Hello Everyone! Welcome to my August symposium!
This time I asked my fellow authors to think like an author AND a reader for a moment. I wanted to know what got everyone hot while reading...and NOT in a good way. That's right! We are discussing some of our biggest pet peeves in romance novels. What makes you want to throw a book out a window or causes you to shake your head and ask "seriously?" Find out what everyone had to say and feel free to leave a comment and share what makes you crazy while reading!
LAURIE ROMA: Now, it usually takes a cataclysmic event for me not to finish a book (courtesy of my slightly OCD tendencies), but nothing drives me crazy more than characters that are TSTL. If you haven't heard that acronym before, it stands for TOO STUPID TO LIVE. Seriously, who wants a happy ending for someone that pisses you off? What would get a character categorized as such? Well, I'm glad you asked! Characters that lay on the floor and shout “walk all over me” make me read faster in the hope that they will somehow get killed off. Also, abusive characters that deserve a knee to the junk instead of a HEA make me shake my head. But what really gets me is the ultimate TSTL character. Some people might like a storyline drawn out for the dramatic effect, however if this is accomplished by making the characters complete idiots who can’t figure out what’s going on? Epic fail.
Gage Stark is a man with a troubled past. After a brutal betrayal ended his promising acting career, he returned home to heal and start a new life. The moment Gage meets Mikayla, their chemistry is too strong to deny. Passion explodes every time they're together, and their volatile relationship is anything but quiet.
When a shocking discovery is made and secrets are revealed, trust is put to the test. Will Gage be strong enough to stand beside Mikayla and fight, or will his need to protect her shatter the fragile bond between them?
N.J. WALTERS: I admit, it takes a lot for me to stop reading a book once I start it. I’m stubborn like that. I think it’s the optimist in me that keeps hoping the story will get better. One of my biggest pet peeves is a hero who is a rude, cheating, abrasive and just downright nasty character. Yet somehow by the end of the story we’re supposed to forgive every terrible thing he’s said and done and love him as much as the heroine does. Not going to happen. Sure, I get the allure of the wounded hero or antihero who lashes out at the world. I love those stories and the long, bumpy road to redemption. But there are some things I just can’t get past. The hero may be wounded, but he has to live up to some code of ethics, even if it’s slightly different from society’s norm.
After ten years away from home, Cherry Edmonds returns to West Texas when her father is ill and dying. Now she is left to deal with the estate and pick up the pieces of her life. The past is waiting for her in the form of Wesson and Remington Smith, the two brothers she was half in love with when she was eighteen.
Wes and Remy know they’re different from most men. They are both in love with Cherry and have been since they were kids. One night of hot sex leaves all of them wanting more, but she believes their time together is just a one-night stand. It’s up to the Smith brothers to prove their love for Cherry and their commitment to the ménage, and to convince Cherry’s she’s definitely capable of loving two Texas cowboys.
JOYEE FLYNN: Useless descriptions. I’m sure lots of people have heard me say this, but a room is a room is a room is a room. They vary, sure, but they all have four walls, at least one damn door, and unless they tell me something about the character, I don’t care what the room looks like. It’s just fluff. It’s like Despicable Me… “It’s so fluffy, I could die.” Yes, that’s how I feel about books that tell me too much information. I want to strangle the author and then maybe give myself some paper cuts with the book to make it stop. Which is kinda hard with a Kindle. Hell, I rarely put the descriptions of what my characters are wearing in my books. What the fuck does it matter? We read books because we want to be drawn into the character(s)’s relationships, their world, not the shit in their house or what the fuck is on their backs.
Trying to move forward from his forced film career, Gideon agrees to visit a pack in the Smoky Mountains mostly to avoid the island vacation he’s not in the mood for. But when the Alpha turns out to be crazy and other dangers pop up all around him, Gideon realizes his mistake… Except it brought him to the pack Betas who he likes.
Naill and Taye have a complicated relationship that sucks up all the energy around it and makes Gideon feel like an afterthought. That’s not the relationship he’s always dreamed of, but after years of abuse and getting noticed for all the wrong reasons, like his yoga moves in bed, it’s better than what he had with his last pack, and he should settle for that, right?
