11 February 2010

Romance Fail...

Caveat: This post may be controversial, so I apologise in advance if any offence is caused - it was not my intent.

I think I have romance fail. Yes, romance fail! It's insidious, creeping up on me when I wasn't looking. At first I thought it was nothing (just like you do that light cough); I brushed it off as just a small irritation, and delved happily back into my fantasy novel (which in and of itself should have told me something). But by the time I realized...it was too late. And that moment of revelation? I read the back cover summaries of two (paranormal) romance novels earlier this week and I couldn't muscle up any enthusiasm at all! I just kind of looked at them and thought 'blah, blah, blah'.

It was only then that I realized how strong a hold romance fail had. I honestly felt, upon reading the summaries, that I was reading the synopsis of a soap opera. (Don't get me wrong, at the right time and place I love soap operas - it's all Kris' fault I'm currently hooked on watching One Life to Live excerpts of the Kyle & Oliver storyline on YouTube!)

Anyway, generally speaking, soap operas are over exaggerations. What the characters are put through - everything - is so much....more! And that's what I discovered when reading the summaries. The words & phrases felt exaggerated and, to thrown in another analogy (just to confuse you even more), ...overdesigned (I've been watching too much Project Runway). It felt like everything (including the kitchen sink - I love that phrase) was present. And, what was utilized in one was all but repeated in the other. (Note the avoidance of the word 'copied'; I'm not insinuating that there is a copyright issue. It's more that the summaries had the same 'feel'.)

And these words & phrases? Beauty, claim, deadly, exquisite, forever, irresistible, loss of control, lust, pleasure, risk, seductive, secrets, wicked...

Don't get me wrong, all of these words have their place. But, all of them? At the same time? Come to think of it, it's like an overactive hormonal teenager ran rampant. (I missed that phase entirely BTW.) See, romance fail!

And my personal (not) favourite word: feisty. Reading that word in a book drives me completely bat-f*ck crazy (since I'm reading Corambis I'm going to channel one of the characters - Mildmay :) I was chatting about this with my best friend, the lovely Starfire, and for her the 'hit the wall' word is 'spitfire'. To paraphrase, the only time she expects to read that word is if she is reading a World War II novel! (I love Spitfires BTW - just so we're clear, I'm referring to the plane *grin*)

Now, I know that it is often not the author that writes these summaries, and I will concede that maybe I just happened to read the wrong two summaries on the wrong day, but I do think I have developed a rather serious case of romance fail, Which is no doubt why I'm reading fantasy ATM (and FYI it's going down a treat).

So, have you ever developed romance fail (and is there a cure or do I just need to wait it out?) and/or are there any words of phrases in summaries (or the novels themselves) that drive you bat-f*ck crazy?


  1. I think a bit of romance fail caused me to start reading m/m romance. :)

  2. LOL! ATM I'm craving fantasy, particularly dark fantasy (and Adrian English :)

  3. Have you read Immortality Is the Suck by AM Riley? It's not what you could call a romance - it's a vampire/cop/anti-hero story, very well done.

  4. My batf*ck crazy word is revel.

    I sigh whenever I see it. And it's usually multiple times. Over and over and over again!

    Fantasyfail is what brought me over to romance so a little bit of fail whatever the genre is never a bad thing.

  5. LOL! I think YOU are feisty. You are a feisty spitfire for this fine post.

  6. This is why I have to switch a lot - I read UF, PNR, historical, contemp, m/m..I have to go back and forth or I find I get fails a lot. I don't know...I find myself seeking that special voice more and more..and it is hard to find :)

  7. Oh dear me, yes! I know exactly what you mean.

    I started not reading anything that wasn't recommended to me by a person whose tastes I knew matched mine pretty well--that lasted years.

    On the plus side, it meant I didn't have to look at the back cover blurbs--those incaccuracy-ridden, hyperbole-plagued summaries you speak of :grin:

    On the minus column, it also meant that I read a very limited selection of authors.

    These days I read more widely because I get recommendations from a number of sources, each of which have their own preferences and go-to authors.

    Okay, "these days" in a manner of speaking--I haven't read anything new, in any genre, in a number of weeks! 0_0 The horror!!!

  8. Have you read Immortality Is the Suck by AM Riley?

    No, but I've made a note of the title and I'll have a hunt for it this weekend, as it sounds right up my alley :)

    Sayuri - the only thing worse that seeing your batf*ck crazy word is seeing it multiple times (LOL). And yes, the silver lining of genre fail is that you have the opportunity to discover a new-to-you genre :) That's actually how I discovered romance too. I went from fantasty fail to suspense and then from suspense fail to romance *grin* BTW, I love your user name!

  9. I think YOU are feisty. You are a feisty spitfire for this fine post.

    ROFLOL! Even with the caveat I'm fiesty?

