My Totally Unfair Nope List

I really love BookBub because I find authors on there I’d miss otherwise. The downside of BookBub is blurb fatigue. After you’ve read the two hundredth romance blurb, you get a little . . . cranky. Well, I do. And today, reading down the blurbs I realized that I have developed a list of Nope words that are not fair in the slightest, but that nevertheless trigger my don’t-want-to-read-that instinct. These include:

Baby, Secret. I object to this at a very visceral level: A guy deserves to know he’s a father. If he doesn’t want anything to do with the kid, that changes things, but he should at least have a chance. The whole he-went-to-war/Hollywood/out of the country-and-I-couldn’t-contact-him is dumb as snot. You can find anybody these days. Exceptions: He died (heroine is completely off the hook on that one) or it was a one night stand and she never got his name (heroine is dumb as a rock having unprotected sex with somebody she’s never seen before). In those cases, she really can’t find him, but I don’t want to read that story. (Death? Bleah. Stupidity? Double Bleah.)

Bakery. If you tell me the heroine runs a bakery, goes home to open a bakery, goes to work at a bakery (especially with a Grumpy Boss), I am out of there. This in spite of the fact that bakeries are some of my favorite places. But nope, I do not want to read about love among the cupcakes. If anything ever telegraphed “Cute Story, No Snark,” it’s a bakery.

Billionaire. I’m sorry, but when I think about the billionaires I’ve read about–Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Bill Gates (who is not putting microchips in vaccines, get a grip, people), what’s-his-name Zuckerberg–I find nothing enticing or romantic about them, even without their propensity for dumping their brilliant wives for younger sexpots. How the hell did billionaires become object of affection? They did not become billionaires by being nice people. And don’t say the money makes up for it, that makes it even worse. Golddigger Romance: there’s a subgenre for you.

Boss. Look, most of the sexual harassment that happens in the workplace is because of unequal power, so I don’t want to read about screwing the boss (or your professor, especially your professor, gah) because that’s criminally stupid and also gross. I don’t mind May/December, especially if December is female, but not authority figures who can destroy your career. I like smart heroines.

I have more, that’s just the B’s, and again I admit that this is not fair. I’m probably missing some really good books.
If it helps, I’ve been suckered into a lot of mediocre stories by the word “hockey.”

So now, to ease my guilt, which admittedly is not great, I’m asking you:

What are your Nope words when you’re looking for a story?

127 thoughts on “My Totally Unfair Nope List

  1. If I see the words “high-handed,” the book is chucked with great force.

    I know people love that Faefever series (um, whatever it’s called, I forget), but it takes place in modern times and that was said, and I was all FUCK THIS. “High-handed” usually seems to be, “Oh! I’m SO OFFENDED he’s whisking me off to Paris unexpectedly!” and I eye-roll. I totally agree with the billionaires thing and this is in that territory. Secret babies are also stupid.

    I’m starting to be very, very bored of “sweet,” pleasant, boring romances in which nothing much happens, there’s no conflict, people are talking about recipes, etc. You need a plot or else there’s no reason to read, folks.

  2. ‘hilarious’
    ‘feisty’
    ‘laugh out loud’
    ‘vivacious’

    plus there are whole subgenres that I nope right out of. Including, I fear, most bearing the ‘cozy’ label.

    I was going “oh dear” as I read Jenny’s list because I’ve written a secret-baby novella. Whoops. And a billionaire M/M novel. Whoops. 🙂

    1. I agree with Jenny, Jennifer, and chacha1 about words to avoid, but I also usually avoid blurbs. It is easier to start flipping through the books and seeing if the writing draws you in. Recommendations from friends or groups like this (not mutually exclusive categories) help a lot. Rest in Pink was a lot of fun to read, I just need to be patient (not my strongest virtue), until Vermillion gets here.
      I am not a writer though, it would interfere with my reading time too much! Taf

    2. LOL. I use feisty a lot, and our books are often described as laugh out loud. You do you, baby, and I’ll do me.

      1. Yes, but your books are not billed that way and you don’t say it about yourself. It’s what other people say after reading them.

