Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yums and Yucks (and Guilty Pleasures)

Every reader of romance has her (or his!) mental list of yums and yucks. Mine look something like this:

Anneliese's Yums
  • Second-time-around Stories
  • Getting-to-Know-You Banter
  • Hate Sex
  • Heroines with Shady Pasts
  • Super Angsty Heroes

Anneliese's Yucks
  • Virgin Widows
  • Forced Sex
  • Too-Stupid-to-Live "Plucky" Heroines
  • Super Asshole-y Heroes
  • Vampires (I know, I'm not a red-blooded American woman or something)

In addition to these guaranteed pick-me-ups and throw-me-aways, I've got another list. Super-cliched romance plot devices that I KNOW are ridiculous, but can't help loving. It boils down to two items.

Anneliese's Guilty Pleasures
  • Secret Babies
  • People Getting Drunk and Waking Up Married

Yup, if you're wondering who's buying all those Harlequin Presents titles about secretaries who get knocked up after a night with the boss and hide the resulting child for six years, it's me. If you can't understand why another movie about two drunk idiots tying the knot in Vegas just got greenlit, look my way.

I'll be posting in a few days about the lure of the Vegas plot and why I think it grabs readers/writers/audiences, so let me take a moment now to tease out my motivations for loving the secret babies.

I think it's all about control, gaining it and losing it. The mother's position of dominance as holder of the secret probably lies at the back of it. And then there's the moment when the father realizes the truth about his child's paternity. They're always angry, and shocked, and excited, and nervous, and sad, and happy. They're thrown out of their element, even if they act all lordly and commanding. They're reminded that they don't really control the women in their lives, even when they think they do (and they usually think they do, at least in historicals). Damn, that's so hot!

If the enjoyment of fiction requires the willing suspension of disbelief, I'm willing to take my disbelief, tie a forty-pound weight to it, and drop it out a twelve-story window for the sake of a secret baby or a drunk Vegas wedding.

How about you? What are your Yucks and Yums and Guilty Pleasures? Is there any plot that gets you every time, no matter how ridiculously unbelievable? And most important...why do you love them?


Amy said...

I'm a huge fan of the evil spinster stepmother, mother, sister, aunt, etc.

Angelia Sparrow said...

Plot elements that get me every time:

The Faux Innocent--He's mistaken for being a sweet young thing in need of rescue and aid, only to turn out to be more trouble than his would-be rescuer can handle.
(See Obsidian Bookshelf discussion:

Carnivals/Circuses, especially evil ones

Kate Diamond said...

Exes getting back together? Hell yeah! All the better if there ISN'T a secret baby involved. And even better if she DOESN'T get back with him because she's secretly sick of things like, oh, having a job.

Not that I don't read (and often like) the secret baby/should-never-have-had-a-career ones. I just find others (like Lani Diane Rich's "Comeback Kiss" or "Maybe Baby") more to my taste.