    Mandi - I switch too, but usually within romance subgenres it fine. ATM, it seems to be all romance subgenres :( And I agree, finding that special voice is hard. That's why I'm still waxing lyrical over Sarah Monette - when you find that special voice it's just...clicks :)

  10. azteclady - you haven't read anything new in weeks? *shock horror* But you've read something, right? And as for those summaries...why do some publishers feel the need to over dramatize?

  11. I don't think I have words that set me off, but I'm with Chris... I'm reading lots of MM, can't seem to click with MF for some reason.

    On a positive note, I'm halfway through Harry Potter and will begin Sarah Monette...

  12. Mariana - YAH for progressing so quickly through HP, and I'm rapt the the Sarah Monette books are on your radar :)

  13. I had the opposite happen not too long ago. I got tired of PNR/UF. I needed something in the real world and ended up reading a bunch of comtemporaries with HEA. Now, I'm back to PNR/UF. :)

  14. I'm going through a romance fail right now. It's been over a month since I read a romance (the longest I think I've gone since I started reading them), and to be honest I don't miss it that much. So, I don't know, maybe I just OD'd on romance and I need a loooong break. It is sad, though.

  15. Hey, don't blame me cos you have no willpower. ;)

    I'm like Mandi. I switch genres and subgenres all over the place when it comes to fiction as well as film.

    Although some may argue that this is because I have toy poodle flu, it's really an attempt to waylay my tendency to get pissed off at over used themes and tropes.

  16. It usually isn't a particular word, but when I start to see a word used over and over in a particular book or by a particular author. A couple of months ago I read a book written in 1st person pov where he kept describing himself as "amazing" over and over again. That seriously drove me batshit.

    I'm still slumping in the historical romance department. It's funny 'cause I really enjoyed the last couple I read, it's just I sort of reached a saturation point with the genre. A part of me misses them, but not yet enough to start reading them again.

    Ooh, and speaking of fantasy, I'm LOVING the Nightrunner series. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed Luck in the Shadows until I found myself itching to get back to Seregil and Alec. I'm actually neglecting Archangel's Kiss so I can finish Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2).

    Also, IDK if you read scifi, but I really loved The Warriors Apprentice, #1 of the Miles Vorkosigan saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Since she's also a fantasy writer, it reads very much like fantasy.

  17. Orannia, I know what you mean. I go through the same thing periodically. Once I begin rolling my eyes at romance (MF or MM)... it's time to switch genres.

    I either go for fantasy, sci-fi, mystery or something totally different. BUT, I always return to romance -- usually with enthusiasm. I'm an addict, what can I say? ;P

  18. Leslie - it's good to know I'm not the only one :) I'm hoping my fantasy run (LOL!) will allow me to pick up a romance novel at some point. It's just that ATM the summaries lead to rants *grin*

    (((heidenkind))) I'm hoping 'rest' will cure me. The only problem is I have a romance novel next on my library hold list and I can't move it! It's use it or lose it! Will be interesting to see what happens...

    Kris - LOL! It's true, I have very little willpower :) I usually 'play the field (WRT genres) but it isn't working ATM. I figure I need a long rest (hopefully not too long :) ANd I'm with you on the overused tropes. For me, it's the inguene who wants 'experience' and so find a rake. *bangs head against wall*

  19. Renee - the hero described himself as amazing? Uh huh... And I have Luck in the Shadows on my TBR list and I think I'm going to have to move it up. It's been languishing there for a while and I keep eyeing it *grin* And yes I do read sci-fi and I do have a Bujold book on my TBR list (one a friend recommended as a good place to start). Have you read The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald?

    Hilcia - I'm glad to know that time away cures romance fail. PHEW! I was rather worried!

  20. Late to the discussion as usual, but wanted to add my two cents nonetheless. :)

    My verve for reading paranormal romance has definitely dwindled to near nothing, I think for the same reasons you state. I read the book blurb and I'm not intrigued. It all sounds like the same stuff over and over. I'm somewhat interested in continuing with a few series that I'm already invested in.... but it's going to take something VERY unique and VERY promising to capture my PNR attention at this point. UF is still interesting to me... as is historical and contemporary romances. I think mixing up the genres, like others have mentioned, is a great strategy. In the past months, I've even branched out and started reading mysteries, which has been great. After a few in a row, though, I do crave true romance.

    Specific words are phrases don't drive me too batty. Maybe excessive use of cheesy pet names like 'darling' or 'pet' stuff like that do annoy me. I'm good at being able to mentally eliminate those words from getting absorbed in my head, though, if they're bugging me. Like my subconscious just ends up skipping the words on the page. I guess I'm lucky like that. :)

  21. Christine - you're never late :) I love hearing your thoughts. ATM it seems to be all romance, although the paranormal subgenre does seem to be in the firing line ATM :) And I'm hoping those series I'm currently already reading I can keep up with, although I still haven't read the latest Psy-Changeling book, which was released last November!