One of the most tired and boring tropes in romance is that moment when the hero realizes he has feelings--like, real emotion-y things for the heroine--and he responds to it with pants pissing terror. He copes by being a jackass or finding an excuse for a third-act breakup. Sometimes his feelings are excusable or justified, but mostly they're just annoying. Falling in love is scary, but it's also exhilarating and joyful. Most people are happy to be in love, at least initially. Most people want to make a connection like that with another person. The number of romance heroes who shun their feelings so readily is irritating and disturbing.
It's disturbing to me that romance novels have some extremely man-whorish heroes, but rarely or never slutty women. Oh, there are virgin heroes and prostitute heroines, but for the most part the men have all of the experience and the women have all of the "virtue". What's even more disturbing is when his dog-like habits are glorified in the text. Yes, sexual experience is a plus, but too much is just gross, in my humble opinion. In reality, men that have slept around that much are far more likely to have a couple kids and an STD or two.Condoms have failure rates, people.
He get's upset when her ex-boyfriend shows up, he doesn't like her guy friends, he wants all of her attention. He's jealous and possessive--he basically thinks he owns her. I don't know why authors seem to think this behavior is sexy. In the real world, overdeveloped jealousy is a huge red flag in any relationship. It smacks of insecurity in himself and a lack of trust in her. Ultimately, jealous behavior is a relationship killer, so I never trust the possessive hero to make the happy ending work in the long term.
Yeah, we all know that guys are not as good at expressing their feelings as women. Nothing wrong with showing that in a romance novel. However, the when the hero's total lack of ability to express his feelings leads to the much dreaded Big Mis. Any conflict that could be easily avoided with a simple five minute conversation is maddening, and has no reasonable place in my books.
There's a fine line between stubborn and total asshat. The hero that's forceful and pushy can be a great challenge to a heroine, and if the heroine is strong willed and pushes back--no problem. The problem is when the hero is, in reality, a complete control freak. When the hero feels the need to dominate every aspect of the heroine's life, often "for her own good", to a point where she totally loses herself to the relationship. I hate seeing the heroine sacrifice her freedom and personal goals in favor of a hero that wants to keep her safe at home.
#2: He's Sexist
Another one of my least favorite tropes is the hero the doesn't believe a woman can do a particular job/activity--contracting, firefighting, cycling, whatever. The heroine's job is to prove him wrong. This plot line exhausts me, because I find it depressing that the heroine has to earn the hero's respect in a given field, while he receives respect implicitly. I feel like we should have moved past this sort of thing by now. While gender bias definitely does exist in certain fields, I would prefer that it not be used as the hero's entire character arc.
#1: He's a Dumb-ass Enabler
The only thing more annoying than a too-stupid-to-live heroine is the hero that constantly enables her stupidity. He plays the night in shining armor to her perpetual damsel in distress act. She jumps into shark infested water, and he fishes her out. She can't decide between two jobs or two men or two slices of pie, and he just patiently waits out her slow as hell thought process. His love makes him totally oblivious to the fact that his new honey-buns is honestly completely useless. The dumbass enabler is annoying because he fails to empower the heroine, to allow her some character development, to let her stand on her own. Quite the contrary, he does everything, to the point that she might as well be a cardboard cut-out. And, as I said last Monday, there is nothing worse that a flat heroine.