As human beings there’s nothing we love more than putting things in their own box with a nice big label on the side. From people, animals to inanimate objects it’s essential to our nature that everything has a category. That, of course, includes the books we all enjoy reading. We divide them by genre, sub-genre, trope, characters types…the list goes one!
I am the biggest culprit for this. Just take a look at my Goodreads shelves! I have many many shelves and I used every single one of them. From authors, genres, heroes, heroines, themes, tropes, best ofs, month of release…it’s crazy. But I love it. When I have finished reading a book I am compelled to add as many categories to it as I can. There’s few reasons I do this:
One, I am a book blogger who loves to recommend books to people either directly or through writing a post. Having things divided up means I can recommend books and authors to the right readers. If someone loves a plain jane romance, I know exactly where to go to find some.
Two, I like to look back at the books I have read and see the trends and patterns in what I read. Assigning labels to the books I read assists me massively, I can see what new genres I have been reading…which authors I have been binging on…what new tropes I have tried. I love seeing the stats!
Three: Because I like it…whenever I see a nice long list of tags I get a happy little glow. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s definitely a thing!
As a combination of reason One and Two, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite tropes in romance, why I love them so much and give recommendations.
Goodreads Shelf: fated-to-be-mated
I love a fated mates story! I know it’s fallen a little out of favour as paranormal romance has declined in popularity – although it’s still one of my favourite genres – but I still think it has a lot to offer. You tend to get two kinds of fated mates stories. When there is mythos behind the pairing and an immediate recognition that the hero/heroine is their destined mate. Or, you get a romance where although there isn’t an instant realisation of MINE there is nonetheless a very strong, almost mystical, pull towards a particular person.
I am a big fan of the first type of story, the pure-bred fated mates story if you will. The author forces two characters together who may otherwise have never spoken and you just watch the sparks fly. Of course, there is the assumption when you read these books that fate is feeling benevolent rather than cruel; that despite the differences between the characters that they are perfect for one another. There are some authors who do this really well, some particular favourites of mine are:
Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh is a master story teller and she absolutely nails the fated mates genres in her futuristic paranormal romance series Psy-Changeling. Singh has a distinctive writing style that lends itself very well to description and emotion. She uses a delicate hand to sketch our her fated mates stories and I love how she makes the females choice to accept the claim of her mate an essential step in the process.
Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
I am a big Kresley Cole fan, she’s ballsy, funny and an absolute delight to read. She excels at writing strong heroines not afraid of their own power, especially when faced with growly males proclaiming them as “MINE”. If you want something fun and exciting to read, you can’t go wrong with starting the Immortals After Dark series.
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon
I wanted to throw in a romance series that wasn’t in the paranormal romance genre. And, although most fated mates stories are found in paranormal romance you can also find them in other genres like fantasy and as I am about to talk about: sci fi. I love Ruby Dixon…I doubt this is the first time I have mentioned her and I know for sure it won’t be the last. In her Ice Planet Barbarian’s series both the hero and heroine have fated mates. Their bodies come alive as soon as they recognise their mate. These stories are adorable, sexy and I literally can’t get enough; if I am ever abducted by aliens I want to be dropped off with these guys.
Goodreads Shelf: friends-to-lovers
I love a good friend-to-lover scenario! Whether it’s a friendship that has been ongoing for years, or something more recent I love that tension and drama which ensue as the characters stumble over the friendship line and straight into more dangerous territory. Books in the friends-to-lovers trope also often contain an element of unrequited love. I adore an unrequited love story so this trope works for me in many ways.
There are some great authors, across all genres, that have crafted some fantastic friends-to-lovers stories, here are a couple of my favourites:
Us series by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
I admit, it was the gorgeous man chest that had me gravitating to this duet by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. My eyes were inexorably drawn to those beautiful abs and before I knew what was happening, I was reading. And being blown away. This is a M/M new adult sports romance – something I don’t read very much of – that has you experiencing all the feelings. It was such a powerful duet, packed with humour and more emotion than I knew what to do with. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
I speak about Mariana Zapata all the time. I can’t help it, I’ve turned into a weird – but fabulous – superfan. There isn’t a single book of hers that I don’t love. Most of her books follow a friends-to-lovers scenario, however, I really liked the format of this one. The main characters start off as pen pals, so the first parts of the books are letters between them then the IMs they exchange. You experience their friendship grow exactly as the characters would. So, although it’s a slow starter as you go through the same stilted polite stage they do it’s a fascinating read. I actually recommend any Mariana Zapata book, but if you want to shake up the format of the book you’re reading, give Dear Aaron a go.
Goodreads Shelf: ménage-reverse-harem
This shelf started off as just “menage” but in the last year I have started to get into reverse-harem stories. Just to explain further, a reverse harem book is a romance where there the heroine is in a group relationship involving her and 3 or more men. It’s a regular party. All the romances I have read in this space involve them all being in a happy group relationship and faithful to one another. I love it. Not just the fantasy of having your own harem of gorgeous men…because damn can you imagine the washing? But I also like the group dynamics and how the men relate to one another as well as to the heroine.
Confession: most the reverse harem books I have read are sci fi…and the men have been aliens. And when I say aliens I mean…aliens. So, my below recommendation list may not be for the faint of heart!
Chosen series by Stacy Jones
What do you do when you get stuck on a planet with no hopes of surviving? You shack up with a group of the locals. That’s exactly what happens to our heroine when she finds herself on an alien planet. On the brink of dying, she’s saved by three males native to the planet. Only now they think she is their mate. It sounds scary, but this was such a cute story. The heroine’s alien mates were the misfits of their society and so pleased they had found a mate they could collectively adore that they were complete gentlemen. If you don’t mind taking a chance with some aliens, pick this up!
Their Bride by Stasia Black and A.S. Green
The world has gone to hell. Natural resources scarce and so are women. The solution seems to be the marriage lottery. Five men are picked to marry one woman. What could possibly go wrong? Their Bride by Stasia Black and A.S. Green was such an interesting read. In most of the reverse harem books I have read the men involved in the relationship already know and have formed bonds with one another that quite often predate them meeting the heroine. In Their Bride that is not that case, they either don’t know one another or dislike each other. It’s a rocky start for a marriage. But I loved watching them all try and settle in together as outside forces press on them, turning them into one cohesive unit.