I’m back for another look at the various tropes found in romance and/or urban fantasy. These tropes are the underlying theme of a novel, such as “enemies to lovers” or “fated mates.” Some are beloved standards in the industry. Others are, for me, a hard line drawn in the sand. All generate different reactions from different readers (and sometimes from the same reader at different times in their lives). I’ll give a few examples of my favorites and provide links if they seem interesting..
Standard disclaimer! I’m not saying these tropes are bad (okay, one or two kinda are), these are just my personal preferences. If you like something I dislike, and a lot of folks do, that’s okay! If you dislike something I love, again a lot of folks do, that’s also okay! If we all read/liked the same books, libraries would be small and boring.
So, with that out of the way, let’s dive right in with a like and a dislike.
Like: Fake Relationship/Marriage of Convenience
I combined these two as they’re essentially the same thing. While most ‘fake relationship’ books focus on events prior to a wedding, such as a fake boyfriend for a family gathering or a fake fiancée to thwart an ex from trying to turn back the clock, and ‘marriage of convenience’ books by definition are centered on the relationship after a wedding, they both begin with similar premises and arrive at the same conclusions. Their pseudo relationship is just what they wanted all along.
It’s a fun trope. Not my favorite by far, but one I can appreciate and enjoy. Growing up, I most often saw the trope in historical romances, then in Harlequins (generally involving a royal or millionaire needing protection against a scheming gold-digger), but now it traverses all subgenres from historical to contemporary to paranormal.
Here are a few of my favorites. What would you recommend?
Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh. Third in the Rock Kiss series, this novel contains characters and references events from the first novel, Rock Kiss, so is best read as part of the series. I adore Nalini Singh, if it hasn’t been obvious, but this one wasn’t my favorite of this series. The story is lovely, as most of hers are, but the messaging is problematic in many ways.
Kit is an actress. Noah is a guitarist in a rock band. The media catch them chatting and dub them the new “It Couple,” and Kit wants to use that notoriety and fame to clinch a coveted role.
Noah’s burned her before. He owes her. It’s all business until the old flame is rekindled.
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. The novel that spawned the popular Bridgertons series, The Duke and I weaves the tale of Daphne Bridgerton, a lady whom all the eligible young men like but none truly desire, and Simon Basset, a duke who wants no part of society or match-making mamas.
They agree to a fake courtship to raise her prospects and limit his, and it works beautifully until their hearts get involved. Then they each have to figure out how to turn a fake courtship into a real one.
This book has a problematic segment dealing with consent, so be aware that it’s not all fluffy and sunshine after the marriage bells have rung.
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews. Note: NOT A ROMANCE! Book One of the Iron Covenant, a spin-off of the popular Kate Daniels world, Iron and Magic focuses on Hugh d’Ambray, former Warlord of the Builder of Towers, and Elara Harper, known as the White Lady to her people and Abomination to her enemies.
With war on the horizon, she needs an army while Hugh’s Iron Dogs need a base. One problem: they’re both known for betraying their allies. Solution? A marriage which may save them both.
Dislike: Kidnapped (where the love interest is the kidnapper)
This trope rarely works unless handled very, very well. Yes, fear and trauma can make the victim bond with their abuser, but that’s not love, y’all. I thought this was a disturbing concept back in the days of Luke and Laura on General Hospital (yup, really showing my age here) and it’s still disturbing now. There are very few instances where a kidnapper and their victim’s relationship isn’t questionable, and I say this as a fan of Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast!
But, the standard caveat is that these stories are fiction and should be viewed through that lens. If you love them, more power to you. They’re not an automatic ‘don’t buy’ or DNF for me, but I’m less inclined to read them than I used to be.
I’ll be back next month (I hope…I keep forgetting about this site) to tackle another pair of tropes. See ya then!