Top Ten Tuesday—All About Romance Tropes/Types

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week’s topic is All About Romance Tropes/Types. I decided to split the list, with half the items being tropes and types I hate, and the other half being the antidote I love to see in their places.

Hate:

1. Instalove. Enough said!

2. Awesome, perfect, amazing first-time sex, whether it’s the first time for both parties or only one of them. Of course it can happen, but not nearly as often as the romance industry wants to lead us to believe.

3. The man ALWAYS being older in an M/F romance, esp. when the female lead is barely legal. Can we please have some more realistic, appropriate age differences, or at least a thoughtful exploration of the dynamic an age difference can create?

4. Rape and domestic violence (NOT to be confused with consensual BDSM!) being presented as romantic, swoon-worthy, excusable. When a female character in a romance has had a tragic past including rape or domestic abuse, it should have an original angle, and not dominate her entire life or storyline. I’m far from the only person who hates the “rape as character development” trope seen in so many movies, TV shows, and books!

5. The headless, hairless bare chest on the cover. It’s even worse if this kind of cover also includes a crotch shot.

Love:

1. A couple who’s been friends for a long time before becoming lovers, childhood sweethearts, or a couple who’s already together when the book begins. This kind of road to happily ever after, or happily for now, is so much more interesting and realistic than instalove.

2. Realistic, awkward, fumbled first-time sex. I can see an awesome first-time scene if one of the parties is already rather experienced, and the virginal partner is very emotionally ready and open to being a student, but even in that kind of instance, it’s still the couple’s first time together. What worked with previous partners might not work with the new lover, and there’s a whole new dynamic if this is the experienced lover’s first time with someone s/he loves instead of a purely physical act.

3. Couples where the woman is older. As a proud puma (woman in her thirties who likes younger men), formerly a bobcat (woman in her twenties who fancies younger guys), three years away from officially being labelled a cougar, I really love seeing these kinds of match-ups. Sometimes an older woman is just what a younger, inexperienced guy needs to get his head screwed on straight and gain valuable life experience.

4. Healthy, mutually respectful relationships, including sexual negotiation and moving at a speed comfortable to both parties. It’s really sweet when someone asks permission for a first kiss, and it makes for a better sexual relationship when the couple discusses and agrees upon things in advance, while their clothes are on. If someone, e.g., has a certain fetish or doesn’t like certain things, the heat of the moment isn’t the best time to first bring it up!

5. A cover featuring the couple but with interesting details to set it apart from other romance covers. For example, a richly embellished purple ballgown, a guy with an attention-grabbing shirt, a foreboding background.

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5 comments on “Top Ten Tuesday—All About Romance Tropes/Types

  1. ChrissiReads says:

    Great list Carrie. I wholeheartedly agree with your points!

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  2. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Re: hate #1. Agree heartily (even though I fell into lust-at-first-sight with my wife-to-be during a high school double date). Having lived it, I can say that it’s no simpler than any other kind of relationship. This sort of thing is the worst kind of lazy writing, because it short-circuits the fun part: building a relationship step by step; it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

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  3. Catherine says:

    Great list, agree with everything here! And you’re right, the man is always older, I’d never really thought about it before. Only book I can think of with an older woman is ‘Outlander’? Not read it all the way through but I think the heroine’s a few years older there. 🙂

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  4. Olivia says:

    Great list. I agree with all of them! Especially the first sex one haha! It’s always a bit weird when it’s this amazing experience.

    Like

  5. rudejasper says:

    Very thoughtful and awesome list! I am okay with couples that have an age difference but as you say it should be addressed as a thing. I run into the guy older than gal thing a lot because I mostly read historicals and the dude is almost always a decade or more older than the heroines. I’m okay with that but it would be nice if there was some acknowledgment of the age difference and the dynamic it might create especially in a society when the power dynamic is already not equal.

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