Last night, my critique partners and I were talking tropes, those we liked, and those we weren't as fond of. For various reasons, lately, we've all found ourselves challenged to read outside our comfort zone.
For those not familiar with the term, a trope is simply a plot device against which the romance plays out. A trope differs from the broader category of genre, such as contemporary, suspense or historical, because the trope can be used in almost any genre. A Secret Baby or Marriage of Convenience storyline will look different in a contemporary romance novel then it would in historical romance, but the conventions of the plot will be similar.
I recently ran across this great post by author Mindy Klasky with an exhaustive list of Romance Tropes, which got me thinking about my favorites.
As a writer, I think my favorite trope is "Fish Out Of Water," as I've used it to some extent in each of my books.
In Pairing Off, it's a sunny Southern belle figure skater transplanted to Moscow. In Turning It On, it's a shy, self-conscious book nerd dropped into the middle of a sexy reality show. In my new book Getting It Back, the fish is the book's hero, a once-great figure skater stranded in small-town USA (briefly, anyway!)
What I love is seeing the "fish" (usually the heroine) make her way in an unfamiliar and sometimes, hostile world. Often, she's helped by someone much more at home in this world and by the end of the story, they've fallen in love. But will she stay in the new unfamiliar world or return to where she came from.
As a reader, I thought back to some of the books I've read recently. While 2015 wasn't my biggest reading year ever, here are a few of my favorites along with the trope they best represent:
Performer- Second Position by Katherine Locke (hero and heroine are ballet dancers)
Stranded- Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (tiny island, snowstorm)
Politics- Special Interests by Emma Barry (hero and heroine work in Washington DC)
Forbidden Love- At His Command by Ruth Kaufman (medieval, in which heroine loves a knight but must marry another man for political reasons. This one could also fit into the Politics trope too.)
Military- Midnight Clear by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner. Not a trope I usually read, but this prequel to their new series set during the Space Race grabbed my attention. Plus, I loved another of Emma's books, AND it was a free download. How could I pass it up?
Redemption- The Best Man by Kristin Higgins. Higgins is a wonderful storyteller, and this book made me want to move to upstate New York wine country.
Huh...maybe I read more last year than I thought! Check out Mindy Klasky's trope list and post a few of your favorite recent reads with their tropes.