      2. yeah, your books are actually funny to me because of the nature of your humor. Most rom-coms billed as LOL are more like *eyeroll* to me. 😉

    3. Yes! This, This! Not that I am apposed to funny or cozy, but I have learned that anything billed that way is actually funny. It’s usually just dumb. And insulting. Good humor is a subtle thing.

    1. Or, “Just like (Established author of a specific genre)”

      No, no they aren’t. Genre is not enough. Style is distinctive.

  3. Any mention of Jimmy Choos. I forgot that one. If you love you some Jimmy Choo, you are not for me.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of these in BookBub newsletters, but adding two more “Bs”: bully and breath play (which is apparently the PC term for choking). Nope, nope, nopity-nope. I’m too much of a realist for either of those…are they tropes? Elements? IRL bullies are rarely redeemable, and choking literally kills people, usually women. Did I mention nope?

  5. I think there are preferences for and against each subgenre of ‘women’s fiction’ in general that most of us here on this blog have. And those pros and cons can change, also. Or solidify into ‘nevers’. Take hockey, for example. Please, take it and enjoy it but don’t make me read it, okay?

    Then there are Dukes. When my only exposure to romantic fiction was Georgette Heyer (hey, it was the 60’s and 70’s — not a lot of other books came into my attention sphere) I liked every one of her books about Dukes, but since that time the insane proliferation of Dukes gave me the feeling that people were just trying to duplicate Heyer — calling someone a Duke was shorthand for saying “he’s got money and land and power.” But now I am allergic to books with ducal heroes and avoid them all.

    Back in the day, I enjoyed Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books, but there’s been such an explosion of books under the heading of “urban fantasy” that I’ve gotten to the point where I avoid them all. I just don’t want to read about all the violence and bodies in the streets. With scales. Or fur. Or strange and alarming modes of death.
    My exception is Anne Bishop, but mostly I’m saying ‘Nope’ to the genre. A prejudice, really, and I hope I’m not missing great stuff.

    I also like some ‘cosy’ slash ‘cozy’ fiction, quite a bit of scifi, and a certain amount of historical fiction, but I’ve got my limits with all of them. I don’t find them bad or good by genre at all, but none of them are automatic reads for me.

    Contemporary fiction, featuring real modern-day women in fairly conventional searches for a Soul Mate, the perfect marriage, great success at a career, or I don’t know, getting elected to something? — books like that are hard for me because I really can’t believe those stories any more. Forget lovely dresses, fabulous restaurants, and public acclaim or even just a great home on a nice island — it’s all foreign to me. The 2020’s have cured me of any belief in the reality of stuff like that as deep reality. If a woman is gazing into a mirror to check her hair and makeup, and heading off to catch a cab to somewhere, I’m on to the next weirder, conflicted or insecure heroine whose hair and outfit aren’t the point.

    The thing that draws me most to books is the depth and perceptiveness of the author’s understanding of their characters, and the realistic growth of friendships and love relationships based on real understanding and communication. Without that, I just find a lot of fiction leaves me cold when it comes to “I totally love him!” -s.

  6. I nope out over things like stepbrothers, bullies, gang members, there’s a host of stuff that is current in romance that is 100% Not For Me. (if it’s for you, have at it, more for you). I also hate the married in Vegas trope because guess what they make you get a license 24 hours before the wedding is performed. I get that they happen in an alternate reality where that isn’t true but I find that hard to get past and something else about the story has to really work for me for me to want to get past it.

    My biggest nope isn’t keyword or trope centric but just…these are not people I want to spend time with. I use the sample to get a feel for that and great characters will overcome anything.

    1. I’m not trying to be one of those “actually” people but there is no marriage waiting period in Clark County. As soon as you pay for your license, you can get married. One of the couples in line with us to get our license had a cab waiting to take them to a 24-hour chapel.

