Stray Thoughts: Brain Has No Off

I am officially throwing in the towel and giving up on understanding the appeal of most romance, especially most paranormal romance. Don’t misunderstand me; there’s a fair amount of it out there that has decent plots, or at least the bones of same, in amongst the sex scenes. But what I can’t get is how often the plot seems to require the heroine to turn off her brain.

At least when it comes to the hero. Male protagonist. Whatever. She has doubts, she has logical reasons not to trust him, the man once abandoned her without a word for almost a decade and never said a word before he showed up by breaking into her apartment. She should shoot him, or at least throw him out on his oh-so-shapely rear – but the stirring of Certain Urges is just too much to resist-!

To which my brain goes, Okay, suspension of disbelief gone.

Seriously. I admit I don’t know how most people’s brains work on this subject; it’s not something that comes up in daily conversation. Like, ever. But given my experience with other logic-and-reason-affecting situations – being too tired, too hungry, too absolutely emotionally crushed to maintain the capacity of rational thought – I have an ingrained response.

If something is keeping me from thinking rationally, leave. Now. Full throttle retreat. Get away from whatever the mess is and calm down. As a human being, your brain is the most potent weapon you have. Sometimes it’s the only weapon you have. Anything that’s keeping that weapon from being deployed at full capacity is a threat to your life.

Something is oh-so-tempting you to make a Stupid Decision? Leave. Like, right now. Yes, even if it’s your apartment and the Threat should leave instead. Life, limb, and sanity take preference over but this is my place.

This should especially be the case with female characters who are actually trained to use firearms and engage with dangerous felons. The average man is stronger and can hit harder than the average woman. Simple statistics. You want to use your firearm at a distance. If you’re inside the same apartment, you’re too close to be safe.

If you’re inside the same apartment because the other guy picked your locks to get in, you’re definitely too close to be safe.

I understand the appeal of a “One True Love”. I do. I understand wanting to be held, comforted, and made much of. What I can’t understand is why anyone would want to do that with a guy who didn’t respect them enough to respect their boundaries, back off, and – I don’t know – actually pick up a phone or an email, explain why they did X, and earn someone’s full and informed consent before they get someone’s unconditional forgiveness and their body in between the sheets.

Seriously. If you’re going to go for a romantic fantasy of The Right Awesome Guy, why can’t the fantasy include him respecting you?

…Any thoughts?

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68 thoughts on “Stray Thoughts: Brain Has No Off

  1. It’s the same continuous indoctrinate that women are supposed to be considered of mens feelings and their wants before their own.
    Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the author is aware of how daft the decision making of their female characters are.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would love to read a paranormal romance where the female lead goes through this ‘head empty’ sort of feeling all through the book (but plot inturuptus is a thing), they get to the end, and she pulls a gun on the male lead. She knows damn well she’s asexual, so if she’s that tempted by carnal desire it’s externally imposed. Now. Is he doing this on purpose or is this an accident, she hasn’t been able to figure it out the whole book.

    Unless this is vampires, then he gets stakes no questions. Several other species get a ‘might be an unknown hybrid, could be accidental’ temporary pass. Unless he doesn’t reign it in even then.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oooh, probably not a good time for it because of all the nonsense about ‘fixing’ people who aren’t sufficiently lustful, but that could be a really interesting storyline– basically, he *can’t* stop it. His powers are trying to fix her.

      Build up that he’s also a friend, the kind that’s almost your other half.

      Is being “fixed” into having romantic feelings about him worth it for her to be around him?

      Would probably work best if there’s a distance relationship option where she can have some kind of an idea that she does actually like the guy, it’s not just his wonky powers.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s an entire book centered around “can’t you just stop being like that?” where one of them really can’t but would if he could, and the other one has neither reason nor desire to do so.

        Far beyond my skill, but it’d be so satisfying if it were done well.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. :feral grin:
        Someone that has skills at short stories should do one with someone’s uncontrolled power “fixing” the introvert into an extrovert, and Ye Verilly it Bites Everyone. That’d be more on the snarky side, though.

