Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blurb deal breakers

Last night I was checking out some “blurbs” in Amazon for a long list of books I’m buying (I’m taking an extended break from romance and wanted some historical fiction recommendations from my beloved Amazonians). I was surprised by how many novels I disqualified just from details specified in the blurbs. I realized how I, unconsciously, reject books based on plot lines that are described in the back covers.

I made a list (don’t I always?) to share with you:
  • Anything that has to do with a circus. I hate clowns—they freak the hell out me—so circus books are a definite no no. Plus a lot of weird stuff goes on in these circus books. Everyone is always a pervert, murderer, pedophile, skat lover, and there’s almost always animal abuse which I most definitely can’t stomach.
  • Any sort of pedophilia, incest or child abuse.
  • Either hero or heroine having kids (hate hate hate kids in romance novels). Any blurb that starts “Divorced mother/father of four...” I run away from.
  • Any woman that’s a bodyguard/cop; I really hate this. Authors try to make these heroines strong and independent and they usually end up coming across as petty and annoying.
  • Anything preachy, religious or too conservative. Except for biblical fiction. Love this genre. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and anything by Marek Halter is wonderful.
  • Native Americans. A blurb that says anything along the lines of “feisty farmer’s daughter falls into the hands of Chief Red-Hawk-Flies.” *gag*
  • Secret babies/toddlers/teenagers. Why must they publish stuff like that? Who are these women that keep pregnancies secret let alone freaking 15-year-old kids?
  • Secretary/maid in love with the boss.
  • Crippled/scarred main characters.
  • General fiction set in present or future times. I love anything historical/war related/Bible related, etc.
  • Kidnapped maiden taken to sheik, pirate, prince, etc. Actually, any “maiden” books are on my rocky list LOL.
That’s pretty much it, I think. What about you, guys; what snippets of plots make you put down a book after reading the blurb?


25 comment(s):

Anonymous Amanda said...

I definitely balk at secret baby books and "won't you be my kid's new mommy/daddy" books.

I also don't like the "Tycoon's Mistress" or "Sheik's Secret Lover" books. Poor girl being kept or seduced by obscenely wealthy man, but she has a secret, can she convince him that she truly loves him? Invariably, by the end she's become the legitimate wife and I have lost respect for both characters.

1/30/2008 06:15:00 PM  

Blogger Amber said...

I don't like the romance's where the girl is practically raped the first time, but eventually falls in love with the guy. That really bothers me!

1/30/2008 10:13:00 PM  

Blogger Alice said...

I just commented on this topic at another forum, so I'll leave my answers here as well. :)

I don't really like secret baby plots, but I've read some that I've liked, so that's okay. I'll usually read it, but not be thrilled about having to read it, if that makes sense.

I don't like cheaters, so I can't do Something Borrowed, though it has been recommended to me numerous times.

I also don't like stories of older women, already married, who have an affair with a younger man and feel "rejuvenated." I don't like it when the heroine is already married. Divorced is one thing, but a home-wrecker is a no-no.

And I don't particularly like love at first sight stories, since I don't think it is realistic, but I know that I read romances so I'll read it. I don't do well, though, if the hero and heroine fall in love with each other after two days, mistaking lust for love. That's not romantic.

Also anything that's explicit, like Passion by Valdez. I read the prologue to that and whew, couldn't do it.

1/31/2008 01:02:00 AM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

I strongly dislike secret babies, too, and couldn't agree more about the bodyguard/cop heroines. It's like they write a man but take away logic and add whining. (Not that women can't be logical too. You know what I mean. I hope.)

I agree about pedophilia, incest, abuse in romance, but in general fiction...I'm a huge Andrew Vachss fan. I don't mind circuses in horror but don't want to read about characters who work in a circus, bleh. And I adore scarred heroes. Don't know that I want to read about crippled main characters, and I don't care for the "heroine has fatal disease" stories, but men with scars...I dig 'em.

I also don't generally like anything involving kids too much in romance. I hate when the heroine has, like, a younger sibling she's responsible for, especially because the kid is usually an insufferable shit and we're all supposed to think s/he is adorable and isn't the heroine sweet. (This is also why I dislike parents as MCs in romance.)

