Tea and Biscuits Book Discussion: Dealbreakers In Romance

July 11, 2016 Loverofromance Tea and Biscuits Discussions 22 Comments

Today I wanted to talk about what is a deal breaker when reading romance!! There is so many siutations in a romance, that some of us are okay with reading but there are others that makes us want to throw the book at the wall and say that you’re done!! I do feel that there are some authors especially recently that have certain topics brought into a story or a certain moment that just aren’t okay!! Now this can change over time as our reading interests can develop. But there are some circumstances, that you aren’t okay with dealing with on any level!! Now as readers of romance, deciding what we are and what are aren’t okay with is a very personal decision. Each of us have different conditions when it concerns dealbreakers.

I want to discuss some deal breakers that some readers may or may not have issues with:

Affairs/ Or sleeping with a person not the main character

Now this depending on how its written can be a pretty big issue for me, while I know for other readers its not. I am not a big fan of seeing a situation where this happens. I can still read the story, but it will literally bug me the whole way through even if I like other aspects of the book, this can be a true downer. There have been some books that I can overlook it especially if it happens in the beginning of the story. There are two cases where I had issues even though overall I enjoyed the books. The first one is The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Gurhke. I just want to say I truly adored this couple as a whole. But its a story where the main couple drifts apart and the hero starts to have affairs. They do end up reconciling after years of being apart. This is a book where you love the heroine way more than the hero. Even though I do love how this couple falls in love again, but this issue was a real bother for me. Now the second book that is still a issue for me is Overruled by Emma Chase. Another case of having issues with the hero’s decisions. I don’t like the way he is especially in the beginning. He lives a “double standard” here and it really bothers me seeing how he treats both women in the story. For me, it came very close to me putting it aside. Even though there were many things I enjoyed about the story otherwise—man I wanted to put this book aside, I think the only reason I didn’t was because one I had waited weeks to get it from the library and felt it would be a waste to not see it through. And there were some redeemable moments, but I read that book months ago and it still bothers me.

Abuse –humans or animals

Now this is definitely probably a dealbreaker for many people, or its a topic where its really hard to get through a story with it. Now this can be as simple as a slap in the face or shooting a horse because its injured. Now sometimes it can be a huge issue for me. Especially in historical’s you see both of these circumstances happen quite a bit. It doesn’t even have to be the main characters necessarily, it can be a side character or a villain of the story. But abuse can really turn you off especially when reading a romance. It doesn’t even have to be physical, there are many different forms of abuse. It could be mental, or sexual. Now when it comes to rape—which some authors do put in, and if they are written well can be a solid win for a reader. But there are times when I have read a book, and the author didn’t handle it very good and it turns out to be a dealbreaker. But I do like seeing real issues even if they are tough come into play. There are some books I have read where the abuse was just not for me. The first one that comes to mind for me is Spider Game by Christine Feehan. Now normally I enjoy this author quite a bit, but this book I couldn’t stand the hero!! He was downright horrible. I hated the way he treated the heroine—which was in my estimation emotional and mental abuse. Especially toward the end of the book, he tended to be almost cruel to her, blaming her for things out of her control and being demeaning. Now if there is a love/hate type of relationship in the beginning, then I might be okay for it but this was toward the end of the story, and he just constantly does it from beginning to end and it doesn’t stop. Now I do want to discuss face slapping, which has been cropping up more and more in many different genres. What I am talking about is the heroine slapping the hero. Now in historical’s its a bit more understandable. I say this because of the culture back than, and in pretty much all the books I have read in HR—its more defensive than to be done out of anger or to be abusive. But I have noticed that slapping in contemporaries has become way more popular. Now this isn’t necessarily a full dealbreaker for me, but it can bother me. I don’t think its necessary especially in situations where its uncalled for.

Love Triangles

This a almost deal breaker for me….I hate love triangles especially when its the case of you don’t know who the characters will end up with in the end. I like an obvious main couple. Now there are two kinds of love triangles that I have seen. the first is the hardest for me to deal with and many times I won’t try a book out because of this type. Its where we have one character (either hero or heroine) and there are two other character and its more of a equal love of both and that one character has to choose who he or she wants to be with more. I literally can’t stand these scenarios…they drive me up the wall. Now the second type of love triangles I can definitely do. Its where we have the main couple, but there is a conflict that is keeping them from being together. That can mean being engaged or betrothed to someone else or even being courted by another character. What I like about these is seeing two character overcome the odds whether they are by family or cultural.