        It could be a really *fun* and yet still touching series– pick the stuff that folks get annoyed by and in turn annoy by huffing about “can’t you just NOT do that?!” — the biggest problem would be playing fair. You could even do *multiple* of the same problem/annoyance.

        The “moral” being something like fixing folks against their will is bad, but discovering you want to be changed and working towards it is good, even if it doesn’t work all the way.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. You could also do the total opposite. Picture this: some type of situation where Persons A and B are roommates. (Probably college dorms would be easiest) A is ace and worried that their new roommate might be pushy or weird about it. B arrives and is… relieved and overjoyed. See, B is an imcubus/succubus and is SO RELIEVED to be living with someone immune to the Please Jump My Bones aura that they radiate. Sure, they have to eat, but when they come home all they want to do is have some tea and actually watch Netflix and chill. Hijinks ensue.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. That could even work for a sort-of romance story– because of the lack of response to the Jump Me aura, they can actually grow a healthy relationship.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve had a lot of the same problems with paranormal romance. It’s actually disheartening how many times I’ve seen the same toxic male alpha and she’s not like other girls/ competent badass chick stereotypes with only slight variations. The lack of mutual respect can make or break what goes onto my physical book shelves.

    This is urban fantasy/romance but The Edge series by Illona Andrews has some very interesting world building, fairly engaging plot and solid characters all around.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. buildup is the key- if the woman had a “dry spell” and was complaining about her frustrating lack of sex life or something like that, then we can see as her humping the guy who returned after missing for a long time without even telling why as a reaction to satisfying a need, like how a hungrey person that drives past an eatery decides to stop and buy that pizza, hot dog, shawarma, hamburger or whatever food is there. or even if he is not starving, but he sees and thinks about how some food now woul be good.

    but even then, the heroine in question should only delay those ‘Serious Questions’ for after the bedroom scene. and ask him where the HELL he been all that time!

    which plays well into subverted expectations, as the male lead thinks he is welcome, when in truth his interrogation merely wasnt immediate… Maybe the heroine even decided to hide his wallet and cloths while at it, to prevant him from running away without answering her – and his answers better be good, otherwise, he just might have to go home naked anyway.

    The subversion i like the most for such braindead situation, however, is when the Hero, returning after a long absance, discovers that the heroine got another guy – that can be a good source of drama, EVEN if the first guy is her ONE TRUE LOVE, he proved unreliable, wasnt there when she needed him, while the poor guy who was, who picked up the pieces and supported her was. and can be trusted to be there. the ‘reliable but boring VS the exciting and uncertain’ would result in different choice between the bored housewife, or young woman craving adventure, and a woman who had fallen into having nothing previously and wants to keep the security she regained.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. For the delayed interrogation, the second Tomb Raider movie had a good version of that. Well done scene, make you think it’s going to sexy times, and then she handcuffs him to the, I think bed post, and demands to know why he didn’t take the shot. When she finds his answers unsatisfactory, she leaves him right where he is and takes off.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. The long and short of it, as far as I can tell, is that our current culture glorifies “authentic emotions”. Especially “authentic love”. All too often, thinking critically about *why* a person is having the emotions they are having makes the emotion come across as “non-authentic”. Huge sweeping displays of love made on a whim come off as more “authentic” *because* they are made “in the moment” of having that “authentic” emotion.

      The other issue you might be running into is that there are some people who really do notice how people are sexually attractive *all the time* and who can’t turn that part of their brain off. Kind of like the opposite of asexual. And if your author is like that, their characters will probably be like that and the author won’t even know that’s something most people don’t really experience to that degree.