And I don't like historicals where the heroine is a "healer".

1/31/2008 06:05:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I don't like books written in first person point of view.

Incest, pedophilia, no no no.

Chick lit or young adult fiction that's nothing but fashion, partying or shopping. I like Gossip Girl on TV but I can't bring myself to read the books.

Too young heroines paired with much older men. She's 16 and he's 35. Or vice versa.

1/31/2008 06:59:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I don't mind secret baby plot. I loved Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson. It depends on the story I guess. :)

1/31/2008 07:08:00 AM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

Pedophilia: I liked Running with Scissors. I don't know, it all comes down to the story. For example rape is rampant in Diana Gabaldon's novels. It bothers me a lot but I still like her books.

I don't like cop/bodyguard heroines either, and Native Americans.

1/31/2008 07:38:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

RE: especially because the kid is usually an insufferable shit and we're all supposed to think s/he is adorable and isn't the heroine sweet. And I don't like historicals where the heroine is a "healer".

OMG that cracked me up LOL Kids are seldom adorable in romance novels b/c authors work hard to make them annoying brats *Grrr* Also, they are always around.. Hate that.

I don't think I've read a romance with a healer though I do remember a book where the heroine gives the hero stitches using a strand of her hair as thread. WHAT.THE.FUCK? How do people come up with stuff like that?

Re: Fancy Pants

Isabella, that wasn't so much a baby as a teenager! LOL Wasn't Teddy like 12 when er, whatshisname finds him?

1/31/2008 08:10:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Dallie. I know, such a girlie name. LOL

I think Teddy was like 11 when he met Dallie. Anyway I like Teddy in Lady Be Good. I hope SEP will write his story.

1/31/2008 08:59:00 AM  

Anonymous Nezsy said...

I do not like the Big Misunderstanding in a book. It's exasperating and so cliche and even more irritating because the Big Misunderstanding leads to long separation and a deep emotional scar to both Hero and Heroine.

1/31/2008 09:17:00 AM  

Anonymous kim said...

I dont mind the Big Mis in a book as long as it is just one....4 or 5 Big Mis's in a book and it makes it a wall banger for me.

VT...I read that book with the hair sewing too....was it The Witch and the Warrior by Karyn Monk? What ever happened to her?

The one thing that always puts me off....and I am afraid to mention it because I dont want to take alot of heat....but I dont like a plump heroine. *ducks head and runs from room*

1/31/2008 03:14:00 PM  

Anonymous Carmen said...

I hate the Big Misunderstand also. It really annoys me when its a "she said, he said" type thing.
When either the hero or heroine is found in a compromising position and the person who caught the other knows that its a possible set up but makes the others persons life insufferable.
I also hate it when the heroine has NO CHOICE but to married someone to save herself from her aunt, uncle, cousin, father because they want to control her or her inheritance. It bothers me more in the books that are set with in the modern age.

1/31/2008 03:17:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...


RE: dont like a plump heroine.

I was going to mention that too. I like Bet Me but that's pretty much it. Thing is I have personal issues with body image/fatness and these books make me think too much about that.

Also, just b/c the heroine is fat/chubby authors need to mention it every other sentence! We get it. She's fat. Can we please move on? LOL

1/31/2008 05:43:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that list pretty well covers all my pet hates. I hate helpless heroines and babies in particular. But also the big misunderstanding in years gone by. I just think "Dumb Asses" when I read those. I hate Sheik's and Greek tycoons. It's like they use race stereotypes to make horrid macho men seem "normal." And so on ... it's a wonder we like any romances out there. Lol!

2/01/2008 07:31:00 AM  

Blogger Petra said...

That's a good list. I'm also not a big fan of western novels (though, if the story sounds really, really good I might read it). I do not like anything science-y, or about women struggling about their appearance or weight.

It's very irritating when the hero and the heroine are in love with each other, but neither seems to realize what is going on with the other - in other words, they're both clueless. Come on, a few words in the fourth chapter could solve the whole thing and I wouldn't be sitting there annoyed at stupid people. So yeah, I stay away from these books.

It is also annoying when the woman absolutely refuses to believe the man when he tells her he loves her. She seems to think he is acting out of duty or honor instead. This usually applies to the historical romances when the innocent woman falls for the worldly man who raped her.

