My Frustrations with First Person Jacket Copy in Romance

Let me clarify that first person POV romances and first person jacket copy are two separate rants on my part, and this one will be dedicated to the latter. Mostly because I’m slowly (and I mean glacially slow) coming around to romances with first person writing. However, I doubt I will ever be on board for jacket copy that seemed to be written by one or both of the main characters. If the description POV is coming from only one character, it’s usually the hero.

Here’s an example from Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre, a description from the hero’s POV:

I hired her to fix my company, to bring Marks Lingerie back to life. I didn’t expect her to become my friend. I didn’t expect to fall in love with her.

The first rule of business is to never touch your employees. I think there is another rule about not falling for your best friend—a rule against imagining the curves of her body, or the way her breathing would change if I pulled down her panties and unzipped my pants.

Now, I can’t wait any longer. I’m tossing out the rules.

Damn the company.

Damn our friendship.

Damn my fears.

And another example from Jessica Lemmon’s Eye Candy with first person commentary from both the hero and heroine:

Jacqueline: As an adult woman—and the vice president of a marketing firm—I shouldn’t be waiting by my office window to ogle the mystery man who jogs by every morning at 11:45. Sure, he’s a gorgeous, perfect specimen of the human race, but I can’t bring myself to hit on a total stranger. However, my best friend-slash-colleague Vince Carson thinks I should do more than talk to the guy. In fact, he’s borderline obsessive about “getting me laid.” (His words.) But the more time we spend together, the more it’s clear: The one I’m falling for is Vince.

Vince: Jackie Butler’s got it bad for some pompous, over-pumped A-hole who struts his stuff past her window. That doesn’t bother me. I know she deserves nice things. What does bother me is that she friend-zoned me big-time last year, so I can’t ask her out myself. But what if I set her up with Mr. Steroids? Then, when he breaks her heart, I can swoop in and save her like the nice guy I am. Everything’s going according to plan…until we share a ridiculously epic kiss. And suddenly anything is possible.

Now, I haven’t read either of these books and this mini rant is no reflection on how good or bad they may be in terms of content. I’ve read both authors before in the past and have enjoyed their books; I simply picked these books that are on my TBR pile to illustrate my frustrations.

When it comes to first person jacket copy, I don’t get the information I’m looking for to necessarily pick up the book. More often than not, I’ll have to scroll through Goodreads and look through reviews to get more of a sense of the main conflict and the character archetypes.

Here’s an example of what I typically look for in a book description. This one comes from Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz:

A feast she wasn’t expecting! 

Clover Greene would sooner crawl into her oven than host family for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another annual ritual of too much food, served with a side of criticism over “Clover’s Bad Life Choices.” This year, she needs to distract them all—with a handsome fake boyfriend. And she has the perfect guy in mind. 

Contractor Erick Fields is the poster boy for sexy single dads, and Clover has been secretly crushing on him for ages. She certainly wasn’t expecting Erick to agree to her insane charade…or to add lots of hot, wicked sex to the deal. If they can pull it off, the worst Thanksgiving ever might give them something to be really thankful for!

I get a sense of character occupations, how other people see the main characters, the central plot (a fake relationship), setting, and so on. I’m a reader who likes to be informed on what I’m getting into and it also gives me more of an opportunity to avoid tropes or character types that I’d rather avoid.

With first person jacket copy, I get a sense of tell more than showing. A character is directly talking to me and it tends to feel…cocky (no pun intended) or arrogant, two qualities that need a deft hand when crafting a romance hero. If I already hate the hero’s “voice” just by reading the description from his point of view, why the heck would I want to slog through 300+ pages of it?

I can understand why these descriptions might appeal to readers. As I once heard, I’m not about to yuck someone else’s yum. I just wish it would tell me more about the book. I’m also insanely curious about 1) why some people prefer this description and 2) why marketers or authors may choose to write this sort of description for a book. Is it a signal to readers that the rest of the book will be in first person as well? Is it an arbitrary style choice?

I’m not saying the answers to my questions will changed my opinion on first person jacket copy, but I want to understand. Boy, do I.

If you don’t mind or if you even enjoy first person jacket copy, let me know why!

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