      It should be noted that can happen even with people who *are* logical about why they feel things; it’s not mutually exclusive. But being logical/rational about why a person feels something can mitigate the worst aspects of the “i want to jump the bones of anyone sexually attractive” tenancies. I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations about being asexual and how romance is portrayed in fiction with someone who is very logical, but is also *very* interested in sex. And even they agree how most “romance” is portrayed in fiction has a lot of messed-up things going for it because of how it distorts a lot of what makes a *good* relationship actually work. Like having good communication…

      That our culture doesn’t value critically thinking about emotions is… really not great for several reasons. I’ve seen some… really nasty stuff… when it comes to people who are more logical/rational trying to understand people’s emotional arguments and… more or less slamming into a wall of “if you *can’t* understand/experience the *emotions* I’ve had about this topic, then I don’t want to talk to you about it” and “what matters is not the logic of this topic, but how people *feel* about it”. Usually with the conclusion that “since you can’t *feel* the “correct” way about this, you’re wrong and not worth talking to”.

      Which completely ignores that people who do think logically/rationally *do* have emotions. They just frequently need to see however many sides of an issue or enough data about it to *decide* what emotions to have about it. And that indecision about how to feel comes across as being “non-authentic” to a lot of people. Or even outright non-validating of *other* people’s emotions that they’re having in the moment.

      The someone can *decide* to feel emotions about a situation *really* weirds some people out. Especially if the thing they can decide how to feel about is something like romance, sex, relationships, etc.

      Liked by 5 people

    3. For story where it’s the guy who is thinking with his emotions (and making all *sorts* of bad decisions as a result) and the girl is thinking with her head (and handling the situation with class): The Remarried Empress. From the blurb: “Navier Ellie Trovi was an empress perfect in every way — intelligent, courageous, and socially adept. She was kind to her subjects and devoted to her husband. Navier was perfectly content to live the rest of her days as the wise empress of the Eastern Empire. That is, until her husband brought home a mistress and demanded a divorce. “I accept this divorce… And I request an approval of my remarriage.” In a shocking twist, Navier remarries another emperor and retains her title and childhood dream as empress. But just how did everything unfold?”

      Part of the whole premise of the plot is that Navier’s first husband wants his wife to be outwardly more “emotional” (when she’s the logical type)… so he finds another woman who is *way* more emotional… and more than a bit of a gold-digger. Watching his downwards spiral as he figures out exactly what kind of woman he is now stuck with after divorcing Navier is… very satisfying to watch. Navier’s second husband is… a lot more logical… and ironically a lot more keyed into what Navier actually *does* feel when she is being emotional away from the political spot-light… Watching him and Navier fall in love while running political rings around everyone else is really cute to watch. There’s also a good amount of political shenanigans and all the main characters have a bunch of platonic and familial relationships that gives them plenty of opportunity to *explain* what they feel and *why* they are feeling what they are feeling and what they are or are not going to do with those feelings. And the story doesn’t end when Navier gets remarried… It’s just as much about her and her second husband developing an awesome relationship as it is about her getting away from her first toxic husband. Really good series to look at for ideas on how to make a romance work while having numerous side-plots going on.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. Stories often don’t want to take the time to build a relationship.
    They have an outline and they need to cram it into a book that covers 3 days.

    So they use shortcuts.

    “Love at first sight” jumps over the whole “getting to know them.”
    And instead of showing how they get along, they show what they are willing to *do* for the other person.
    If they’re willing to throw away their job and rescue them from the demon king, then they must really care a lot about them, right?
    And it even lets you keep the story moving!
    Much more efficient than having them talk to each other.

    The trick is that giving up everything for love might be stupid and shortsighted.
    Especially if it’s a dumb idea performed in the stupidest possible way. (see Romeo and Juliet)
    So if you have a character think about it critically, and do it anyway, they might be stupid!
    A significant number of plots hinge on the main character never actually stopping to think about what they are doing.

    This leads to a couple weird conclusions.
    If a person can think critically about their feelings, then it isn’t True Love.
    True Love is always more important than anything else, if they might choose something else over love, then it isn’t True Love.

    Imagine this scenario:
    Two people meet and hit it off.
    One gets dragged off to a marriage they don’t want due to family obligation.
    The other thinks about dramatically following to rescue them.
    They can’t really afford the plane ticket, they might lose their job, they would face opposition from the family, they might not be able to build a life together, statistics say they might divorce in a few years, and really this isn’t their responsibility anyway, there are other fish in the sea.

