I'm a heavy user of libraries - both for my academic work and for entertainment. On the entertainment side, I have agreed with myself, over the years, that if I am not enjoying a book, I am allowed to stop reading it. It took a while - a deep seated 'Started so I'll finish.' ethic that is probably a close cousin to having to eat all the food on your plate. I don't always do that now either, but greed plays a part in that!
If a book is from the library it is very much easier to take it back unfinished. You didn't buy the thing, and the writer will still get the PLR, provided that library is in the current count. This is fine for stuff that is meant to be entertaining me. Academic? Not so much. Most of them you have to finish.
Where am I going with this? Well in the last few months I have gleefully pounced on books by my favourite authors - two thrillers and one romantic suspense. I'm sorry to say that both thrillers went back half read and the romantic suspense almost did, except that the love story was good. Why? Not because they were slow, or boring, or badly written or had saggy middles. In every case I found the plots and events so unremittingly bleak that they were depressing the heck out of me. And that's not why I read. I read for relaxation and enjoyment of a fellow writer doing what they do, with apparently effortless talent.
All three of these book featured a similar theme - so I have to wonder if it is a trend - of innocent bystanders being horribly killed, simply by being in the wrong place and time. Now I'll put my hand up here. I slaughter innocents too, but this seemed to me to be over the top. Now I'm wrestling with whether I am a total hypocrite, writing my own Shakespearean body count, while complaining about other people - but the fact remains that I simply did not want to finish those books, however well written and plotted they were. Maybe I was feeling especially sensitive, Maybe it is a matter of taste, which is why I am not going to name any names - but the books did not do the job I was looking for. Maybe I'll go back to them at some later date and read them right through? Maybe, At the moment I've given myself permission not to read them. There are so many books in the world, many of them on my TBR list, so I can move on to find something I will enjoy more. I'm disappointed as all those authors have been on my auto-read list, but life changes and people and writers too. On the plus side, I now have room to discover that absolutely fabulous brand new author and add to the list. Always a bonus.
And this is, at base, why I write romantic suspense. Because you always get a love story - so there is always something positive at the end - a ray of hope. I'm probably a soppy sentimental old fool, but that's me. A lot of critics argue that romance is unrealistic and gives too rosy an impression of life. They probably have a point - but when I'm reading for entertainment? I don't really care.
Pass the rose coloured glasses and bring on the handsome hero.