Once united with the Omegas, Gideon discovers the one he gave his heart to already, Ciro Wilson, finally paying him the attention he’s been desperate for. Mixed feelings, signals, and pure stubbornness add to the turmoil, yet things aren’t all they seem to be with the quartet and not even the other Omegas know what is going on.
Can the four of them find out why their emotions are in the way of making a life together, or will Gideon use his extreme control over his powers to make a home for one away from it all?
SUSAN HAYES: Like every reader, I have my quirks and personal preferences. Not every book is a perfect fit for me, but I usually finish reading the story just to know how it ends. One of the few things that will actually make me put down a book and walk away while contemplating violence is a heroine who cannot seem to function by herself. I can’t abide a heroine who needs a man to define and direct her in all aspects of her life. If she isn’t able to pay her bills, hold down a job or navigate the world alone, I won’t have any respect for the character. It’s hard to want her to find her happy ending when what I really want to do is slap her upside the head and tell the hero to run far and fast. (Preferably in my direction!)
For nearly a century, Duncan has held fast to his vow, until the day he finds the beautiful Tabitha Blacke lying dazed and bleeding after a rogue vampire attack. Duncan realizes he must break his vows in order to protect her from the evil that is prowling his territory.
When both Duncan and Jared find themselves falling for their lovely houseguest, they decide to claim her together, forging bonds that will change all of their lives forever.
As trouble draws near, their bond will be tested and sacrifices will be demanded of them all. The two men know they'll do whatever it takes to keep their beloved Tabi safe, but will their love be enough to see them through?
LACEY THORN: "He shrugged his shirt over his head and tossed it aside..." top of page. "She used her nails to lift his shirt over his abdomen, scratching as the material lifted..." bottom of page. "She tore his shirt off...." next page. How many freaking shirts is he wearing? When did this story become about winter in Alaska? I read a book once where the heroine crossed the lawn in a peignoir. The hero met her halfway, pressed her against a tree and rubbed against her boy shorts and t-shirt. What? When did she change? Those things are enough to have me tossing the book aside and not buying that author again.
Tomorrow the auctions will take place. Some become brides, and some become nothing more than belongings who must do as they are told. Winter will have none of it. Taking the first chance of her life, she risks it all to escape, running into the desert and hoping to find something better.
When Roar, Scar, Gate, Shadow and Blade find Winter, they only plan to take her back to the safety of the settlement. But Winter isn’t going back. One way or another she will convince them that there is no other option than to keep her.
HENNESSEE ANDREWS: Wow, what a way to make me think, Laurie. Hmmm, pet peeve. My answer is unbelievable connections. In fiction, we have a plethora of genres with other worlds, the paranormal, and so on. That is not what I am speaking of. No matter what the setting, world, or strange situation, the people involved must be believable in actions, words, and feelings. In other words, there needs to be development in the relationship. Without a romantic development and chemistry, the story will not evoke feelings in the reader. Therefore, the reader will be left as unfilled as the characters. Then the tossing of Kindles and bitching follows. Believable couples = Happy Readers!
The years passed, but the memories endured, inhabiting her heart and mind. Brock had been the one man to masterfully control her body without words. She had thought of him over the years, and at times she considered trying to find him again, but fear prevented her from doing so.
A trip back to Tulsa lands her back in the strong arms of Brock, and she becomes a slave to the passion that once bubbled between them. Their intimate encounters rekindle a firestorm that cannot be denied any longer.
Will she admit her love for him or run again?
GABRIELLE EVANS: I love a happy ending, but I’m also a sucker for a little angst with my romance. As an author, I understand that sometimes bad things have to happen to propel the story forward. However, the one thing sure to get my blood pressure up is killing off one of my favorite characters. Kick him, hit him, burn him, push him down a flight of stairs. Take away his memories, send him around the world, or torture him mercilessly, just don’t kill him. If an author must absolutely kill my favorite character so that he can reemerge from the ashes as the proverbial phoenix, it better be believable. Miraculous resurrections, deities waiting in the wings to whisper a divine destiny into my hero’s ear, or the ever popular, “I love you! Damn you, don’t die on me,” just isn’t going to cut it.
