On this blog, I spend a lot of time discussing progressive women’s values, intersectional feminism, diversity and representation and the role of the romance novel in moving society forward. Not today! Sometimes, it’s important to step back and remember what drives us to our favorite genre, so I want to delve into my top five romance novel tropes and why they rank above all the rest. I look forward to hearing about your favorites as well, so share below!
To start, romance has vast and wide myriad tropes. Sometimes it’s as wide-reach as marriage of convenience and sometimes it’s more specific, mail-order bride. It can refer to plot, characterization, theme or just about anything else you can think of. And, contrary to popular belief, tropes aren’t a bad thing. They’re signposts for readers to orient themselves when delving into a new book. If you’re a believer that there are no new stories in the world, then you can understand why tropes, in the hands of new writers and veteran authors, are not only necessary but new and exciting every time. Here are a few of my favorite tropes in the romance genre.
Is this a trope? Most people count it as a genre, but I’ve seen it land on trope lists as well. I’m not a military person in real life. I don’t come from military and while I support the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice – and their families – I believe the United States Military is incredibly problematic. There’s a huge history of abuse and misogyny, not to mention the mess of politics and I think it’s important to recognize that, even as we still support the individuals who serve.
Still, on a very superficial level, there’s nothing quite like a man in uniform, and the camaraderie, skills, and fearlessness that make up our favorite heroes are pretty much my catnip. I can’t get enough of military men.
4. Modern-Day Royals
I love this genre. Aristocrats behaving badly? Hook me up with that. There’s nothing more fun than gilded hallways stocked with secrets, designer dresses hiding debauched desires and the general mayhem that the entitled, powerful and spoiled get up to. I’m currently in the midst of writing a modern-day royals story and there’s just so much room for chaos and destruction, I love it so much.
3. Older Brother’s Best Friend
See, I had a younger brother growing up. (I still have a younger brother, just to be clear, I didn’t like, off him or anything…) But all I ever wanted was a big brother whose friends I could crush on. Instead, I got a little brother crushing on my friends which is ten thousand times not what I wanted and also gross.
I love this trope though because there’s something very innocent and down-home about it. You know a person most of your life and they evolve and grow into a fully formed human without you realizing it. Even when done with high heat and debauchery, there’s still a level of sweetness and innocence to this trope, mixed in with the forbidden.
2. Forbidden Love
Because, oh yeah, get me some of that Shakespearean tragedy up in here, please! The only thing better than wanting to is wanting to when you really shouldn’t. Forbidden love stories add so much drama to other tropes, like the older brother’s best friend and the modern royals. Secret hallways, shadows touching, dark of night, inner conflict and deep, aching need. Give me. I want all of it. I recently read a military forbidden love story by Annabeth Albert, (part of her Out of Uniform series, which is great, by the way,) and there’s just so much awesome room for tension and conflict and high heat.
1. Enemies to Lovers
I can’t deal with this genre. I can’t. Give me snippy comments, give me fighting, give me high tensions and anger and frustration all fueled by a deeply buried, ignored, desperate need. Enemies to lovers stories are amazing because they start out with high drama. When emotions are already running hot and you want what you really shouldn’t want, damn that is such a sweet spot. I love nothing more in the world than angry flirting. Except maybe back against the wall angry kissing. And angry f–-… anyway, it’s my favorite.
And that’s been my very non-scientific analysis of my favorite tropes! Be sure to share some of the ones you enjoy most below! ♥