Bookish List – Beloved & Hated Tropes in Romance Novels


So, tropes. I know that we love to hate on them, and I can’t deny that I despise some of those. I’ve complained about them for the longest time, repeating over and over in my reviews that I did not like tropes.

As it appears, I lied. 

Sure, there are tropes out there that make my blood boil, or roll my eyes so hard. Yet there’re also something  truly satisfying in reading a romance novel containing one of our favorite tropes, isn’t there?

Therefore I thought to myself, why not make a list? Before I start, however : for clarity purpose, I’ve used the widest definition of what a trope is, and some of them could be referred as topics, maybe. As this is not a College essay but a blog post, I think I’ll be okay, though.

My Most Hated Tropes

Accidental pregnancy and Secret baby : oh, dear.  Between the two of them, I think that Secret Baby is the one I hate the most, especially when it occurs during the last 30% of the novel and is used as the only reason why the characters get back together. Ahhhh no.

Gay for you : the main reason I despise this trope is simple, really, and that would be bi-erasure. There’s more, though, and I strongly advice you to read Julio’s post about it.

 Step-siblings or any form of family bounds : on this I disagree with many, it appears, but in my opinion blood shouldn’t be the only form of family bound to be taken into account. I don’t care if the characters don’t share blood if they’ve been raised as siblings : it doesn’t change a thing! Actually given the choice between two siblings who meet at 20 and don’t know they’re brothers & sisters, for example, or step-siblings who spent all their childhood together, I’d be more disturbed by the latter (but I wouldn’t like any of them, really : I don’t know if that’s because I come from a big family, but the mere idea grosses me out).

Captor/captive, including slaver/slave : this one is an instant-DNF for me, and I’d be very grateful if readers could explicitly mention its presence in their reviews. The power imbalance, the rapey undertones (when it’s not downright rape), the history of slavery itself : all of these reasons make it impossible for me to work. That trope makes me want to throw up, honestly. 

Unrequited love : the problem with this trope, as far as I’m concerned, is that the character feeling unrequited love often enters in stalker territory, and there’s nothing romantic about it, okay? In my opinion anyway – given the success of books like Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, I must be in the minority on this. But ugh, no.

Love triangle, including cheating or not : I won’t lie, I did enjoy books with love triangles in the past, and I don’t agree with many readers about what is a love triangle. Indeed it only bothers me when it creates book(s)-long useless drama, and ruins the characters’ growth by making them act out of character.

Insta-lovewhat bothers me with insta-love is the fact that more often than not, it erases character-development or growth and as it is, I despise it because it’s a failure of craft in my opinion (I remember one of my friends brilliantly talking about this, but I can’t remember who, HELP).

Finally, and it’s not a trope per se, but there’s something else I’m tired of in romance novels, and I’m in the minority on this :

Wedding proposals, baby making epilogues. 

Sigh. Don’t hate me, but it’s soooooo normative, you know? I don’t mind them sometimes, but why are they present 99% of the time? The thing is, I despise how they make me feel, because for me they reinforce the thought that a romance is worthy only if there’s a wedding and babies coming along. Well, no. Sorry not sorry, but NOPE.

My Much Beloved Tropes

Enemies to lovers, and its derivative, friends to enemies to lovers : there is a clear reason I love this trope, really : when done well, it makes for the best slow-burns (and remember : I despise insta-love), not to mention that it often includes much satisfying banter. One precision however : for it to work (for me), none of the characters must go too far : no sexual assault, no part of the slaver/slave or captor/captive trope, in a word : I still need my characters to be decent human beings. As much as I love villains, I don’t want them to be romanticized, for fuck sake.

Fake engagement : I don’t know why, but this trope almost always works for me. For once, I can’t explain, it just does. *shrugs*

Forbidden love : you know what’s funny? I loathe Romeo & Juliet – hated every second of it. Nevertheless, some of my favorite romances contain one version or another of this trope, Hate to Want You being one of my last coups de cœur. It just… makes my heart beat faster, you know?

Partners in crime : give me unlikely allies on any day, and I’ll be happy. Whether they’re thieves or trying to, you know, save the world or destroy it (what), I’m always a sucker for those.

Tortured hero(ine) : this one is very particular because it can go one way or  another. Indeed some of my favorite heroes and heroines are tortured by their past actions, and made me feel so much. Yet I’ve also hated this trope when it’s used to excuse awful behavior. So, you know. I guess it depends on the author’s talent. Done well though, it’s part of my absolute favorites.

Tell me, what are your favorite tropes in romance novels? Which ones make your blood boil?

13 responses to “Bookish List – Beloved & Hated Tropes in Romance Novels

  1. I agree with the dislike of the slave/captor/etc trope! It makes me deeply uncomfortable and I don’t like it! I also don’t usually like love triangles! Tho I will still read them! It is more that I find them stupid but they don’t make me uncomfortable! One of my favorite tropes is when a woman dresses as a man or goes undercover and is completely badass, but that doesn’t happen in romances very often.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I see what you mean! Sometimes they’re so over-the-top, you know?? They make me roll my eyes so hard XD And YES, it’s a great trope too!! I think it’s more present in historical (probably due to past sexism). Thanks for reading :))

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Friends to lovers is the ultimate trope for me! I can read it for the rest of my life lol. I definitely don’t mind love triangles, in fact I can handle them more now than I used to. Also, I have a really weird relationship with enemies to lovers, they can be very hit or miss. Like you said, both characters have to be on the same level, and their “hatred” or whatever can’t be too much.

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you!!! I really enjoy friends to lovers too, not my fave per se but when done well it can make for the best books ♥ And yes, exactly! It’s a complex balance to find for enemies to lovers to work and they really can be hit or miss. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree about the step-siblings! If the two people spent their entire childhood (or even the majority of it) raised as siblings, I would still find it very weird. I remember I used to watch a Family Channel show called Life with Derek, where the main characters were teenagers whose parents got married, and literally everyone shipped the two of them together. In this case, I think they were about 15 when they first met, so it seemed a little more acceptable than if their 10-year-old siblings decided to date each other when they were older, after several years living together as siblings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read a book about half siblings who fell in love then conveniently discovered that they didn’t share a parent in the last chapter and lived happily ever after. It made my blood boil.
    My favourite trope is when enemies pretend to be in a relationship. I just love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wedding proposals and baby epilogues sound too ” and they lived happily ever after ” for me, leave this for fairy tales! I love best friends to enemies to friends to lovers trope ( erase what you want ), and partners in crime but my favourite trope is fake dating. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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