Kris did a post asking whether her readers gave up on series. I said I'd sometimes stuck with series through twenty or so books, but that most got very repetitive after the first dozen or so. I have given up on some.
Other commenters' answers fascinated me, though. A couple of readers said they just read m/m romance now, so they'd given up on romance series they'd been following that were in other genres. How interesting, I thought. I read a lot of m/m romance, as those who have been following me here are well aware. I still read m/f romance by authors I like.
I've read several lesbian romances, though I don't care for the often heavy-handed political views in some of the ones I've read. For various reasons, a story in which women become completely emotionally enmeshed makes me uncomfortable.
I've read a couple of f/f romances, and seen the blurbs for quite a number more. The ones I've run across often have at least one of the women being rescued from abuse. No matter the orientation or gender of the protagonists, I find most books in which the cure for sexual abuse is all-powerful "sexual healing" consisting of having wild monkey sex unrealistic and unappealing.
I just don't find descriptions of abuse and trauma to the "heroine" the way I want to start a book. I don't feel like someone in the midst of or the beginning of recovery from trauma is in a place to start a relationship that would be at all healthy. You get the emotional enmeshment again, plus lots of crying and much exploration of emotions in painstaking detail. I've read some non-fiction journalistic reporting about sexual abuse, for instance reporting on the scandals with the Catholic Church. It was essentially that I was trying to understand the people's motives and reactions, and the events that occurred, as much as possible. It's not something I'd read in fiction for pleasure.
There was a period of about six weeks in which all the stories I was proofing or line editing for Changeling were m/f/m menages or m/m/f menages (if people divide them up so finely). After that I sought out some stories with menages from other publishers. I like the ones in which the men are bisexual (and not related!) and comfortable with their sexuality, and the menage is well-balanced. Sadly, menages written as well-balanced and appearing as though they would realistically lead to a long-term threeway relationship seem very rare to me.
After this long tangent, it sincerely does still puzzle me as to why straight (or I suppose bi, possibly, also) women would give up reading m/f romances. I guess it's something along the lines of giving up something that no longer works for you, or that you always had problems with, when you find something that works much better for you. After all, readers only have so much time, and there are so many books. Certainly there are a lot of m/m romances out there, and more appearing all the time.
I know some gay romance authors didn't read straight romance novels in the first place, but came from slash fiction or just liked writing about relationships between men. I don't suppose too many women readers came from backgrounds like mine, of first reading straight romance, then non-fiction on GLBT topics along with m/f romance, then adding gay fiction and erotica to their reading repertoire. Gay romance seemed like a natural mix of my reading tastes. As I've said before, I considered reading m/m romance to be just one more aspect of me being queer. It was a good feeling to learn that many women like gay romance, not just me. I especially like being able to share the reading experience of books I enjoy with gay men. Being able to say, "Hey, you'll like this, too," back and forth with the guys is very appealing to me.
I'd love to get comments from women who were big fans of m/f romance and don't read it any more. What do you feel your main reasons for giving it up were? What works so well for you with m/m romance? I just feel like I came from a different place than most readers of m/m romance, yet I have a lot of people who enjoy some of the same books that I do. It's cool, but it's still somewhat mysterious to me.