Posts Tagged ‘tropes’

Guest Post

Guest Post: “Nice Guys Shouldn’t Finish Last” by Amber Mitchell

Garden of Thorns Amber Mitchell

There’s something undeniably steamy about a bad boy in fiction. He’s aloof, always keeps you on your toes, but usually deep down, he’s got a heart of gold. And while I love me some bad boys in books, today I want to talk about another archetype because while the hero in my debut YA fantasy Garden of Thorns is definitely steamy, he is not a bad boy. In fact, he’s actually a good guy and sadly, nice guys usually finish last, even in fiction.

Good guys tend to get pushed to the side in narratives. True, there are plenty of novels with the friends-to-lovers trope but oftentimes, when that mysterious new guy strolls onto the page, the reliable guy friend gets shelved because predictability doesn’t always make for great tension. But I was determined.

When I sat down to create Rayce, I wanted him to be a good guy. While I love the romantic tension of opposites attracting, I wanted him to be undeniably likable and knew he would have to be in order for my heroine, Rose, to give him a chance. Since she had spent so many years as a slave in a burlesque show, under the tyrannical rule of a man, Rayce had to be kind, caring, and unwavering in his belief that he can help the world. What I needed was a healer.

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Guest Post: “The World’s Gone Crazy and Here are the Tropes I Want to See in 2017” by Patricia Eimer

His Fake Alien Fiancee Patricia Eimer

No matter what side of the aisle you sit on politically – and I really really don’t care FYI—I think we can all agree that 2016 was a bloody dumpster fire of a year. David Bowie set the tone by dying and leaving us with the album Dark Star (that he recorded knowing it was his final love letter to the world) at the beginning of the year; Carrie Fisher died and left us with a final image of her in Rogue One at the end of the year; and in between, a whole raft of talented people left the world a darker place with their passing. The election seemed like it was never going to end. The weather was crazy. People were shot in churches and nightclubs and medical facilities and schools. A politician was stabbed on the street in England. A child was killed by an alligator at Disney World. The papers were filled with pictures of Syria. Freaky clowns kept appearing in playgrounds because we aren’t all scarred enough by clowns already. 2016 was literally a highlight reel of tragedy porn.

But I’m lucky, because I had people that I could go to who looked at the dumpster fire that was 2016 and could make me laugh about it. My girlfriends and I have a tradition, we always try to get together in January. Some years we all fly to the same place and spend a long weekend together. Sometimes we do a large conference call kvetch. This year we were all feeling pretty battered and bruised so we actually decided that it was worth it to spend the money and get together in person—away from our families. And every one of us made the comment that we didn’t go out New Year’s Eve. Partly because we’ve gotten old enough that being drunk young people puking on our feet just isn’t fun anymore, but the other part was that we were all essentially hunkered down, waiting for the dumpster fire that was 2016 to finally end. We didn’t want to risk setting foot outside until it was over.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Cindi Madsen on the Wonder of Friends-to-Lovers

12 Steps to Mr. Right Cindi Madsen

In 12 Steps to Mr. Right, Savannah Gamble, dating coach extraordinaire coaches clients and teaches a workshop to help women start going after the wrong guy, and find their way to Mr. Right. When the guy who inspired several of her rules (thanks to a one-night stand in college) crashes into her life again, she finds herself breaking all of her own rules. Part of the problem is they were friends before that one amazing night during spring break, and he knows things about her most people don’t.

Friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes, so I thought I’d talk about why I love them so much.

Shared history- there’s something about shared inside jokes, how they know that you once skipped a college class to watch Jersey Shore, and how they remember that time you took beer up to the roof of the science building to look at the stars.

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Guest Post: “How My HP Ship Fandom Inspired the YA Romances I Write” by Chris Cannon

Blackmail Boyfriend Chris Cannon

Hello, my name is Chris Cannon, and I have a Harry Potter Romance-Fandom confession. I desperately wanted Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy to end up together. Yes, I know Harry was the hero, but he could’ve married any number of girls. Draco was the spoiled rich brat who was raised believing his father was brilliant and that Ginny’s father was an eccentric fool. Her family was dirt poor, and it would have been beneath him to even consider dating a Weasley. Think of all the wonderful conflict that would’ve caused.

Ginny could’ve taught Draco that everything he’d been raised to believe was wrong. She could’ve redeemed him. She had six older brothers who hated him and everything his family believed. Six! He would’ve had to fight his way through all six and convince them that he loved their little sister. Draco and Ginny would have been a match made in hell, and it would have been awesome.

I think that’s where my fascination with the normal-girl-dating-the-wealthy-boy and the little-sister-dating-her-brother’s-enemy tropes started, and it’s why I’ve written two romantic comedies featuring these tropes.

