Romance and Me: Discrimination Based on Name

Filed in featured , Romance and Me , The Latin Lover Posted on May 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm 15 comments

Hi Everyone!

You all know that I’m an equal opportunity reader when it comes to romance: I read anything from contemporary to historical, erotic to inspirational, sci-fi to paranormal. I keep an open mind and I’m always up to expand my reading horizons by experimenting with different sub-genres. So with that disclaimer out of the way I can make my confession: despite my tolerant and open-minded reader beliefs I sometimes discriminate books/stories/characters based on names.

And I don’t mean the cutesy and at times over the top names of the town/place the story is set in, like a contemporary romance being set in the small town of Love, or Promise Harbor or a historical romance taking place in Harmony Creek or Temperance Manor. No, those just receive an eyebrow twitch, but they don’t disturb me too much to make me stop reading the book.

The kind of name discrimination I am talking about is when the characters sport such awful, ugly or plain ridiculous names that every time they are mentioned or are on the scene, just seeing their name makes me shudder and grimace. I don’t even care if the name is accurate for the time period (like Eugenia, Euphrosina, Tiberius or Alasdair!) or does indeed exist in real life (like some of the most far-fetched names in contemporary romances that manage to keep me in the dark regarding the character’s gender), if it is so plain ugly or ridiculous that it prevents me from liking/falling for the characters it may spoil the whole novel for me (read a book once where the hero was called Black. Every time the heroine said “Take me Black”, “Kiss me Black, “I love you Black” it just jarred me out of the story). (Oh yeah and don’t you just hate “talking names” like the heroine being called Chastity or Passion? O_O)

I have read several novels where the story was quite entertaining, there was good characterisation and it was quite decently written (that’s why I kept reading), but it just didn’t manage to absolve from having a handsome hunk of a hero named Alasdair. (I seriously loathe that name. I don’t find it sexy, to me it sounds pompous and ridiculous. Something I would call the fat uncle of the villain, or that constantly drunk relative who is meant to be despised by the reader. But never the hero, with whom the heroine and the reader shall fall in love with.)

Sure there are some names which I know are historically accurate that I personally don’t really care for but that I can tolerate, and at times I can even accept that the heroine has a masculine name or that the hero is named after an object if it suits the purpose of the story and is a crucial detail in the characterisation. But how can being named Alasdair or Tiberius add anything to the character other than the reader’s revulsion and scorn?!

So tell me,

Are you name-sensitive?

Are there some names that just irrevocably make you turn away from the characters/story or even if you keep on reading you can’t fall for the characters since they are named a certain way?

Do you have any name pet peeves? 

Let me know, I’m curious 😀

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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  • Draconismoi May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I believe we had this discussion about a certain on-going paranormal romance series in which all the characters had names that Rhage and Tohthure.

    I am quite looking forward to the upcoming entries in the Black Dagger Brotherhood featuring the tragically damaged twin brothers Mhoronik, and Vhomitz. Their lovely cousin Idhiott, will get her own on-line spin-off.

    • Katie T. May 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Yes!!! I can’t touch those books because the names are godawful.

    • Stella May 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      LOL yes, those names just rub me the wrong way. I mean couldn’t she have been more original to actually come up with something rather than put “h”s in common nouns?! I SO would read your parody version 😀

      • draconismoi May 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm

        There’s a new post idea!

        We take a book in serious need of mocking, excerpt sections, and rewrite them. Then the readers can judge who did it better. 🙂

        • Stella May 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm

          Even without seeing any posts I’m betting you’d win hands down, you are the Queen of Snark and Parody 😀

  • Jess1 May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I do think names have an effect on people and that we have our own personal impressions of them. Mildred, Ethel, Mabel and Stanley are some names that are not appealing to me.
    There have been books where I didn’t care for the name of a character, but it escapes my memory at the moment.

    • Stella May 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      I agree Jess, lately I’ve read several historicals with heroines/supporting characters being called Wilhelmina or Winifred (which sound awful), but thankfully they were referred to as Willa and Winnie/Freddie and that was something I could stomach better…

      • aurian May 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm

        Lol, one of our Queens was named Wilhelmina, so I do like that very oldfashioned name …

  • blodeuedd May 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Hm…well sometimes like when an author uses a Scandinavian name and it goes all wrong cos it’s a total grand pa name

    • Stella May 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      It is VERY rare for me to see some typical Hungarian names in books, but Mariska and Laszlo sometimes make an appearance. It drives me mad when the author INcorrectly spells it Lazlo or Lazslo grrr

  • Sullivan McPig May 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    how can you not love the name Tiberius?!
    I find myself avoiding books with characters with the names of people I do not like in real life. otherwise names don’t bother me.

    • Stella May 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Well I wouldn’t mind a hero called Tiberius in a historical romance taking place in Ancient Roman times. But in a Regency story? ugh…

      I recently read a HR where the heroine was called Edith. Don’t like that name (though it was a hereditary name in my family, my great-grandma was called that and I almost got called Edith as well, thankfully my mom put her foot down :-D), and anyway the hero and the heroine both agree that it’s an awful name “without any music” 😉

  • LSUReader May 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

    There are names I’m not fond of, but it’s not been a show-stopper in reading. When a character becomes remarkable in her/his own right, the name no longer seems important. Just like in real life. So authors, make those Ediths, Ethels and Stanleys really stand out!

  • aurian May 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I really dislike it, when the heroine has a male name, and by that I don’t mean Alex short for Alexandra, or Sam for Samantha. Or the hero with what in my opinion is a female name. That keeps jarring me. I also dislike the name Maria, I really think that is a lack of imagination from the author.
    And yes, there are some plain ugly names going around as well, but that does not bug me as much.

    • Stella May 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I completely agree with you Aurian, maybe it’s a European thing, but I also like to know whether certain character is a male or female and prefer the heroine to have feminine and heroes masculine names.

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