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Poll Time: Are there storylines you just won’t read?

We have a lovely op ed piece by Janine due for tomorrow so this morning we are going to run a poll instead.   I recently read a blurb for a story that featured the heroine working for a tabloid and   was trying to write a tell all story. It appeared, by the blurb, that she was going to try to get close to the subjects she was writing the tell all story about.    (There is a Patricia Wilson or Sally Wentworth book with this kind of storyline).

It’s not a book I’m likely to read, no matter the writing. I can’t get past the blurb to even read an excerpt or sample.   About the only time I can overcome this prejudice is with a specific trusted reader recommendation.   Sometimes I have been able to read these books and enjoyed the storyline, in spite of my initial dread. Yet faced with a new book and a new author, in particular, I’m not likely give that book a try.

Betrayal storylines are another hard sell for me. Those are the ones in which one of the characters enters the life of another under subterfuge because the innocent character has something the other wants. I can read these but I’m not drawn to them and more often than not, I will pass these storylines up for something else.

Are there storylines you just won't read?

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Is there any one else that has a storyline or character trope you just won’t read?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Katrina
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 04:06:57

    How strange. I just wrote a blog post about this last week, because I read a review about a book I loved where the reviewer said she’d never re-read it because it contained story lines she never wanted to read about.

    For me, it completely depends on how the story is approached. There are several types of stories I think are cliche, or harmful, or tasteless, but they can all be written in a way that surprises me. I’m generally willing to give a book a chance, but once an author has peeved me with a shallow story, I won’t dip my toe in those waters again.

  2. Rosie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 05:28:49

    I think it’s safe to say the answer is yes for me. I’ve been reading romance for about 15 years, and I have never read a secret baby storyline. And I have no desire to remedy that.

  3. Maddie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:00:57

    I do read M/M romances, but I will not read stories about two gay men who suddenly want a female to enhance their relationship, just doesn’t ring true to me.

    I also try to avoid “I slept with two brothers” story line you know those Thanksgiving and other family outings must be awkward.

  4. joanne
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:11:09

    Revenge. A blurb with that plot will turn me off quickly.

    Maybe with a favorite auto-buy author I might try the book, but if it’s the main motivation for one of the characters it will be a hard sell to me.

    Feeling a need to see others suffer, being spiteful or vindictive, those are not qualities I look for in main protagonists.

  5. Isabel C.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:29:41

    No babies, secret or otherwise: I have no problem with other people having kids, but pregnancy is a major squick for me.

    Otherwise, my major “oh God no” points are more about character types than plotlines.

  6. Ros
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:29:41

    Rape. Also adultery. Also abuse.

    Though I admit that I will read all of these if the book is not a romance. I think they can be interesting themes and worth reading about, but I do not and cannot find any of them romantic.

  7. Tamara Hogan
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:30:26

    Revenge themes turn me off pretty quickly.

    It takes a recommendation from a reader I trust A LOT to pick up and read any book with a baby in either the title or on the cover.

  8. Keziah Hill
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 06:52:29

    I’ll read anything. I’m a story slut.

  9. Anne Marsh
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:08:00

    Story lines with secret babies, cute kids, or a child that plays a central role in the story… I love children :) But, somehow, for me those story lines just never work, so I avoid them.

  10. Julie L.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:15:20

    Add me to the secret babies or kids storylines, just doesn’t do it for me. I too love children and have kids of my own, maybe that’s why they don’t appeal to me in a storyline for a romance – I’m trying to escape when I read romances and raising a baby on one’s own doesn’t cut it for me!

  11. Leslie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:30:16

    Stories involving the FBI/Seals/Navy/ military or spying. I read a couple years back, but now it seems like every second romance I come across involves some FBI/Seal/Navy etc in some spy plot that somehow degenerates into hot sexing.

    Just no. They all read the same to me, for some reason.

  12. Carin
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:54:08

    Rape or abuse – I can handle these after the fact, but I don’t want to live through them with the characters. So things are so vivid to me when I read them that I just can’t unsee them. I know that’s likely very good writing, but there are things I don’t want stuck in my head.

    I’m also not fond of revenge or undercover storylines – deceit basically. I need a good recommend before I pick up a book with that kind of plot.

    Finally, lately I’m avoiding stories involving The. World. Will. End. Just a bit burnt out after over-reading this plot.

  13. Merrian
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:56:17

    My squick is more general. I won’t read on or recommend a book when I think the violence is excessive and uncessary to the story. Sometimes this is about serial killers and sometimes it is about how rape is represented and sometimes it is about child abuse, but it isn’t about these things all the time. May be I am saying it is sensationalism that I am against. Specificaly how I may end up feeling compromised by reading on. As if I am validating something that I am opposed to.

  14. Isabel C.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:58:55

    Modifying my answer somewhat, actually, to note that I’m okay with and sometimes even like the hero or heroine having to raise other people’s kids, as long as those kids are above toddlerhood. No pregnancy and no diapers, basically.

    Also adding the no rape thing. (It takes a lot for me to pick up a book with rape or an abusive relationship in the backstory, even, but that’s more a “character types I won’t read” thing.)

  15. CiaraM
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:59:07

    Secret babies story-lines. In particular when the heroine conceals the existence of the child from the father because she believes he cheated. The needs of the child are rarely taken into account and it’s all about the mother! Drives me mad.

  16. Janet P.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:26:41

    Secret baby is the first to pop into my mind also. Mostly because I’m just so morally opposed to the idea that it would almost certainly make me hate the book. I guess I could stomach it if the lady had a good reason to hide the baby – such as the man is a rapist crackhead child molesting drunk driving tax cheat or something … but that would make him a pretty poor Hero for a romance novel.

    There are certain genres that I don’t enjoy and try to avoid – BDSM, Rape, Captivity etc … I’m not sure those really fit into this poll though.

    I also hate anything along the lines of helpless weak TSTL woman needing to be rescued by strong alpha man.

  17. Sara
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:36:01

    I hate “mom discovers that staying home with her kids is more important than working” books and books about divorce or adultery. A book about a woman that finds love after leaving her husband because he was an adulterer (or got a secret vasectomy) NO

    And werewolves. I don’t want to read doggie sex or hear about who is the alpha in the pack.

  18. Missy Ann
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:38:12

    Christian story lines. I’ve got enough of that coming to door on the weekends I don’t need to read about it to. I know every Christian publishing house and if I see one of them on the spine (or the Amazon listing) I skip it.

    I’ve also thrown a few “preachy” books across the room too. Tessa Dare’s A Lady of Persuasion was the most recent one that fell under that heading.

    So don’t preach and don’t insult my intelligence. Those are the biggies.

  19. Jess Granger
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:39:46

    I won’t read post apocalyptic stories. I don’t like thinking the world will end and everything is utterly miserable. Add zombies to that with no hope of defeating them, and I’m doubly out.

