Readers bring a certain amount of baggage (some of it irrational) to any fiction book they read. For example, my older sister has a hard time reading about "bad things happening to children" ever since she had kids. The only reason she got through Body Double by Tess Gerritsen is because I reassured her that "everything works out OK for that poor pregnant woman who spends the whole book buried alive."
Readers have all kinds of hot buttons. They don't want to read about animals getting hurt/killed. They don't want to read about adultery. They don't want to read graphic violence, "bad" language, or explicit sex. The list goes on and on and on....
So where does this leave the author? Confused. You can't please everybody all of the time. So basically the author is stuck writing the best book they can and hoping that it sticks to the reader like cooked spaghetti to the kitchen wall.
No reader is immune to this sort of thing. I like to think I'm a fairly open-minded reader. Not a whole lot squirks me out. I've yet to read sex scenes (we're specifically talking erotica written for women here) that have pushed any ick buttons, and I'm pretty OK reading about violence (watching it is another matter entirely). I'm such a heartless bitch that I'm even OK reading about a dog dying. But throw in a love triangle and all bets are off.
I really hate love triangles. So much so that I suspect I'm being irrational on the whole matter. I just wrapped up Duplicity Dogged The Dachshund by Blaize Clement yesterday. This is book two in a cozy series that features a former sheriff's deputy turned professional pet-sitter. It falls under my darker cozy umbrella. The heroine has serious baggage from the death of her husband and toddler, and the crime(s) /motive(s) are dark in nature. Everything was going along great until the last chapter. That's when the author introduces the start of what is sure to be a love triangle between the heroine, a cop and a lawyer. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I'm not sure if I'll read the third book. I know, I know - my irrationality knows no bounds.
I've never been involved in a love triangle in real life. Why? Well besides the fact that I'm just not that irresistible - I can make a decision. I'm pretty indecisive about the little things. The Boyfriend asks me "what do you want for dinner" and I hem and haw. But something serious like relationships? I make a damn decision. Maybe it's a loyalty issue. I tend to be loyal to a fault (I probably could have avoided some less than stellar relationships if I wasn't), and I tend to pick one guy and stick with him. So when other people can't do this? I tend to get annoyed. To me it's creating unnecessary drama - and lawdy be, I hates me some drama.
The problem is that authors use the love triangle conflict and d-r-a-g it out ad nauseam. Yeah, I'm looking at you Janet Evanovich. This I find highly unrealistic, because unless the woman is in love with two pussies (yeah I said it), sooner or later someone is going to issue an ultimatum. Yeah, I can totally see Ranger not doing it - since he's not looking for commitment, but Morelli should have put his foot down about 7 books ago.
And that's why I hate love triangles. The heroine comes off looking like an indecisive idiot and the men come off looking like pussies because they put up with being led around by their balls. I know this is probably irrational thinking on my part (OK, it is), but we all have that little something tickling the back of our brains. That one thing that turns us off.
So where does that leave authors? Still confused.