    That would be a weird scene.
    Even if they choose to do it anyway, just having the character seriously examine their emotions and weigh them against their emotions would devalue them in the narrative.
    The audience might think they’re a heartless monster, and their love isn’t real.

    It’s a welcome surprise when a character says “my career/dreams/opinions are more important to me than romance.”

    Another rare thing is to have a character consider that their feelings might be a crush.

    “Yup, another blast of hormones. Doesn’t mean anything in particular.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I remember, years back, reading a joke about how Harlequin Romances all had the, ahem, saucy bits in the same spot in the physical book, so a reader looking for just “the good stuff” could flip to the right general page and within one or two pages, well, there it is… So for someone who’s read a lot of that, either for research into “what sells” or because they really like reading romance and want to write it, well…

      Current Hollywood and otherwise romances only reinforce that, of course.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Unfortunately, I have seen books and even fanfiction where they do this and make the character who actually chose to think it out to be a Terrible person for even stopping to think about it. The whole ” they didn’t REALLY love you” or “It isn’t True love, because they had to think about it and didn’t just jump”. 🤦🏼‍♀️

      And a thought that just occurred to me, why would the other party even Want that? I would feel absolutely horrible if a person I loved destroyed their whole life to “save” me. Yes, a small part thinks: aww they really care about me” but at the same time, the guilt would be awful and hard for me to forget. Along with a fear that the love interest might resent me for that in the future.

      I actually read a good Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji soulmate Modern AU where they talk about this very issue. It was very refreshing because, in the end, both of the people in the relationship took a step back and seriously thought about consequences for both sides and took the the time to arrange changes to not ruin either person’s life and still be together.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Heck, on a basic exposure to reality level– your first impulse often does actual damage.

        If you really love someone, you’ll try not to hurt them, to the best of your ability; if you’re an impulsive fool, that ability won’t be much, but if you’re a reasonably mature and controlled adult of reasonable mental ability, you SHOULD be thinking.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s not actually that difficult to “forget” all the red flags and warning signs that a guy puts off if one lets one’s-self succumb to infatuation.

    I can’t explain how it happens or why, all I know is that it’s like a (hopefully temporary) fit of insanity, and seems completely reasonable at the time.

    … maybe not if he’s just broken into your apartment, that’s just a bitegregious.

    If one is able to break out of infatuated mindset and can realize one’s own fault in the matter (i.e. The “not retreating when one’s judgement is impaired”) one might be left with the conviction that one’s judgement and one’s own self-control can never be trusted again, at least in matters of the heart and associated organs.

    Which would tend to ruin the “romance” part of the paranormal romance, since a reasonable action to prevent a reoccurrence of the circumstances is to keep all future potential romantic interests at a literal and figurative arm’s-length. Or 10-foot pole length. Or 20.

    “I don’t trust my own self-control, and I refuse to be cruel enough to test yours to destruction. So keep your distance.”

    Liked by 5 people

  7. If you’re inside the same apartment because the other guy picked your locks to get in, you’re definitely too close to be safe.

    Yes.
    This.

    With a side-helping of Kill It Lots.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Mostly I think it’s the writer not thinking about the behaviors the female main character is modeling. Big shrug! (also not very appealing, I agree)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I think the main problem with most romance, especially supernatural romance, written recently is that it’s all wish-fullfillment for the author, their own personal fantasies.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. If you’re going to go for a romantic fantasy of The Right Awesome Guy, why can’t the fantasy include him respecting you?

    The idea of “respect” is one that is seriously not well understood, popularly.

    Folks can understand the mild-to-freeky-and-insane spectrums for admiration, and deference, and probably a few other variations that are kind of near respect– but respect is kind of like the kind of love that involves truly wishing the best for another person.
    I’d argue that respect requires that kind of love– maybe is an aspect of it, because you have to recognize at least part of who the person really is.

    People are hungry for that, just like they’re hungry for the understand-and-desire-best-for-beloved type love.