    Now a zombie with a secret baby…

  20. Martie starr
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:45:50

    Amnesia storylines are a very hard sell for me. I find them unbelievable and cliched. They often seem just a convenient(lazy plotting) way to get the H/H together.

  21. Patti
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:47:13

    I’m not a fan of secret babies or dystopian storylines, and if I see a story that involves sailing or some sort of “high seas adventure”, that goes straight onto the Do Not Read list.

  22. Cheryl McInnis
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:48:10

    I won’t read stories with adultery, even if the couple has an ‘open’ marriage. It just turns me completey off the story~

  23. Cheryl McInnis
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:49:56

    @Cheryl McInnis: *duh!* completely, I mean. Need more coffee!

  24. sweeney
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:51:55

    No secret babies. No greek billionaires. No hard on his luck, just nobody understands him hero. That’s about it. I also have a few topics I’ll ALWAYS go to…professional athletes (why oh why aren’t there more of them??) and sea voyages. But not together. Ha.

  25. Lynn M
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:19:27

    Wow, looks like I’m in good company with the secret-baby aversion. I’m not big on pregnancy or kid stories in general, especially if the kid is a central character.

    I also won’t touch books containing international billionaire/secretary relationships, BDSM, multiple partner hook-ups, or shoe-obsessed chick lit heroines.

  26. JoanneF
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:22:34

    I won’t read historicals set in the US Civil War or Colonial era in the South, or with American Indian heroes. The Southern historicals inevitably have a beloved, happy, smiling “Mammy” (Hello! She’s a slave!)and all Yankees are evil – except the hero, who is the only honorable person from above the Mason-Dixon line. The “Noble Savage” themes in the AI romances is just too much. India during the Raj books are iffy, too.

    The inherent racism in those books makes my skin crawl. Thankfully, they’re not so popular anymore.

  27. EGS
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:23:05

    Any abuse and/or rape by the “hero” is an automatic no for me. I don’t care how good the book is. I don’t care if the guy grovels and grovels. No woman deserves to be with a man who has abused her so heinously (I could go on and on but I shall keep from ranting this early in the morning…).

  28. Jessica
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:24:10

    Pretty much any story where small children are main characters. That is so un-romantic as far as I am concerned. I’ve never read a secret baby story and I don’t think I will any time soon. I might try one sometime, just to have the experience, but it won’t be something I will be looking for.

  29. Bobbie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:42:21

    HATE hidden babies too! I hate them even more the older the child is before the hero even knows he is a dad. It is BEYOND selfish and I have yet to read one of these books where the “heroine” had a reason for the deception that was valid enough for me to not sceam and throw things when the hero forgives her and she gets a happy ever after. Just once, I would love for the hero to sue her for custody and never speak to her again except for scheduling visits with the kid. ARGH!!

  30. jcp
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:52:57

    A secret child storyline–you can not get those years back. I prefer if the heroine tell the hero right away and not at delivery or after the child is born.

  31. LVLMLeah
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 09:55:38

    I’ll read anything as long as character motivation is explained and or positive character growth happens as a result of acting in a negative, undesirable way.

  32. Cs
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:09:18

    I don’t mind light bdsm if there is such a thing, but I tend to be uncomfortable when reading it. I agree with kids in my stories — no thanks. Someone mentioned preachy stories. Hate those. Tend to find them a lot in m/m books that I read. It tends to go through the necessary route of religion bashing to stone the idea that being gay is OK. Though I did read James buchanan’s “hard fall” and that did brilliant in combining faith and sexuality. Neither was wrong. Someone mentioned adding a woman in a m/m relationship big no for me also.

  33. Bev Stephans
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:21:40

    I don’t mind children in romances, but I won’t read them if a child kidnapping is involved. I was reading a favorite author’s backlist and one of the books involved a child kidnapping. I had to finish the book as I wanted to be sure the child survived (he did), but if I had known beforehand, I wouldn’t have read it.

  34. DianeN
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:23:06

    Unlike most, I don’t have a problem with secret babies! What I don’t like at all is kids in jeopardy–that’s a no for me in everything I read, not just romance. I’ve opened myself up to reading paranormal romances in the past year or so, but I’m not crazy about vampires unless the world building is amazing, and I just plain refuse to read about werewolves or shapeshifters of any kind.

  35. Robin Hillyer Miles
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:25:26

    I’m more apt to deny readership to a book based on the cover. Naked people? Suggestive poses? I won’t even pick them up off the shelf.

  36. Lisa
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:28:27

    Secret babies are a pass, always. No thank you. No thanks on billionaire/doormat secretary. And Cinderella-ish stuff that the tomboy/ugly duckling gets prettied up and the jerk that treated her like dirt for years is suddenly prince charming. no thanks. If the blurb says anything about fashion or shoes? I won’t touch it. LOL. Not a fan of chick lit no.

    Romantic suspense is a pass nine times of ten. Mostly burned on weak suspense plots, tstl heroines, good suspense plot but cardboard relationship that the only reason for these two to hook up seems to be proximity and the back cover said they were, etc. Done right, the balance found with the romance and good suspense/mystery I like a lot, but not likely to waste money or time finding one done right.

  37. Daisy
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:36:23

    Vampires. I hate vampire stories. There is nothing sexy or funny or lust-inducing about vampires.

  38. VanessaJaye
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:37:43

    I’ll ditto LVLMLeah. For the most part I’ll read anything as long as it’s done well (and depending on my mood).

    But if there is one story type I pretty much take a pass on,it’s the menage a football team trope –ie a gang-bang cloaked in some specious romance speak and rickety empowerment/healing motivation with a HEA slapped on the end. (& a helluva sitz bath for the heroine in the never written epilogue, one would hope)

  39. Joy
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:37:51

    For me, it depends not so much on the storyline as the treatment. Of course there are storylines and settings I prefer more than others but I could read and even like an adultery/secret baby/spy book if it was well-written and well-plotted for what it is. My aversion to vampire/werewolf romances is pretty strong, yet I enjoyed Gillian Bradshaw’s _Wolf Hunt_ (although if Bradshaw published a shopping list I’d probably love it too).

    I tend to find do-gooder, reformer-type heroines intensely annoying, though.

  40. Jane O
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:38:28

    No depictions of torture or sadism, and no serial killers after the heroine.

  41. Lada
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:45:46

    Make room on the no-to-secret-babies bus for me. I’m with those who don’t care for kids in stories at all. Once in awhile they are necessary to the overall plot (Survivor in Death) but too often children don’t come across as genuine and are annoying instead.

    I tend to be in the minority of those who don’t care for “crush” books where one character has loved the other secretly forever and are finally getting noticed by their true love. (I especially hate it when the heroine has remained a pseudo-virgin because she’s just so in love with BF hero, no one else could make her orgasm…gah.) These books tend to have a juvenile tone no matter how old the characters are and the one with the crush always comes across as pathetic to me. I may try a book with this storyline by an author I like (Sarah Mayberry had one this year) but I never end up caring for the story so generally avoid them altogether.

