Shoe Shine

A few months ago, I posted my lament that many of the men in romance were…an odd combination of alpha and librarian that I did not recognize in any world, let alone the real one.  Alys, recommended that I read The Rosie Project and it’s wonderfully off center hero, Don.  I read it, loved it, and last night I added the follow up The Rosie Effect to my Goodreads list.  While I was there, I started reading some of the reviews for The Rosie Project.

What do readers mean when they say, “This story was predictable”?

The phrase has annoyed me for some time and it really grates on me when it comes to romance.  When readers choose a romance, when they take a break from Dan Brown, and decide to read Nora Roberts or Julia Quinn, what are they thinking is going to go on in the book?

Romance, by it’s very nature, sort of says, “things are going to work out for these two.”

Sure there are twists and turns, tears or great make up sex, but when it’s all said and done, these two are going to work things out, love is going to win, and when a reader closes a romance, she is going to have that tingly, happy, sigh worthy moment.  That’s what romance is.  Two people coming together, overcoming obstacles, and choosing each other, right?

So, in the example of the Rosie reviews I read, what would have made the story less predicable?  Maybe Don could have been hit by a car while riding his bike or Rosie could have discovered that she had a terminal disease, or Don liked to tie her up?  Would that have made it cool?  If Don died, or secretly had another wife, or had been shot and we got to watch Rosie go through horrible pain and anguish, would the reviewer have been exhilarated and exclaimed in her review, “Yay!  I’m so happy this romance distroyed both of the main characters?”

Don is quirky, not at all a stereotypical character, and Rosie is a smoker, of all things, she’s fun.  She is good for him.  He loves her in spite of his list.  There’s an adorable scene where they are bartenders.  The writing is cleaver and the story is sweet.  It is fumbley and fun romantic.

Predictable is thrown around far too much by reviewers and it’s annoying.  Happy, satisfying, loving, simple is not always predictable.  I’ve read painfully predicable stories, I get it, but I feel like any book that isn’t kill off one of the main characters or a billionaire bondage romp is being labeled as simplistic and predictable.

I’m really having a hard time lately with tragic and painful taking center stage.  Happy isn’t a weaker book, or a predicable book, it’s happy.  Happy can be interesting, but perhaps we have lost sight of what it even looks like.

My thoughts from the laundry room.  Not Waking Up Yet.

8 thoughts on “Shoe Shine

  1. While I haven’t read the aforementioned novel, I happen to agree with you. Romances are by definition happy, predictable stories. That’s why I read them…I want happy in a world where children are murdered in school, where sons and daughters are killed in the heat of battle, where bad things happen to the innocent and not-so-innocent. Each has its twists and turns, but generally somewhere down the line the couple is going to realize they love each other. The reader knows what is going to happen ultimately.
    Yes, there are definite trends (what I call what-the-tuck trends…green-eyed characters despite the statistical probabilities being low, alpha males, often with gray eyes, tucking hair behind the ears, messy ponytails or buns, etc.) in any novel these days, but romance is romance.
    Who doesn’t love a happily-ever-after?
    So they are predictable; why make it seem like a flaw as some reviewers do? ~nan

  2. I love romances for a change of pace and I love happy endings with all the going-on’s preceding it! I’m going to look for “The Rosie Effect”—thanks Tracy for your view from The Laundry Room. . . 🙂 J

  3. I’m glad you liked it! I’m waiting on The Rosie Effect to go into paperback so that I can afford it! I agree with you completely. Why does something happy need to be considered as something less?

  4. Amen, Sistah. It’s like opening a book of a thousand haiku and being upset when you encounter a frogpond, or spot the moon shining through tree branches.

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