Friday, February 5, 2010

Dakota Flint Day 2: To Trope or Not to Trope?

So I've been thinking a lot lately about some of my favorite tropes in romance and why they reel me in every time.

I haven't really come up with an answer to that yet. No clue why they hit all the rights spots, they just do. I read a blurb and it contains one of those tropes, and I barely glance at the excerpt before I hit, "add to cart." That makes me…easy, doesn't it?

And maybe it's silly, but I feel like I shouldn't be. It should be harder to hook me. Surely it should take more than "secret baby" in the blurb to get me?!?

I'm kidding (about the secret baby trope--that one's not for me).

So not completely sure about the why's, but here's the what's (am I using term "trope" loosely? I don't know):

Dakota's favorite romance tropes (in no particular order)

Best friends to lovers:
This gets me every time. I love this. Well, I love this idea. If I'm being honest, this is probably one that works out the least in execution. What turns the relationship romantic when it never had that aspect to it before? Why now and not before? I think that's the hardest question to overcome and needs a very strong reason (personally, I'm not sure how often I buy the whole I-don’t-want-to-ruin-the-friendship excuse). And yet I'm fascinated by the possibility of one day seeing someone that you already love in a new way, fascinated by the reevaluating and changing a relationship in order to grasp a greater level of happiness. I'm a sucker for any story that can do this in a successful and satisfying way, and so I'm always on the lookout for this one.

His sibling's best friend or his best friend's sibling:
This might be a variation on the same theme, but…well, there you go. I love this one too, and it's an instant-buy for me. I think this one is the best of both worlds--it's the same idea of one day looking at someone in a way you never had before, it's about looking at someone who's always been there and suddenly a whole door opens to new possibilities. But I think it's easier in execution than best friends to lovers for the writer because even though you still have to answer why now, the range of answers to why not before is greater. It's easier to believe for this one, and so this is usually an instant-buy for me too.

Enemies to lovers:
Oh man, I love this one too. A LOT. Fine line between love and hate and all that, I think. I really have no clue why I love this one, but I am so there. I love when the relationship starts out antagonistic, strong dislike in the air, and then something--or a series of somethings--happen to make two people look at each other in a new way and realize maybe they didn't know the other all that well after all. (I'm sensing a reoccurring theme here, are you?) Another thing I like about this one is that it usually accompanies a great amount of sexual tension, of which I am a HUGE fan. But more about that tomorrow. *g*

Secret life:
This one is kind of like crack to me. This actually gets me in other genres too, but mix it with a romance and garnish it with government or big business conspiracy, and that's my trifecta of bliss. If you upgrade that by throwing in danger, life on the run, and the pursuit of truth at any cost…well. Blissed out, that's what I'll be. If any of you out there write one of those as a gay romance set in DC, I will officially worship at your feet. See? I told you I was easy. *g* I guess I gave more a formula than a trope, but it all goes back to the secret life. I love the possibilities it suggests. I see a whisper of it in a blurb and I'm totally hooked.

So these are my instant-buy tropes. What about you, do you have any favorite tropes that make you click the buy button automatically?


Tam said...

We talked about the sibling's friend or vice versa once somewhere. Maybe Kris' and the overwhelming response from eveyone personally was "ewwwwww". No one could think of one of their sib's friends they would have wanted to hook-up with or vice versa. However everyone almost universally loved the idea of it. So I think it seems to be something that works better in fantasy than reality. LOL At least no one had any evidence of it ever working in reality. Oh wait where I grew up there were two sisters who married two brothers. I guess that counts. It didn't work out so well for one of the couples (he slept with her cousin - talk about keeping it in the family).

I'm not big on enemies to lovers because I think I'm so non-confrontational that I can't relate to that love/hate thing. I would run for the hills in that situation so it puzzles me and I don't "get it". LOL Not that I haven't read it and enjoyed it.

I like most tropes, I just have to be careful about reading too many of the same one at the same time. I once read a bunch of the high school sports star/high school geek reconnect later stories in a row and by the end I was "meh". Same with best friends to lovers. Seems I've hit a few of those lately (by chance) and by the last one I just didn't care anymore. Whatever, just screw each other and shut up. So I need to mix it up or I find myself losing interest in the couple/story.

Katie Reus said...

I love all these! Especially friends to lovers. That's my fave and it helps me to visualize a real HEA. Being friends w/ someone first sets up all the groundwork for actually knowing and liking who that person is before taking that next step :)

Jessica said...

I had never thought of these troups. This was a very interestering idea. Thank you. I must say though they are all good, I'm partial to the sibling one, the idea of watching someone grow up or growing up with them as a friend, then they blossom into a lover/mate is a real page turner for me.

