One of the ideas I’ve had for this blog is The Taboo Bookclub. I envision that, every month or so, we’d pick a book for discussion that has a taboo in it. This idea, though, has proved easier to imagine than to implement. For starters, one person’s taboo is another’s who the hell cares. Additionally, there are so many types of taboos. There are character taboos–things like “I could never like a heroine who had an abortion.” There are context taboos–things like “I could never enjoy a book set in a religious cult.” There are taboos that involve both–“I refuse to read a book where the heroine has an abortion while living in a religious cult.” And there are taboos that that make my Twitter feed go crazy.
Furthermore we live–thank the gods–in a time where we respect each other’s limits. I might be fine with a book where the heroine cheats on the hero, but if you tell me you’re not, I’m not about to tell you you should be more open minded in your reading.
So, the Taboo Bookclub is still, at best, an idea in development.
But, were we to create one, I’m interested to know: What are your taboos in romance reading?
If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.
Taboo #1: The insta-pregnancy. I spent a very miserable year trying desperately to get pregnant so I now hate stories where the couple, despite using a condom and practicing withdrawal, find themselves preggers. It’s not only unlikely, it sends a message that birth control is barely worth trying. For me, it’s an almost lock that I’ll hate the book.
Taboo #2: Renesmee Cullen Syndrome. If a lead (like Jacob in the Twilight books) first fell for his/her true love when she/he was a child, that’s flat out creepy. I don’t mind the, wow, she’s suddenly a woman now love story, but tales where the guy watched the girl flower into womanhood are a no-go for me.
Taboo #3: The hero/heroine has sacrificed everything for for their true love but she/he still doesn’t trust in their feelings. There’s a scene at the end of Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s This Heart of Mine where Kevin, the hero, has gone way beyond the call of true love to show Molly he truly loves her and she’s still not quite buying it. So, he sorta kinda drowns her so he can rescue her and thus prove he is worthy of her love. I hate this scene. I hate it more than the sperm stealing scene which is, I suspect, more taboo for many. Grand gestures are fine. Grand gestures on top of grand gestures especially when the former require sacrifice or exposure to danger on the part of the gesturer make me want to shut the book and watch Orphan Black.
Taboo #4: Gorgeous apartments/cosy homes lived in by those with no strong source of income (or why I never liked Sex in the City.) Heroes and heroines who dwell in safe, quiet, architecturally interesting places in high priced zip codes annoy the hell out of me. A room in a crappy house in Brooklyn goes for 1300 a month on Airbnb. The heroine who lives in Chelsea in an adorable room over a Vietnamese restaurant run by sweet sages who give her free food all the time makes me fume. It’s a slap in the face to all those working their tails off just to pay the rent in Newark.
OK, OK. So maybe these aren’t taboos as much as preferences. I think that’s because I don’t really have any taboos. A great writer can make me buy into almost anything. And the things that bother many–adultery, abortion, arrogance, abrogation of the law–don’t keep me from reading and even enjoying romance.
But that’s just me.
What about you?