. Cheating -
this is a deal breaker for me. If there's the slightest hint of cheating it definitely diminishes my enjoyment.
Things I Like:
There's so many more things I like than dislike! I'm going to be book specific in the like column though.
2. When the bad guy turns good and it feels realistic. Viscount St. Vincent was thoroughly untrustworthy in It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas but when Evie shows up at his house in Devil in Winter we start seeing him change and oh what a change it is. I want to go reread this book right this minute!
3. Characters that bring out the best in each other. They're normally very different - rule maker/rule breaker like Chole and Sawyer in Jill Shalvis's Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis, or almost flat broke single mom Eliza and wealthy CEO Aidan in Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne. Or my absolute favorite Rootless and discontented Jude with deep-rooted Aidan in Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts.
4. Friends turning more. This works great for novellas because the characters already have a foundation to start a relationship from but it's also one of my favorites in a full length book. Shawn and Brenna in Nora Roberts' Tears of the Moon, Colin and Penelope in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Tyler and Brenna in Sarah Morgan's Maybe This Christmas. Just love this!
5. A dash of history. This is really any book in general but give me a dash of history - especially if the main characters are trying to figure something out and I'm in! The House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward, The Beekeeper's Ball and The Apple Orchard both by Susan Wiggs and Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas are all great examples!
So what are your deal breakers or must reads?