      Drunken married strangers is not a great look, I agree

    2. I think that’s the key. The Nope word may exactly hit somebody else’s sweet spot, but to me it means “people I wouldn’t have lunch with.”

      1. Exactly. You’ll be with these people for WAY longer than a lunch, and it can’t be just to hope they get pushed off a cliff or something.

  7. Nope list:
    Billionaires. Jenny saud it perfectly. Most current ones are creeps, while old money rarely came by the gild by being wonderful.
    When B comes up, I’m out.
    Duke is a near second.

    Bully trope.
    Real bullies are mean and rarely redeemable.exceptuon if handled well: if the “bully” didn’t actively bully but got stuck in situation not actively helping MC by circumstances (yes, that reads like BS, but it can happen).

    Modern day royalty/first families /very rich /extremely gifted or beautiful people. Like Jinx said, give me the weird heroine any day.
    The reason why it took me years to pick up RWRB…

    Insta live/lust.
    Instant attraction YES, but everything else NOPE.

    Gangs/Mafia/Assasins or hitmen.
    Just no. Nothing remotely attractive or interesting about it. If the hero/heroine us undercover fighting against crime, no romance with criminal acceptable.

    Too much violence/crime scenarios with drastic acts.
    That someone died or came to harm is usually bad enough, but elaborate descriptions of gory atrocities by mankind is too much realism for me.
    If it’s non-fiction, it might be acceptable as historical fact, but I wouldn’t read it for “fun”.

    Boss/professor/teacher is no strict no go thougv all the points Jenny made are more than valid. Yet my boss fell in love with a colleague (thougv she claimed an equal position before the, became a couple). They married. She didn’t have a professilnal future at the university anymore, the ministry frowned upon a couple being dean and chancellor (understandable).

    Nope to ecxessive drinking for fun. Bcan’t stand it. My liver aches and my brain cells start to faint in misery readimg about careless misuse.

    Nope to books/romances without a proper content apart from oh the fall in love.
    Nope to stupid brainless MCs.

    What’s bleak is the flood of tropey books as soon as some were succesful:
    Fake dating/marriage
    Drunken vegas weddings.

    And yes, mediocre hockey books… though as long as the MCs have the certain something, I’m prone to love mediocre, too.

    I’m sure there’s more, but hubby is waiting for me to come to dinner.

    1. My dad and mom met when she was an undergrad in his lab for the summer and even that is slightly eew although it wasn’t a lab at her college so he had no power over her after that summer.

      1. I know. A friend of mine married her psych professor after she graduated and they were happily together til the day he died. It’s not that it never happens (it happens a LOT), it’s that it’s almost alway used as a Reason We Can Never Be Together, and it a damn good reason until after the power balance is shifted to equal.

  8. Sibling’s Best Friend. There’s a weird possessive vibe that I Do Not Like. “Don’t mess with my baby sister” argument or less often “Don’t steal my best friend!” We’re all adults here – stop policing your sibling/best friend’s relationships. Also don’t love to see a character angsting over the other being too young/naive to know their own mind.

  9. Waking up married to a stranger because they got blackout drunk. The epitome of a stupid heroine.

    1. Also a little bit harder to do then you think, in Vegas, you have to queue up to get a license from the County and if you are fall down drunk at the wedding chapel they are obligated to breathalyse you, if you are over the limit, they won’t let you get married. So if you look functioning while blackout drunk, time to check out AA, However they’ll fake marry you drunk for fun no problem.. souvenir t-shirt …

        1. Fake, drunk weddings officiated by an Elvis impersonator. I’m waiting for the fake, drunk weddings officiated by a DJT impersonator.

        2. Well I woke up in the honeymoon suite with this souvenir t-shirt and… ha ha Nope, non drinking, non gambling here. There was a episode on Las Vegas (tv series) that turned out to be sort of based on facts and an article on a drive thru wedding chapel, that had a whole wedding party roll up drunk. The bride and groom were just under the limit, not really my idea of a fairytale wedding.

