What are Romance Tropes?
Romance stories have been a staple of literature since the beginning of time. Whether it’s a classic novel like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or a modern-day blockbuster like The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, romance is always at the heart of the story. But what makes these stories so captivating? We can thank—or blame—romance tropes for that! Here are five of my personal favorite romance tropes as an author, in no particular order.
Trope #1: Enemies to Lovers
Enemies to Lovers is a classic trope that has been around for centuries, and it shows no sign of going away anytime soon. This trope typically involves two characters who are initially at odds with each other but, through various circumstances, find themselves thrown together and eventually fall in love. It’s the perfect way to add a bit of drama and comedy to any situation.
Often times these two enemies-turned-lovers will have wildly different personalities and backgrounds, which makes things even more complicated! One might be from a wealthy family while the other lives on the streets, or they could come from opposite ends of a political situation, like in my Qurilixen Lords: Fire Prince, where the shifter prince finds himself at odds with a revolutionary leader trying to do right by her people.
Whatever their differences may be, it creates an interesting dynamic between them that can’t help but lead to some hilarious moments as they gradually let their guard down and realize how much they have in common.
Trope #2: Forbidden Love
The concept of ‘forbidden love’ is a trope as old as time. Whether it’s Romeo and Juliet, Edward and Bella, or two people from feuding families–we absolutely love rooting for the star-crossed lovers! There’s something undeniably exciting about the idea of two people taking a chance to be together despite any obstacles that stand in their way. Even if they don’t get their happily ever after, we can’t help but admire their courage to go against the grain.
I love Forbidden Love stories. The Lords of the Var series features a family of shifter princes who is literally taught not to fall in love with one woman, so every romantic love is a forbidden love.
Trope #3: Grumpy Vs Sunshine
When it comes to the classic “Grumpy vs Sunshine” trope, no one is sure who to root for. On one hand, you have Grumpy, the more serious of the two. Grumpy can be a pessimist, or serious, or burdened with some kind of heavy emotional worry that doesn’t make them the life of the party. But on the other hand, you have Sunshine, who always has something good to say and wants to spread joy and positivity wherever they go. It’s a battle between light and darkness!
The two characters never quite seem able to come together in harmony; instead they clash in an epic battle of wits. Will Grumpy be able to break through Sunshine’s cheerful exterior? Or will Sunshine be able to bring some levity into Grumpy’s dark world? No matter what happens in this age-old debate, it’s sure to be entertaining for readers everywhere!
I have the Grumpy vs Sunshine elements in many of my books. In A Dash of Destiny (Warlocks MacGregor Book 8), Rory is the more playful personality with little care in the world, while Jennifer is just trying to get her life on track and make ends meet.
Trope #4: Fake Relationship
The Fake Relationship trope is centered around two characters who enter into a false relationship with each other – usually for some kind of gain or benefit. Whether it’s to make an ex jealous or get someone off their back about being single, these fake partnerships can lead to some hilariously awkward yet often ultimately sweet moments between the two main characters. It’s perfect for any storyteller looking for an entertaining setup with plenty of potentials!
In my award-winning Historical Romance novel, Maiden and the Monster, we have a nobleman who takes in his enemy’s adult daughter when he finds her left for dead. In this Beauty and the Beast-esque story, they get together for all the wrong reasons–revenge and desperation. This is one of the books where I start getting worried reader emails before the end of the book, all generally at the same location.
Trope #5: Second Chance Romance
Ah, Trope 5: Second Chance Romance. It’s the classic love story that keeps us reading time and time again. There are two versions of this trope. First, two lovers who were separated in some way find their way back to each other in the end. Whether it’s a reunion between old flames or a reconciliation between estranged family members, there’s something so heartwarming about seeing two people reunite against all odds.
The second version of this trope is when a character gets a second chance in life to do things right, as featured in my book Order of Magic: Second Chance Magic. Lorna, after being betrayed by her deceased husband, gets a second chance at love and life in this paranormal women’s fiction romance.
What’s Your Favorite?
If you’re a fan of romance novels, chances are you’ve got your favorite trope. Whether it’s the classic billionaire bad boy and the small-town girl he sweeps off her feet, or the two people who can’t deny their chemistry even though they come from different worlds, each trope has its own unique appeal.
For those who love a bit of nostalgia with their happily ever afters, perhaps it’s the slow burn friends-to-lovers story that lights your fire? Or maybe it’s the whole opposites attract angle that keeps you turning pages? Whatever floats your boat – there’s sure to be something for everyone!
But if all else fails and you can’t decide which one is your favorite…there’s always the one where an alien prince falls in love with a human and whisks them away to another world. (See Captured by a Dragon-Shifter series) That one never gets old!