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rating romantic things love interests do in books

Rating “Romantic” Things Love Interests Do in Books (Would I Want Someone to Nickname Me Little Fox?)

Hi, loves! 💕 I’m back with another bookish discussion. Let’s talk ✨romance✨.

As a hopeless romantic, I would say that at least 85% of the books I read have romance as at least a subgenre. So yeah, I’ve read my fair share of romance books. There are so many specific things love interests (whether they’re men or women) do that are intended to be romantic… and sometimes they work for me. Sometimes they don’t.

I’m here to talk about some of the most common romantic gestures love interests do in romance novels, and to tell you just how romantic I think they really are!

Offers the MC their jacket

I Hope This Doesn't Find You by Ann Liang
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

It’s really thre little things like this that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. May it be because it rained (or something else!) and the MC’s all wet (I Hope This Doesn’t Find You), or because the MC’s getting chilly (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before)… I will always find it cute when the love interest offers their jacket.

I just love how this action shows that someone pays attention. Even when friends just offer (not even directly give, but just offer) me their jackets… The thought is already brining a smile to my face.

My rating? CUTE

Comes up with dramatic ways to ask for forgiveness

Twisted Love by Ana Huang

I feel like the love interest would have had to do something really bad for them to have to resort to doing all sorts of crazy shit for forgiveness. Twisted Love is the perfect example of this. (No spoilers, but let’s just say that the MMC was a dick and he had to sing to the FMC for forgiveness.) The cringe was as strong as it could be.

And has anyone seen that scene from that one season of Love is Blind where this dude sings to the girl he’s only known via voice for a few days before asking her to marry him? Absolutely hilarious, I couldn’t stop laughing at it. (He wasn’t asking for forgiveness, but I just wanted to mention it bc it’s so funny to me.)

My rating? JAIL

Dances with the MC

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater
Forget Me Not by Julie Soto
A Lady for A Duke by Alexis Hall

Regardless of the genre, we can find a scene where the MCs dance… sometimes it’s to get the MC away from someone else (Half a Soul), or for a wedding (Forget Me Not)… and sometimes the love interest just wants the MC to get the dance they want, even when the love interest is not in the best shape physically to do so (A Lady for a Duke).

Honestly… I don’t find much romance in the dances themselves, but in the conversations the MCs usually have while they’re dancing!

My rating? MAYBE-CUTE

Watches the MC sleep

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I know, we all blame Twilight for this. I’m not always thrown off by this trope, though. It really depends on the scene. Say the MC was on the verge of death (yes, I’m thinking about romantasies!) and needed someone to watch over them… makes sense. But watching them sleep because their eyelashes are so long and attractive? Just a tad creepy. Why can’t you just look at them when they’re awake?

My rating? CUTE for a situation in the vein of my first scenario, and JAIL for the latter!

Combs or plays with the MC’s hair

I weirdly can’t think of a specific book (so please help me out in the comments if you can think of one!), but I know I’ve read this scene a million times by now! Anyway, I find these scenes to be so intimate and sexy in books. Bonus points if the love interest also puts the MC’s hair in a ponytail or braid for them. However… Imagine how embarrassing this would be if your hair’s super tangled and won’t cooperate. 😭

My rating? CUTE in books, and PLEASE-ASK-FOR-CONSENT-FIRST in real life!

Gives the MC a *unique* nickname

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
A Fate Inked in Blood by Danielle L. Jensen

This is actually the trope that inspired this post because I hate it when the love interest (typically a domineering alpha male) gives the MC (typically a soft-spoken girl) a “unique” nickname… and if it has the word “Little” in it, I’m going to rage. Honestly, it’s less of the nickname that bothers me, and more of how often the nicknames are used in books. Why do you have to call someone Little Fox (Once Upon a Broken Heart) in every. single. sentence. you say to them?! Don’t even get me started on the super long nicknames like Freya Born-in-Fire (A Fate Inked in Blood). ☠️

My rating? JAIL if they have the word “Little” in them, MEH if they’re unique but don’t. I love the more common nicknames like love, sunshine, and sweetheart… CUTE for those if used sparsely. 😂

Takes the blame for the MC

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

In An Ember in the Ashes, the hero covered for the heroine a lot. I may not have enjoyed this book overall, but I appreciated that he did this especially because of how he knows that the heroine is in a much more difficult position than he is. I don’t think it’s particularly romantic, though.

