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T10T: Romance Tropes (and My Favorite Examples of Them)

August 20, 2019

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s theme is “favorite tropes”, so I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite romance tropes and examples of them I love!

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1. “only one bed” — ACOMAF

26073150Let’s just get the biggest one out of the way: I am such a sucker for the “oh no, there’s only one bed?” trope. While the characters in A Court of Mist and Fury don’t actually make a big fuss about the lack of separate sleeping arrangements, the scene in the inn is one of my favorite moments in the entire book. Not only is it fun and steamy, but it’s also super emotional to me in retrospect (more on this below~).

Spoilers:

During Rhys and Feyre’s big talk, when they reflect back on her asking for a distraction and Rhysand acknowledges that he realized in that moment he would do anything to have even that little bit of connection to her, even at risk of hurting himself… It just breaks my heart. 😭 My poor little bat baby.

2. “grumpy teddy bear” heroes — The Bone Season

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Okay, no, romance is definitely not the biggest aspect of The Bone Season… but man, did I love watching those two come together. Arcturus is one of my favorite “grouchy teddy bear” characters, and by that I mean those characters who are so grumpy and uppity and borderline mean (without ever being an actual bully), and then once they fall in love, they become these soft teddy bears who just want to protecc. <3 I really gotta continue this series…

3. love triangles — The Infernal Devices

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Love triangles are one of those tropes that are so hard to pull off well, but when it’s good, you know… it’s good. The Infernal Devices trilogy pulls it off absolutely flawlessly. I couldn’t decide who to root for, and honestly reached a point where I just sat back and enjoyed the ride because I loved all potential outcomes equally. Though I still think it should’ve just ended with a canon polyamorous trio…

4. “I’ll just hide my feelings until you’re injured” — Crooked Kingdom

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I mean… do I even have to say it? I’m such a sucker for those moments when one character hides their love for another until the other character is grievously injured, and honestly, Leigh Bardugo didn’t have to serve it up that hard in Crooked Kingdom but she did, and I’m forever grateful for it. I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point in my life where I can think about that wound-patching scene without sighing wistfully and swooning.

5. forgetting a fight to defend your love — Kings Rising

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This is one of those Oddly Specific Tropes, but it’s a favorite of mine: when the two characters are in one of those Big Pre-Relationship Conflicts™ and it gets thrown right out the window so one character can defend the other (whether it’s in battle, against an enemy, conversationally… whatever). It’s always this shining little beacon of a moment where everyone suddenly realizes, Oh shit, we’re doing this, and one of my favorite examples is Kings Rising, when Damen has to step up and defend Laurent from… well, if you’ve read it, you know.

6. getting it on during the Last Night Together™ — Phoenix Unbound

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You know how it is: every good fantasy-romance novel that’s been building up to a good fight has that significant Last Night Together™, where our potential lovers realize it’s now or never, and caution is thrown to the wind. One of my favorite examples is Phoenix Unbound, because it’s such a slow burn, and when they finally get together, it’s so tender and sweet and… *sigh* Please, can more of y’all read this damn book so I can gush about it more often because this fandom is way too small right now??

7. mates (but not in a gross way) — Cry Wolf

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To be fair, I could’ve said the Alpha & Omega prequel novella, but it’s explored more in the first main novel, Cry Wolf. Anyways… I, like most lovers of paranormal romance/fantasy novels, am a sucker for the “mate” trope, but only when it’s done well. There has to be a legitimate option for consent — not just people mindlessly following their weird little genetic predispositions. Cry Wolf did this one really well, because even though Anna and Charles are mates by nature, Charles gives Anna every opportunity in the world to forsake their mating bond and move on with her life. In this instance, their bond is something that deepens the feelings that are already forming instead of creating something where there was nothing.

8. confessions through sarcastic banter — Sorcery of Thorns

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Few things make me happier than watching a character casually confess their feelings through hilarious, ridiculously sarcastic banter and flirting,< and Margaret is SO GOOD at it! In Sorcery of Thorns, our poor love interest Nathaniel Thorn is hopeless from the start, but he does a great job of self-deprecating his own helplessness by cracking jokes about everything: Elisabeth, himself, their circumstances, and the world at large. “You absolute menace” has never been a pet name until this moment, but you can add it to my list of favorites now.

9. best friends to lovers — That Kind of Guy

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I bet some of y’all actually thought I could make it through a romance-related post without mentioning Talia Hibbert. LOL. 😂 Seriously though, I looooove besties-to-lovers, and That Kind of Guy was such a good portrayal of it. There’s the slow build-up, the fleeting glances, the hopeful-yet-subtle hints, and the endless internal angst over the mere idea of risking everything to find out if it’s mutual… Sigh. What sweet little babies. (And this book also has the fake dating trope and the “only one bed” trope, soooo go hit that up)

10. age gap (again, not in a gross way) — Over & Over Again

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Naturally, there’s another author I couldn’t miss mentioning in this post: Cole McCade. Cole’s romances are so swoon-worthy and great, and he tackles age gaps in the best way possible in Over & Over Again. Everyone is of a legal age, everyone is consenting, there’s no weird power dynamic, and we get a healthy dose of self-doubt and angst from the older lover, which is all a definite necessity of a successful age gap romance (well, maybe the angst isn’t a requirement, but… I like it).

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That’s it — those are my favorite romance tropes! I almost added fake dating, but I couldn’t pick just one favorite example, so I left it out. What’s your favorite romance trope?

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25 Comments

  • Reply abyssallibrarian August 20, 2019 at 12:27 am

    I’m currently reading The Infernal Devices for the first time, and although I’m impressed with the way the love triangle was written, I still get the sense it is leaning more towards one character than the other. As much as I’d love to ship Tessa with the other person, I can’t help feeling that her chemistry with him isn’t quite as strong.

