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Harlie’s Top Ten List of NO’s in Romance Books

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As I take a somewhat vacation from reviewing for the summer, I remembered a post from a fellow blogger that got me thinking.  She listed everything that she didn’t want to see in a romance book.  I was struck at how honest and forthcoming she was in her post.  I realize that I’m not popular, don’t follow the “trends” of what the “popular” authors are writing, doing, etc.  There are a lot of authors that I used to read but over the last 3 years some of them have fallen off my list to read.  Sometimes, it’s just that I don’t have the time to read them anymore or what they are writing now just doesn’t interest me.

As most bloggers will admit, their reading tastes change, they get busy or maybe it’s just the daily grind of posting/reading that has them burning out.  I’m not burnt out by a long shot.  I’m taking the break because our son is an All Star in baseball and that takes a lot time, effort, practice and dedication not just on his part but his parents too.  Plus, hub’s is part of the coaching staff, too.  Then our son has baseball and basketball camp during that time.  We do get a breather for about 3 weeks and then our family vacation to the Comel River in New Brunfels, TX.  Can. Not.Wait.  Floating on a tube with an adult beverage.  Peaceful, relaxing and having a blast.

Plus, if you follow me on Facebook, you will note that I’m becoming somewhat disenchanted with blogging as a whole.  I have to fight for every post that I put up.  I’m not automatically approved for any books by any publishers or NetGalley.  I’ve had publicists not get me stuff in a timely manner and then blame me for stuff not being right.  Or authors not even coming over to acknowledge the post.  Yes, every blogger faces this but I think the icing on the cake was when I didn’t an early ARC of my all-time favorite author’s newest release.  I swear, who do I have to kill sometimes to catch a break?  Anyway, enough of my dribble for right now.

I want to give you my top ten NO’s in romance books.  Most people will not agree with me and I might lose some followers but that’s okay.  My opinion is my opinion and I will agree to disagree.


Top Ten Things that Harlie doesn’t like in Romance books:

  1.  BDSM For the love of God…stop with the virgin submissive/Alpha Dom.  I realize that it’s the backlash from FSOG but seriously?  Women have gotten physically hurt because of that series.  Nothing is safe, sane or consensual.  Contract or not.  Just stop, please.  That book is the reason why I don’t read BDSM anymore.  Yes, that’s the reason.  Sorry to all of the authors that write it.  And the sad part is that I used to LOVE reading it.
  2. MC/MMA/Fighters/Rock stars I’ve never watched SOA, I don’t like fighting and I lived the rock star lifestyle in my 20’s.  I survived the rock stars but some of my friends didn’t.  I buried some and some never grew up.  It’s NOT what the books write about at all.  It’s raw, gritty, nasty, and dirty and the guys…well, most of them are assholes.  You can’t change the spots on a leopard.  Sorry, I tried and got burned.  And the girls are bitches.
  3. Regency Historicals – You will note that I am reading more historicals and loving them.  But for the most part, I can’t stand Regency.  It’s too mundane for me.  I don’t care about the “ton”, what they are wearing, and the social graces of the time.  Just give me great characters to root for, an intriguing plot and a HEA.  That’s all.
  4. New Adult – I tried, I really tried to read it but I can’t get past the whole “I need a man/woman to make me complete”.  Yawn.  While I was partying it up in my 20’s, I was happy.  Great friends, awesome family, a job I loved and a friend with benefits.  Yes, I had one and it worked for me.  I wasn’t broken, abused, “lost” or needed to be fixed.  Quit blaming other people for your own mistakes.  Grow up and move on.
  5. Ménage – Please, I get lost after 3.  Plus, the whole brothers/cousins sharing.  Yuck!  That’s just gross.  Yes, I can see it working in Paranormal/Fantasy but not in contemporary romance.  For me it’s the ick factor.  Also in ménage, please God, do NOT put in your blurb that there is a somewhat committed threesome in the end.  Just don’t.  I don’t read a lot of ménage authors anymore because I’m looking for that committed relationship and then BAM, it’s a twosome just so the author can write a book about the one that got left out.  Hey, I’m all for bringing a third in to spice it up but don’t lead me to believe that it will end as a HEA for the threesome.  Just don’t…I won’t read you ever again because I don’t trust you.
  6. Cliffhangers…Just NO!  I will read reviews of books if I think it’s a cliffhanger.  I’m all for a trilogy with the same characters but I don’t like waiting a year for the next book.  As a reviewer, my time is precious.  If I’m really interested in the story I will add it to my Amazon wish list and check back for the other books.  After that, I might buy them or not.
  7. Serials – See above.  I’ll wait until it’s all written and published.
  8. Too Stupid to Live Heroines and asshole Heroes.  Yes, we’ve all read them.  I want a strong female that’s somewhat flawed and a hero that can be either redeemed or is a marshmallow underneath all that swagger.  I don’t want to have to wait until the end of the book for me to like them.  If I don’t connect with either by the end of Chapter 3, it’s a DNF.
  9. Sex just for sake of sex – Please, I want a plot, great characters and to get lost in a story.  If I want gratuitous sex, I’ll watch porn.  I’m not a prude but seriously?  I want the buildup, the friendship, and I want to know what the characters GMC is.  Yes, I can pick it out very easily now in a book.
  10. Lastly, I want to be entertained.  I want to get lost in the story.  I don’t want to have to have a scorecard to keep up with the characters, plot.  You bet that in Romantic Suspense I expect twist and turns…BRING IT.  But not so much in anything else.  I want the story to flow and have some meaning to it.

