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I have seen, here and there throughout the blogosphere, posts about this or that particular plot device or trope that hit on the reader’s hot button and translate into a ‘did not finish.’

While intellectually I could understand the concept, it hadn’t really happened to me (aside from skipping a few passages from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth), most of the time I just shrug and keep going.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I reached for an old (copyright says 1996) Harlequin Superromance by Kathryn Shay, titled Suitable Bodyguard. Though I know quite well just how unreliable back cover blurbs usually are, this one sounded good enough (neither same old, same old, nor outrageous beyond belief), so I sat down to enjoy myself for a couple of hours:

Cord McKay has quite the New York police force and come home to raise his little girl in the small town where he was born. He needs a job, but the last thing he wants to do is act as bodyguard to Stacey Webb. Stacey’s father is the reason Cord fled town as a teenager.

The problem is that Stacey’s in real danger. And even though she doesn’t remember what happened eighteen years ago, Cord does–and he owes her big time.

Not too terrible, yes?

And the writing is not bad–I found myself reading the first twenty pages at a good clip, in fact.

But it got all derailed when I realized that Cord owed Stacey (who’s thirteen years his junior) because when he was eighteen he had an affair with her mother–who was still married to Stacey’s father at the time.

By page fifty I couldn’t take it any longer–any other issues I’m having (Stacey is an idiot, for example) are overwhelmed by this feeling of… well, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! I get every single time I think that she’s going to have sex with the guy who had sex with her mother.

Even typing that gave me the creeps.

Mind you, I don’t believe that anyone else must feel about this the way I do–there’s a pretty good chance that there are as many people who agree with me as there are who are wondering what’s the big deal.

But it does mean that I finally found the one plot device that will make me stop cold, never to return to a particular book again.