Personally, I am literally the most nonconfrontational, nonviolent person on earth and would hate to see someone taking the blame for me. But if people are obviously in need of some saving… sure, lend a hand.

My rating? SWEET-BUT-NOT-ROMANTIC

Feeds the MC

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

I’m sorry that the first book that came to mind was The Hunger Games, which is a bit of an exaggerated example. 😂 Obviously, we love Peeta for risking a beating from his mother just to feed Katniss and her family. 🥲 For a more pratical example, I’m thinking something along the lines of The Friend Zone, where the MC brings the FMC food while she’s on her period. Super cute. Super thoughtful.

My rating? SWOON

Lets the MC have the only bed

 People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
A Crane Among Wolves by June Hur

We love respectful people who understand what boundaries are! Though I do feel bad when the love interest has to sleep somewhere that’s obviously uncomfortable… (Yes, I’m looking at you, People We Meet on Vacation. 🥲) But the hurt/comfort that usually comes with this is so good. This is also super cute in fantasies, like in A Crane Among Wolves!

My rating? SWOON

Goes through the depths of hell for the MC

House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross
To a Darker Shore by Leanne Schwartz

I really just wanted to mention my boy Percy Jackson in this post, so I’d have to spotlight his sacrifice for Annabeth in The House of Hades (though she also still ended up in Tartarus with him). Sweet beans Roman (Ruthless Vows) and Kyrian (To a Darker Shore) also end up in their own versions of hell, and were willing to claw their way out (or stay…) for the MCs. 🥺😭

My rating? YOU-HAVE-MY-SOUL

Let’s chat!

How would you feel when you come across these scenes in books? Are some of these more romantic in books vs IRL, or vice versa? 🤔 What are some other popular romantic actions I missed?

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Which romance tropes are the most swoon-worthy, and which does @aimeecanread find super cringe? Share on X

21 responses to “Rating “Romantic” Things Love Interests Do in Books (Would I Want Someone to Nickname Me Little Fox?)”

  1. Charvi Avatar

    I think I agree with most of your ratings!
    Especially when it comes to dramatics I think they work really well in works of fiction but as someone who gets embarrassed in public easily I would rather the earth swallow me XD

  2. Girl Plus Books Avatar

    Awesome post, Aimee! Love this. 🙂 And the fact that some of these get a “JAIL” rating… hahaha!! There are several romantic gestures that I swoon over in books that are also swoony IRL. And some just wouldn’t translate well. lol

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    https://girlplusbooks.blogspot.com/

  3. Samantha @WLABB Avatar

    I am trying for the life of me to remember that part in Twisted Love. The book was just ok (not really for me), so maybe I forgot it all immediately (though I remember the gist of the stabby plot, etc). I love when one of the characters is sick and the other one takes care of them. That is how you show someone they are cherished.

  4. ratmom Avatar
    ratmom

    I love this. I think nick names are cute depending on the name. Giving he jacket, feeding are cute. Watching someone sleep is a little creepy.

  5. Leslie Avatar

    haha!! This post is awesome and creative. I agree, I can’t do the nicknames! Most of them are so cringe and shouldn’t be said out loud. haha.

  6. ER LeVar Avatar

    “My rating? JAIL”

    Lol–I laughed a lot at this the first time, because it reads so dramatic (in a good way)! And I totally get what you mean. If you really need to beg for forgiveness that hard, I probably don’t want the MC to forgive you. You probably don’t deserve it.

  7. Cindy Davis Avatar

    This is a fun post. I am with you on nicknames, never put little in it, just gross!!!

  8. Yvonne (It's All About Books) Avatar

    I’m SO with you with the nicknames! Anything with ‘Little’ in them instantly makes me want to show the MC the door. Also, food is definitely part of my love language; feeding someone helps showing that they are caring…

  9. Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense Avatar

    Oh my gosh, I have tears in my eyes reading this. As someone who is short, it would drive me up the walls to be nicknamed “Little” anything. Also, it really come across as condescending. Enjoyed reading all of these. You got me excited for several titles, but also I will be avoiding some of these (I cannot abide cringey singing). Great post!