          1. It’s really amazing what stupid things people will do when under the influence of attraction and/or booze!

  10. Baby Secret … In reality not telling him, if he turns out to be a nightmare, bad news, or something that happened while your brain was out to lunch. Otherwise collateral damage to the kids can be horrendous. But that really isn’t romance material, my friend has had to help women get away from really bad ideas

  11. Sheiks. Basically billionaires with extreme sexism.

    Ruthless, wicked … pretty much anything that says the hero is mean.

    Innocent … pretty much anything that says heroine will be in over her here.

    I might consider “the innocent sheik meets the ruthless gold digger”.

    1. Too funny – so want to read “Innocent Sheik meets the Ruthless Gold Digger” – somebody please please please write that!

  12. Totally agree about the billionaires. If the blurb for a romance has the word revenge, I won’t read.

  13. I totally agree with your list. Add a Navy SEAL (although I used to like Suzanne Brockmann’s novels, but hers are the only good ones) and a Highlander. Also, in Germany the lists are also flooded with stories that take place on North Sea islands. And don’t get me started on the bakeries – basically any kind of “little” enterprise at the end of a street (bookstore, candy store, café, wool shop, flower shop, you name it) has me running for the hills. Unless there’s a little alpaca farm.

      1. Where are the alpaca books? I want to read one! Now!! Seriously. Or llamas, too. (Crossing my fingers that they exist….)

        1. I have no idea whether there are alpaca farm books but there are at least five alpaca farms in Maryland.

          And I think maybe some got loose on the beltway at one point although I may be confusing that with the times that the zebras got loose or the wallabys —at rush hour. We have interesting traffic jams in DC .

          1. Cool!! Thanks, Debbie! There’s one actually not that far from my office…. Now THERE’s a temptation!

        2. Llamas and lots of other animals are in many of the books Donna Andrews has written. The first in her series was called Murder with Peacocks, I also loved reading Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, Owls Well That Ends Well, Swan for the Money, Stork Raving Mad, and how could you resist Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon? There are many more in the series to keep you happy and busy reading for a while. Taf

  14. I agree with all the ones Jenny listed.

    I also nope out on enemies to lovers.

    And another “B” word that gets a big nope from me “Badass” – I’m not sure if being a bad ass is a good or bad thing and it’s a slang term that I truly believe means something different depending on where and when you’re from.

    If I start a book and the heroine is too stupid to live, then I also want to bail. Now, to backtrack to Thursday’s post and write about a TSL heroine and book to avoid.

  15. Shopping as a life goal/all possessions must have the brand listed – It’s not the 80s anymore.

    Hurting children. Just NO.

    “Misunderstood” or “wounded” alpha male character that use that as excuse for whatever inappropriate behavior is being served up. Noone’s job but theirs to wise up and “save” themselves. I don’t know what pisses me off more – the sorry excuse for a hero or the character that’s designated to accommodate/save them. And their reward…marriage to the jerk! Second prize would be …

  16. I am pretty much avoiding blurbs because they all blur together. Like reading a bLurb for Midsomer Murders – someone is killed in a cute little village and they investigate. Not helpful.

  17. I’m taking notes for my new novel, which will feature an innocent sheik who moves to SmallTownVille (TM) to open a cozy bakery that serves badass bagels, only to find the cats who came with the store are actually shapeshifting alpha fated mates, and then a ruthless gold digger shows up with a billionaire secret baby that she claims is his.

    Sure to be an instant best seller.

    1. You left out the bit where he inherited the store from his long lost grandmother and his bakery assistant turns out to be overqualified and hiding from her former employer due to a love affair gone wrong, I’d give it whirl 🙂

  18. Hate! I think I could use it as a Look Inside trigger word search: does the heroine hate the way she looks? Not for me. Does the heroine hate the hero? Totally not for me. Does the heroine hate her boss/her job/her life? How sad for her, but I’d just as soon not spend my time hanging out with her, even if she’s going to overcome these obstacles before the end of the story. I guess I’m okay with the heroine hating the villain, but even then… I’d prefer she didn’t. I think I’m just over hate. I don’t want to spend my precious time with haters, even when it’s in fictional worlds. Strong dislike, I can live with, as long as it is not strong dislike for the person who’s going to become the romantic hero: I don’t find enemies-t0-lovers romantic at all. The only exceptions I can think of to my “hate” phobia are Murderbot hating having emotions, and El hating the Scholomance, both of which are entirely reasonable hatreds, IMO.

