Back in February, I mentioned that I had a list of tropes I dislike and was determined to avoid when I wrote Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. At the time, I mentioned a list of 9 things other than the many times heroines refuse to marry the hero and run away because he hasn’t said, “I love you,” in exactly that 3-word fashion.
Tonight here I am, ready to go on with another couple of those 9 things, and I can’t find the list. Rather than try to remember 9 things tonight, I figure to rant about a new one that had me grinding my teeth recently over two books in a row.
I hope everyone understands that these are just my own personal hobby horses. Some of you probably love things I hate and vice versa. I’m sure some of these things go unnoticed or get shrugged off by less opinionated readers.
If anyone ever did the math, however, I bet the one thing most romance readers would agree they dislike is the TSTL heroine. Heck, she doesn’t have many fans when she shows up in mysteries, thrillers, and other genres. I’m right there with the majority, but of course we all draw the line in a different place between what we consider TSTL behavior and what seems reasonable in certain circumstances.
What I don’t see mentioned, though, is the TSTL hero. That’s what I came across in two books in a row recently. These particular heroes irritated me to start with, but when I thought about it, why is the complaint about the TSTL heroine standard, but TSTL not mentioned when it comes to the guys?
For men, the gripes are about alpha jerks or whimps. I saw a long thread in that place I’m still addicted to and need to join a Twelve Step program over about physical attributes of heroes different readers don’t like. But what about Mr. TSTL? In the particular books I encountered, there were guys doing genuinely clueless, dumb things (get the virgin heroine to bed, leave the next morning and disappear for a month and never suspect she might be a tad upset by the time he shows up again). Men who have so little self-control they endanger themselves and/or the heroine drooling over her exquisite breasts in life-threatening situations are another kind of TSTL, and there’s a third kind that has to be coupled with a dumb as a box of rocks heroine that I’ve put in a separate category all its own and will rant about another time.
So is it me? Are women uniquely TSTL and men some other kind of dumb that gets its own label? If so, what is it? Cute? Endearing? Expected?