Romance writers are the unsung heroes when it comes to facilitating our occasional escape from this scary world. Sales of romance novels are numbered on the shortlist of things that actually went up during the pandemic in 2020/2021. These writers got us through some pretty dark times and continue to do so. However, you read enough of them and you begin to pick out some
On Big Dicks
If I read one more book where the guy has a huge dick… I swear to God!
Bonus points if it’s so big they’re wondering if it will fit… blood will pour!
This needs to go the same way as the other ones we retired. Remember the slim blue-eyed blonde virgin? That’s the same energy we want here romance writers. We can’t be out here criticizing men for being preoccupied with penis size when we’re out here perpetuating the same toxic ideas. It’s only fair.
Millionaires and billionaires
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we have exhausted the started-from-the-bottom-now-boss billionaire romance quota. Romance writers everywhere, this is a public service announcement: we’re good now. Also, consider this an official moratorium on billionaire men dating poor women. Stop it. Thank you. Perhaps expand your horizons and start writing about normal people. Just to be clear, not a normal girl and a billionaire. Two normal people. You can do it. We have faith in you.
Girls who like masculine things
This whole thing where a guy likes a girl because she likes things that men traditionally like, e.g. football, baseball, video games, comic books, etc. needs to end. One would assume that goes without saying but romance writers are daily reminding us that even then, someone should say it.
You want to impress me, give me a guy who likes traditionally feminine stuff. Girls are taught to devalue things girls traditionally like in favour of developing a liking for things traditionally considered masculine and by extension cool. Carrying on such ideas especially in romance novels whose primary readers are female is reckless. Bonus points, if the heroine proudly says, “I’m not like most girls,” that book should be burned with immediate effect. That writer should be put in romance writers’ jail for a minimum period of 12 consecutive months.
Hot guys and average girls
For some reason, the girls can be plain-faced and have nothing going for them, but the men all have rock-hard abs. I’m not saying everyone in a novel has to be at least a California 9, but come on. Romance writers, how is it possible that we can have plain-looking women, plus-size women, short women, tall women, poor women, pregnant women but can’t have a single man without abs? All we’re asking for is one or two stories where the men have soft bellies, normal jobs, and average-sized dicks. Is that too much to ask?
Allegedly good men who date ‘floozies’
There is a truckload to unpack here, so romance writers, listen up. First of all, if the heroine/hero demeans the other women the hero dates, referring to them as floozies or hangers-on or groupies or whores or dumb, we’re off to a rough start.
Second, I put it to you that if someone (the hero) is willingly dating “dumb whorish groupies”, maybe, maybe that’s their type and we should not ignore what that says about them i.e. they are also dumb and whorish. This idea that the man is somehow innocent in all that is dumb, misguided, and sexist.
Third, the idea that the hero can carelessly date other women, heedless of their feelings but we’re somehow supposed to believe he’s a good man just waiting for his perfect woman is quite frankly insulting. Good men don’t take advantage of women who they know genuinely like them.
Bonus points for “he doesn’t treat her like other girls”. You know the one where the hero is a good guy with you/for you because you draw it out of them and they just can’t treat you as badly as they treat other women. TRASH!
Even more bonus points for the hero who is banging everything that can move while the heroine shyly preserves her virtue. Romance writers, how on God’s (previously) green earth is this still a thing?
Jealousy as an indication of love
Romance writers need to stop it with this promotion of jealousy as an indicator of love. A hero who doesn’t even want another man saying the heroine’s name because he doesn’t feel like sharing her. A hero who beats people up for checking out the heroine or says nonsense like he doesn’t want the heroine wearing something because other men will check her out. That man is a walking red flag. In the real world, this kind of jealous possessive territorial behaviour is deadly. Research shows that domestic violence is often triggered by jealousy.
In ‘surprise baby’ romance novels
Dear romance writers, please be advised that a man who threatens to take the baby and keep it from the mother is not a hero, they are a villain. Also included here are men who use threats and their wealth to strong-arm the poor heroine with a baby into moving in with them or some other similar BS.
Also still in this trope, are men who blame the women for the pregnancy or baby. I don’t how much clearer this can get, it’s your sperm so that makes it your responsibility to make sure they don’t go places you don’t want them to go or do things you don’t want them to do. YOUR SPERM, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Ain’t nobody trapping your loser ass.
Calling baby boys, little man
Stop it. They are just a baby. Allow them to escape the wide reach of toxic masculinity while they can.
Allegedly good men with douchebag friends
If the hero has friends who are douchebags, then it follows that they are also a douchebag. There’s no universe in which a good man is close friends with a sexist misogynistic man just for fun and games. Romance writers, y’all were big on reading so I’m sure you remember this one on birds of a feather flocking together? Look at his friends and clearly see his character.
She’s the only interesting girl ever, ever!
Romance writers love this thing where no one has ever captured the attention of the hero like the heroine. Like he’s never met a single interesting girl. Not one. Ever. No woman has ever even mildly sparked his interest beyond the bedroom, but whoa, this girl, he can’t help himself. All the other women in the whole world pale in comparison. Son, if you have never met even one interesting woman in your 30 years on this rapidly warming planet, maybe you’re the problem.
They can’t all be under 30
Jesus Christ, do romance writers know that people live beyond the ripe old age of 30? That they can actually find love even then? Quick, everybody educate a romance writer you know.
Need I say more?
In the interest of giving credit where it’s due, y’all are doing a wonderful job in a few areas. It’s been forever since I saw one of those King/Prince heroes. Good job. You’re also writing a wider variety of rounded female characters (who even have sex with other people) which is refreshing. Now, if we can just write more black people… but that’s a big one.
What’s your pet peeve when it comes to romance stories?
Check out Opinion: In defense of romance stories