  42. Kelly L.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:08:58

    I’m getting really wary–and weary–of books about how moving to a small town fixes all your problems. Complete with the Big Bad City full of unfeeling jerks, obviously, and meddling small-towners who know every detail of the characters’ lives, and so on. I moved away from a smallish town to get away from the gossip and the never being able to live it down if you were an social outcast at 12. I’m sure lots of people have had beautiful experiences of small-town life, but mine was so utterly different that I can’t get into the stories most of the time.

  43. RachelM
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:08:58

    I pass over any book that has a naked torso covered with tattoos on the cover.

    No shape-shifters, please. They’ve taken this too far. I can only suspend disbelief to a certain point.

    Hero who falls in lust with pregnant woman, and the baby belongs to someone else. No thanks. This just squicks me out.

    I don’t mind children as secondary characters, so long as they come across as normal. Most I’ve read are so perfectly behaved and so insightful, they surely must be alien transplants. For sure, the authors don’t have kids themselves.

  44. Keishon
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:15:21

    I’m open to almost everything if it’s good. To bypass my personal prejudice(s), it helps if someone I know and trust has read it first.

  45. Lucy Woodhull
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:31:02

    I pass on any and all baby stories, mostly because it seems as if all the heroines have the amazing ability to conceive after one round of the sexxoring. This is the reason a I skip most epilogues, too. If only infertile couples could just leap into a romance, eh?

    The other one I have grown to despise is the prevailing plot of most of the BDSM books I’ve seen. This one: despite the amazing, over the top BEST BDSM SEX EVAR OMG!!! the hero and heroine have, they are each convinced (for no good reason) that the other secretly holds them in disgust for their desire for ropes and chains, and so they play an obnoxious game of angsty, whiny self-keep-apart that could be easily solved by a two minute conversation? HATE.

  46. Las
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:33:52

    My first reaction was “Yes,” but then I immediately came up with a few exceptions to my own rules because the writing was just that good, so I vote “It depends.”

    This is where very rarely reading straight contemporaries longer than category-length helps. While I can read and enjoy a very, [i]very[/i] well written historical about, for example, a marriage in trouble because of the hero’s infidelity, I cannot accept it in a contemporary. I’ll be too disgusted with the hero and too contemptuous of the stupidly forgiving heroine to get into the story. I have too much real-life bias on that subject to be able to suspend disbelief in fiction.

    I generally hate “children in peril” storylines, or any story where children are a big part of story, but Shiloh Walker wrote one that I enjoyed. (Funny, I don’t have a problem with secret babies at all).

  47. Tiffany M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:42:26

    I seem to be picky over the secret baby plot, too. I can actually think of stories where their were secret babies that I liked, but the reason has to be pretty good (man up and leaves without a word for years, so when he returns the woman is a bit reluctant to mention the child she has is his OR man not only does not want a child, but is involved in some kind of negative/bad environment/job he won’t leave, so the woman doesn’t bother and chooses the child’s safety and vacates).

  48. Emma
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:45:52

    I am SO the minority. I stay far away from vampires, werewolves, and any shapeshifting stories. Ugh, just not interested. I have been known to throw a book against a wall that has a graphic murder in the first chapter. Sorry. . . not for me.

  49. Isabel C.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:48:02

    Slow day at work: can you tell? ;)

    Lada: Oh, I’m with you on that. I’ll make an exception if it’s a situation where the character got over said crush and then something changed–the crushed-on started pursuing them, it was a childhood thing and it’s now ten years later and she’s All Grown Up, etc–but otherwise, yeah, the crushing person just seems desperate.

    I’m “meh” on vampires and were-things in general: I’ll read books about them if I like the author, so it’s not an instant turn-off, but I’m not a giant fan of the “my mate” possessiveness trope that seems to go along with shifters (and also just not into the animal thing), and pretty neutral on vampires. Fey are my paranormal dudes of choice.

    Kelly L: Good point. One of these days, I will totally write a small-town-girl-goes-to-big-city novel: that was my experience, and it worked very well for me.

  50. gwen hayes
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:51:04

    I do not generally care for shifter stories. I prefer werewolves that are old school and scary–but if someone I trust encourages me to read one, I will.

    Also, I don’t like romantic suspense very much unless the relationship is the focus and the suspense is more like the setting than the plot.

    And I’m very leery of erotic romance. It has to be very well written.

  51. may
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:56:55

    No children in peril or dying. Ever.

    No romances where hero/heroine or heroine/heroine or hero/hero are separated for the majority of the book, then come together at the end with an apparently deep and meaningful happily-ever-after. I don’t buy it literally or figuratively. I’m not sure I even understand the point of writing one; isn’t the fun in the romance watching the bond develop face-to-face?

    No mpreg. Just…lame.

    No vampires. I thought they were boring even before they began to sparkle. Now they’re excruciatingly boring. Hell, I’m bored just hearing about them. Any attempt at reading an “urban fantasy” would put me in a coma.

    Same goes for werewolves, shapeshifters, and the rest. Come up with an original otherworldly idea and I might give it a read.

    Wallpaper historicals. If you’re so enchanted by the past to want to set a novel there, why wouldn’t you want to get the details correct to the very best of your ability? If you don’t care, I sure won’t.

    Books absent a storyline, of which there are far too many. Books that are basically meet–>have sex–>misunderstanding–>make up–>have sex–>more sex–>another misunderstanding–>make up–>sex–>sex…
    Oh, and did I mention the sex?

    Everything else I’d probably give a fair chance to win me over.

  52. Las
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:09:21

    I just thought of a few storylines I will not read no matter what the genre: unrequited love stories where the heroine has been in love with the hero for years*, stories where the h/h have been “in love” since childhood, and stories where there’s a big age gap and the h/h have known each other since one of them with a child/teen. I read Nalini Singh’s Mine to Possess because it’s part of the series, and while the writing was good, every single time it was mentioned that Clay and Tally had loved each other since they were kids I wanted to punch someone. And I’m absolutely dreading Hawke’s story, because unless Nalini plans to do the most awesome fake out EVER, he’s getting paired with Sienna, and…I just can’t.

    *I have no problem with the hero having been in love without her noticing. Hero’s a rarely shown to be vulnerable, well heroines and very often made to be extremely pathetic, so it’s a welcome change for me.

  53. cs
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:12:00

    @Sara: I laughed at the doggie sex part. I love werewolves, but I have only ever read two good werewolves books. I don’t think I’ve ever read two wolves having sex in wolf form though. The whole alpha thing can get a tad tedious, but that’s plain bad writing in my eyes.

    I’d like to add: steampunk — seriously what is it and why do people keep gushing over it?

  54. Tasha
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:23:19

    A variation of the betrayal storyline: Two wrongs make a right.