    Their IFF scans are very, very messed up, though….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Doesn’t help that respect is something that often takes time to portray well. A single novel usually doesn’t have the page length to get really in depth about things like that when most people picked it up for magic battles and sexy bits (and are gonna put it back down if it doesn’t snap right, right away).

      I mean, I HAVE seen it done, but generally not from a new author? And often they rely on an established relationship of some kind to do some of the work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, and something that just clicked– it’s a two-way street.

        You can’t just get respect. You have to offer it, in a way that is appropriate to the situation.

        And it still has to hook people into the story.

        Recently read a non-funny fantasy romance and have been trying to figure out HOW the lady got me hooked in one page– the character is showing respect, in general. For self, for others.
        Radiance, by Grace Draven, for those wondering.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. So here’s a thought relating specifically to the paranormal aspects.

    You have your tofu vampire or were-platypus or whatever, and they’re on the fringes of polite society.
    Pretty much by definition.
    The story about the werewolf that holds down a 9-5 job and never has any problem interacting with people is not much of a story.

    So they end up doing something that breaks social norms to establish their “otherness.”
    And then they have romance.
    These may interact in bad ways.

    That doesn’t make it a good romance.
    But a lot of the things they shouldn’t do are often mixed in with things that a normal human couldn’t do.

    They chase down the speeding car, or break in to the 10th story apartment, or knock them out with hypnosis.

    The squick factor gets glossed over with the sense of wonder.

    “Oh wow, it’s so amazing that they did that! …what the hell are they thinking!?”

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Dangerous Gothic Male Love Interest is not a character. He is the heroine’s sex drive, id, shadow, animus, etc.

    So if you are expecting heroine to act rationally, when he is her dream permission to do stupid things, you are not reading the same novel that the author is writing.

    All romance is a dream sequence. Some dreams are just more rational.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, it’s not necessarily true… but it does seem to cover a lot of the handwavium of genre romance.

        That said, a lot of stuff gets covered by genre constraints. I mean, sheesh, look at the forgotten genre of the pastoral (unless you think it got taken over by Western romance and Hallmark movies).

        Does anybody really believe that shepherds and shepherdesses lived perfect peaceful rural lives? Of course not! But apparently it was wildly popular to believe in it, for a zillion years.

        Like

      2. They got to sit around a lot while the sheep grazed in peace. Probably looked pretty idyllic from other perspectives.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. i guess my point is that there is such a thing as a love story of two human beings struggling to find love and happiness, and there is such a thing as genre romance that you can read as fast as you can work your way through a stack. But they’re not always the same thing.

        If you’re trying to elicit a sort of dream sequence that slides along smoothly, then of course you throw in all the handwavium in the world. And if your target reader is reading very quickly, and is mostly paying attention to genre cookies… yeah, nobody is really thinking about that.

        To be fair, a lot of people in real life think that all their significant others are just extensions of themselves, and try to use them as various kinds of psychological permission slips or convenience stores.

        But in real life, very few women think that they can board a ship, get captured by pirates, be romanced by the pirate captain, and find true love and riches. Because if they really believed that model, there would be Somali Love Boat Cruises with all women passengers.

        OTOH, some women really do have this urge to date and marry imprisoned serial killers. So if vampires were real (and more possibly, if they were safely imprisoned), there’d be women trying to date them.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. i guess my point is that there is such a thing as a love story of two human beings struggling to find love and happiness, and there is such a thing as genre romance that you can read as fast as you can work your way through a stack. But they’re not always the same thing.

        My brain dredged this up, so I’m inflicting it on you:

        Michael Bay romances.

        The point is it being a certain type of enjoyable, not in being plausible.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I read an essay by a romance writer who was also a lawyer, and she recounted that her husband said that if he acted like her heroes, she would file for divorce, and she quite calmly agreed.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. I used to live the Anita Blake series, then she started dating the “woe is me I’m a werewolf/I want a white picket fence with 2.5 kids and will guilt you for not agreeing with me” guy, then they started going on again off again because she wouldn’t give into his whiny emotional tactics and each time he came back he tried again, also the succubus vampire who at least didn’t try to manipulate her into changing her entire life. Then of course the series turned into so much porn that at least half of each book was just pwp.