Surprised?  Pissed?  Shaking your head?  What are your thoughts?




20 thoughts on “Harlie’s Top Ten List of NO’s in Romance Books

  1. Yes, just… Yes. That’s what I’ve been talking about with my cousin. She still likes the MMA books but spot on for the rest of them.

  2. Great post, and I have to agree with you. While I don’t write Romance, I was once a big fan; however, after a while I got bored with it as a reader for those very reasons. Keep doing what you do, and we’ll keep enjoying what you have to say.

  3. I am so with you on everything you’ve said – in fact I’m getting to the point if the woman feels like she needs a man to complete her…i won’t read the book…When you are reading a fictional book – it’s fiction but I think that even fiction has to have some kind of message – and the message a lot of books today send is just wrong – woman complain about mysogyny all of the time and about how we need to stand up for ourselves and then the romance books we are getting sold all tell us that we need some alpha-butthead to make us happy? That we need to be in a threesome to figure out we love one guy? That sex is the answer to everything? No…I don’t think so….My reading tastes have changed too and I’m so done with the TSTL heroine

  4. Oh Harlie, you make me weep with happiness! No wonder we’re friends! Were we separated at birth, maybe? I agree with every single point you made! We like the same things in books. Regencies? Bleah…boring. And the idea of unprotected sex back then, making babies/diseases more probable? Ew! And the rock star life? Girl, I was hooking up WAY before it was called that!

    Thanks for making it clear where you stand. You might not have the huge numbers of followers that blog that review any old thing do, but those of us who ARE here, love you for who you are, and for calling it like you see it!

    1. *shakes head* And authors don’t understand why some people just don’t read them anymore. My list is nothing compared to what some other bloggers have. 🙂


  5. Very sensible stuff, Harlie, and I agree! Good luck to your son/hubby in the All Star games and have fun floating in the water with your adult beverage! Hope you have an awesome summer.

    1. I will have my life back after June 22nd. Baseball will be officially over. Woot! Then to the adult beverages of my choice!


  6. Not related to the list, but thank you for all you do with your reviews and posts for authors 🙂 I know I’m very appreciative. And also, congrats to your son! 😀

    Love the list, I found myself nodding with pretty much every single line item. Absolutely.

    1. Its a shame that alot of authors won’t read it. *sigh* But hey, its just my personal opinion.


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