  19. The reason there is no snark in a bakery-set romance is because the baker’s brain cells have atrophied due to chronic fatigue. Do you have any idea how early bakers start work? And if they have to rely on transportation that runs only once or twice an hour to get to work, they are even more zombified. The last thing I would call that is romantic.

    1. You know, I think that all the books set in bakeries have been set off by the TV show “Great British Bake-Off”. It brought cooking, decoration and eating all together in the format of a competition, and then threw in relationships — both the competitors and the judges have increasingly complex interactions with one another, and the viewers get to watch them and observe their growth over time. Before that, did you ever run into a book set in a bakery?

      Mind you, that show was set in lovely country estates on largely sunny summer afternoons, with frequent rest breaks,so actual bakeries? Barely even related.

      1. Any book about a restaurant and a chef, male or female. Do realize how hard they actually work to create a top-notch establishment? Constantly searching for fresh ingredients from purveyors for vegetables to seafood and meats. Coming up with new recipes (that’s a good one) to bring in the clientele. They don’t work 9 to 5 either. Long hours. Going out on a date means checking out the competition.

        Also, when the woman brings home a man for a home cooked meal it’s always spaghetti and meatballs. A man would bring home a date for steak and baked potato, she’ll might make a salad.

      2. There is a Susan Mallory series about a bakery that predates GBB. It isn’t great but it’s really about the relationships between 3 sisters and a family business. She did a similar thing with a restaurant. And I think both acknowledge how demanding the work is. Aunt Snack is right that the new ones have no clue.

        Also, in the unlikely event I would open a bakery it would have to have an apartment above it.

        1. What about the Jenny Crusie and others book — Dogs & Goddesses? I think the plot makes fun of several tropes, including the bakery. The idea of the bakery inciting everyone to romance/sex is very funny.

  20. My book blurb “nope” list includes uncovering dark secrets in the past — whether it happens when the heroine heads back home to open that cozy bakery, has a secret baby, or is trying to get over a bad breakup. I’m fine with secrets in mysteries–they are kind of required there–but I’ve just encountered too many books that tease with a dark secret in the past.

  21. I chuckled when I saw posters bemoaning books where nothing much happens. I love those, where it’s all internal and just about finding a way to fit into each other’s lives. So soothing and refreshing. 😊

    I started to agree with others like billionaire or secret baby and immediately started thinking of exceptions that I love e.g. Alexis Hall’s Arden St Ives series or Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Local Custom”.

    So my nope list …
    • Mafia / crime family / serial killers
    • Smokers (not keen on excessive drinking either)
    • Love triangle (I always want them to become a thruple unless one of them is obviously a jerk in which case why are they even a possible match?)
    • Gothic / Noir

    1. My Nopes can be overridden by good authors. Alexis Hall would fall under that. Sarina Bowen wrote a billionaire novel I liked, but it was a late book in the series and the billionaire wasn’t arrogant so I was okay with it. Secret babies, I still haven’t found one that didn’t make me irate. Guys have rights, too.

      1. Also Sarina’s heroine fell for him before he was a billionaire.

        It’s not the fathers rights that get me so much in secret baby. It’s the baby’s right to know their family and in many of the books the baby also would benefit from the father’s financial support. And that part definitely comes from my legal services work back in the day .

        Kids need two parents.

        1. Not necessarily different genders, not necessarily in the same house…but kids who think one parent doesn’t care about them figure they are not worth caring about if one of the two people who are most supposed to care about them don’t .

    2. Thanks for bringing up smoking!! A HUGE no go for me even though I stll like Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western stump of a cigarillo.
      Vaping is on the same level. Doesn’t have the same smell but no coolness factor whatsoever.