    I hate stories where one person cheats, so the other decides it’s only fair to get even. Or using the argument that “if H/h were getting the job done at home, h/H wouldn’t feel the need to stray” either to justify the MC cheating (usually on a spouse) or to justify the MC being involved with someone who’s already married. Double hate if the cheater lays that guilt trip on the one who’s been cheated on.

  55. SylviaSybil
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:36:17

    Violence in the relationship. I get those books out of the house as soon as I can. It doesn’t count if it’s just fighting, there are plenty of books where the hero and heroine cross swords or trade punches and then slide into kissing. That doesn’t bother me. But if the hero is picking her up and shaking her or the heroine is throwing dishes at him, that turns me right off.
    I read a “romance” novel where 2/3 through the hero is still speculating about how he may have to kill the heroine. He’s actually considering the possibility, although he doesn’t want to because, get this, it’s fun to frak her. How anyone could find this romantic is beyond me, but the book is getting good ratings on Goodreads. And no, it’s not billed as BDSM or erotica, but straight-up mainstream romance.

  56. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:45:21

    I said “it depends.” There are storylines I PREFER, but really it depends on the author and a lot of the time, you don’t even know until you’re 1/3 way into the book. At that point, you’re either into the writing or you’re not.

    Lately what’s been making me DNF books (which I NEVER used to do) is inconsistency, bad logic, and truncated character development–and a lot of the last is because of editing (and I can tell!). So storylines are not likely to put me off if the rest of it’s good.

    There was one book I finished wherein I found the whole premise (extortion) unethical/immoral. I finished it only to find out if the hero would tell the heroine, “You’re not honorable,” and walk away.

  57. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 12:50:42

    @Las: I read Clay and Tally’s story (although I can’t remember the title of the novella or the name of the anthology) and I actually loved it, it was very well done. And the grovelling…. oh dear the grovelling as absolutely breathtaking and perfect. Which now makes me want to read that scene all over again. *G*

  58. Las
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:05:22

    @Christine M.: I think you’re thinking of Nate and Tammy’s story. Clay and Tally’s (I confuse those names all the time!) story was a full length book.

    Until you mentioned it I had completely forgotten that Nate and Tammy’s story “should” have bugged me. I think the fact that their story was a sort of prequel made me ignore what would normally be a squick factor. I already new them as an adult couple, so going back in time to see how they started out wasn’t an issue. If that novella had been the first I read about them, I might have had a problem with it. Or maybe not…Singh really did do a great job with that one, and the premise was just different enough that it didn’t ping my radar. (She did a good job with Clay and Tally, too, but that’s just too big of an issue for me.)

  59. Sunita
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:10:00

    Nope, no blanket exceptions. Every time I make one some author comes along and writes a great book that I enjoy reading.

  60. gracie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:41:19

    My biggest turn offs are historicals that are really contemporaries dressed up in hoops and crinolines.

    Also, I hate, hate historicals where characters speak in the “vernacular” Nothing takes me out of the story faster which is why I run at the sight of a plaid or kilt on the cover because “do ya ken” causes the book to hit the wall.

    Also, I agree with Leslie about the spy/military/FBI stories. Boring

  61. KeriM
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:49:36

    Mine lines that I won’t cross are M/M romances, menage a anything(not against it in reality, just doesn’t work for me in a romance setting) and heavy badly written BDSM. I am very author specific so I read other generas, but don’t tend to pick up new authors on a whim.

  62. Ridley
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:50:41

    Amnesia, without exception. I’ve never, ever, seen it done well and really can’t imagine how it ever could be. It’s the contrivance to end all contrivances.

    Secret babies are also pretty terrible, but sometimes they work. So, those are on a highly suspicious list.

    Christian preaching makes me really uncomfortable, but I rarely know ahead of time so it’s always a surprise. I’ll be reading along in a book and suddenly I’m getting preached at and want to walk away from the book. I love the Mercy Thompson books, for instance, but even those have a bit of christian preaching that bunches my shoulders up. If I could avoid books written by christians who just can’t keep their beliefs out of their writing, I probably would. There’s a difference between writing characters with those beliefs and preaching them.

  63. Jane Lovering
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:52:23

    I’m sorry, I can’t join in. I’ve just drawn up a list of my pet-hates in romance and realised how judgemental I am. Honestly, the list would have taken over the entire comments. I call myself a romance-writer, and then procede to discover that I hate just about every trope in the world!

    Suffice it to say, a good book, well written, can overcome most of my distaste, but I’m still ashamed of myself.

  64. Lindsay
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:54:06

    I seem to be in the opposite camp from most commenters here: despite not having much interest in children in real life, I enjoy storylines with children. Men who are good fathers are sexy.

    Sorylines I just won’t read: time-travel, revenge, anything with a dark/tortured/angsty/immaturely-acting-out-because-Mommy-didn’t-love-him hero. Just UGH to the last one. Boss/secretary romances are right out – I work in office admin, and the mere thought of reading one makes me feel unprofessional. One thing that I’m rapidly growing to hate are historicals with “feminist” heroines. I feel like I should like these, being an ardent feminist, but they grate, and I can’t shake the feeling there’s something shallow about them. If I read about one more heroine who doesn’t wear a corset as proof that she’s somehow liberated, I may scream. Even worse is having to read the “hero” spout anti-feminist rhetoric until the heroine’s magic Hoo-Hoo beauty strength of character makes him see the error of his ways.

  65. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:58:21

    @Las: You mgith be right, I’m going from memory here. (And also? There are so many couples in that series, plus the fact that I haven’t read them in 6+ months I might just be confused) but I *think* I’m refering to the healer with the twins and her rough boy hubby? I think they’re the protag in the novella?

  66. Myne Whitman
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:58:33

    Romantic suspense is my best but anything too obviously and gratuitous or graphic is a no no.

  67. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:01:41

    @Las: Hold on. Clay and Tally=the two guards that have the hots for each other but one’s a wolf and the other’s from the leopards? If so, that was one hell of a good ride–or so my brain tells me. (Now let’s just hope I didn’t get them mixed up again)

  68. theo
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:06:08


    Or child rape.

    Nope. ‘Nuff said…

  69. traceylivesay
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:15:08

    After reading the comments, I’m trying to figure out what stories are left. LOL I have two types that bother me: stories with misunderstood children and the contemporary historical. I don’t like stories with children who mouth off and disrespect adults and get away with it because they had “bad experiences” or whatever. I spend the entire book annoyed at them that the romance falls flat. And I hate the historicals where the hero/heroine is so progressive; they aren’t racist or sexist, they aren’t snobs, etc. If there were that many open-minded people back then, the world would be a better place now.
    Well, if there were that many dukes, most of England would be royalty!

  70. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:15:16

    In looking at the poll, the number of people who won’t read certain storylines – including myself – is amazingly high! Books are like food – stories are a matter of taste, I guess…

  71. Isabel C.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:19:15

    Julia: Exactly.