  • Reply Brooke Lorren August 20, 2019 at 1:33 am

    The love triangle in Clockwork Princess was perfect… although I was partial to WIll pretty much the whole time.

  • Reply evelynreads1 August 20, 2019 at 1:34 am

    Great list! So many good ones on here!
    (www.evelynreads.com)

  • Reply Annemieke August 20, 2019 at 3:38 am

    Grumpy teddy bear heroes, haha. Yes I like those too.

  • Reply Sapphistication August 20, 2019 at 5:58 am

    ‘Though I still think it should’ve just ended with a canon polyamorous trio…’ That spoke to me deep in my soul, it would have been SO BEAUTIFUL! I love a good romance trope, I’m a total sucker for marriage of convenience, fake dating and ‘oblivious best friends who are in love but they seem to be the only people who don’t know it’ 😛 I’ll definitely be adding some of these to my TBR!

  • Reply lydiaschoch August 20, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Sarcastic banter is one of my favourite things, too, especially when it gets character to reveal their true feelings.
    My TTT

  • Reply Jess @ Jessticulates August 20, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Great list! YES I looove 4 and I’m so glad Bardugo went there – I loved it in Six of Crows, too, when Inej is injured and Kaz is FURIOUS. It gives me life.
    You’ve made me even more excited to get to Sorcery of Thorns and to check out The Bone Season! I love me a grumpy teddy bear.

  • Reply Kayla @ Books and Blends August 20, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Some of these are my favorites as well. I love Enemies to Lovers, Age Gap, and also forced proximity.

  • Reply marydrover August 20, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Somehow, I’ve only read one book on this list, which is a damn shame and needs to be rectified immediately, but I 10000% agree with you on that Crooked Kingdom scene. I think I read it through twice fully before moving on, and I just could not believe my damn eyes. My heart surely tried to croak.

  • Reply Barb @ Booker T's Farm August 20, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Honestly I don’t read a lot of romance. Not that I don’t like it, I just like my books to include other things as well. That being said, I could totally get on board with grumpy teddy bear syndrome! I also do enjoy the whole mate thing because it means there is usually a supernatural element as well in a book. Great list!

  • Reply Poinsettia August 20, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Great list! There’s only one bed is so much fun, and I really like the hiding their feelings until their injured too. I also really like a good love triangle, but it has to be well done. Here is our Top Ten Tuesday

  • Reply Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads August 20, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Getting it on on their last night together is freaking great. I didn’t even think about that one! Great list as always, Destiny <3

  • Reply Nerd Narration August 20, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I LOVE your list! I am so upset I haven’t seen “only one bed” on more lists b/c that’s usually when things are at the height of perfection for me (of course as long as both are consenting)!!!
    I wanted to do this topic this week, but couldn’t think of killer examples for all of them so I’m so glad you nailed this one!!
    I went a totally different route and devoted my list to red reads, which you can check out here if you’d like: https://bit.ly/30lumAT

  • Reply PerfectlyTolerable August 20, 2019 at 11:45 am

    You absolute menace is now one of my favorite pet names too!!!! <3 And I love Sarcastic Banter and Enemies-to-lovers <3 Great list!

  • Reply anovelglimpse August 20, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Only one bed trope? LOL! I didn’t even know that was a trope of it’s own, but I actually love that one then. 🙂

  • Reply speedyreader August 20, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    My fave is the slow burn romance. I don’t read as much romance but I also love it when they confess their feelings in a letter. Here’s my list: https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com/2019/08/20/favorite-tropes/

  • Reply Heather's Reading Hideaway August 20, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    You have mentioned so many great ones! Grumpy teddy bears and hiding my feelings until you’re injured are so good I totally didn’t think of them. You’re so clever girl! <3

  • Reply Melissa August 20, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    I completely agree with your love triangles pick. As for the mates pick – I would go with The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries August 31, 2019 at 2:29 am

      I didn’t know BDB had the mates trope and that just shot way up on my TBR so thank you lol!

  • Reply Jessica at Booked J August 20, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Destiny!! Coming in hot with the good taste again! I zeroed in on the love triangle one because of your example–The Infernal Devices gets me every time and will always 100% own me and be my brand. I miss the feeling I got the first time I read it. Anyways, all of these tropes are fantastic!

  • Reply Victoria August 21, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Age gaps are always iffy with me, but Mariana Zapata does them so well! Also yes to sharing one bed, it’s always so awkward while they’re figuring out what to do and it’s the best!

  • Reply Becca Leighanne (Bex) August 21, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    “only one bed?” makes me wanna go back to writing fan-fiction. I’m such a sucker for a good one bed story.

  • Reply Kelly | Another Book in the Wall August 22, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    I love these so much, Destiny!!! I’m such trash for the only one bed trope sometimes, and I LIVE for the “I’ll just hide my feelings until you’re injured” trope! <3

  • Reply Sunday Post — August 25th, 2019 – howling libraries August 25, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    […] Flesh (adult horror review) ✨ 10 favorite romance tropes (with examples!) ✨ WWW Wednesday ✨ Made for You (adult m/m romance review) ✨ Stacking the Shelves ✨ […]

  • Reply Malka @ Paper Procrastinators August 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I adore romance tropes! The one bed trope is one of the best because I love how it forces love interests to interact when they normally wouldn’t! And I think ACOMAF has several fantastic tropes since the romance in there is perfection! And I also adore sarcastic banter! That’s one of the reasons I loved Sorcery as well! I’m currently in the middle of a few books that have witty banter and it’s making me so happy!

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