I’ve just discovered something about myself, as a romance reader. I can’t bring myself to care about the missing whatnots.

I have tried three times now to get into a certain novel. The writing is fantastic. The characters are wonderful. But the whole plot hinges on the hero and heroine teaming up to search for a missing whatnot – and I just can’t bring myself to care.

It’s odd, because I love a good mystery novel, too. But when the point of the story is romance, any plot that involves the missing scrolls/jewels/sibling/invention is, to this reader, a great temptation to skim.

How about you? Are there certain plot devices that categorically do or don’t work for you? Do tell … I’ll bet every last one of them is in my novel.

15 comments to “What’s Missing …”

  1. Pam Skochinski
    · December 19th, 2006 at 1:00 pm · Link

    Just recently, I picked up a Christmas anthology. . . one of the stories had a 17-page love scene! Yep, 17 pages! I had to skim. . .

    I’m sorry, I’ve not been married all that long (3 years in January), but with 3 kids in the house (1 teen, and two preschoolers — mine from a first and two adopted, in case you’re wondering). .. but the buildup was excruciating and my husband was NOT HOME. . . sigh. . .I just wish we had the time and energy for a 17-page love scene in real life!

  2. Tessa Dare
    · December 19th, 2006 at 1:05 pm · Link

    LOL, Pam! You just made me go check a scene I wrote (which is just making out, for that matter) -eek, 8 pages. Is that okay? Seriously, it does seem a bit indulgent to write a chapter that takes longer to read than it would actually take to re-enact.

  3. beverley
    · December 19th, 2006 at 2:23 pm · Link

    I love a good mystery. I think I’ve read every single Agatha Christie out there. I absolutely love a great romance but when you mix them, I’m half lost.

    The minute the heroine or hero are captured or searching endlessly for something, I skim and get to the romance part. The worst though, is when there is no emotional conflict. If they are just fighting outside forces and are in love and all that, you’ve just bored me to tears.

    Wow Pam, 17 pages…that is a lot. The longest I’ve wrote so far is a 6-7 page one.

  4. Rebecca de Courcy
    · December 19th, 2006 at 3:17 pm · Link

    I agree, Beverly — I love mysteries. My problem with mysteries in romances is that they’re so transparently plot devices.

    If the mystery is compelling in itself, though, I’m not tempted to skim, especially if the tension created also ratchets up the romantic/sexual tension between the h/h. The mystery really needs to serve the romance but not be so lame that it makes you want to put the book down.

    I also have a thing about endless “clever” banter that fails to move the story forward — I skim it all the time!

    Rebecca (Cosima)

  5. beverley
    · December 19th, 2006 at 5:36 pm · Link

    Eve, I just love the way you won’t actually name the book.

    Your heart is so soft.

  6. Tessa Dare
    · December 19th, 2006 at 6:02 pm · Link

    Beverley, it’s not because my heart is soft – it’s because if I tell you what book it is, you’ll all jump on me. How could you not like that!! And I can appreciate that it’s a very well-written book. There’s just something about the missing whatnots plot that will never grab me. I was the same with FanLit – Patience has to find the missing spy thingy? Forget it. Automatic ding.

  7. Mary Danielson
    · December 20th, 2006 at 12:03 am · Link

    If it makes you feel any better, in the past few weeks I have thrown three “best books ever” at my wall. I am sure they were great, but gah!, I just couldn’t get through them. They all included one of the kisses of death for my reading: unintelligible accents or one of the main characters concealing their identity for half the book. The author has to be truly wonderful for me to look past either!

    Anyway, Im with Beverley and am DYING to know. I promise there will be no jumping from this corner!

  8. beverley
    · December 20th, 2006 at 8:29 am · Link

    Come on Eve, you gotta tell us now, we promise no jumping all over you. We’ll probably jump with you.

  9. Sara Dennis
    · December 20th, 2006 at 11:51 am · Link

    Gotta admit, I’m curious too. 🙂

    I wrote a 12-page sex scene once. And now I’ve gone through all my books to make sure I didn’t do it again. *laughs*

    I tend not to skim anything unless the writing’s bad. I’m one of those people who reads every word. Which is probably why my TBR pile is so tall.

  10. Tessa Dare
    · December 21st, 2006 at 9:22 am · Link

    Nope. You can’t get it out of me. Muahahaha.

    Seriously, the defect is not in the book, it’s in me. The parts of the book I read, I adored. Perhaps the author just did too superb a job setting up her h/h chemistry, and that’s what made me wany to scream, “Who gives a fig about the missing tickets for the Annual Garden Party of the Ladies’ Beneficial Tea Society?”

    Actually, I hear those are pretty hot tickets.

  11. C
    · December 21st, 2006 at 11:22 am · Link

    Thank you. The Ladies’ Beneficial Tea Society does not sell tickets. The Ladies’ Beneficial Tea Society is an exclusive club for three women who are interested in doing charitable works. They’re, like, totally all about beneficience.

    I have to say, though, if you’re talking about JQ’s “It’s in his kiss” I, personally, do not give a fig about the missing jewels, either.

  12. Tessa Dare
    · December 21st, 2006 at 12:58 pm · Link

    Nope, C, not that one. Thanks for trying.

    But if the Ladies Beneficial Tea Society does not sell tickets, how do they raise funds for their charitable works? Bachelor auctions?

  13. C
    · December 21st, 2006 at 2:37 pm · Link

    The Ladies’ Beneficial Tea Society is perfectly able to raise funds from its own members with a complicated system of demerits, which must be earned off either through good behavior or cash payment.

    Given Tea Society’s proclivities, “good behavior” is hardly an option.

  14. Lynne Simpson
    · December 22nd, 2006 at 5:10 am · Link

    I guess I’m not the only one in a reading slump these days. 🙂 I’ve lost count of the technically well-written yet ultimately skimmable books I’ve attempted to read this year. I can’t remember the last time I made it through an entire love scene without flipping forward to see if anything interesting happened later on in the scene or afterward.

    And it’s not just romance, either. I’m in a reading rut on fantasy, too.

    For the time being, I’m reading classics and non-fiction. Maybe I just need a break?

  15. lacey kaye
    · December 22nd, 2006 at 10:20 am · Link

    ooh, me neither! I’m most violently unaffected by subplots. ick!