- The lone heroine. Mostly found in paranormal romance or urban fantasy, the heroine is almost always a kick-ass chick who goes it alone. She doesn't trust anyone, except maybe her one good friend, though she usually turns out to be pretty normal and tends to have a family of her own. Other than that, our heroine is a loner, going through life fighting the good fight, engaging in casual sex and low-maintenance hook-ups, sometimes barely scraping by, but seems to always have really cool, expensive weaponry. Most heroes in these same books fit this category as well, but I get more ticked off when it's the heroine.
Dead parents. Now I know a lot of people lose their parents, usually in their 30's and 40's, so it's not the natural order of things that bother me. It's the endless stories with parents that die, usually in a fiery car crash at some point when our hero/heroine is a child or teen. Why do so many characters have to have such a background? I'm thinking because it's an easier way to create conflict, and used to justify why a character is distant, or avoids intimacy for fear of losing that person. I get that. But it's used way too often.
Dysfunctional families. Like many people, I would say I come from a dysfunctional family. It's common. But so are well-adjusted families. I know several people who actually get along with their parents and siblings, and they spend all their holidays together. I know because I've been there. It doesn't mean they don't fight or get irritated with each other. It just means that they like to spend time together and look out for each other. Wow, how refreshing.
Heroines who don't believe you can have it all. Kati did a post on this not too long about about a certain book she'd been reading, and I believe I know which one it is *g* Essentially the heroine was a career woman who didn't think she could continue her career and have a fulfilling relationship with the man she loved. She thought she'd have to choose, and in the end, she almost chose the career. Despite discovering how lonely she was, about how there was something missing in her career on the other side of the country that she was able to have living in a smaller location with people who cared about her, she still almost walked away. D'oh. This strongly borders on TSTL territory for me. In the 80's, and maybe even the 90's, I was okay with this, but now, nope. It can be done. Women do it all the time. It's no longer a novelty to have it all. It's reality. So this one tends to bother me.
The perfect skinny body and "heroine" hair. Yes, it's fiction, and we want it to be about pretty people, but beauty does come in all shapes and sizes, and hearing about a heroine who is a size 12 being called a "large" or "heavy" heroine burns my butt. As women, we check each other out, look at what other women are wearing and what size they are. And if I were asked the question as to which woman would I be attracted to, it's not the size 2 blonde who ate a grape for breakfast this morning and looked in disapproval at my cup of fruit and piece of french toast I had on my plate. No, it's going to be the pretty, dark-haired girl with actual cleavage from her real boobs who's gotta be at around a size 10. Plus she actually has a smile on her face instead of the pruny scowl blondie hit me with. Yeah, I'd do the brunette. Yet in a romance novel, the heroines are always as tall as the man's chin, with a slim yet curvaceous body. I'm totally picturing a Barbie doll here, and hasn't it been proven that there's no way Barbie could stand up straight if she were real? (and no, I don't mean that, so get your minds out of the gutter. That's a topic for another time).