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Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn
Guest Post

Guest Post: Katee Robert on Marriages of Convenience in Romance

The Wedding Pact Katee Robert

The arranged marriage tropes is, hands down, one of my favorites. I found the romance genre with historicals, because one of my favorite suspense authors had started there. So I picked up one of her Scottish Highlander historical romances about a highlander who was being forced to marry someone not of his choosing. My twelve-year-old mind was blown. I proceeded to devour every historical romance I could get my hands on, and that love of romance hasn’t changed as the years have gone by.

But I’m not going to lie—the marriage of convenience trope is still my favorite.


It’s got elements that are just catnip for me. Two people, often who either hate each other or don’t know each other at all, forced into what is arguably one of the most intimate relationships in existence. They had to deal with living with this near-stranger, and all the sexy good times that usually result!

I wasn’t sure it could get better than that. But then I started finding marriage of convenience tropes popping up in contemporary romance novels. The reasoning behind the marriages themselves changed with the times—less because they were found in compromising positions and more for things like business mergers—but the things I love about the trope are still present and accounted for.

A favorite of mine is The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst. Both hero and heroine get something from marrying each other that has nothing to do with love, but then you have this cold and distant hero who’s having to deal with a woman who has the habit of sneaking animals into his house without warning in an effort to save them from being put down. I’m sure you can imagine the hilarity that ensues.

And that’s not even getting into the sheer sexual tension that arises from the forced proximity of having this other person in their house, sharing their space, popping up when they least expect it. Something that used to be as simple as having late night ice cream in the kitchen is suddenly rife with the possibilities of running into each other and for one thing to lead to another.

As I’ve said—catnip.

What about you? Which book with a marriage of convenience is your favorite?


Katee RobertKatee Robert learned to tell stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her favorites then were the rather epic adventures of The Three Bears, but at age twelve she discovered romance novels and never looked back.

Though she dabbled in writing, life got in the way—as it often does—and she spent a few years traveling, living in both Philadelphia and Germany. In between traveling and raising her two wee ones, she had the crazy idea that she’d like to write a book and try to get published.

Her first novel was an epic fantasy that, God willing, will never see the light of day. From there, she dabbled in YA and horror, before finally finding speculative romance. Because, really, who wouldn’t want to write entire books about the smoking-hot relationships between two people?

She now spends her time—when not lost in Far Reach worlds—playing imaginary games with her wee ones, writing, ogling men, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Guest Post

Top Five Tropes in the M/M Romance Genre

I’m a fussy reader. I choose my M/M romances, both to review and read, carefully. If I venture outside my comfort zone (where comfort stands, trendily, for D&G – Dark and Gritty), it’s usually because I allow myself to be seduced by a specific author, subgenre or trope.

Some tropes I don’t particularly care for.  For example, the Insta Love theme, with no romantic build up or a decent back-story, rubs me the wrong way.  Similarly, the Rescue Me (because I’m a highly incompetent fu**wit) motif doesn’t float my boat, either.  Interestingly, I don’t mind the Help Me Heal (because I’m broken and damaged) kind of trope.  The Age Gap and Forbidden Love themes can be a bit hit-and-miss with me. I perceive the Fake Boyfriends trope as a guilty pleasure, but when written right, it can be a riot.

The tropes I enjoy most play on strong emotions and utilise angst. I crave anguish, pure and undiluted, in my books.  Nesting in me there is this, somewhat masochistic, desire to have my heart mercilessly torn out and ground into pathetic little pieces.  Shred me, dammit, and make it hurt.  Only then, put me back together by the time I hit the last page, and leave me sighing contentedly with slightly dampened lashes.

Here goes. My five favourite classic tropes, often found in M/M romances.


5. Friends to Lovers… or I’m Coming at Ya, Bro!

Who doesn’t like a bromance?  The best relationships are the ones build on friendship. The foundations are already laid – trust, fondness, effortless camaraderie.  This trope offers a great deal of potential for humour through friendly banter and familiarity.

Typically, one character is a bit slow on the uptake.  Clueless and oblivious, he doesn’t realise the other has developed feelings beyond friendship, although the torch his friend has been carrying is three times the size of the Olympic’s.  Initially, he doesn’t, or thinks he doesn’t (duh!), reciprocate.  The unrequited love related suffering, coupled often with miscommunication, is great enough to make both the character and the reader gravely miserable and anxious, before the air starts sizzling and the attraction demands mutual acknowledgment.  The hesitation to act on it and take the plunge stems from the fears of wrecking the friendship to the point of no return.  Eventually, the resistance is futile – the coffee is smelt, the risks are taken and the pants are dropped.