The idea of enemies to lovers is also interesting. That line betweeen love and hate is soooo thin. Just what is it that causes people to cross over, one way or the other???

Chris said...

What Tam said about the sib's friends. Eww. Although, of course, the sib friends in books are always much hotter than they would be in reality.

LesleyW said...

I admit to liking enemies to lovers. Zero at the Bone was my book of the year for 2009.

Probably my other favourite two are - opposites attract (which I guess again comes down to a confrontational thing). And the other I like is reformed rake. Lol

Jenre said...

Some of these are my favourites too. Friends to lovers especially.

I also like siblings friends to lovers too even though I agree that it's not perhaps something that happens in RL as much as in fiction, lol.

Hub's grandma and her sister married two brothers. I thought that was a bit strange at first, but apparently is wasn't so uncommon in the past.

Renee said...

I love the friends to lovers trope, esp in m/m.

My guilty pleasure is the marriage of convenience trope. I think it was the category romances I read as a teenager. I love the enforced proximity by this trope, that makes for great sexual tension.

Tracy said...

Yep - I think the friends to lovers thing is my fav. I especially like this in m/m.

I'm a m/f historical fan as well and the compromised woman is one that gets me all the time - not sure why. Maybe because she's then not a goody goody and I'll actually like her? lol IDK.

Great post

Dakota Flint said...

Tam: Oh, I agree. I'm not sure how I'd feel about these in real life. I think I'd give a big ewww for the most part too. But fiction is a different matter. :) Oh and you reminded me, I really love the high school jock reconnects with high school nerd trope (though if I read a bunch of them right after one another I'd probably feel the same as you). I could really go for one of those stories--one of my favorite m/m romances ever used that trope.

Katie: yes exactly, very easy to see the HEA. I think friends-to-loves is a really popular trope. I know I'm always on the lookout for a good romance with that in it.

Jessica: I adore the enemies to lovers. Maybe it's just that some people stir really strong emotions in each other, and it's easy to tip that into a different kind of passion. Redirect the tension, if you know what I mean. *g*

Chris: Ha, that's true. I don't ever remember any of my sisters' friends looking like Gerard Butler, that's for sure. *g*

Dakota Flint said...

Lesley: Oooh! The reformed rake, an old favorite of mine in historical romance. Which probably make sense why I like reformed bad boys in contemporaries too. Hehe, now it's starting to sound like I just like them all! :)

Jen: You know, I've heard that before, that it wasn't uncommon for a set of siblings to marry another. That'd probably make me blink in real life today, but I think that could be cute in fiction.

Renee: You just said the magic words for me: sexual tension. Yum! I'll admit, I used to love marriage of convenience historical romances (I'm not really a fan for contemps)...and I think it may be why I like the were/shifter books with fated mates and all that. It's kind of the same thing, with a twist, and like you I love the forced proximity.

Tracy: Thanks! Oh, the compromised woman. I like that too. Wow, it's a good thing I wrote this post before I heard from everyone else on their favorite tropes or it would have been shorter to list tropes I don't like.

Kris said...

I'm a huge fan of the friends-to-lovers theme, especially in m/m. I think it's something to do with all that delicious sexual tension you get when the two guys realise that they are attracted to one another.

This is similar to the enemies-to-lovers trope. Nothing like angry sex to get the motors running. LOL.

Mary G said...

Hi Dakota
I love the ones you mentioned as well as the ones from the commenters. The other one I like is only under special circumstances.
That is step siblings but where they didn't spend time together as there was a bit of an age difference or one was away at school etc. or was a navy seal etc.

オテモヤン said...


Dakota Flint said...

Kris: Hehe. Gentlemen, start your engines... *g*

I'm a big fan of a build-up of sexual tension. BIG fan.

Mary G: I remember reading that trope in a lot of the old harlequin presents romances. It's been a while, though. I could probably read one of those about now, as long as like you said they didn't spend that much time together. The whole my dad married your mother after we're adults works, too. :)

Karen W. said...

I LOVE the "friends to lovers" trope too. As well as "forbidden love," the "hurt/comfort" thing, and I love anything based on a "Beauty & the Beast" tale.

Dakota Flint said...

Karen: Oooooh! Beauty and the Beast. I didn't even think of that one. I don't think I've read many romances with that as the trope, but I must admit I love the idea. Oh, now I want to write one lol.

Lea said...

Frends to lovers and reacquainted lovers are probably my 2 favorite themes in romance.

However the enemies to lovers is awesome too. Love how that anger turns hot. ;)

Great post!

Dakota Flint said...

Lea: Thanks! And reacquainted lovers...that's another good one! Lots of opportunity for good conflict.

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