    After just writing that description I need to read this:
    https://archiveofourown.org/works/35676364
    It’s about a character leaving her emotional abusive/manipulative boyfriend and moving in qith Kazuku from Naruto (it’s way better than my description sounds).

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Please ignore the previous attempts at posting this.
    I used to like the Anita Blake series, then she started dating the “woe is me I’m a werewolf/I want a white picket fence with 2.5 kids and will guilt you for not agreeing with me” guy, then they started going on again off again because she wouldn’t give into his whiny emotional tactics and each time he came back he tried again, also the succubus vampire who at least didn’t try to manipulate her into changing her entire life (in the same way as the werewolf, a debate could be had that he does so in other ways). Then of course the series turned into so much porn that at least half of each book was just pwp.

    After just writing that description I need to read this:
    https://archiveofourown.org/works/35676364
    It’s about a character leaving her emotional abusive/manipulative boyfriend and moving in with Kazuku from Naruto (it’s way better than my description sounds).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually liked the Anita Blake series for about 5-6 books. It ended when the woman known as the Executioner of vampires, known for being implacable and competent fell for/got twisted into becoming a vampire’s sex bunny within 3 books. The vampires just make me go: Time to get the stake machine gun.

      It says a lot that book 1-4ish had Anita willing to burn down the “church” of vampire worshipers.( Something that I would say requires at least a Fuel/air bomb) to being an employee of the main nest and pitying her ex-partner in twoish books. It is the best example of a Master situation in Worm I’ve found, and a creepy one at that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, Jean-Paul is better than Heartbreaker only in that he at least seems to give a damn about Anita (after several years of wanting her for her power). The fact that in the most recent book I read she f*ed a teenager really bothers me, also the fact that there’s so many ways for her curse to be used against her and the characters don’t do anything but feed it rather than looking for a cure. The worst thing about it in the later books is that Anita literally can’t decide to stop having sex with people, so despite her apparent consent it feels like there’s a large amount of non-con going on. Maybe for the next series Hamilton writes she could set it in an A/B/O universe since she apparently doesn’t understand consent. I used to be able to ignore the sex for the plot but then figuratively literally half of the last book I read was just pwp. 🤮

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Re: Anita Blake — Yeah, it initially looked like (in the first book or so) the author planning to have Anita figure out a way to live a normal life with paranormal powers, marry the werewolf, and have the vampire be the analogy to “guy who keeps trying to tempt you.” Similarly, it looked like she was planning to find some kind of “how to be a liberal Christian necromancer” thing for Anita.

      But either her sales or her IRL drama life made her decide to go the exact opposite way. So of course she had to make the werewolf boyfriend the worse one of the two. Very abruptly.

      (Obviously this can happen in real life, but… it really seemed abrupt.)

      And let’s not even get into the harem that showed up later, and all the other ridiculous romantic interests that she accumulated, that should have been “kill it with fire” for anyone wishing to live a month.

      “I date an entire prison worth of serial killers! Yay! Feel the feminine power, as I pay all their bills!”

      (Yeah, I probably should have stopped reading sooner than I did, but I kept believing that she was going to turn it around. Until she started creepy series two, and got the hint.)

      OTOH, that left a really big hole for fantasy noir that was filled nicely by Dresden PI books. So obviously her money play did not actually pick up all the money that it could have.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I’ll occasionally pick up one of the new ones at the library, because the first…what, two books? Only had one big flashing philosophical issue*, and surely they weren’t that bad–
        :reads book about jailbait were-cat snuff-pr0n masochistic suber-submissive underwear model being added to harem string:
        — or maybe I’m remembering too fondly.

