alpha-hole – an alpha hero whose behaviors and persona stray into asshole territory (more popular in dark romance)

archetype – a character that fits a recognizable pattern or format (e.g. billionaire, cowboy, governess)

cinnamon roll – a hero who is too good, too pure for this world (derived from this Onion article)

competence porn – satisfaction derived from observing someone be extremely capable (“Watching that woman get all four of her kids to school with individualized packed lunches while explaining quantum physics was pure competence porn.”)

dark romance – romance stories that feature unhealthy relationships with abusive behaviors (e.g. jealousy, controlling behavior, kidnapping, assault, dubcon or noncon)

DNF – abbreviation for “did not finish,” often used as a verb (“I DNFed that book with the raging alpha-hole.”)

dubcon – abbreviation for “dubious consent,” applies to situations in which consent is not clear or clearly granted

ethical non-monogamy – sexual and/or romantic relationships between multiple people with everyone’s informed consent (can include everything from polyamory to casual dating)

F/F – abbreviation for “female/female,” used to refer to a romance with two women protagonists

FMC – abbreviation for “female main character”

H – outdated abbreviation for male main character (refers to “Hero”)

h – outdated abbreviation for female main character (refers to “heroine”)

HEA – abbreviation for “happily ever after,” used to describe the idealistic romantic conclusion that feels final (e.g. they make long-term commitments to each other)

HFN – abbreviation for “happily for now,” used to describe a generally optimistic but less final romantic conclusion (e.g. they agree to date but there are no conversations about relationship permanence)

LI – abbreviation for “love interest,” used to refer to the counterpart of the MC

MC – abbreviation either for “motorcycle club” or “main character” depending on context (“That MC romance with the stern daddy hero really pushed my buttons.” or “The MC in this book is the sweetest sweetheart in the world.”)

M/M – abbreviation for “male/male,” used to refer to a romance with two men protagonists

MMC – abbreviation for “male main character”

noncon – abbreviation for “non-consensual” or “non-consent,” used for primarily in dark erotica or dark romance fiction in place of the term rape as a shorthand for scenarios in which one or more participants is forced into sex

pegging – anal penetration with a (usually strap-on) dildo, originally used to describe a cis-man receiving anal penetration from cis-woman, but expanded to be more inclusive of all genders

polyamory – the practice of engaging in multiple intimate (romantic and/or sexual) relationships, with everyone’s informed consent (falls under the ethical non-monogamy umbrella but is not the only form of ethical non-monogamy)

purple prose – flowery or ornate language; more specifically to romance, language that obscures what is happening in a sex scene (“…he gloried in his triumph as they were dissolved in a mutual fire which died slowly, leaving them cinders on the hearth of love.”)

reverse harem – a romance featuring one woman with many (3+) men love interests, but the term has been updated to “why choose” by many readers and authors because the term “harem” derives from Victorian era orientalist fantasies

slow burn – a story that uses non-sexual cues to build the romantic tension for most of the narrative, such that the first kiss might not occur until after the 50% mark and sex might not occur until close to the end

stern daddy – a dominant man, often older, with a serious demeanor and a strong sense of authority

stern brunch daddy – a stern daddy who is most definitely mature and also exhibits kind and caring cinnamon roll behaviors, coined by Andie J. Christopher in response to a picture of Oscar Isaac posted by Sarah MacLean on Twitter. (“That stern brunch daddy is definitely going to spank you until you scream and then take you out for brunch the next morning.”)

throuple (or thruple) – a closed polyamorous triad in which three people are in a relationship with each other

trope – a storytelling device to convey a situation or idea used as a shorthand that the audience will recognize

TSTL – abbreviation for “too stupid to live,” used to describe protagonists who inexplicably don’t use any kind of sense or logic (“It’s a miracle the MCs survived because they were honestly TSTL.”)

why choose? – a romance featuring one woman with many (3+) men love interests (or sometimes not men, too!), and while this could be included under the polyamory (or polyandry) umbrella, it is typically written with a view to sexual fantasy