Yesterday was all about the wonderfulness of lovin’ the virgin heroes and friends who eventually boink, so today I’m back to bitching and moaning. Here are the plot devices that, in my opinion, suck muchos cojones de los burros.
E.D’Trix brought this up in the Comments, and oh my, I am reminded of how very, very much I hate this plot device. Hatehatehatehate. Beth hatin’ on Gaelen Foley kind of hate. I can sort of understand it in a historical, because having a baby out of wedlock was something most people tried to keep quiet and hidden, but the majority of secret baby books are contemporaries. Most of these books make me go “What the FUCK are you thinking, you stupid cow?” much more often than is conducive to a pleasant reading experience. Because first of all: Raising a child is hard. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. FUCK that pride, there’s a new life to take care of. And most of the heroines raising these secret babies aren’t exactly Paris Hilton (financially, at least; there is definitely more than a passing resemblance to Paris in the IQ department), so add financial hardship to everything. Bottom line: if the heroine is not all that well-off, alone and pregnant and she doesn’t make an effort to track the babydaddy down and at least inform him that he’s about to be a dad, much less get him to help her on child support, she’s not heroine material, she’s a dumb whore who needs to learn that Planned Parenthood offers free condoms and Ortho Tricyclen at only $17.00/pack.
There may be the occasional secret baby book that’s worth reading, but most have made me actively wish the heroine had an abortion instead. The worst is when the heroine acts all pissy because the hero finds out he’s been a father lo these many years and wants to be an active part of the child’s life and she uses that as an excuse to act like a psycho hosebeast while humping him without birth control YET FUCKING AGAIN. That just makes me wish the heroine’s mom had had an abortion.
Much has been said about this. Let’s just say I’m not fond of books in which the conflict could’ve been resolved with a simple query, like: “Hey, is that your long-lost half-brother I saw you hugging in that garden the other night? Oh, cool. Whew. For a moment there I had the crazy idea that you were cheating on me.”
That said, I’m pretty sure quite a few of my favorite books feature Big Misunderstandings in one form or another. The Windflower, for example. I mean, Merry has a pretty good reason to perpetuate it, but still, at one point I did fervently wish she’d confide in Devon, except he WAS an asshole to her on more than one occasion….
This isn’t any fault of the books or the plot device, it’s strictly a personal prejudice. If the couple is older than 45 years old or so, I picture my parents making out and kissing. I can’t help it. Buzz. Kill. I’m sure as I grow older I’ll stop being such a stupid bitch about this type of story, but until then, I generally like my protagonists to be between 18 to 40 years old.
Enemies Into Lovers
I’m talking blood enemies, not merely pointed sparring like, say, Jessica and and Sebastian engage in in Lord of Scoundrels. I’m talking “He killed my father and I’m a sassy Scottish lass who will hate his piggish Sassenach self forever and ever, nyah!” kind of stories. These stories usually feature some truly appalling behavior on both the hero and heroine’s parts. But again, some of my favorite books and authors feature this sort of story. Shana Abe does them quite well, for example, but that’s because she doesn’t have the hero or heroine acting like assheads all the time.
The Sudden Realization of LurveÂ®
This well-worn plot device was utilized in older historicals and is still somewhat frequently used in certain types of category romances. This plot device is frequently used in conjunction with Enemies into Lovers. Hero and heroine fight, fight, fight, fight and hate, hate, hate, hate right up until page 398 of a 400-page novel. Then all of a sudden, one of them realizes: they’re fighting because they LOVE each other. This revelation typically comes out of nowhere and makes me wonder what kind of crack the character was smoking. Everything is then resolved at warp speed. I close the book fully expecting more insane fights in the couple’s future and a host of poor little crack-babies being born to the heroine.