    There *are* plots or character types I have actual issues with–stalkertastic heroes, for instance–but most of my do-not-reads probably make for great books. Just great books for other people.

  72. Las
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:20:48

    Nate and Tammy have the twins.

    Clay and Tally (Mine to Possess) are the leopard/human couple who knew each other when they were kids and Clay thought she had died.

    Mercy and Riley (Branded by Fire) are the fantastically hot leopard/wolf pair who’s book I’ve reread I don’t know how many times and are by far my favorite of the couples in that series. BtF is the reason I’m foaming at the mouth for the next book, because if THAT’S what happens when two changelings hook up, I want more.

  73. lucy
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:52:52

    For some reason I really have a hard time reading lesbian stories but I don’t mind man on man action. The only story that I’ve read that kinda has lesbian undertones and that I love is Nana.

    Apart from that, I haven’t really come across a storyline that I wouldn’t read. Unless I’m in a certain mood and I don’t want to deal with certain a storyline.

    Sometimes I’m hesitant to recommend a particular book, because I’m not sure if someone else is going to be okay with something that I loved or didn’t mind.

  74. karen wester newton
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:03:48

    I won’t read a story where love blossoms between a rapist and his victim. I cannot stand that concept.

  75. Desiree Holt
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:18:36

    I like to think I’ll read just about anything but I realize I won’t. No M/M, no F/F, no rape except as part of a psychological background, no gratuitous violence, no time travel, no urban fantasy, no historicals. Gawd, do I not just soubnd like the most judgmental person in the world? I used to like secret babies but there sem to be so many of them I wonder if there’s a big underground bunker where they are all hidden. And ditto on the klove between a rapist and his victim, Big squick factor here.

  76. Catootes
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:28:35

    Can’t stomach weak and whiney lead heroines. Gack.
    Also, the rapist and victim hook-up. Just No.
    Other than that, if the writing is good, sit me down with the book and I’m good.

  77. Char
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:43:59

    I won’t read a book where the hero is a bully, even a little bit of a bully. So he grovels, so what that just makes him a classic abuser. Abuse – grovel – abuse. I don’t believe bullies can change, so I don’t believe there is a HEA with them.

  78. Char
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:49:24

    Also no children or animals in peril or dying. That gets the author put on the DNB list imediately.

  79. Jean
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 15:50:02

    I won’t read dark romance. I like my romance to have an HEA.

  80. jayhjay
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 16:04:26

    I don’t have any story lines I absolutely refuse, but I am not a big fan of kids in books. Sort of like those soap opera kids – they never interfere with your life, conveniently disappear when you want to have sex, etc. I keep thinking, no one with kids really lives like this! My favorite was one where the woman is nursing and the guy is “all over that area,” let’s just say, and I am thinking – no nursing mom wants a guy around her boobs!

    I am also not a big fan of the “fall in love with the mistress” story lines or lovers reunited after breaking up.

  81. RebeccaJ
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 16:34:24

    No mercenary story lines, no jungle story lines. For some reason those two quickly degenerate into travelogues and no focus on the romance and I hate that.

  82. Cynthia N
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 16:57:31

    No cutesy animals or pets. They seem to take up way too much the story. Yuck! I don’t care what kind of pet they have, if they need to be fed, etc., the story isn’t about it.

    Inspirational romance and some of today’s NYT best selling romance writers. They just don’t have what I’m looking for.

  83. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 17:05:19


    Ok now I-vaguely-remember the book (something about a pickup and a bar if I remember well *kicks brains*). Thanks for taking the time to straighten them up for me. =)

  84. orannia
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 17:14:14

    I was thinking my pet peeve might have been mentioned previously, but unless I missed it, it hasn’t… It’s the stalker plot. Let’s not have the main characters…you know…TALK. Let’s have them stalked by someone from their past. And let’s have the stalker be really obvious but not one character can work it out. Actually, if the external plot is going to get in the way of the main characters’ relationship (so that all we are left with is sex), pass!

    Oh, and may I also add plots in which the main characters suddenly fall in love but we don’t know why…they just do. Not having the why…not seeing the falling in love…drives me batty. As does the marriage & children is the be-all-and-end-all plot. Just read a contemporary romance and I wanted to scream. The heroine stated she wanted to be whole…she wanted a man. All the previous heroes (yes, they were all marched out) held birthing parties and it seemed as soon as everyone fell in love marriage and babies were right there front and centre. It truly did my head in./rant

  85. Las
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 18:55:59

    @Christine M.: No problem. The only reason I remember them so well is that I just discovered these books earlier this year and they’re what I reread when there’s nothing new I’m interested in.

    I can’t believe I forgot about inspirationals. They are the only genre that I refuse to even consider reading. I deal with proselytizers on a regular basis, no damn way am I paying for it. While not an inspirational, I couldn’t finish Claudia Dain’s menstruation book for that reason. The blood obsession didn’t bother me, but the constant, “I just want to please the Lord!” talk got old very, very quickly. Historically accurate? Sure, but I don’t read romance for the history.

    Plus, I need sex in my romance. Frankly, I don’t even consider it a romance if there’s not at least a whole lot of sexual tension, and an author would have to be indescribably good for me to enjoy a romance that doesn’t have at least one hot sex scene.

  86. Mary
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 18:57:28

    The divorced couple reunites. I have a hard time suspending my disbelief, because if one party walked away before, what’s to stop them from doing it again.

    Other than that, I’m pretty open. I didn’t think I’d like happy family baby books, but then I got on a Harlequin Superromance kick a while ago.

    I didn’t think I’d like Christian inspies, but then gran started sharing her Steeple Hill books with me.

    So really, if the blurb and/or an excerpt catch my interest, I’m game.

  87. peggy h
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 19:57:13

    I’m not sure I have any absolute no-nos, but in general, I don’t like stories where:

    -hero or heroine is abusive (in any way)

    -secret babies

    -(and even worse than the secret baby): hero DEMANDS marriage when he finds out there is a baby or one on the way(yes, that is SOOO very realistic!)

    -heroine is all feisty and trying so hard to be clever but is proven wrong and inferior to the hero at every turn (this one scared me off Medical Romances, though I promised to try some newer ones after reading Sunita’s post a week or two ago!)

    -hand-me-down spouses/lovers (I’m with Maddie–Thanksgiving dinner would just be too freaky when someone there has had sex with two of the siblings! Even worse–that means cousins who are also half-siblings…!)

    -revenge storylines (your great-uncle’s cousin caused my grandfather’s sister’s dog to get sick so now that I’m rich, I’m taking over your company and forcing you to work as my slave!! Or sometimes, I’ll infiltrate your company in some secret identity and then all will fall apart at the worst time!!)

    -Big Mis where a simple conversation could clear everything up…but it never happens for the silliest of reasons (just so the book doesn’t end in Page 10).

    Whew! That felt good! Thanks for starting this topic!

