9 Romance Tropes with Book Recommendations

As I was writing my most recent book review, I got to thinking about tropes in romance novels. Whether it’s a contemporary, regency, or fantasy, there are common tropes that appear over and over again, which shape our tastes and preferences. 

So, I decided to do a quick Google search and came across a Masterclass article about the topic. The best part — it even had a list! Using this lovely list, I will go through and make recommendations on romance books I’ve read that fit into each trope. 

Why am I doing this? Well, you can’t deny that you are more likely to pick up a book when a favourite trope of yours appears. I know I am guilty of it!

Before we begin: a trope is a literary term referring to a plot device or character attribute that is commonly used. 

(Explanations taken from the Masterclass article. Recommendations courtesy of Bibliomavens.)

Keep in mind, I am not promising you that you will LOVE these books. I’ve done my best to include a variety of authors and sub genres (fantasy, contemporary, regency, and so on). Some books may appear twice.

Love Triangle

One of the most common tropes of romance literature: three characters are competing for each other’s love, and only two will pair off. This is a favorite romance trope for creating tension, since the reader wonders who will pair off and who will be left alone with their painfully unrequited love. Will she choose the bad boy or the geek? Will he choose the cheerleader or the ugly duckling? Love triangles are the ultimate trope to appeal to “shippers”—readers who like to pick a side and play matchmaker. 

To Bed a Beauty by Nicole Jordan (Courtship Wars #2)

Secret Billionaire

A billionaire or member of a royal family is tired of their lavish lifestyle, and they sneak out of the spotlight—and, in disguise, run into someone who treats them as if they’re an ordinary person. Whether or not this leaves them frustrated or entranced, it has a little more pizzazz than the standard “boy meets girl” story—and the end result is often true love. 

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #1)

Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #7)

Friends to Lovers

They’ve known each other since they were childhood friends or they recently met each other, and now things are heating up. Even though they used to see each other as just friends, they now see each other as a potential love interest. This trope is popular because we get to see two characters bond with each other as friends first, which allows them to be more open with each other without a physical relationship getting in the way. As their feelings for one another—and the sexual tension—build, we can’t help but want them to get together so we can watch them go from “best friends since high school” to “happily ever after.” 

Crazy Stupid Bromance – Lyssa Kay Adams (The Bromance Book Club #3)

Dr. Strange Beard – Penny Reid (Winston Brothers #5)

Girl Gone Viral By Alisha Reid (Modern Love #2)

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)

Dating-ish by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #6)

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathaways #2)

Stuck Together

There are plenty of variations of the “stuck together” trope, which is often a staple of romantic comedies: two people trapped in a snowed-in cabin, forced to stay with each other overnight at the office, on a road trip, or even stuck in an arranged marriage. However it happens, this trope will trap two characters—whether they’re sworn enemies or already attracted to one another—in the same place and let the drama ensue. 

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas (The Ravenals #6)

On the Prowl by Christine Warren (The Others #6)

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke #1)

A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting (All In #1)

Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter #1)

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #3)

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathaways #3)

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Enemies to Lovers

Enemies to lovers is a beloved trope, made popular by Jane Austen in the classic novel Pride & Prejudice: two people who hate each others’ guts (usually for ridiculous reasons) end up overcoming their differences and angst and ending the story with a (spoiler!) declaration of love. The “enemies to lovers” trope often goes hand-in-hand with the “stuck together” trope, since putting two enemies in a room together can lead to some very juicy results. 

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (League of Extraordinary Women #1)

A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore (League of Extraordinary Women #2)

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #2)

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #2)

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathaways #3)

Forbidden Love

One of the most famous love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, is a classic example of forbidden love: two characters who aren’t allowed to have feelings for each other can’t help but become entangled in a romantic relationship. The things that separate them could range from the family politics in Romeo and Juliet to the bloodsucking problem in Stephenie Meyer’s paranormal romance Twilight. And of course, things will always get more complicated—whether the couple is discovered sneaking out together or with a secret baby after an accidental pregnancy. 

A Secret for a Secret by Helena Hunting (All In #3)

A Favor for a Favor by Helena Hunting (All In #2)

Drive Me Wild by Christine Warren (The Others #7)

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons #6)

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathaways #5)

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1)

The Wedding Night of an English Rogue by Jillian Hunter (Boscastle #3)

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)

Chosen by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)

Second Chance

Two lovers break up and then long for each other. Someone is looking for love again after a bad divorce. Or the hero/heroine’s fairytale turned out to be a nightmare, and now a new romance will give them hope again. The “second chance” trope is where our character missed their chance during their first love and are about to encounter a second. Their next blind date or one-night stand might be the experience that helps them believe in love again. 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (The Bromance Book Club #1)

Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #0.5)

To Desire a Wicked Duke by Nicole Jordan (Courtship Wars #6)

Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas (Bow Street Runners #2)

Cowgirls Don’t Cry by Lorelei James (Rough Riders #10)

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (The Hathaways #2)

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #2)

Dr. Strange Beard – Penny Reid (Winston Brothers #5)

Soul Mates

The “soul mates” trope is a story about two characters who are meant to be together as each others’ “one true love.” But any story would be boring if everything were going just fine for the couple—that’s why many romance writers that use the “soul mates” trope need to also drive them apart somehow. Whether there’s a horrible misunderstanding or a natural disaster that separates them, soul mates in love stories always find a way to get back together. 

Ninja at First Sight by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #4.75)

Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #5)

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)

Howl at the Moon by Christine Warren (The Others #12)

Fake Relationship

They didn’t ask for this. Maybe they’re tired of telling everyone they’re single, or they have to pretend like they’re in love to get out of an awkward social situation. Maybe two characters agree to a marriage of convenience in order to subvert the law or get a better tax break, or a friends with benefits situation to stave off their loneliness. But of course, in many “fake relationship” stories, what began as a fake relationship quickly turns into true love. 

Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #7)

Roomies by Christina Lauren

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons #1 – soon to be a Netflix series!)

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare (The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy #1)

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Are you a romance lover, too? If so, which trope is your favourite? Comment below with more recommendations!




3 thoughts on “9 Romance Tropes with Book Recommendations

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