Trope VS. Trope–Tell Us Your Favorite!

Where would the romance world be without the high-octane emotion of a secret-baby plot? Or a pretend fiancé, or a marriage of convenience? The trauma, the drama! I could eat it up with a spoon.

One of the first romances I ever read dealt with an inheritance (sadly I can’t remember the name of it :( ). This legal issue brought the spunky heroine back to a family that was massively screwed up–like catfighting-in-public-fountains kind of screwed up.  I ADORED it.  Little did I know that I was establishing my favorite themes, or tropes.  Come to find out, I have a real thing for the prodigal returning home, as well as the ever-reliable marriage of convenience (to get the inheritance, in this case).  It doesn’t matter that I’ve read dozens of variations on these themes.  As soon as I come across a new book with these basic plots, I squee like a teenager, grab it off the shelf and scream, “Shut up and take my money!!!”

As I’ve gotten older, more themes have become automatic buys.  I’m gaga about backstories that surge up to haunt the hero or heroine when they least expect it.  If a book’s description book mentions a “mysterious past”, I’m reaching for my wallet.  I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.  Usually the revelation of these painful pasts make me weep until I’m a runny-nosed, puffy-eyed mess. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wiley Sharpe and former ugly duckling, Payton Pruitt

Long before any of the contributors here at Contemporary Romance Café became writers, we were readers establishing some serious love for romantic tropes.  So, with that said, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask both readers and writers alike–what’s your favorite trope?  I’ll be the first to go (since it’s my post, I can do that :P).  My current favorite happens to be what brings my H/h together in my August 5th Carina Press release, UGLY DUCKLINGS FINISH FIRST, and that is… the reunion.  What’s more, I’ve mingled this always-volatile trope with some yummy friends-to-lovers (another favorite), then added a dash of reformed-rake and a huge helping of ugly-duckling-turned-swan.


Metal Mouth. Queen Geek. Dr. Payton Pruitt heard it all growing up. But she’s over it, and attending her ten-year high school reunion is the perfect way to prove it to herself. Even if there’s only one person she’s interested in seeing in Bitterthorn, Texas: Wiley Sharpe.

Now a respected lawyer, Wiley didn’t live down to the label Most Likely to Be Slapped with a Paternity Suit. But recent acts of vandalism suggest someone still sees him as a heartbreaker, and the reunion seems a likely place to find the culprit. Instead, Wiley comes face-to-face with his old pal Payton—and is wowed not only by her transformation into a ravishing swan, but by the connection they still share.

Payton is pleased the playboy she used to tutor has grown into an honorable man, but she’s too smart to fall for a guy with roots in a place she couldn’t wait to leave. But while Payton is an academic genius, Wiley is the one with the PhD in pleasure, and he intends to use it to convince her to stay…

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to know what your favorite trope is. Feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll see if there’s one we all universally love. Oh, and if you’re stuck, check out this fun list on popular romance novel tropes.  Enjoy!




Trope VS. Trope–Tell Us Your Favorite! — 15 Comments

    • I’m totally with you on that one, Fiona. If they made their vows, even if it’s out of convenience, they’d better stick to that promise. If those vows were somehow broken during a separation, the cheating character instantly becomes less sympathetic and weak-willed in my mind. Those are usually DNFs for me.

    • Love-love-LOVE the Cinderella trope! Especially if it’s done in a way that the hero is shown to have always been attracted to the heroine’s inner beauty. <3

  1. Ooh! Fun discussion, Stacy! I love, love, love the friends to lovers trope. I also love second-chance romances and reformed bad boys. I also like a well-done enemies-to-lovers story. My least favorite is the secret baby.

    • Ooooh, I forgot about the second-chance romance, Reese! When an old flame pops up to ignite the world into chaos, I just MELT. That’s another insta-buy for me.

      On another note, I’m beginning to understand 1.) why my wallet can’t hold onto money when I visit a bookstore, and 2.) why the walls in both my bedroom AND office are lined with books. Gah.

    • Yay for secret babies! This trope is probably the trickiest trope there is, but when it’s done right, it’s a total tear-jerker, don’t you think? The one that sticks in my mind is The Boss’s Baby by Miranda Lee. It’s a 1990s Harlequin Presents, but despite its age it’s totally worth a read if you like this trope. :)

  2. Great post Stacy!

    I love a reunion romance, particularly where one party has left their small hometown and is forced to return from the high-flying life they’ve lived in the meantime – sickly parents or devastating job losses are good for this one.

    Yet my favorite of all is the wounded or traumatized hero or heroine who returns but is irrevocably changed, rarely for the better. Suh-woon!

    • Yup yup, I fall for the haunted-past trope every time, Rebecca! Watching characters push themselves to evolve from the trauma they’ve suffered is so painful/beautiful, I usually need a box of tissues by my side just to get through it. (Which is what I’m ready to go through when I read your Carina Press holiday “military homecoming” novella coming out in November! *squee*)

  3. Love the second chance romance–ever since I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Also a big fan of the mysterious past. Wish I had one myself!

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