The first year of their relationship was bliss. Now, however, Miles Gavari finds himself drifting farther away from his mate. Deciding that a vacation to an island resort is just what they need to reconnect, he whisks Hades away for some steamy nights on the sandy beaches of Resplendence.
Being the ruler of the Underworld is a real job with real stresses. Hades realizes that he’s been taking Miles for granted, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to recapture what they’ve lost.
It doesn’t take long for Miles to realize that he’s not the only one on the island vying for Hades’s attention. Determined to be the last man standing, he pulls out all the stops, making it a trip that neither of them are soon to forget. Will it be enough to hang on to their everyday love? Or is the fairy tale really over for good?
PEYTON ELIZABETH: There are quite a few things I try to avoid when writing a storyline, but the one main issue I evade at all costs is not researching a subject. It is vital to know through and through everything that you put down on paper. Though it would be easy to cut corners on something minor in a book, the reader will be taken out of their fantasy the second they know something is wrong. As writers, we need to have pride in our work and that includes everything that goes along with it…the finished project will only be that much better.
When Chad Westworth and Alec Brewer walk through the doors of Safeword LLC, she comes very close to walking out. They are friends of her brothers, and although she’s done her best to hide her attraction to them over the years, Amy fears their entangled past will get them all in hot water.
Her brothers’ reactions aren’t the only thing that Amy needs to worry about, as Alec’s past rears its ugly head and threatens their future. Once the truth is exposed, Chad and Alec are left wondering if they’ve lost the angel of their dreams.
LORI KING: What gets me hot under the collar when I’m reading? The narcissistic asshole Dominant. There is a fine line between dominant and bully, and unfortunately there has been a shift recently into more books with Dominants who are selfish and vain as well as over the top sadistic. Now don’t get me wrong here, because I live the lifestyle myself, but when the Dominant in a story does his submissive more harm than good, I find it insulting. I far prefer a Dominant who is protective not possessive, and confident not arrogant.
Katie-Jo (KJ) Whetstone is on a mission to save her mother’s life and protect the Quiver Creek pack from Nicolas Kaplan, a deranged werewolf. She has already journeyed across the country from Wyoming to Missouri, to find brothers that she never knew, and now she must lead them back against their own reservations. She’s shocked when her libido goes haywire over the only human traveling with them, Dr. Thomas Jameson.
Fighting to keep her distance from the mating lust, KJ and Thomas both end up needing rescued. Bryson Samuels is an enemy wolf that makes her body sing as loudly as Thomas does. With strangers for mates, she fights the need to bond, with her desire to be free from the pack. In the end they will all have to decide if they are willing to do anything to protect each other.
JAN BOWLES: I guess my biggest pet peeve when reading a romance novel, is where the hero and heroine are just about to make mad, passionate love. The whole book has been leading to this one, blissful moment when they finally get to do IT, and....suddenly there's an interruption of some kind. Whatever it is - a brother, a hurricane, a mad as hell kitty - the tender moment I've been looking forward to is OVER. FINITO. This must be the most FRUSTRATING way imaginable an author can keep a plot going, and leads to a very disgruntled reader. And if the author chooses to do it for a second time, within the same book, which I have read once or twice, then I'm afraid the book is going straight against the wall. Or in my case, deleted from my kindle. PLEASE. PLEASE. Don't do it. That is one scene, I hopefully keep from all my books, because I know how frustrating it can be.
A proficient rope player and Master of Club Submission in his own right, Jack Montrose knows how to please a lady. But has he met his match in the sexy woman wearing high heels and latex?
Still smarting from the breakup with her ex who severely compromised her safety during a bondage scene, Sara is undeniably wary of the new Dom in town. Although he’s so self-assured, and handsome, is she really willing to place her trust in him?