Sex For The Sake Of Sex

This can be pretty bothersome for me, and when there is too much sex in a romance I put it aside sometimes. Now I don’t mind sex scenes however those that know my reading interests know that I don’t read romance for the sex. In fact, that is probably the least likely reason I would ever read a romance. I am a romantic at heart, and I adore see great character growth and emotional connection between a couple and the adventure of seeing two people fall in love and the conflicts they face and the process of seeing them come together. Now I do love a good bedroom scene but it needs to be done in a way that you see the full round of intimacy between a couple (The physical, emotional, intellectual and mental or even spiritual). I can’t read a story where the focus is just sex and nothing else. Or where the sex scenes in the story take up majority of the book. Is that really necessary? In my mind, thats no romance novel—its erotica. There is a big difference between the two. The worst experience a romance reader can have is feeling like you have to skip through many pages of the book especially when you want a solid love story and can’t see it happening at all!!

Questions For My Readers:

What are your top Dealbreakers especially when reading romance?

Have your tastes in reading changed when it comes to whether or not you will read a book on certain topics?

  • YES to all of these.
    Cheating is a gigantic deal breaker for me. I refuse to read a book if the MCs cheat with other people or cheat on other people with each other. I tried Maybe Someday by CoHo which had that and while I liked the book, I felt so icky throughout it all.
    And abuse is difficult to read for me too, but I’ll read about it IF and only if the MC leaves that person.
    I always need the main couple to be obvious too. I can’t deal with waffling heroines.
    Great discussion!

    • oh I agree about cheating. I truly don’t understand why authors use cheating so much. I swear it happens more and more frequently than it ever used to. It just bothers me so much. What is wrong with writing characters that are loyal and committed right? I see what you mean about abuse. I like seeing when authors use tough situations though like what describe but deal with it in the right way. Abuse is very tricky to use in a romance.

  • I actually don’t have to many deal breakers. I can handle most things if done well. Sex just for the sake of sex is kind of annoying though. Great discussion!

    • Oh thats good to know….its pretty different with everyone though. Some have a lot, others don’t have many. I am more picky than I used to be though. But yeah sex for sex is a pet peeve of mine.

  • Cheating and love triangles are also deal breakers for me, abuse as well. There are maybe two romances with cheating that somehow worked for me, but there are also tons I hated because of it.

    One reason why I stopped reading a lot of Urban Fantasy books is that dark, brutal content (for example rape) was thrown into stories just to make things darker, but these scenes/events didn’t add anything important to the book. I hate that.

    • I have noticed that UF has been putting rape in a ton of late and its so annoying. Thankfully I don’t read them much. Rape is a very delicate topic and needs to be handled carefully, and most UF authors don’t handle it as well as they should.

  • I love this post, Renee! Maybe, if it’s okay with you, I will do a romance deal breaker post, too. Let me know.

    I definitely have some deal breakers, too. Affairs, Abuse, and Love Triangles for sure. It’s funny that you mention face slapping, because I’ve been reading some older Nora Roberts books this year, and it was definitely a thing in her older books. I’m not a fan of it, particularly if the woman is just pissed at the hero and smacks him. In self-defense is different, obviously. I haven’t read many books lately with it, thank goodness, because I would have a hard time with it in more recent books. I don’t like it in the older contemporaries, but I can go with it.

    When it comes to verbal abuse, I actually find I’m less tolerant of it in a historical. In fact, I tend to have very high standards for the heroes in historicals, mores than in contemporary romances. I think it’s because women had no rights back then, and very few options. So when a hero is being a jerk to them too, then forget it.

    For me, a huge deal breaker is actually jerk heroes. I don’t mind heroes that change throughout the story. Like St. Vincent. But I guess I never thought of him as a jerk. I mean, he did some not so cool things in Autumn, but from the get go he is very kind to Evie. And that scene where Evie thinks he’s going to hit her, and he realizes it, he’s shocked. And tell her he would never do that.

    But I mean real asshole heroes. I’m not okay with that. And I find my tolerance of that gets smaller and smaller every year. I was more tolerant of that when I was younger. This is part of the reason I struggled so much with The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas. So many people loved it, and all I could was, he’s a jerk. Why would anyone like him? Certainly why would our super smart and intelligent heroine?

    • First off Quinn….go ahead with this topic!! I am interested to see what your list would be πŸ™‚

      I can deal with face slapping and for me it really depends on the situation and the reason behind it right? But I have seen it so much more than I ever used to…and I used to read bodice rippers quite a lot in the early days hehe Too bad about older contemporaries but not that surprised to be honest. It mostly shocks me with newer contemporaries. I see what you mean about jerk heroes though. They can be pretty difficult to read sometimes. Mostly for me, when dealing with them is how far the author takes it. If its for the whole book than I have a huge issue and there are times when I will put the book aside if its too much for me. But if its a matter of character growth or a past trauma than I am more understanding about it. I love St. Vincent, and even though he was bad in Autumn, I never disliked him at all I just felt he was misguided and boy Kleypas wrote him perfectly in Winter right? I agree about heroes who are jerks in historicals. The women back then really impress me, they definitely were made of tough stuff right? So I do love it when I see a hero be so kind and understanding with a heroine!!! Thanks for taking part of the discussion.