      Yuri, I’d not classify books in which the MC figures out her/himself as without content. That’s absolutely valid though imo it’s more difficult to do than a plot where a lot happens.
      The book I’m currently reading centers around that self insight as driver of the romance but it’s not subtly enough done, it clobbers you around the head with e.g. how much trauma two main characters are dealing with. Because they constantly tell you so. And I don’t like being told, I want to get it.

      1. Yup, smoking seems to have crept back into fiction and movies in the last little while and I don’t understand why.

        Btw I don’t even need a journey of self-discovery. An MC figuring out if another person makes sense in their life – transitioning from being single to a couple, is enough for me if its done well. Frankly if I like the characters enough I’d probably happy follow them around their ordinary day-to-day lives sans any kind of plot. Not for every book, but its a nice palate cleanser.

        1. Agreed.
          Just finished current book and the author pulled off what you pointed out.
          No reveal of the big trauma. Just a note that the grump will get therapy for it.The MCs figured out why they are good for each other.
          Good end to the story.

  22. A good author can make me get over pretty much anything, but a trope that drives me batshit insane is when Character A (normally a man) will stop at nothing to get their revenge… even though that revenge will ruin their shot at a happy future with their beloved Character B. It’s just so BORING. It’s ok as a set up, but once you realize you don’t want to hurt Character B, just get out of your own way and be happy!

    I also am getting increasingly annoyed with plots where women just need to find their confidence/ believe in themselves in order to get the guy. I’m all for people who have trouble believing in love, in the situation, in any number of things. But the idea that single women’s dating problems would be solved if they were just more confident is so ANNOYING. I don’t know about you, but I’m friends with plenty of confident women who value their own worth, and their relationship problems don’t magically go away because of it. If anything, knowing your own worth and what will make you happy in a relationship can make it *harder* to find a relationship, because you nope out of the bad relationships faster.

    Unfortunately, they don’t put “heroine will suddenly realize she’s deserving of love at the last second because the plot demands it” in book blurbs.

  23. Sloppy geography and bad history are my big nopes. I once read a book which made me howl like a husky because it took the heroine 5 hours to get from Cornwall to London in a carriage, the estuary of the Thames had cliffs and it was in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars before the French Revolution.

    1. I am reminded that The Book of Firsts and Four Kings take place on an alternate Greenland that is somewhere south of actual Greenland.

    2. Sometimes place can be funny. The latest Donna Andrews (love the series) mentions that Meg’s Dad was left as a baby in the mystery section of the Central Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Library (Charlottesville VA). I laughed out loud; that section is just 2 or 3 aisles and they are not terribly long aisles.

    1. Nopes:
      Politics/War. In my opinion, that’s just code for too much world building. Which bores to me, I just want all character all the time.

      Humiliation/ostrisized. Specifically, the main character does something stupid and embarrassing at the very beginning of the book and spends the rest of the book hiding somewhere trying to get past it. Maybe it’s because I get really bad secondhand embarrassment, but it just makes me uncomfortable.

      Although good authors can pretty much overcome any nope plot lines for me.

      1. Re: politics/war, I really loved Mary Balogh’s books that concerned characters during the Napoleonic wars. Not to mention Heyer’s “An Infamous Army” that had fashionable people holding parties in Brussels shortly before the Battle of Waterloo began nearby. War was part of the reality and background there, but not really the point of it all.

  24. Mpreg, billionaire, best friend’s little brother/sister, boss, professor (so gross), baby, mafia, motorcycle, step sibling, love triangle…okay I’ll stop now.

    1. Lol. Poignant is the worst. My sister and I used to say it to each other and shudder. It always means unnecessarily sad and pointless.

  25. Fake relationships. Versions of, “they just have to pretend to be engaged for one weekend to avoid blah blah blah conflict/make MC’s ex jealous…” I don’t know why this bugs me more than other steps away from reality, except that it requires the whole cast around the mains to be completely oblivious. (Except, of course, there’s always One Suspicious Friend.) The implied ignorance drives me batty.