ERIKA REED: There is one thing that makes me hot under the collar when reading a book. It's when you read through the entire book to find the sex scene you have been anxiously awaiting is right at the end. I feel it's deceiving to read the cover blurb of a book of how a couple goes through a journey together only to discover a short version of their love making on the last few pages of the book. I feel cheated and want to toss my Kindle in frustration. In one instance, I got to the end of the book then found out that if I wanted to read more about this relationship, I had to buy book two of this series. I don't like to be teased...other than by my hubby. *giggle*
After being shot in the line of duty, Tara Mcintyre's dream of being a police officer comes to an end. Looking to start over, Tara takes her cousin's advice and decides to move to Inferno, the quiet little town she already considers home. Ready to forge a new path for herself, Tara struggles to move on with her life and find a new job that she loves as much as she did being a cop.
Inferno's sheriff, Blake Turner, is trying to figure out the unexplained occurrences that keep happening in his quiet menage town. Someone is deliberately trying their hardest to hurt the ones he cares about, and Blake won't rest until he discovers who it is and stops them.
Inferno's fire chief, Logan Turner, can't help the instant spark he feels the minute he first lays eyes on Tara Mcintyre when she first comes into town. Logan and Blake are cousins who were starting to give up hope of ever finding the woman they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with, until they meet Tara.
Blake and Logan Turner can't wait to claim the feisty wildcat Tara, but can she let her guard down and allow them into her heart?
KAREN MERCURY: What gets my goat is when a writer has obviously borrowed a very hackneyed phrase from another writer. I’ve seen it steamroll that way. I’ll read the stale phrase—for example, how her gown “pooled at her feet” when a hero took it off. A month later, you’ll read someone else using the exact same phrase. It steamrolls from there, and pretty soon every single book has a gown pooling on the floor. Same thing with a man “claiming” a woman’s mouth with his. I first read that in gothic romances in the 80s. Pretty soon men were claiming more than mouths. They were staking claims on female body parts all over the place! If you’re going to borrow a hackneyed phrase, make one up yourself. My favorite is “slithering.” I like how satin “slithers” between a hero’s fingers. You can borrow that.
They’re at it again in the hamlet of Hell’s Delight. Katrina Abramson, recovering from a nasty breakup, is hosed by firefighter Alex Coldiron during the annual Fourth of July water fight between rival fire companies. She is sprayed right into cattleman Shane Jonas, on the run from his past. He has returned to confront his future.
Town reporter Alex knows Shane wants to mend fences with brother Devin and plans to write a heartwarming article. Instead, he’s thrust into a passionate triangle with the amorous couple, and Alex must face the truth about his sexuality. Katrina is swept into a thrilling power exchange with the two men where no one is ever sure who has the upper hand.
An exotic, shady character from Shane’s former life is lurking in the shadows, spying on their play sessions, and Shane's dangerous past is about to come full circle.
Note: Each book in the Hell's Delight series is stand-alone and can be read in any order.
SIOBHAN MUIR: There are two things that will make me want to throw my Kindle (or the book I’m holding). The first is wishy-washy characters, characters who aren’t true to themselves throughout the story and do things outside their nature. For example, they make a decision to treat themselves or their fellow characters differently after a traumatic event, but then go back to doing the opposite, only to make the decision again, and start the pattern over. Book tossed. The second thing that drives me nuts are stories where more than the first 3% of the story is all backstory. Backstory is for the author, not the reader, and should be parsed in sparingly throughout. Don’t tell me how the MCs got to the town where the story takes place unless the bad guy catches up to them on the trip. Too much backstory at the beginning, and I’ll toss the book.
Magic, mayhem, and motherhood… a witch’s work is never done, but Sabrina draws the line at the Fae.
After almost two decades as a practicing witch in Cloudburst, Colorado, Sabrina Foxglove is done with men, magic, and the fertility rituals of High Beltane. She’s dealt with all three before and ended up with a young daughter and no partner. Twice. She’s looking forward to a magic-free May Day, with nothing more exciting than making brownies for a kindergarten class and decorating a May Pole. She definitely doesn’t have time for a handsome, Fae-touched man.