  88. Blue
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 20:01:17

    Small town settings don’t work for me. I’m from a small town and the gossip is terrible, also, once an outsider, always an outsider. I can never suspend disbelief that someone would move to a small town and be accepted – they’d be welcomed, but they’d never be one of them.

    Time travel is another theme that just does not work for me at all. The hero is usually a jerk to the heroine and it’s “justified” by the time period.

    Adultery is a huge turn-off in romance novels, and I don’t read them if they have rape in them either because I can not believe how easily some authors gloss over rape (looking at you, Christine Feehan).

    Secret babies (never realistic) or any child-centric plot are also reasons not to buy a book.

    I also really dislike stupid misunderstandings. I hate picking up a book to find that a simple conversation could resolve anything but the main characters are too stupid (written off as stubborn) to actually have that conversation.

    Deceit (fake identity, etc) or denial (no my crazy neighbour couldn’t possibly be leaving me dead cats and love notes despite the blood trail and matching handwriting) are also something that leads me to put a book down. Or not bother picking it up in the first place.

    There are a few exceptions to the above list for me, but I’ve only read them because someone has strongly recommended them to me.

  89. Lynn S.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 20:08:40

    @Merrian: While I feel that any storyline in the right hands can make for compelling reading, I’m definitely with you on the violence issue.

    I used to read Patricia Cornwell and I can’t remember which book it was in but there was a scene where a woman convenience store worker of I believe Asian decent was murdered and the description, the blood, gore, etc. struck me as calculated and gratuitous in the extreme. I stopped reading the book at that point, it turned me off the genre in general, and I definitely haven’t read Cornwell since.

    I want my reading to provoke thought but I believe reading should foremost be an enriching experience and it’s not comfortable when you feel guilt by association, is it?

  90. Valerie
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 20:50:43

    I am tired unto death of plucky uber-talented regency era lady novelists/reporters, especially in plots where they are actively investigating the hero. Which is funny, because one of my favorite books ever is Sylvester by Georgette Heyer.

    And I’ll add to the resounding chorus of “no secret babies”. I have yet to read one where I could accept the heroine’s reasoning for hiding the pregnancy/child from the father.

    Oh, and not really a plot/theme, but a few tropes in contemporary that almost always make a book a wall-banger for me: heroines over 20 who are virgins, but not for any religious reasons (which I also wouldn’t read), and ANY contemporary without at least a cursory nod to safe sex, especially ones where the heroine opts to forego protection because its true wuv. Ack. No, not okay. Book, meet wall.

  91. JenM
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 20:52:16

    Time travel! I’m probably the only romance reader around who hasn’t read Outlander (although I swear I’m going to give it a try one of these days).

    Others that I avoid like the plague are when a Regency romance is centered around a spy story, or involves a pirate storyline. I just don’t like those, not sure why.

  92. Maria
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 21:13:16

    I won’t read about succubi, incubi,demons and I’m tired of vampire stories. I like werewolves though, go figure. I won’t read about anything taking place during the civil war period either, like an earlier poster stated. And I hate rape as a part of a storyline, cheating and the mercenary jungle thing too. Usually the story starts dove tailing into describing how epic the jungle location is and I get bored.

  93. brooksse
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 21:23:33

    My auto skips:

    Almost any Harlequin Presents trope – the sheik, the prince, the overbearing boss, oh no.

    Anything that requires too much suspension of disbelief.  I don’t mind light paranormal elements but usually won’t read romances that feature vampires or shapeshifters.

    The Judith McNaught trope –  the perfect heroine, the distant and/or tortured hero, and the big misunderstanding where the hero temporarily shuts the heroine out of his life.

  94. Suze
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 21:25:41

    ~I work in office admin, and the mere thought of reading one makes me feel unprofessional.~

    Heh. I also work in office admin, and I really enjoy the boss/secretary HP’s. I think for the same reason I’m a sucker for high-school romance movies. It’s like an alternate dimension version of life, where these big adventures happen that bear no relation to reality. My work is meh, I’ve never worked for anyone who was in the least bit attractive to me (never mind was so mind-blowingly competent as all the HP heroes seem to be). High school was tedious and awkward, and I’ve just about completely erased it from my memory. But I loves me stories about both scenarios.

    Stories I’m not interested in (with the usual exceptions for exceptional writers): Christian fiction, apocalyptic fantasies, and apparently NASCAR romances. I even got a free one about a year ago. It’s been sitting on my reader and I have absolutely no interest in reading it. F/F romances don’t interest me at all, but I’m loving the M/M ones I’ve come across.

    Otherwise, bring it on. I bribe my nephews to try new things, it would be hypocritical of me to refuse new things myself.

  95. Sirius11214
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 21:46:26

    I mostly read m/m romances. There is only one storyline that I will not read no matter what and I am sure now, because two books that I read and contained such storyline had an excellent writing and I still hated this trope. This trope is called “I will rape you and then we fall in love and leave happily ever after”. Hate it, hate it HATE it. Hate it because while I do not require complete realism in my romances, I want the human interactions that resembles realism even in the most fantastical world. And I just cannot imagine nothing close to such scenario ever happening in RL. Yeah, I know it came from Yaoi, that is why I am so so choosy in picking my yaoi to make sure it does not have my dreaded trope. Did I mention that I hate it lol? I will read rape when bad guy does it though, no problem. I cannot say that it is an enjoyable thing for me to read about, but just as any violence I can handle it, that is not the issue.

  96. allison
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 21:47:54

    The “I love you but I’m not gay” storyline in a lot of m/m books. Please. I’m not gay but I’ll have gay sex with you? Blargh.

    Gaybashing fics – where that’s the main plot device to pull two people together. Of course they’re going to fall in love because they’ve been bashed together! Ugh, no thanks.

    Overly stereotypical careers. He’s a fashion designer! He writes the gossip column! They *prance* (there’s a word that, if the m/m romance features it and there aren’t horses anywhere nearby, I will immediately close the book and never go back to it).

    Books with D/s overtones. It’s just so poorly written most times that I’m unwilling to try unless it’s been recommended by a trusted friend.

    Books with religion in them. Books where everyone is gay. Books where everyone is gay and totally wants the effeminate bottom so the top has to growl and snap and protect the poor weak male partner. Major age gaps.

    Whereas, if there are cowboys? Plzkthx. I also love were!anything books (I read a book featuring a were!house that cracked me up, though I don’t think that was the reaction hoped for). I love fantasy books and futuristic sci-fi.

    Best friends falling in love is my favorite trope.

    (I don’t read a lot of heterosexual books anymore, tbh, so I don’t really have anything that annoys me there). I’m also sounding really really picky. I guess I am.

  97. ami
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 22:07:37

    lol @ keziah hill

    I’m the same way, as long as it is written well I don’t care. I prefer not to read time travel(I’ve read plenty of these too and some were really good), werewolves(although I read Patricia Briggs and I have read other stories so there) , shapechangers sort of thing though(I dislike THE ONE stories due to chemical makeup or whatever, this is usually just ends up being gratuitous sex) Hm, okay I do have one. A romance in which sex gets in the way(i.e. too much sex like Angela Knight…)

    But if it’s written with a good plot, I don’t have anything to say.

