Even before entering these increasingly uncertain times, I made a resolution to read more this year. Romance fans mainly connect online between Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Thanks to those readers, I’ve discovered many books and new-to-me authors. So, in my quest to read different tropes that I normally shied away from, I realized that the problem was me. I brought preconceived notions and unfair judgements toward a lot of these stories.
Since most of us are Social Distancing right now, it seems as if more people are reading with the extra time at home that we’ve gained. I thought this would be the perfect time to give a genre or trope a chance that maybe you’ve normally avoided. Before this year, I read exclusively contemporary romance. I used to be a huge Twilight and Vampire Academy nerd, but later in my teens years I switched to contemporary romances and hadn’t really looked back.
Here are some of my most recent reads that I loved and made me change my stance on certain tropes.
Friends to Lovers
I know this trope is an old favorite for many romance fans. As a long-time romance reader, I can certainly suspend belief for a lot of crazy plot twists and many highly improbable things, but of course I keep reading because romance just makes me happy. Friends to Lovers just didn’t have the stakes I enjoy in a romance. I think it stemmed from the lack of meet cute, since the characters have obviously known each other for some time. Then I read My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh. The gorgeous clinch cover made me stop on goodreads and I decided to give the title a chance when I realized the hero Sebastian was helping out his friend Grace by pretending to be her suitor to get the attention of her longtime crush. Grace and Sebastian’s romance was so swoony that the years they’ve known each other and acceptance of each other as outsiders in society, made the romance all the better.
Older Brother’s Best Friend
First off, Tessa Bailey is a romance treasure! Her books manage to be very sweet emotionally, while also insanely hot. I should’ve known that she’d change my mind about the Older Brother’s Best Friend trope. I’ve always felt this trope was weird because I’m the kind of person who, if I had a brother, would not let him or anyone else for that matter decide who I should date. However, I do understand the awkwardness that dating your brother’s friend could cause, especially if there is a breakup. In Tessa Bailey’s Fix Her Up the heroine, Georgie, has always been overlooked as the silly little sister in the family and her occupation of being a clown certainly doesn’t help. She enlists her brother’s friend and bad boy ex-baseball player Travis to help each other improve their images. When they fall for each other, it makes Georgie’s brother uncomfortable to say the least. I think what previously bothered me about this trope was the idea of women being property and needing permission to date whoever they wanted. Of course, Tessa Bailey would write a heroine who refused to be controlled and ended up gaining self-confidence and love.
Cowboy romances are known for their covers featuring a very muscular man typically sporting flannel and most certainly a cowboy hat. The covers always evoke Americana vibes down to small towns and midwestern family values. Growing up in a small town in the south that I couldn’t wait to escape from might have contributed to my aversion to cowboy romances. I wrongly assumed all the characters would be small minded and feature pages and pages of farm work. I just skipped over them until Jay Crownover’s Justified. Case Lawton is a textbook Southern boy, who loves his small town and truck almost as much as he loves his career as a sheriff. He blames big city educated lawyer, Aspen, for losing his son in a custody battle. Years later Case must protect Aspen from someone threatening her life and they give into their attraction. Justified had a lot of suspense and was a very sexy read that the strong but silent cowboy hero and Texas setting just made for a different backdrop from the usual big city romantic suspense stories.
My go-to tropes are second chance, fake dating, marriage of convenience, and enemies to lovers. I will read nearly anything with those tropes. Though I’ve yet to tire of them, it does help to read different ones and return to my favorites. Maybe you’ll try a different trope and walk away from it thinking: “Nope, still not for me!” which is okay. The best part of the romance genre is the sheer number of tropes, subgenres and archetypes that exist and what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll just fall further in love with your favorites.
2 thoughts on “Thoughts of a Picky Romance Reader: How I Learned to Embrace New Tropes”
I was lucky to read your previous book recommendations and I am excited by these new suggestions! With the anxiety that we are feeling with the fear of the times we are exposed to , this article and new titles are very comforting! Thank you for being a beacon light in this dark time
Very nice outlook! I’m inspired to get back to reading and even exploring one of your recommendations from a new genre!