After almost two centuries as the human chamberlain to the Fae’s Summer Court, Darius Winterbourne is a man accustomed to getting his way. So when the Summer Queen tasks him with finding a witch to perform the annual rituals and strengthen the ancient warding magicks, he figures it should be easy. He doesn’t expect Sabrina’s hardheaded refusal, her untrained abilities, or his attraction to her. With less than a week to Beltane, he must gain Sabrina’s trust before he loses his home, his position…and his heart.
JENIKA SNOW: What gets me not so hot when I’m reading? I’ll be honest and say I like my men strong and assertive with a touch of dominance. I am not all about a weak character, male or female, but when the male lead lets everyone walk all over him, especially the heroine and not in a good way, it really bums me out and pulls me away from the story. I have a certain image in my head on the men I like to read about. Alphas all the way! I have read some stories were the man is all weepy and just not strong all around. Being compassionate and understanding is totally different, because of course I love my men like that, but they have to have some pretty big balls, so to speak. They have to know when to stand up and take some action without caring what anyone else says! I try to portray that type of man in my stories because that is what I like to read.
After suffering from an eating disorder as a teenager, Tatum Weatherton slowly starts to grow comfortable in her curvier body as an adult. With her self-confidence shot, Tatum never had a meaningful relationship, but that all changes when she starts working for Leo Castill.
Leo enjoys women, and he has plenty of willing ones that work for him at the gentlemen's club he owns, The Lion and the Lamb. Everything changes when one luscious female, his mate, enters his club looking for a job. Every possessive instinct roars within him to take her, mark her, and claim her as his own.
When another lion shifter takes an interest in Tatum, Leo's lion demands to be let free and destroy the threat to his mate. But when Tatum is taken, Leo will stop at nothing to get her back, even when that means having the blood of his enemy on his hands.
TYMBER DALTON: Well, two instances come to mind. One was Stephen King’s book “Insomnia.” He called an engine’s connecting rod a “tie rod.” I’m sorry, but Stephen King makes enough to verify with his mechanic that he used the right term. (I ran an automotive machine shop, and I was a store manager at a major US auto parts retailer, so yes, I know my terms. (LOL) Another was a well-known romance author (no, I won’t name her) who wrote a book where the hero was injured and in a wheelchair, and he was supposedly this great wheelchair athlete. Well, my son IS a disabled athlete. And the “racing chair” she was describing was, in fact, what normal wheelchairs look like today. And she had the hero using an electric chair, which, based on how she described his abilities, was COMPLETELY unrealistic. Most athletes with his supposed abilities and skills don’t use power wheelchairs as their daily chair. (And the book was set in modern times, not in the past.) In other words, she couldn’t be bothered to take five minutes to run a Google search for “racing wheelchairs” or “disabled athletes” to make sure she was getting her facts correct. I didn’t finish the book. And I’ve never read another one of her books. (And won’t.) And yes, she is a NY Times bestselling “traditionally published” author. (I’ve heard from others I’ve talked to privately that she’s also notorious for getting firearms facts wrong.) I’m not saying authors have to be total experts in what they write. But with the Internet, there is no excuse now for an author to not do their research. Or to contact an expert in the field and have them confirm “facts” for them. If you don’t know, stay general. Don’t stick in “facts” that can blow your credibility as an author. Instead of describing a gun in detail, just say the character picked up their handgun. Or rifle. Or shotgun. Or whatever. Don’t risk going into details that you aren’t sure about just to have pissed off readers writing to you later telling you how “wrong” you got something.
Amanda “Manny” Croyle hates technology…and it hates her right back. Which is why it annoys her when she’s assigned to an undercover investigation and protective operation for two computer geeks. But it’s not like she has a life. Just a wounded heart and PTSD from her time in the Middle East.
Korbin Temple and Rhys Gilyard are resigned to the fact that Artemis—a top-secret cyber-security project—is the only “woman” in their life. Then they’re assigned an administrative assistant. They’ve learned not to trust sexy women, especially once they suss out Manny’s true identity, but there’s something sweetly haunted about her and they wouldn’t mind a chance to brighten her world.
