Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

October 1, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday 29 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme created by The Broke and the Bookish for list addicts. This week’s list is…

Top Ten Book Turn-offs

Rubs hands maniacally. I have been hanging out for this one for quite a while. There are so many little things that bug me and rather than whinge about them individually, I have a chance to get them all out of my system in one go. These aren’t in any specific order. Feel free just to read the text in bold if I am being too wordy.

1.  Heroes or heroines without any flaws
I loathe Mary-Sue and Marty-Stu characters. Give me a character with real problems any day and I’ll cheer for them. Even Harry Potter had to train to improve his latent ability, people. The Demon Librarian & The Rabid Reader addressed this in one of their posts last week.

2.  Phrases or actions repeated ad nauseum
The Girl on Legare did this quite a bit and three months later I still shudder when I think of all the elegant shrugs and raising eyebrows. Funnily enough the rest of the book is a bit of a blur but these two things have been etched into my brain.

3. Overly modern attitudes, values and beliefs in a historical novel
I can handle a bit as after all the author is writing with a contemporary audience in mind but I have limits. Any Duchess Will Do balanced this tightrope fairly well and I after I read this book I wanted to believe it was possible. Both our hero and our heroine acknowledged that there was no earthly way they should be entering into a relationship given the disparity of their ranks. I’m glad Tessa Dare didn’t resort to the unknown aristocratic background to justify it either.

4. 2D stereotypically evil characters
I like it when there is a reason for their evil behaviour – addiction to power, bad childhood, traumatic experience etc.  A Lady’s Revenge irked me because the baddie actually kills a green-eyed kitten that was trying to protect its mistress. A kitten…seriously? No reason was given for the baddie’s behaviour beyond the fact that he was French.

5. The virgin who is completely inexperienced mysteriously becomes a sex kitten immediately and somehow just ‘knows’ how to please the hero without any practice
No need to reference a book as I’m sure you’ve all read one. I read one book however that took a slightly different tack. I can’t remember the name of it but after the couple had ‘coupled’, they agreed that the sex wasn’t bad and they were going to have lots of fun practising.

Still with me? I’m afraid I’m on a bit of a roll here. 

6.  Controlling men that dictate everything
It isn’t hot, it’s annoying. Caveman attitudes can only get so far even if you have an incredibly buff bod. Kristen Ashley writes alpha males but in her Rock Chick series she pairs them with heroines that are full of spunk and give as good as they get.

7. Badly written insta-love
The likelihood of you meeting your one true mate and falling irreparably in love with them immediately is fairly small yet this trope pops up everywhere. The rules for paranormal novels are a bit different as as you expect weres to respond with their animal side as well as their human side. If the author has skill and can make me believe in insta-love rather than insta-lust then props to them because it isn’t easy.

8.  Love triangles involving a werewolf and a vampire
There has been a stack of these since Twilight came out. Cecy Robson handled this really well – two guys were interested in the heroine but she made her stance fairly clear pretty early on. We were saved the internal monologue where she debates their relative characteristics.

9.  TSTL heroines
The ones that are warned repeatedly not to do something but still go tripping merrily towards danger. Often she runs away from the safety of the hero and into the clutches of the villain – repeatedly. I especially hate it when everyone tells us how smart the heroine is and then she just constantly does stupid things.

10. Lip biting and scented lips 
Yes I know I’ve listed two but they both relate to lips so I figure I can get away with it. I have written on both topics before – lip biting is a medical condition and scented lips makes me think the heroine is just a sloppy eater.

11. (so sue me) Telling not showing


29 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

  1. ahhhh!!! i haaaate the virgins that become sex kittens!!!! i just read Out of Line and not only did i have to deal with instalove, but i had to deal with this virgin girls suddenly become an animal in the bedroom.. come on, let’s be real here!! so stupid. *chucks book in the fireplace*

    also agree on heroes/heroins without any flaws! spice it up a bit!
    Betty recently posted…TTT- Top Ten Book Turn-OffsMy Profile

  2. This list! So much yes! I’ll only talk about ones I haven’t touched on at all though or this would be a maddenningly long comment haha

    I particularly hate modern attitudes in historical fiction! I know it’s not an appetizing attitude to us now, but the likelihood of our characters believing that blacks shouldn’t be slaves and are our equals are like 0.0001%. Even people who didn’t believe there should be slaves didn’t think blacks were our equals! We were an extremely racist society, plain and simple, so don’t try to pretend that only the “bad guys” believed that. And the same goes for women’s rights. I might be convinced a woman believes that because we usually have a spunky heroine – but the love interest and every one else? Not likely.

