Likable characters: Likable is the key word for this one. I don't have to love the characters. Heck, I've written some heroes and heroines I don't love. But I do have to like them. I realize they are going on a journey and will change (hopefully for the better) by the end of the book, but from the moment I open the book, I have to like them. I do occasionally make exceptions. I just read a book the other day where I wasn't crazy about the hero. Thankfully the writing was strong enough for me to look past my reservations where he was concerned.
Consistency: I don't care what type of world a story takes place in or what time frame a story is written in but it has to stay consistent. It can be hard for me to read. I've made no secret to the fact that I'm dyslexic. Anything that pulls me out of the story makes it that much harder for me to actually get into the story.
Chemistry: Not just between the hero and heroine, although that is very nice. I love reading how the characters react to the world around them. I tend to be a passionate person. I know, big surprise. When I care about something or someone, I care deeply. My husband and kids are, of course, at the top of my list but that list of things I'm passionate about is surprisingly long. I like reading characters who care as deeply about the world they live in as I do. It helps the characters feel real to me.
Happily Ever After: Yes I get the value of sad books. I've read tons of them. I've wept openly in public over them. I've even read several of them to my kids over the year because I know they have an important role in shaping minds. But if I'm reading for pleasure, I'll take a happy book any day of the week. It doesn't have to be happy all the way through, mind you. But I do like the contented feeling I'm left with after a good romance.
What about you? What do you look for in a book? Are there somethings that are more important to you than others?