        *either raising the dead was a truly involuntary thing, or it was a sin. It couldn’t be both. And that drew attention to the question of how much and what of the supernatural had been known, there’s occasional notions that only make sense in a Hidden World sense, but the werewolf boyfriend was a paranormal biologist….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I disagree about the normal life with Richard bit being what Anita was after even in the beginning but agree with the rest of your thoughts about that series. I read the first one or two of the Merry Gentry series and think that Hamilton could have made it into a really cool detective series even with her harem, but no, the faerie queen had to conveniently stir up trouble to cause sexcapades rather than let her stay in whatever city she started out in. I got through the Dresden Files up to Cold Days and then just couldn’t keep going. I’m fine with power creep and the slow movement into practical morals that happened over the course of the series, but there was a sort of misogyny that I wouldn’t have noticed if Harry didn’t protest the label so much, also I just got frustrated with the last few books before Cold Days so I quit half way through and haven’t touched the series in several years. It feels like Jim Butcher was trying to write a 1950s detective story and missed. I also get annoyed when stories push the idea that the only “real” god is the Christian god, but that’s mainly because I’m a non-Christian living in America surrounded by Young Earth Creationists.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. See, this is exactly why I prefer your published works to most of the drivel out there right now in paranormal stuff. I am curious, have you ever read the Kate Daniel’s book series? It is one of the very few parnormal I have found that don’t have the heroine completely turn off her brain, partly because it takes 2 to 3 books before they actually decide to do anything about the romance part. I stopped reading it because I’m not overly fond of book series that go for longer than around 7 books, because they tend to get a little repetitive if they aren’t epic fantasy. (I have found that Manga doesn’t fall into this category for me, go figure?) But yes, especially after reading some of the better fanfiction available, I heartily agree with this. Most women with those kind of skills would not keep putting herself into that kind of situation, no matter how hot the love interest it. I do understand attraction and that it can be distracting, but I don’t have nearly the training, skills, and experience some of these heroines are supposed to have and I would never want to stay in a place or situation that would result in having to stop thinking. My brain is constantly doing several things at once on top of a constant inner monolog and unless I’m trying to go to sleep, I don’t like trying to turn it off, Ever! And, to a little cynical, I notice most books don’t seem to do this to the Hero.. Now, a lot of women tend to be more agreeable and more focused on Feelings, but any woman who has pushed to deal with dangerous people and is known for both her skills and competence is not like a lot of women. It takes more focus and drive and competition to gain that kind of skill and do that kind of job alongside men. They can absolutly do it and excel. But the kind of person who has that kind of achievement did not get there by turning off their brain when their feelings start taking over. It’s also why, as much as I love reading, I am getting pretty picky about the kind of books I read and I have definitely discovered that most romance, especially the more recent books, have this same problem. Why make such a good heroine and have her not use her brain? Especially around a person who they supposedly care about? And I am a much less for giving person, despite being a romantic at heart. Using the situation you gave as an example, unleashed the guy have a darn good explanation for the long absence and or breakin, the anger and frustration would kill any attraction there was, especially if they broke into my living space. And even then, it would take a while for any trust to be there and why in the world would you want to mess around with someone you know you can’t trust yet? Broken trust takes TIME and proof. And I don’t know a single woman who would be willing to jump into bed with someone who hurt them like that after that length of time without some pretty sincere groveling and a long trial period.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Another thought I had, would the story still be good if respect was involved? If they wrote it with the idea that the guy really really didn’t want to involve her, and he keeps himself distant and demonstrates that he is sorry, does feel guilty and knows he made bad choices and makes every effort to prove that he has changed… along with giving her the Time to start trusting again. That sounds like a much more enjoyable story and doesn’t require the woman to turn off her brain or accept the lack of respect and even have to potential that they won’t get back into a relationship, not unless he works very very hard. I agree with you, why is it so popular for the hero/love interest to be so disrespectful or dismissive of his poor actions? Maybe I’m a bad person, but I would enjoy the angst from knowing he ROYALLY messed up and might never fix it and regretting it than them jumping each other and all is forgiven.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I feel you. I read a LOT of paranormal romance when the genre was first getting popular, but it’s gotten so formulaic that I mostly just dip my toe in urban fantasy AUs in fanfiction bc at least I know I like those characters.

