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My Favorite Romance Clichés

from the archives: May 2005

I was thinking about how my BFF (the original Snookie) once said that there were certain things she loved in Romance novels that were kinda dumb and totally cliché, but she didn't care because "I LOVE IT."

Possibly all clichés mentioned in this post can be found in this series, except the pirate thing.

(Yes, I own all of those, how could I NOT own those?)

Specifically, she was talking about one of the things that I, too, adore, such as: the forbidden attraction thing. When they're like I mustn't… no, I must resist... oh shit my tongue is down his throat and he's touching my boobies and and and… no! we mustn't! And then they stop - or more likely, are stopped by someone/thing - and then they vow never to be mindless lust-hungry animals again. Never! But then they see each other like at a ball or something and sparks fly and... must… have… him… no, must resist! I dunno, I just really like it. No idea why. It's actually better when it's like they're all burning for each other and he just like touches her hand in passing and then they're all panting and locked in this hell of denying an outlet for the passion. It's this whole emotional/physical longing thing that's all intense and it totally works for me. Another thing I love: The girl dressed as a boy schtick. I LOVE IT. I don't care, I LOVE IT. It's one of those things that I'm absolutely willing to suspend my disbelief on. She has doe-like eyes and a way of swishing her hair back from her face and are those tampons in "his" pocket? But the hero still doesn't catch on? Fine with me! It's amazing to me, but I actually don't care how beyond far-fetched it is. I love the device that much. Also: the marriage of convenience. On this, I am less willing to suspend my disbelief than on the girl-dressed-as-boy thing. There are SO many marriage of convenience stories out there - hell, the vast majority of historicals are marriages of convenience or else forced marriage stories. But I don't mind that. They can be written very well. I grant you that they very often aren't written well, but that goes for most books, sadly enough. I love when they get married because society forces them to. Or when a powerful monarch commands them to. Love it. I also love some of the old standbys that are almost never done well, like the Heroine Who Is SO INCREDIBLY SMART, but then she never really is. She'll spout one out-of-the-blue quote from Euripides on page 14, and that's it -- other than the author consistently reminds us that she's a bluestocking, reads all kindsa books, why it's just scandalous in her day to be so learned! Feh. I love an intellectual heroine when she actually IS an intellectual, and when it has some bearing on her character and personality and life. But honestly, I don't know that I've read many. I also love the OMG He's Such A Total Manslut Rake hero - but man, it's just so standard. It's a given, like how he's almost definitely a nobleman and/or wildly rich. In Laura Kinsale's Flowers From the Storm, the hero is a total ho-bag. But it actually MEANS something to his character and to the plot that he's such a tart - and that's a rarity. Most of the time, it's just like "tall, dark, handsome, fucks anything that moves, likes long walks on the beach." Ho-hum. Someone gimme a rake I can hate to love, please. It's pretty rare. And pirates. And piratical types. Like the old-skool kind, who take the ship and lock the heroine up in the master cabin and vows that he will not force her like he forces all the others because he'll just wait for the hellion to beg for the honor of hosting his love-muscle some day, which will happen any minute. After he deduces that she is, in fact, not a ragged cabin boy. And after she goes through lots of No we mustn't… I don't want to want him… oh if only I could touch his rock-hard abs… no! I must resist! And then, despite her years of proclaiming that she wants only to live the scholarly life, she's caught with the manslut pirate in a compromising position and they have to get married. And then they live HEA. Do all that and write it in decent prose and make it all believable, and I will be in hawg heaven. Yee haw.

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