  10. lindseyreads Avatar

    This is such a fun post! 😀 I’m a big fan when characters feed each other, or offer their jacket. Nicknames it depends on the cringe-level of the nickname and when/how often it’s used, and I was very anti-watching someone sleep but you’re right that it’s okay in some situations.

  11. looloolooweez Avatar

    This is so much fun. I’m not a big romance genre reader but do appreciate good relationship development in whatever I’m reading. The jacket thing really is great, either in books or IRL; like you said, it’s demonstrating that someone is legit paying attention! I’ll never forget the first time a boy offered me his jacket — we were waiting outside for our moms to pick us up after a middle school dance, and we weren’t dating or anything just friendly acquaintances, but it was one of the sweetest things AND OH MY GOD WAS HE FLIRTING WITH ME? It’s been over 22 years and I’m just now realizing Jacket Boy might have been flirting?????

  12. hena Avatar

    I am not big on romance. I am more of a realist but there are somethings that definitely set of the tingles. Taking care of the person you love is big for me. Just being there for the little things.
    Please do not watch me sleep though..

  13. Angela @ Literary Wanderer Avatar

    LOL food is my love language, so if my husband brings home lunch or makes me a snack, that is swoon-worthy! I find most nicknames to be cringey, and I especially hate when a guy calls a girl sweetheart or something like that when they’re not even dating yet! I sometimes watch my husband when he sleeps, because he looks so cute and peaceful, so I don’t have too much of a problem with that one!

  14. Rachel @Waves of Fiction Avatar
    Rachel @Waves of Fiction

    I had to laugh at the watch them sleep one. While I read Twilight (years ago) I didn’t find it creepy. In read life I would definitely be creeped out!

  15. yvonne473 Avatar

    Fun post! I do love reading romances and agree with your comments.

  16. Jodie | That Happy Reader Avatar

    As someone who also loves romance, this was such a fun post! I’m still swooning over Julie Soto’s latest!

  17. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader Avatar
    Sophie @BewareOfTheReader

    That post is so good and so funny! I agree with everything.

  18. Charlotte Avatar

    Aww I love this idea, such a lovely post 🥰 and I really appreciate that you’ve also included books that include examples of each gesture too.

    I agree that the little acts of kindness, like the jacket thing, can be super heart warming and show a level of care and understanding. The hair thing tends to feature a lot too, especially during make out scenes I find.

    I love dance scenes. Perhaps not all but some can really stand out. You’re right that they seem to pop up in every genre too.

    I know it’s the one that inspired the post but I love the Little Fox thing so we’ll have to agree to disagree there 😂😂 although I suppose it depends on the character. If it’s one that makes me swoon I like it. If not it’d probably irritate me too 😅

    I definitely agree about the dramatic forgiveness thing though. If they’ve done something truly terrible then it’s not really romantic. Plus it seems kind of manipulative really, making some grand gesture just to get your way really. I mean if someone does something and feels generally awful about it that could work (I can see it happening in fantasy where hard choices are made in the moment, more so than a contemporary novel where a characters just a jerk) but then it’s really got to be about making amends. Not just to get back in someone’s good books.

    Peeta and the bread melts me everytime. With contemporary (which I really need to get back to reading) I think it would generally be similar to the examples you’ve mentioned, where someone’s unwell and they get brought treats. Sharing food that they love can be nice too though.

    And going through the depths of hell for someone is always gripping to read about. I need to check out all of your examples for that one.

  19. buffywnabe Avatar

    What a fun discussion! Yeah, I wonder about some of the things too. Now, I think your dramatic get the girl back examples are not ones that I would like either, but I know others that I love from other books.
    https://lisalovesliterature.bookblog.io/2024/06/24/e-galley-review-a-novel-love-story-by-ashley-poston/

  20. Veros @ Dark Shelf of Wonders Avatar
    Veros @ Dark Shelf of Wonders

    This is such a creative post and rating random things is always fun haha. The jacket thing is adorable, someone did that for me during a date and a practically melted. I really agree with most of your ratings and also a lot are situational and need consent to be considered romantic rather than creepy haha. That being said I’m a very nickname person and I go by my nickname rather than my full name in most social situations. I like nicknames that are unique for a person (rather than a general term of endearment) and not something that belittles them or is not based on how they look.

  21. Tammy Avatar

    This is such a cute post! I’m laughing so hard at “jail” and I also love when characters feed each other, it’s so nurturing😁

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