2/01/2008 08:43:00 AM  

Blogger Sarah McCarty said...

My not going to happen list (keep in mind I'm a reader who is in it for the characters)-

-As Alice said- Cheating whether on the new or the old. I like heroes and heroines who are mature enough to have a clear moral code I can respect.

-a stupid misunderstanding that could be cleared up in two seconds. I like the H&H to have at least one functioning brain cell and the ability to use it.

-Military romance- I have a natural resistance to ordered hierarchy so don't tend to find military heroes and the plots enthralling.

- a plot that exists only to provide the H&H with the opportunity to fall into bed as often as possible with as many combinations as possible. I like my erotic reads to have substance and characters who I, again, can respect.

-Plots where either the H&H is under the age of consent. Especially in contemporary. Just not believable and well, some things should never be romanticized, molestation being one of them.

-First person books. No matter how many I try to read, (I've tried A LOT) I just do not enjoy this POV and am working to accept this.

-A hero whose too alpha to be anything less than an asshole and a heroine who is too kick ass to be anything other than TSL.

2/01/2008 09:48:00 AM  

Anonymous karamia said...

I think everything I hate has already been mentioned. But the worst that has me pulling out my hair is when the heroine does whatever she has to do to keep the man because she can't live without him. That is not true love, it's a mental problem.
Yes, rape and cheating, yuck. I don't want to read about that happening between the H&H. There is nothing romantic about either. That's not to say that they don't have their place in lit. They do, but I hate them in romance between two people that eventually fall in love.

2/01/2008 07:24:00 PM  

Anonymous Sara said...

I don't usually discard a book because of a blurb. For example Judith McNaught's Perfect has a bad blurb, but the book is very very good. What I HATE is when a publisher (usually of a very well-known author) has decided to skip the book blurb altogether and instead only provides a long list of glowing review quotes. What the hell? All the authors and newspapers in the country may think the book is "unputdownable" or "beyond extraordinary" but I still want to know what the book is about!!

2/02/2008 06:54:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

"What I HATE is when a publisher (usually of a very well-known author) has decided to skip the book blurb altogether and instead only provides a long list of glowing review quotes."

Yes! What's up with that? I hate this, too. It's like the Cloverfield monster - which turned out to be a bad movie! I'd rather have a blurb than reviews. I hate the critics anyway.

2/02/2008 09:07:00 AM  

Blogger Sarah McCarty said...

I've never seen a blurbless book, but if I did, I likely wouldn't buy it because, well, even from my autobuy authors I want to know the subject matter.

2/02/2008 10:07:00 AM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Oh Gods YES, I HATE when they skip the blurb and just give review quotes.

I don't mind plump heroines but I hate it when they're overly preoccupied with it or when it's mentioned too many times. I wrote a heroine who was a little overweight, and she worried about it the first couple of times she was undressed in front of the hero, but after that she accepted he liked her as she was and shut up about it. I just really hate it when it becomes a plot point.

It's like they use kids as an easy way to show everybody's "human side", Trollop. You should be able to show that without sticking irritating little bratlings into the picture, IMO.

2/02/2008 11:36:00 AM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

My friend gave me a copy of Lucia Lucia by Adriana Trigiani. No blurb but it does have a lot of glowing reviews like "being one of Whoopi Goldberg's favourite novels" and "Sarah Jessica Parker couldn't put it down". I want to know the book's subject matter before I go buy it. Seriously, if I were at the bookstore and found this book, I wouldn't even think of buying it. Not even if SJP "couldn't put it down."

2/02/2008 11:41:00 AM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

I don't mind plump heroines. I like Min from Bet Me and I love how Cal loves her body. *sigh* There's also that plump heroine in Kleypas' Suddenly You!

2/02/2008 11:44:00 AM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

I have never seen a blurbless book. As for the big misunderstanding, I kind of like this. Judith McNaught is QUEEN of the big misunderstanding. It makes me pull my hair out but it's addictive. Like a fatty food you know isn't good for you but you still eat it.

2/03/2008 02:45:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I hate blurbless books. I always think "this book's plot probably sucks or else it'd be there!"

2/04/2008 11:55:00 AM