    I am just too tired of wanting to give the heroine a pamphlet on emotional manipulation and abuse, and also tase the male lead(s) bc they’re setting off my hard won ‘do NOT be alone with this guy ever at all’ instincts.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I tend to think of this kind of book as porn-with-point-by-numbers-plot.

    I usually do not get as far as the first sex scene, because early on there will be a scene where the heroine shows how tough and strong she is by being very rude and abrasive for no reason to some minor character who gets in her way.
    Which is the moment i quit the book, because if i cannot stand the main character, why bother?

    Can i say how much i like your characters? When Shane Redstone is grumpy, she has a good reason, and still thinks about other people instead of only her own goals and feelings.
    And she is only grumpy, not thoughtlessly cruel.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. there will be a scene where the heroine shows how tough and strong she is by being very rude and abrasive for no reason to some minor character who gets in her way

      And if she’s supposed to be an under-dog, this flip-out will be accompanied by whining about how badly she’s been victimized by whatever they did that she didn’t like.

      I don’t read books so I can snarl at someone to grow up and learn a little self-restraint!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There you go, being all realistic and stuff.

        (see also: a lot of good things aren’t praised, because basically nobody doesn’t want to do them; it doesn’t mean they’re not also good, it just means they’re popular as well)

        Liked by 3 people

  19. The subreddit Unresolved Mysteries has an incredible story about hidden treasure chambers in an ancient temple.

    Also, we learn that under Indian law, deities can own property… but they have to be represented by guardians… just like minors.

    Also we learn that the king of Travancore willed his kingdom to Vishnu, under the title of PadmanabhaSwamy, and then designated himself and the whole royal family as hereditary servants of King PadmanabhaSwamy.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. It occurs to me that the Unbuilt Trope plot of “Paranormal Romance” is The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber musical). The Phantom checks all the boxes for “gothic paranormal romance interest” (and probably invited the trope to a large degree). However… Christine is very quick to look into the other guy in her life once she finds out everything the Phantom has been doing. It doesn’t hurt either that the other guy is someone who she knew when they were younger, cares about *her* rather than one aspect of her, and has social status and enough money to provide for her. And he also isn’t going around trying to kill everyone who gets in his way. For all that Christine initially is infatuated with the Phantom, she doesn’t *stay* that way and recognizes the bad situation for what it is. And then when someone who doesn’t have “bad idea” written all over him shows up, she wants to stick with him. Even if he’s the “safe option”.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. One of the paranormal romance tropes that horrified n terrified me immensely was – she had reason to believe that he’s Evil, like massacres n childkillers evil, n several chapters later it’s revealed as a big misunderstanding.

    The thing that horrified me was the several chapters delay, wherein she kept interacting with him and not, say, attempting to run, kill, or even warn others to whatever extent sure could, cause she kept being distracted by how attractive he was.

    Eeeeeeep.

    Just no, no, having a childkiller in the same room as vulnerable lil sibling is never gonna be a “oo pretty eyes i forgot why i dislike him” scenario. I definitely remember thinking that if hormones did that to me id find a way to turn em off even if it meant turning off production by blade. N plot to kill the monster if i saw no way to warn or run, and not even regret it. Especially since he did know what she was assuming n found it funny? I think? To play with those assumptions till the big reveal, instead of being horrified at being feared or guilty at being a source of trauma.

    i expect author was trying to avoid romance-from-nowhere by having foreshadowing but… epic fail. Suspension of disbelief shattered that anyone could want pretty enough to overlook … the kinds of things she thought he had done (Yes i know people can be ridiculously crazy. No i don’t think i wanna main character like them)

    So yeah i really get what you mean about not thinking folk should work like that n not having the characters accept the unacceptable just cause the author wanted a shortcut. N not understanding why folk would possibly want to imagine or read such a thing. To keep the characters interacting for those chapters requires her to turn off her brain, n morals n logic n sense. Who wants that? Not i not i. Author maybe thought it was romance trope “the misunderstanding” but i thought it was a horror instead.

    Liked by 1 person

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