Manny knows getting personal is a bad idea, but the two men soon win her heart. Unfortunately, unknown criminals want their hands on Artemis. Now it’s a race against time to see if Manny can unravel the mystery before time runs out for one of her men.
SAGE MARLOWE: What gets me hot when I’m reading you ask, dear Laurie? A lot, I have to admit, although I don’t have a particular pet peeve as such—I’m just a very picky reader. I’ve spent a lot of time during the last two years writing, editing and proofing books and by now, I’ve developed a habit that dies hard. A story has to be really well written and intriguing to draw me in or I’ll just read copy. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t freak out over a typo or clumsy sentence and I’ll even forgive the odd logical error, but when I get the impression that neither the author nor the editor knew what they were doing, I’ll stop reading. As to storylines, I don’t rule anything out. A good author can make any story work.
What's the price of reality when a fantasy is for sale?
Cam is young, sinfully sexy and willing to play without limits, a combination which makes him a fantasy turned to flesh for men and women alike - and he's for sale.
Nate is curious when it comes to carnal delights but hasn't found the right man to explore his desires with.
When a friend buys Nate a few hours of pleasure with Cam, it's not much of a surprise that Nate ends up intrigued. He keeps coming back for more and the attraction between them appears to be mutual but while Nate finds himself falling for the sexy hooker, Cam makes no secret of the fact that for him, sex is just a job.
Determined to win him over, Nathan tries to show him that sex is about more than physical satisfaction but Cam's walls seem impenetrable until a dramatic event forces him to reveal some of his secrets and Nate begins to understand that Cam pays more than just the price for the reality behind the fantasy.
ZOEY MARCEL: I dislike reading about cheating except in erotica because those books are about sex fantasy rather than romance, and I’m fine with it in romance only if the character who cheated is remorseful and their partner forgives them. I wrote a book like that. Weak male characters or ones who go on and on about how precious the heroine is. Some of that is great, but on every page it makes me gag. I’m fine with sweet heroes, but my favorite are tortured heroes and alphas. I don’t even mind when they’re slightly bossy and possessive.
Life is sweet for Jill Easton after her reconciliation with her husband, Ben. He’s even allowed Neil Banks into their marriage. She has everything she wants, except for Logan Weston and Judah Shaughnessy, the other two loves of her life.
She discovers that Ben has a spanking fetish and a startling obsession with the 1950s that challenges her inner feminist and entices the natural submissive in her. Their power struggle is halted when fate takes a turn for the worst, and Jill must prove how far she’s willing to go to save the man she loves most.
When their BDSM relationship progresses, Ben calls Logan in to help train Jill. Jealous, Judah hatches a plan to make Ben want to share Jill with him, but things go horribly wrong. The four men must unite to heal Jill from her inner demons and prove to her that only complete surrender to them will set her free.
D. RENEE BAGBY: I'm the type of reader who will give a book a chance until the very end, so I don't stop reading to chuck books out the window... as it were. However there is one deal breaker that will ensure I'll never touch an author ever again -- happily-ever-after or happy-for-now. I read Romance for one reason -- the HEA/HFN. If a book is categorized as Romance, the main characters better be hooking up at the end (with the assumption that they'll stay together forever after) or else that book is leaving my house via the nearest window (so long as it is print) and I'm never touching that author again.
In the aftermath of a senseless war that claimed many lives, the gods have punished the dragons for causing the conflict. The next generation will not hatch until Prince Shurik finds a human female willing to put aside generations of animosity to become his bride.
Yolette goes to sleep on the side of a mountain, the odd woman out on a couples' camping trip, and awakes in a field outside the home of a dragon. Transported to an unknown world very different from her own, she must depend on Shurik for shelter and guidance.
Shurik doesn't anticipate his growing feelings for Yolette, making the task of proposing that much harder. Danger looms from those who want the punishment ended and from those who want it to continue until the last dragon is gone. Shurik must decide whether he will save his people or his love and pray to the gods his choice is the right one.