  98. Joy
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 22:20:07

    I don’t mind if an historical is a tiny bit wallpapery, but historicals that have a major plot point revolve around an anachronism or something that would have been pretty much impossible in the time period drive me batty. (Like modern style attitudes toward divorce in the Regency period, even undertones of which drive me nuts).

  99. M.M. Justus
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 22:46:28

    They’re few and far between, thank goodness, but on the rare occasions when I’ve run up against a “romance” where a woman goes back to her “reformed” abusive husband and the author purports to give them a happy ending, that’s a wallbanger for me.

    Case in point, Mary Jo Putney’s The Burning Point. I haven’t read anything of hers since.

  100. Bella F.
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 00:07:43

    I won’t read a goofy book where the story relies on ethnicity and stereotypes, and never develops the characters; for example, books that tend to have titles like: The Spaniard’s Virgin, Pregnant by the Greek Billionaire, The Sheikh’s Mistress, yada yada yada…

  101. Sunshineyness
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 00:23:12

    Hmm… a lot of mine have already been chorused. But here are mine.

    Secret babies ONLY work in historicals and even then there’s gotta be a damn good reason for me to even consider it.

    Count me in as another no kids involved reader. All the reasons mentioned above but ESPECIALLY if the kids are matchmakers.

    One night stand results in a baby so the hero tries to “do the right thing” by insisting on marriage. HATE. If he was a “good guy” he’d realize that adding a hasty marriage on top of a hasty baby is even doubly awful.

    Nanny/governess stories I like in historicals because they have a cool Jane Eyre vibe (I also like when the heroine is a lady’s companion) but in contemporaries it rubs me super the wrong way and is filled with such classicism it hurts.

    I don’t mind virgins in historicals because at least it makes sense but in contemporaries? GAG. And even in historicals they wane on me some.

    Under 21 year old heroines are starting to wane on me as well. Maybe it’s because I’m 27 myself but I’m finding it harder to relate to that young of a heroine.

    I know I can’t discredit a book for it or I’ll never read a romance novel in general but super thin heroines with their thinness harped upon annoy me to no end. ESPECIALLY if the hero “can span her waist with two hand lengths.” (That phrase needs to be banned. NOW) Argh! Can just saying “she’s slender” once not suffice? Do we have to harp on her weight like that? I especially hate women in historicals who are ugly by older views but- don’t worry- super pretty by our own. I ESPECIALLY hate when good girls have smaller chests and the villainous sluts have large ample chests. As a large chested reader that one always chafes a lot.

    More than ten year age gaps. Particularly if the hero is that much older and at any point knew her as a child and him an adult I’ll throw the book down (if they are meeting at their current ages for the first time I might give it a try) or if at any part he talks down to her because she is younger. I generally dislike older males “teaching” younger women lessons.

    Books with sweet water color houses or seasides on the cover. I’m sorry, my MOM reads those and I just can’t bring myself to read those kind. Maybe when I’m in the target audience for them but not now.

    Serial killer stalking heroine: Why are these even categorized as romance?

    Anything that’s a part of a Dark “Something” series: immediate turn off.

    Shapeshifters, werewolves, and sympathetic vampires. I enjoy vampires ONLY if they are completely evil and the hero/heroine kill them and at no point become them/ are them. But at this point in a post Twilight world it takes A LOT for me to even look at a vamp book.

    Time travel books where the heroine time travels and knows NOTHING of the time period and speaks in an over-the-top modern voice or goes over-the-top in forcing modern views on historical side characters.(Although in general I’m a huge time travel fan- it’s usually a go-to storyline)

    I’m only okay with rape if it’s in the backstory and the hero was not the perpetrator. And even then it has to be carefully handled.

    I love a good revenge story but ONLY if they’re Kill Bill style ones and the hero and heroine are not taking their vengeance out on each other but on a third party villain. I especially love it if they team up or he tries to talk her out of living in the past and focus on a future of happiness with him, etc.

    Nascar books: I’m sorry, I’m not southern.

    Sports books in general: meh, just not my cup of tea.

    Civil War Gone With the Wind-esque books: They make me cringe with their super pro-south misunderstanding towards the Civil War and anything it was about. No ambiguity or subtlety. But, also, I just plain can’t stand Gone With the Wind in the first place.

    Anything put out by a religious fiction publisher: I find nothing wrong with religious views held by protagonists, but if they are in the religious fiction section they usually have an agenda. I PARTICULARLY loathe Amish romances. I see nothing romantic in the Amish lifestyle.

    Peers of the Realm paired with daughters of Peers of the Realm: oh, yay, rich powerful people marrying rich powerful people. I fail to see the drama in that. Yawn. I’m honestly always on the prowl for historicals where the characters aren’t aristocracy. Especially hate when the hero is a Duke. Seriously, there aren’t that many Dukes in England!

    Hobbies/passions held by characters that I find boring: particularly stories where the characters garden or raise horses. I can not stand those two subjects in life and I find it boring to read about.

    Wow, it’s a wonder I find anything to read! But I have just as many go-to storylines. And I love any book that takes a cliched storyline on its head.

  102. MaryK
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 01:09:44

    It’s a rare author who can get me to even try an infidelity storyline much less enjoy it. Trust is a big thing for me. And I don’t like same sex romances; I completely don’t get that relationship dynamic.

    There are other plots I read reluctantly/cautiously – time travel, precocious children, matchmaking children, children in peril [ :) ] – but I don’t reject them out-of-hand. Usually. ;)

  103. Lou
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 08:36:49

    Secret Babies are a BIG no no of mine.

    I won’t touch with a barge pole m/f/m stories featuring brothers or cousins. Way too squicky for my taste. And when you add in multiple (and I mean multiple) partners, just…eww.

    Love triangles. I believe that most of the time they are done just to provide forced tension, and not because the heroine is truly tortured and in love with both men. I say this because most of the time, I’ve guessed who ends up with who.

    Forced seduction. On either side. About a few weeks back, I was going to buy a series I liked the look of (a contemporary series) but then I read reviews for the second title, and it stopped me in my tracks. The heroine drugs her ex-husband to steal his sperm for a baby. WTF! That just made me so so angry.

  104. Deb Kinnard
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 11:14:45

    Secret Baby stories. Overdone. Dead & buried, IMO. I just will not buy one if I pick up a book and the back cover copy suggests such a line.

  105. Maria
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 12:14:53

    Is there some storylines I will absolutely not read? Probably, not many though. There are however several I’ll avoid if possible.

    I dislike the whole “reporter looking for a story”, betrayal and subterfuge. Can’t people be honest? Geez.

