A conversation with Elisabeth Staab inspired this Gush & Gripe post. We were brainstorming for guest post topics and started gabbing about popular themes and touched on something that had me thinking What are my reader hard limits?
- Incest: Ick! No to kissing cousins, or anything of that sort. I heard step relationships are quite popular these days. That makes my stomach roil! Really?! While your parents are doing it like bunnies in their room, you and your step-sibling are next door, banging to the beat of your folks headboard smashing? I have lots to say about this hard limit. But thinking about how wrong this is is making me throw up a little in my mouth. I'm sure you get it.
- Monster Erotica: Sure, paranormal creatures are technically monsters but they're not the ones I'm talking about here. I'm referring to beastiality. Like fucking an octopus, a dinosaur, the list goes on. Let your imagination take you to the wild!
- Rape: At the height of the erotic genre's popularity, there was also a lot of dark erotica that came with it. I'm not one to turn down a dark read, I indulge in it often. And at one time a few of my bloggy friends were mad raving about Skye Warren's Dark Erotica series. My curiosity got the best of me so I bought the first three books. Didn't make it past the first one. Yup! Definitely not for me. The girl got abused so bad it just screwed her up permanently that she developed a taste for rough rape play. *sqeaks & runs away*
- Misogyny: I used to love Sons of Anarchy. But it was so saturated with all sorts of bullshit, I can't tolerate the utter disrespect for women in the long run. These boys are really truly bad and not in a good way. The women that surround them are strong and formidable, even highly intelligent, they just don't know their worth and that they deserve better.
This is the reason why I'm super selective about Motorcycle Club books as well. Some authors were so inspired by SoA, their novels felt like fanfiction to me in that their characters resemble Jax Taylor & his gang. MC romances that glorify despicable acts and criminal behavior is just not for me. Sure it's make believe, but this kind of shit happens in real life and by buying/reading/reviewing these types of novels means I tolerate or even condone it. I just can't get behind it because the way the stories are told justifies misogyny and sort of tells us readers that it's okay. Well, this chick has a stick up her ass and is not okay with it.
And these are my soft limits
- Glorified Criminals: Or in some cases, they're called "anti-heroes". There's a double standard here because when it comes to fantasy, I got no problem rooting for vigilantes, assassins, etc. When it comes to contemporary romance, possibly because it's fairly realistic, my moral barometer kicks in. But, like in most cases, when it's done right, it can be fairly interesting. *Waves to the Prison Wives*
- I Love You, Let's Fuck: Yeah. Because I'm an idiot and my IQ proves it *rolls eyes*. This line, and it's many variations, annoy the fuck out of me. It's insulting, really, like I read this book last month where the guy said I love you, will you let me fuck you in the ass? My initial reaction was to ROFL. After I sobered up I realized that the book is completely ruined for me from that point on.
- Your Bestie's Man/Woman: This is a close cousin of Incest. I don't think I'd still be besties with my closest girlfriend if she comes after my man regardless if I'm dead, divorced, or separated. Hallo! Girl code! However, I know there's wiggle room here and when done tastefully, it can make for an amazing story.
- Angst: This is just personal. Let's just say that my personal life is angst-ridden and I read to escape. That said I don't want to escape to the same/worse place.
- TSTL: I can do away with these stupid characters who should know better. Sure they can be entertaining and they add conflict to an otherwise boring story. It's just irritating to watch someone not exercise their common sense.
So here are my hard and soft limits. I probably forgot a few, so please remind me by sharing yours.