  • Yes to all of the above!!! GRRR They all get to me too.

  • Cheating is one thing for sure, I read this book where he was falling for the heroine, but he was still having sex with someone else, and it was just wrong

    • I have serious issues about cheating…I just don’t understand why authors use it so much. It really bothers me.

  • Ann Lorz

    I agree with so many that you mentioned.

    • oh thank you Ann!!! Good to know we are on the same page πŸ™‚

  • The Book Disciple

    Cheating is a HUGE nope for me. I will NOT enjoy a book with cheating. I just can’t. Love triangles are not my favorite thing either, however, I am more accepting of them than my hard no on cheating! And if an animal dies in a book (even if its a heroic death) I can’t do it. I’m the same with tV shows-people can die; but if the dog dies, I will NOT watch.

  • Eva

    Great discussion and so many things that I agree with! It mostly depends on the book for me but I have DNF’d books because of animal abuse. Just awful! My biggest deal breaker is typically the OOPs pregnancy — it has ruined so many books for me. It lacks creativity and is just a stupid way to create conflict. I hate it!!!!!!!!!! Ok sorry but I have strong feelings; most other things I can get past if the book is good

  • I don’t have many hard and fast deal breakers b/c there have been a few exceptions when I think of each deal breaker you mentioned. But if I was to think of it as nine times out of ten, then yes, most of yours are deal breakers for me. I have to add for my list that sheer meanness or such stupidity demonstrated that it is dangerous to others (TSTL heroines I have my eye on you) will have me slapping a book closed pretty quickly. I’ve actually DNF’d more books for something as vague as meanness that appeared as ‘wit’, ‘snark’, ‘sass’, and every other attempt at putting a positive spin on it. The other thing that has really put me off is the secret baby stuff. I just saw a blurb the other day for a book where the mom actually told the dad that she got an abortion (which hurt him with grief since he planned to step up, take responsibility and be in his baby’s life) when really she had the baby and gave him to her sister who raised the child and chose to lie to the poor guy so she could keep the baby as her own. Just NO!!!! Might as well add when the Hero or heroine blows hot and cold too long for me to care any more.

    There are probably more, but I’ll stop there. πŸ™‚ I try hard to read the blurb and figure out if the book has any deal breaking issues in it so I don’t set me or the author up for a disappointing read, but sometimes it’s not evident and we end up with a DNF or me gritting through a story.

  • I’m fine wit all of those if they’re written right. Like, if it fit the story and … Idk, it just really depends on how the author handles it.

  • Karen

    You pretty much summed up all of mine and I think I had a problem with Overruled too. The other one for me was an Eloisa James book where the hero ran off from his WIFE after a fight and slept around for YEARS then popped back up and was like – I still love you.

    I enjoy steamy books but if they solve or avoid every problem with sex then I just don’t end up believing in their HEA.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  • Cheating is my line. I’m fine if they sleep with other people IF it’s part of their relationship dynamic. Like having a menage scene or two. Or if one likes watching the other with someone else. But it is ONLY okay with me if it’s an agreed upon thing. I’m not good with hero or heroine going behind the others back and hooking up with people. They’re dead to me at that point.

    Heroine’s abusing the hero –slapping, hitting, mental abuse, crossing the line sexually when the hero has said no–is quickly becoming a deal breaker for me. It’s not totally there but I take off half to a full star at this point. You rarely see the hero doing it to the heroine without consequences but the heroines are constantly doing all of the above and it’s really making me pissy.

    That’s pretty much it for me at this point. lol

  • Yes, i am so not a fan of cheating. If the thought is there and you are going to be with someone else..end it first. Only a few times have I gotten past it in a book but I lose all respect for the character. Triangles are just stupid. Yes, I agree about abuse. I do like a protective alpha though and some women find them to harsh..but those ex-military time are trained to protect. hehe. Yep I need a plot. I love getting hot and steamy but woo me with a story first!

  • Yes all of these, except for the love triangles. I don’t like cheating or even when they kiss someone else while in a relationship with someone else, but I will still read the book if it’s good. And abuse, both for humans and animals is something I really hate to see in books. I dislike it intensively when we see animals suffer, just as much as with humans. Scenes with lots of details or torture scenes are the worst ones for me.
    For love triangles it matters how they are written. I like the complexities it can create, but most often it’s just added for extra drama and I a not a fan of that. It isn’t an instant dislike for me, but they can be a bit overdone.
    I don’t mind sex scenes and can even enjoy them, but I do want there to be more to the romance than that and not have it overshadow the plot.