    I don’t like books where I feel the heroine/hero is degraded and humiliated by the person that’s supposed to be their HEA. Why would you love someone who degrades and humiliates you?

    Secret babies, not my favourite storyline either, I’ll mostly skip kids if there’s not a darn good reason to throw them into the story.

    If it’s an author I love I’ll try to keep an open mind, but the blurb and cover goes a long way into deciding to give a new author a chance or not.

  106. che
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:10:12

    Wow! I love all the tropes most of you seem to hate. Especially love secret babies.

    I don’t read a lot of historicals, but when I do, I tend to skip over the detailed history sections. If I wanted a history lesson, I’d watch the History Channel or PBS.

    What I won’t read is when the main characters have “issues” (rape, absent parents, alcoholism, etc.) and the majority of the plot revolves around those “issues.” I’ve had my fill of them from ABC’s After School Specials.

    It doesn’t bother me when the story isn’t accurate or realistic or plausible. If I wanted that, I’d read non-fiction.

    Just give me a good romance with a sexy hero, and a likable heroine, and I’ll believe anything.

  107. Nicole
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:57:03

    Every time I read a millionaire boss/secretary book, I totally regret it. They’re so unimaginative. I won’t even consider books that have a nationality or ethnicity in the title, as I can then expect 200 pages of Italian/Greek/Arab stereotypes. I’ll pass. In fact, I just find it safer not to read anything from Harlequin Presents.

    I quite like dystopias, although I also can’t stand books that are ALL ABOUT THE KIDS. I love children, but not in my romance novels.

  108. orannia
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 15:25:52

    Oh, these are brilliant!

    …revenge storylines (your great-uncle's cousin caused my grandfather's sister's dog to get sick so now that I'm rich, I'm taking over your company and forcing you to work as my slave!!

    Peggy – I so want to read that book! Well, OK, I don’t. So with you on revenge storylines. I can’t get over how the supposed hero has no problem taking revenge on the perpetrator’s relative!

    So agree about the perfect heroine and about spy stories. As soon as I see the word spy in a Regency I run.

  109. Angelia Sparrow
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 19:10:01

    @cs, Steapunk is what happens when Victorian science fiction is reality. Think the recent Sherlock Holmes, Wild Wild West and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s a lovely subgenre.

    I won’t read anything with military or other men in uniform. I make one exception: James Buchanan. I have a brief panic reaction at the sight of any uniform.

    I refuse to read anything longer than 20 pages that’s written in present tense. (i know, style issue)

    Contemporaries bore me. I like the historicals, wall-papery or not. I like urban fantasy, paranormal, vamps and shape-shifters. I like erotic horror. I love SFR, steampunk and fantasy. I like m/m, f/f, m/f/m, multiples. Kink is all good. I don’t mind child characters, but don’t want a child match-maker.

    (And now I know why my steampunk lesbians fighting zombies didn’t sell: their seven kids!)

  110. dick
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 09:35:25

    Nope. If it’s readable, I’ll read it, even though I may dislike some plot elements in it. I’m puzzled though, why so many are turned off by secret baby stories. Seems to me those plots are actually more likely to in real life than a lot of others. Some, of course, send the duh checker off the charts, but that’s true of most romance plots.

  111. Sharon
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 15:24:53

    Any story involving a will in which the hero or heroine must marry by a certain date in order to inherit. I won’t read this plot even in Historical/Regency romances, so you can bloody well fuggedaboutit when it comes to contemporary sham marriage plots.

    Also, the second I see Navy Seals or Special Ops in the cover blurb, I’m out. Or a heroine in law enforcement of any kind.

  112. Sharon
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 15:28:38


    You know, I think this way too, generally apeaking, but after moving past the initial (and completely ludicrous) premise of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ This Heart of Mine, I loved that book — it’s my favorite of the Chicago Stars series, actually. So I suppose there are exceptions to every rule.

  113. Sunshineyness
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 22:20:18


    Oooh… I’d forgotten about that one. I groan if I pick one up and see the “must marry or else loose his/her fortune!” Seriously, if anyone has ever dealt with wills in real life they are never that detailed and I really just don’t believe any lawyer would ever allow their client to put something like that in a will.

    I, in general, don’t like any marriage of convenience storyline though it isn’t an immediate “no buy” plot. Usually I’ll only grab them if it’s a good author. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a title blind with that storyline.

  114. BH
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 22:40:44

    Won't read anything with adultery, forced seduction, rape or abuse. Pass on by anything that has Secret Baby, billionaire, tycoon, sheik, secretary, or virgin mistress in the title. No to contemporary military, para-military, secret ops, or law enforcement plots.

    Really tired of vampires, were-types and shape-shifting things. Wall bangers are sneaky inspirational/preachy plots. Historicals written like contemporaries. Vikings and pirates have a shelf life too.

    Liking some steampunk, UF, and dystopia. I'm fine with children and animals in books.

  115. Elise Logan
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 17:47:07


    Mostly, if it’s well-written, I can get into it. Amnesia? Nora Roberts’ Affaire Royale. Secret baby? um. I’m sure there’s one out there I read and didnt’ hate. Revenge? Totally depends on what happened and what the reactions are. Contemporary virgins? Again, depends on the set-up.

    Some things, though… well, some things are simply un-redeemable for me. Incest is a big one. Not ever. Abusive relationships – and I second the statement that I simply don’t buy the “reformed” abuser. So, yeah. I am pretty wide-ranging, but there are limits. Definite limits.

  116. sol
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 14:04:51

    wow, this is a tough crowd. lol
    i wont read anything set during the American civil war and colonial period, actually i wont read anything set during any wars.
    FBI, Seals, mercenaries etc, they make me shudder.
    Sheiks and native indians are also out of the question, i just cant believe in them.

  117. Shakera
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 15:08:54

    India during the Raj books are iffy, too. JoanneF.

    Yes, I agree. Being Asian myself, I always get annoyed by this. Especially if writers try to overcome this by having a part-Indian hero.

    Why not have a part-Indian (or even completely Indian) heroine? Instead the part-native hero is always fascinated by the heroine’s lovely white flesh. I don’t mind this in the least when the story is set in England, but I always feel a bit itchy in my skin when I have to read this in Raj-set stories.

  118. Are There Storylines You’ll Always Read (or Almost Always?) | Dear Author
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:01:43

    […] week, we ran a poll asking people if there were storylines that people would just not read. A whopping 80% percentage of people said “yes.” I received a few private emails by authors […]

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    […] week, we ran a poll asking people if there were storylines that people would just not read. A whopping 80% percentage of people said “yes.” I received a few private emails by authors […]

  120. RebeccaJ
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 19:54:07

    One other type of story I HATE reading is when the guy suddenly gets a kid or suddenly loses his nanny and the girl next door or his assistant becomes the instant babysitter. He’s always helpless and she takes over knowing exactly what to do. I just never know if he really loves her or marries her for the convenience of having a built in babysitter.

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