silhouette photo of man and woman kissing

Tall, Dark, and Mysterious? More Like Awkward, Distant, and Prudish

I haven’t been around too much recently, and that’s honestly just because I haven’t been inspired to write! I’m not sure if it’s because I write more for work now, or because I just have a prohibitively overwhelming amount of tabs open (both literal and metaphorical), or because I feel like I’m on the precipice of some bigger life changes, or legit just because I’ve been doing book stuff.

Speaking of which, here’s a pic of me at my first signing on Independent Bookstore Day!

Renata Leo signing a copy of her book "Unapologetic Oversharing, Self-Awareness, & Buffalo Sauce"


While I’ve been gone, I’ve been chasing that *perfect morning routine,* like everyone else seems to be nowadays.

Currently, it’s meditation and tarot card pulling, with some fun reading time before or after those two depending on how early I wake up. In fact, reading has always been something I’ve tried to fit into my morning routine. Back when I worked in a corporate office, I used to get in a half hour early so that I could sit and read for a while before work started (it’s one of the reasons I needed to carry so much stuff into the office that people would tease me). Reading has been my solace and one of my favorite forms of escapism for a long while, but it wasn’t always that way.

As a kid, I wasn’t a reader at all. I had to read for school, and none of those books interested me. If I had to read for “work,” I definitely wasn’t doing it in my downtime. Eventually, I started reading YA romance, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t stop reading. I read every chance I got and gobbled up every YA romance I could. I was the one who introduced my entire 8th grade class to Twilight. Yep, I was that kid.

If there was a break during class time, I read. All throughout recess, I read. I couldn’t even put my book down to take my superlative picture for the middle school yearbook. On the bright side, the superlative was “Most Likely to Succeed,” so the book kinda worked. They just slapped a mortarboard on me and told me where to stand. I didn’t even have to look up from the page.

Now, I still mostly read romance, especially when I feel like it’s an uphill battle to get myself to read. Romance novels can be easier for me to get into during difficult times, but even when I’m doing okay mentally, they’re still my favorite. One of the things that makes them so easy when I’m struggling is that I can easily just jump to another book by that same author or another book in the same subgenre (romance books where the protagonist is on a dating reality so are SO hot right now). In this way, I don’t have to step too far outside of my “comfort zone,” and I can just continue the reading momentum without really reading anything new.
So obviously, I now own every single romance novel with a pretty cover that has ever hit the shelves. One might say that I like buying books more than reading them heh heh…

It’s a problem that I’m working on, okay!?

The books in particular that I’ve been reading recently have hetero love stories, and, well…I have a bone to pick…





Like sure, they’re all chiseled, which isn’t my thing, but at least I understand that. I don’t understand wanting someone who seems like a jerk or an emotionless robot.

I remember when one of my friends in college started dating this guy in our chemistry class.

“Isn’t he so hot?” As supportive as I was of what (and who *wink wink*) she wanted to do, I couldn’t figure out why my answer to this question was, “sure, I get it, but not my type.” The answer was that he only had one facial expression. Only one.

Why…? How…? Who…?

I don’t know if it’s because I’m so emotive, but regardless, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be with someone with no discernible emotions.

Same for people who date jerks. “Well, he’s different around me, just a jerk to everyone else on the planet.”


I truly do not understand this fascination in the genre with men who “don’t give anything away.” I don’t want mysterious and silent — in fact, I don’t know how you can have a productive relationship that way.

In the book I’ve been reading recently, it says that the love interest has “unexpected depths.”

Um. No, thank you. I want my love interests to be the proper amount of deep, thanks! I just want them to be whole people who emote and deal with childhood trauma and have thoughts and opinions and buy me coffee. Apparently this is too much to ask of a romance novel. That’s not what the people want — they want emotionally unavailable men. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

Oh, and another cliche that drives me up a wall…it feels like in every romance novel I read, the protagonist and love interest have simply “never been interested in anyone else before.”

Really. You’re 30 and you’ve never been interested in anyone else before. Give me a break. Then again, if that’s true, then maybe the character is ace…but then, making them “change their mind” is far worse.

Assuming the character isn’t ace, however, what are the odds they’ve never been interested in anyone before!? That is, unless the trope is that the player is convinced to “settle down” even though they swore they never would. Because of course they did!

Can you hear me eyerolling as I type? Because I’m eyerolling as I type.

It also doesn’t seem like we have a grip on exactly how to do consent in a sexy way in romance novels? Like I understand needing it, that makes sense to me. But while it seems to be so easy in real life, why is it so hard to write? Spontaneity is great and all, but there’s still a way to do it with consent present. Instead, now I have all of these books with cringey emotionally unavailable men and cringey virgin tropes and cringey weird consent.


All I want is a dude with a beer belly who has a level-headed view of sex and relationships and who actually smiles at people. I’M SORRY FOR BEING SO UNREASONABLE.

Pssssssssssst…if you want to keep reading, I wrote a book! You can learn about it and snag it here. #shoplocal, y’all!

Photo by Loc Dang

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