I read a lot (I may have mentioned that a time or two). In the last couple of years I have chosen mostly light-hearted stories with happy endings. Most of the time that translates into "romances" or "womens' fiction", the kind of books I avoided like the plague when I was younger. Back then I was reading mainline fiction with substance and "meaning". I gave up on them because I came to want things that provided me with escape from my stresses and would entertain me!
For the most part, that has worked reasonably well. I've discovered many authors whose books fit neatly into the genre of romance and womens' fiction, without sinking all the way down into "bodice-rippers" or porn. I've developed many new favorites whose new books I eagerly await. People like Robyn Carr, Jennifer Crusie, Judith McNaught, Susan Wiggs, Sherryl Woods, Dorothea Benton Frank, Luanne Rice and my absolute favorite, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I can recommend any of them if you're looking for fiction that won't depress you or overwhelm you with plot twists and turns. As I said, they (and others) write books that entertain.
I suppose I could have condensed those first two paragraphs into one sentence --- "I'm reading romances these days." Somehow that still makes me cringe a little bit. I like reading them, but I don't enjoy saying I read romances. I'm trying to get over it! :)
The romance novel has a formula with specific criteria....like the happy ending, the whole "boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back, and they live happily ever after" thing. That is of course, a generalization, but it is the reason why some of the simpler story lines just become familiar and unsatisfying. The authors I read generally take those criteria and put their own spin on the books they write. That's why I love them. Even more importantly, the faves listed above do not use the plot device I'm going to write about!!
Nevertheless, after reading quite a lot of these types of books I have come to realize that they frequently annoy me. I mean, seriously annoy me. For instance:
I just finished a book by a pretty well-known author (who shall remain nameless for my own self-protection!!) I have read several books by her. (There aren't many men who write in this genre; we all know that men don't understand romance or women enough to write about them in a way women enjoy!) But I digress.
Anyway, the thing that struck me when I finished the book was that the entire "situation" which formed the basis of the plot, could have been resolved just by having the characters actually TALK to each other after the problem crops up! Instead, each of the main characters seriously overreacts to the situation, they believe what others say without going to the source, and they each feel totally justified for considering the other the spawn of the devil and they don't learn the truth for years. Even though neither one knew the whole series of events, they still made judgements and let their relationship fall apart for YEARS without ever TALKING to each other!
Now that is a pretty scrawny explanation of the problems I had with the book, but I think you get the drift. It seems to crop up again and again in different books by different authors.
Well, I don't know about you, but most of those situations and reactions do not ring true to me. I don't believe most people would react that way when a relationship with someone you love is falling apart, especially when that person is acting completely out of character. I think that in reality if the individuals care about one another they will at least TRY to talk it out and resolve it sooner than 15 years down the road!
I understand that without that conflict, there wouldn't be much of a story left sometimes. But gee whiz, I sure wish writers (both women and men) would not repeatedly fall back on this familiar plot gyration that don't really work! When I'm reading such a book, "oh, come on!" keeps runny through my head. See, the problem with the relationships isn't a case of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", it's more "Would you just TALK to each other for God's Sake??"