Tropes often get a bad rap, especially tropes in romance novels. A trope is defined as a common or overused theme or device—which sounds negative—but I would argue that we see the same tropes showing up in book after book because we love to read them! Take the Happily Ever After (HEA), for example. This trope has become so integral to the genre of romance that experts will say a romance without a HEA doesn’t even qualify as a romance.
Many readers are split on whether they love or hate it when certain tropes show up in their latest read. I thought I’d weigh in on a few I see frequently, and give you a few recommendations, in case you love the particular trope, or would like to give it a second chance!
Enemies to Lovers
I have to admit, this is one of my favorite romance tropes! I can think of little more enjoyable to read than the fireworks between two people who loathe each other…until they realize what they thought was hate is actually love! There’s so much great emotion and chemistry behind this trope, and there’s a lot that an author can do with it. This one is solidly in my YES column!
Some great enemies-to-lover romances I recommend:
- Pestilence by Laura Thalassa (Indie Published!)
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Trad Published)
- The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (Trad Published)
This one definitely gets a lot of heat from critics. I admit, it does seem a bit overused, and it’s not one of my favorites. I don’t like that someone gets left out and doesn’t get their HEA. (Maybe that’s why Reverse Harem has become so popular lately!) But if done well, it can be super compelling. For me, I’ll happily read a love triangle if there’s sufficient depth and character development.
If love triangles are your thing, try:
- Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck (Indie Published)
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Trad Published)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Trad Published)
This trope is especially popular in shifter/wolf romance, as well as fae romance. I don’t like the mates trope when it is used as a stand-in for relationship building. I want to see the characters fall in love—I don’t like it when they realize they’re mates, and so *shrug*, decide to be together. On the other hand, the slow inevitable realization of soulmate status can be amazing to read. So this is another one that I’m mixed on!
- Beneath the Mists by Bonnie Price (Indie Published)
- A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Trad Published)
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Trad Published)
I admit, I usually love this one! Is there anything better than two people who are so desperate to be together that they will overcome whatever obstacles and barriers are put in their way? To find love, whatever the cost? (Insert satisfied sigh here…)
Some great forbidden love reads are:
- Trickery by Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington (Indie Published)
- Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Trad Published)
- The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Trad Published)
With the crazy success of Fifty Shades of Grey, for a while there you couldn’t crack a romance without bumping into a controlling, possessive, alpha male hero. I find myself liking alpha males in context. If the society, time period, or fantasy setting they are in provides context for why they are acting all alpha, I’m way more likely to enjoy that type of read. If the book is in modern times and the hero is just a misogynistic jerk, no thanks!
- Bloodlust by Auryn Hadley (Indie Published)
- Blood Oath by Raye Wagner & Kelly St. Clare (Indie Published)
- Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (Trad Published)
What are your favorite or most loathed tropes in romance? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
Claire Luana grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could. Eventually, adulthood won out, and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, going to work as a commercial litigation attorney. While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. She has written and published the Moonburner Cycle and is currently finishing a new trilogy about magical food, the Confectioner Chronicles.
She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two dogs. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, binge-watch CW shows, and of course, fall into a good book. Connect with Claire Luana online at:
- Website & Blog: www.claireluana.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/claireluana
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/clairedeluana
- Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15207082.Claire_Luana
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/claireluana
- Amazon: www.amazon.com/Claire-Luana
Her latest series is a reverse-harem fantasy that begins with The Fifth Knight, co-authored with Jesikah Sundin.
Four cursed knights. One warrior princess. A faerie sword that binds their lives together.
Fionna’s only hope to save her family lies across the Irish Sea. As a warrior princess of Ulster, the rival clann holding her father and sister for ransom knows she’ll pay any price to get them back. But even she couldn’t predict the task set before her—to steal a faerie sword from a king.
The Kingdom of Caerleon is dying under Morgan la Fay’s dark magic. Her vengeful curse has locked Excalibur in its scabbard, placing Arthur Pendragon’s kingship in jeopardy. Now Arthur and his sword brothers—Lancelot, Galahad, and Percival—have but one hope. The fifth knight. The one foretold by Merlin who will break the curse and heal the land.
But Arthur and his sword brothers didn’t expect the warrior to be a fierce and captivating woman. Or the legendary White Fay, prophesied by Morgan la Fay to destroy Caerleon by claiming the heart of a king and three sworn knights.
The Fifth Knight is a Reverse Harem tale of betrayal and fated love. Get it here!
Most loved trope: has to be the love triangle! How it’s handled is really important to me as a reader. I don’t like when the not-chosen love interest dies or becomes a villain. Let the poor guy live! (And maybe give him a HEA of his own, haha.)
I used to adore the Soulmates/Mates trope. I can’t even begin to count how much PNR I read in college based around this one! But in recent years I haven’t read those as much. I find myself liking pairings that aren’t necessarily prophesied by the heavens (lol) but are still drawn to each other and make it together. 🙂
I like forbidden love, where the lovers have huge barriers that are keeping them apart. I’m especially drawn to stories where one (or both) are vowed to celibacy or have some other requirement that forbids them to have a relationship. Royalty and commoner, from groups that are enemies, or one of them is expected to marry someone else, are others that I like.
I think I love it most when a trope is subverted or given a cool twist. Maybe for me it’s how the trope is handled that can get me on board or not – when I first read The Hunger Games, I rolled my eyes that there was a love triangle, but actually the way she wrote it felt realistic. I could understand why Katniss cared for both guys and felt drawn to each one and the circumstances and their personalities made it plausible that she’d grow closer and more distant to one then the other.
I love enemies to lovers and forbidden love tropes—guilty pleasures! I enjoy a HEA too—but I enjoy them most when the characters have to REALLY work for them 🙂 A great blogpost and I completely agree—tropes become tropes because people love to read them.
Oh so many good ones on here! I enjoy all of these in turn, but I have to admit that enemies to lovers is one of my favorites to read and write about. Even more fun when adding in another twist and/or trope. Thank you so much for sharing these book recommendations. There are some great ones on here, and I look forward to reading the ones I haven’t yet. Have a great day!