    And yes to the sex kitten! When I first started sleeping with my boyfriend I took a terrible hit to my self esteem because in all the movies and in everything I read, everyone was SO GOOD right from the start! I thought there was something horribly wrong with me. We learned together and figured things out pretty quickly, but I think it’s the first time I felt betrayed by reading haha! And I can’t imagine that anyone’s first time with a person (not just overall first person) is usually mind blowing either as everyone has to learn a new person’s body! I don’t actually know on that one though, so maybe I’m wrong 🙂
    Elizabeth recently posted…Top Ten Book Turn-OffsMy Profile

    • You’re right. Ella Quinn’s The Seduction of Lady Phoebe has the heroine wanting to teach her future children martial arts and how to fight. She was also excellent at boxing and driving a team of horses. The hero applauded her independence but I was left shaking my head.

    • I am glad I’m not alone in disliking flawless characters – my life is far from perfect so I don’t want to read about them tiptoeing through the tulips.

  3. 1. Flaws are what make people interesting and what make them realistic. They need quirks and flaws and all sorts of delightfully unique things.

    4. YES! Can there please be more well-developed villains in fiction? I want them to have motives and back story and be more than just a mustache twirling, evil-because-reasons dark figure.

    5. THIS TOO. Brilliant. Way to give virginal readers false expectations. Can we also have more awkward sex scenes to prepare people for what it’s really like?

    AND everything you said in that last half. YES YES YES.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…September: Month in Review & Secret Giveaway Winners AnnouncedMy Profile

    • I’m a bit of a traditionalist as I love the old school villains – Tybalt, Dracula, Fagin, Moriaty, Sauron, Claudius etc. They had style, charisma and reasons for doing what they did (even if the reasons were bat sh*t crazy). Whoops, better chuck in some women – White Witch, Mrs Danvers (creepy) and Lady Macbeth. Aah, that’s better.

  4. Great list! I don’t like when instalove isn’t done well either, and just hearing the word “virgin” in a book kind of makes me shudder. Character: “I’m a virgin. I wonder if I’ll lose it this summer.” That’s foreshadowing, but it’s dumb and just annoying. And you only need to say you’re a virgin ONCE. Thanks for stopping by!

    • It’s a pretty shallow way of going about it. Maybe authors think they need to remind us constantly in case we forget. Rolls eyes.

    • I think we need to pity these characters and offer them emotional support as it is a serious condition 😉 I read one book where I swear the heroine bit her lip over a dozen times. I felt like handing her a hanky to mop up the blood and some lip balm.

  5. Vampires and Werewolves as love interests?? Eww, eww, eww!! I don’t get down with that. Insta-love KILLS me… insta-lust? Yes I’ll buy that. I can’t stand Alpha-Males, and come on virgins who suddenly become sex-kittens…..ANNOYING! The first time is never going to be amazing. Anyhow great list! I found it fun to vent all my annoyances too 🙂

    My TTT
    Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog) recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday- Book Turn-offsMy Profile

    • We almost need to ration some authors, don’t we? You can have 3 blushes and 2 lip biting per novel or 2 blushes, 1 lip biting and a comment about them smelling fruity or fresh or like they’ve just had a shower.

  6. Yes to heroes and heroines without flaws. It’s so unrealistic and annoying when you know that life doesn’t work that way. It’s even more frustrating when they don’t even have proper character development on top of not having flaws. Insta-Love is definitely an annoying thing, some are done really well and it’s believable but others just want to make you pull your hair out. I laughed when I read about lip biting. I had never really given it much thought.

    Great list! Thanks for stopping by my blog :).
    Savindi @ The Streetlight Reader recently posted…The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug New Trailer!My Profile

    • Lip biting is one of those tropes that lies in wait, lulling you into a false sense of security and then striking when your defences are down 🙂

    • Yeah, I especially hate it when the detective has just been floundering and all of a sudden the villain decides to kidnap them or something and reveal all. Bleh bleh bleh! (3 to show just how serious I am)

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