    And the dukes and billionaires. No. It’s already all been said. Just no.

  26. I’m pretty much on board with Jennie‘s list. But I know it’s a good writer does one I’ll read it, not a billionaire one, though, I can’t do that. Example of a good writer doing stuff that I normally hate in Susan Elizabeth Phillips, match me if you can, Annabelle starts out all dressed up, and then checks her self to be sure and runs to her car. Only to find there’s a drunk under it. And she can’t leave until she gets them out.
    The other thing that drives me crazy is titles like the billionaires secret, baby some authors apparently try to get the entire plot into their title. Those are all nopes for me.
    I’m still trying to write a blurb for the witches garden. Also, thinking I should maybe change the title to the Quinn Witch.
    The Witches Garden is a 56,000 word paranormal romantic comedy about former talk show star Lyla Quinn, who returns to Sweet Harbor to reinvent herself. When she finds a transformation spell stuck in a kitchen drawer, she suspects her grams may have left her more than a house. When Lucifer, the cranky stray she adopted who may possibly be more than a cat, leads her to a recipe book wedged in a bureau and a cache of magical tools hidden in the stillroom, she’s sure of it. Together with Lucifer, her former childhood nemesis now a ridiculously attractive veterinarian, her daughter, and her new-met granddaughter, Lyla must use her new-found power to defeat the witches who plan to take over the town, and she has less than a week to do it.

    Keep trying, yeah?

    1. Yeah. Too much plot in it. Here is how I would do it, fwiw…

      The Witches Garden is a 56,000 word paranormal romantic comedy about former talk show star Lyla Quinn. When she finds a transformation spell stuck in a kitchen drawer, she suspects her grams may have left her more than a house. Together with Lucifer ( the cranky stray who may possibly be more than a cat), her former childhood nemesis now a ridiculously attractive veterinarian, her daughter, and her new-met granddaughter, Lyla must use her new-found power to defeat the witches who plan to take over the town.

      Also, that’s one long lived family if her grandmother just died and she also has a reasonably adult granddaughter herself !

      1. Okay, that’s better.
        You’re going to need a couple of teen-age mothers in there, I think, and they’d all be young, but you could do it.

    2. This is a nitpick, but as the owner of a black cat, I am kinda sick of the name Lucifer. It happens a lot. I know there are Cinderella references, but I am also not a big Disney fan.

  27. I subscribe to about five book deal newsletters and I’ve got an internalized “nope” list of dozens of words. Going through the newsletters is virtually all me swiping and saying “nope nope nope nope…” I figure if I miss a good book that way, it will eventually get recommended to me in another time/place. Some of my more visceral nopes are: virgin (or, worse, V-card), clean/wholesome, Christian, bully, mafia, reverse harem (any use of harem, really), best friend’s daughter (barf), innocent/innocence, time travel, serial killer, broken, unspeakable, literary fiction…

      1. I’m always skeptical. Is it “literary fiction,” whatever that means, or does the author just have a poor grasp of genre conventions and a mistaken sense that their angsty, disturbing story needs to be told in convoluted prose? Books with “A Novel” on the cover are also usually a nope for me, but at least that feels less pretentious than claiming literary fiction.

  28. Laughed loudly… I’ve been threatening to use Bookbub blurbs to create one all-purpose blurb and your list gives me a headstart. And yes, it’s utterly unfair, but they are auto-turnoffs. Been there, done that, forty years of it is enough

  29. I haven’t seen my big nope-revenge.

    Your father/brother/uncle did me wrong, so I’m going to kidnap you/seduce you/ruin your business, even though you have never even heard of me. But wait! I love you!

    And usually a historical.

    1. Bob and I just had an argument about that. He thinks revenges is a good motive. I think it’s terrible. I think I managed to head him off, but I definitely didn’t convince him.

      Revenge is stupid.

