book basket After reading Rike’s hilarious blog on phrases we never see in romance novels and then all the other great additions by AAR readers, I started thinking about what brings me out of the story, and what I will accept. I wish that there was another saying, but suspending disbelief, overused as it is, explains exactly what problem we have as readers. It is readers’ shorthand for saying, “This plot device or action is just too ridiculous for me to believe.”

Wouldn’t authors, publishers, editors, etc. love a master plan of situations that readers can and cannot accept. Item number 489: heroine and hero on the run from bad guys, overcome by lust so they make love by the waterfall; classification: unbelievable. Of course nothing is that simple. Part of an author’s skill is making unbelievable, believable. For me, if an author can make me laugh, then I tend to suspend disbelief, but if the author is going for the more serious, dramatic vein, then I am a lot more critical. It is just almost impossible for me to go with the flow if an author uses certain plot devices. To get things started, here are a few things that tend to drive me crazy:

1. Heroine and hero making love, while a child is missing or in danger. Come on really! I just can’t imagine any mother feeling like sex when worried about her child.

2. Hero and Heroine making love while on the run from bad guys! (variation of item # 1)

3. Ethics related to career. While I know that people break the rules all the times, I tend to want my heroine and hero to be better than that. So if they are a doctor, lawyer, accountant, minister, etc…, then I want them to be bound by the ethics of their profession

4. Love heals everything! I know readers really vary on this one, but I don’t want to be bogged down in a lot of angst and while I do believe that love and support win the day, things like the miraculous and sudden curing of mental health issues lie beyond my ability to accept.

5. Infidelity. Authors are being more creative and writing scenarios that are much closer to gray then black and white. I have read several books where the heroine or hero is in a relationship with someone else, and then has sex with his/her love interest. Even if I still like the book, it still gives me pause,

Now any of the above do get eye rolls, and some can turn a book into a wall-banger. It depends on the author, and her skill in writing the scenario, the placement of the scene, if I continue reading or not. Some situations bother me so much, that I find myself vowing not to read the author again. For an example of this, I once read the following book: Heroine and hero have been best friends since college. Heroine is married and supposedly in love with her husband. Her husband dies and on the day of his funeral, the heroine and hero make love.

Do you have a plot device that takes you out of the story every time? Is there a certain one that makes a book a wall banger? Is there a certain scene that is seared into your long term memory as just too outrageous?

– Leigh Davis