Romance novels rely heavily on similar topics. In fact, the themes or tropes of romance novels are so well covered that a reader could spend a fair amount of time exploring the same theme again and again.
I have my old favourites that are always on my pre-order list. Since I have started this blog I have been introduced to some new tropes that are rapidly becoming favourites. The internet is a book lover’s dream as anything you can ever imagine is documented and listed. That got me wondering what are the specific tropes that are popular. You can trawl through Goodreads finding a book to satisfy your craving for whatever adventure you are in the mood for.
So what are the most popular tropes? I’m not ranking anything, but here are some very popular storylines that keep readers and authors engaged:
Arranged Marriage – a very popular story line. This is a well explored plot especially for historical romance novels. Frankly I would be very concerned if a contemporary romance featured this trope.
Cannot Spit It Out – the man cannot say “I Love You” even at the point of death and losing the woman he needs desperately.
Tainted By A Bad Woman – the man who is so broken by an evil woman that he will never forgive. Of course these bad boys are eventually taken down by a worthy woman.
First Love – features men who have played around and enjoyed women but never felt Cupid’s arrow. Most women don’t have previous loves, so it’s pretty much a given that they will experience love with their first beau. This is a popular trope for historical and contemporary romance.
Sexual Inequality – he is not a virgin and likely bedded half the female population. She is a virgin and after one sexual encounter is now the equivalent of a porn star. Grossly inequitable, but can be highly effective and enjoyable with the right characters.
Magic Sex – all other sexual experiences (whether with now deceased spouses or ex’s) is never as good as it is with the new couple.
Happily Ever After (HEA) – pretty much a given for romance novels – I wouldn’t read otherwise.
Loveable Rogue/Reformed Rake – he’s hot, he knows it and he uses it to his advantage. He’s like a modern day Gerard Butler. Handsome as sin, but a dirty boy who seduces and is seduced frequently. In historical romance novels, he is a frequent attendant at brothels and has mistresses. But all turns out well, as his chosen lady benefits from his experience and see Sexual Inequality for what happens next.
Man in a Kilt – do I need to say more? Click here for an indepth explanation of this trope.
Star Crossed Lovers – also known as Romeo and Juliet. Have insurmountable odds to face in order to be together. Separated by oceans, families and circumstances.
Cheating – only permissible if the spouse is abusive or a murderer or insane. Not that popular and let’s be honest – cheating spouses don’t really sell books.
Revenge – evil plotting and planning to make right a wrong. Usually does not go according to plan, but can be highly entertaining watching the grovelling occur.
Spinster – a woman in a historical novel past the ripe old age of 24. More worldly, well read and has a good head on her shoulder. Usually willing to take more risks than the debutante which can create an exciting story.
Orphan – can be a back story, an evil relative who wants their inheritance or a crotchety old aunt who is miserable company.
Wild Woman – the female version of the rogue. She rides astride, can handle weapons and longs to be one of the guys. Usually is a fire cracker and will give the rogue a hard time.
Spy – who knew historical times were so full of female and male spies in the aristocracy? A fun trope that can create great adventure. In contemporary novels can be highly effective in isolating the lead characters until they have sex.
Caregiver/Nanny/Chaperone – meets a man at a house party or ball while doing her job. Then it dissolves into one of the other tropes.
Bodice Ripper – usually denoted by the cover art. Let’s reader know that they book will have lots of hot sex.
Time Travel – heading back in time to a foreign space. One of my new favourites!
What trope is your favourite? Which one do you dislike? What have I missed?