      1. Maybe its a gender thing? Revenge is basically anger and a mistaken belief that making someone else feel worse will make you feel better. Women are socialized not to feel anger. Men are taught to express it directly – revenge is that expression delayed or misdirected.

        Still don’t want to read about it in a romantic hero, unless I already trust the author.

        1. I totally agree with Yuri about that. Male anger simmers and thinks about making the object of that anger suffer equally, I think. Similar female anger can easily get repressed or just turn into dislike. Just my experience.

      1. In the Count of Monte Cristo I completely understood the need for revenge.
        But look what it lead to!? Poor Edouard could have become happy if not for the need to see it through to the end.

      1. Yes, but he was an example of who Wesley could have been if he let revenge drive him instead of love. There is a reason the Dread Pirate Roberts wins that sword fight and gets the girl 😉

  30. I either have very few “nopes” or so many that they are impossible to count.

    I enjoy a lot of problematic tropes and scenarios and have been known to read a book with a particularly strange one just to see how it works. Sometimes it pays off, ala tentacles. Sometimes it doesn’t, as with dinosaur smut. Seriously, I don’t get that one at all.

    Honestly, I have found that if it is written well enough, I will like just about anything. But the pool of what I consider good writing is getting smaller and smaller. I start many books, but finish few and get truly excited about even fewer. I am a little sad about this. I miss the days when I ripped through books with joy and abandon. I’m feeling a little jaded and cynical.

  31. I agree with all of Jenny’s original 4. Except – I can think of an exception for each one.

    In Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson – there is a secret baby. Okay 2 exceptions in this case. In Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips there is a secret baby. And I like both of those books. But I like those authors as a whole. For the most part, the secret baby premise is a no.

    Books set in a bakery are a no. If they are the Hallmark movie romcom type books. One of my favorite series, however, is the Corina Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood who also wrote the Phyrne Fisher books. I like Corina better. She is a baker. And she has a lover, Daniel, who is book boyfriend gold. And she builds a community that is fabulous. And she knows her way around a plot.

    The whole idea of a billionaire as some kind of romantic figure – blek – except Roarke is a billionaire. JD Robb’s series of In Death books features Eve Dallas and Roarke. Of course, Nora Roberts aka JD Robb has created a billionaire who is OTT yet believable. And, I’m pretty sure if someone like Trump or Musk came within Roarke’s sphere, he would destroy them soundly and with gusto.

    The boss thing – no. And I really can’t think of an exception.

    I also don’t like the big misunderstanding. I got so sick of that being the sole plot device in Virgin River. And yet – I love Bet Me by a certain Ms Jennifer Crusie and it definitely has a big misunderstanding.

    I detest women & children as helpless victims. For chrissake every other book has that. Write something else please.

    For the most part, though, if you are an author whom I like, you can get away with things that I normally would never tolerate.

    I don’t much like books about characters that are ill, either. But The Last Good Man by Kathleen Eagle is excellent and the main character is recovering from breast cancer. If I had read the premise and didn’t know I liked this author – I would have rejected this book. Glad I didn’t.

    1. About illness: most or all of the books by Ferarne Hill, herself working in the medical field, have MCs with a medical condition, ranging from mental health issues to severe disabilities. But as that is just a fact of live from them like having blue or green eyes, yet with consequences for every day life and the chances to find a partner, the author manages to write satisfactory romances AND have characters as heroes who are rarely found in this genre.

    2. I don’t think of Bet Me as a Big Misunderstanding. That trope usually involves one side being absolutely wrong, as in, it’s his cousin/sister/gay college roommate that he is hugging and the other protagonist can’t see it as platonic… Of course I have to be careful. This actually happened to me once. He really was my cousin and my then to-be husband jumped to conclusions. But that was very early in our getting to know you phase.

      Anyway, in Bet Me, all of the elements were real. The bet was real, other people knew it was real and were hitting Min over the head with it. The problem was lack of trust and failure to communicate.

  32. Came across one today that I don’t think has been mentioned: “dark and atmospheric”. It’s awfully vague, but it’s a Nope for me.

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