Once the relationship becomes sexually charged and the intimacy is involved, the characters enter the uncharted territory.  The comfortable ease becomes strained awkwardness, and things are no longer simple. Sh** gets complicated and that’s the interesting part for me.

It’s not easy to write a compelling, heart-wrenching and endearing bromance with some depth to it. What grabs my attention, is the shift in the dynamics between the characters – I want to see how their relationship changes, when it ceases being merely platonic, how that affects their interactions and where it leads.  Ultimately, this trope is about realising that sometimes happiness might be right in front of us, but we’re too engrossed in the very process of searching for it, to notice.

Nunzio & Michael (Sutphin Boulevard by S. Hassell)

Griff & Dante (Hot Head by D. Suede)

Nick & Kelly (The Sidewinder Series by A. Roux)

Taylor & Will (Dangerous Ground by J. Lanyon)

Hobbs & Calvin (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)


4. Clash of Backgrounds… or Mix-and-Match.

I strongly subscribe to the Strength lies in differences philosophy.  My own relationship could be classed as a bi-national, bi-cultural and bi-lingual hybrid, and I can say with a vague air of authority that it definitely keeps things from becoming dull.   One of the reasons why this trope appeals to me is because – please excuse the lingo resembling Equality Is Us leaflet – it promotes and embraces diversity.

I refer to the word background here in the broadest possible sense, meaning differences of status, ethnicity, race and culture.  While I’m not a massive fan of the wealthy man vs. poor man dichotomy, because it’s rather trite, clichéd and one-dimensional, I’m quite fond of the city boy vs. country boy theme.  I especially enjoy the Love over the Class Divide (doesn’t it sound like a rather hazardous sex position?) theme, as it carries an equally huge capacity for humour, as it does for drama.  The tropes playing on those differences frequently incorporate the topics of discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance.  They may also explore the strain of facing animosity or disdain from the partner’s friends or family and struggling with a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority.

The way the characters deal with their differences is the most compelling part for me. Does it tear them apart or make them stronger as a couple?  Is it enriching or detrimental to their relationship?  Essentially, this trope is about discovering if people can be different, yet compatible at the same time.  It poses an interesting question:  Are love and acceptance strong enough to overcome dissimilarities and bias?

Seb & Dex (Heart by G. Leigh)

Ray & David (Sunset Park by S. Hassell)

James & Cal; Spencer & Nick (The Market Garden Series by L.A. Witt & A. Voinov)

Josiah, Mateo & Tristan (The Broken Pieces Series by R. Hart)

Nichol & Cam (Scrap Metal by H. Fox)


3. Out For You… or Leaving Narnia.

This is an interesting one, which works a treat especially within the law enforcement environment, with their added pressures and prejudices.  Typically, we’ve got this tough, cool dude, straight acting and straight looking.  His outlook on life is of a traditional variety and due to family or work related issues, he’s deeply closeted.  Initially, he’s not fully embracing his same-sex inclinations, although he is fully aware of those desires and usually has acted on them in the past.

Next thing he knows, he meets someone challenging and after his failed attempts to downplay the significance of this casual, (at first), arrangement, he falls in love.  The sexy times are always incredibly hot, and the passion – undeniable.  After a while, his partner gets sick and tired of the constant sneaking about and being kept a dirty secret on the side.  This situation generates multiple conflicts and trust issues, as well as a lot of hurt and resentment.  Often the tension is so great, that it breaks the couple up. At this stage, the angst and drama are practically dripping from the pages at an alarming rate, just like raspberry coulis from a decent panna cotta, both phenomena equally delicious.

What I find most intriguing about this trope are the reasons behind the character’s eventual decision to come out, the circumstances leading directly to the big ta-dah and how it affects his partner and their relationship.  Moreover, this theme is sometimes accompanied by a fascinating insight on how the characters discover their sexuality, how they perceive it and come to terms with it.

Jake & Adrien (The Adrien English Series by J. Lanyon)

Ash & Cael (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)

Jory & Sam (The Matter of Time Series by M. Calmes)

Mac & Tony (The Life Lessons Series by K. Harper)

Evan & Matt (The Faith, Love & Devotion Series by T. Michaels)


2. Enemies to Lovers… or I Hate Your Guts. Now Drop Your Pants.

Fierce emotions, like instantaneous mutual animosity or strong dislike, are fuel for romance.  As far as this trope goes, I don’t require the guys to be arch-enemies per se.  It’s more about them being on the opposite sides of a conflict or experiencing a major personality clash.  All is laced – needless to say – with an intense physical attraction. The sparkling chemistry is too powerful to be denied or resisted.  However, it doesn’t mean the poor bastards won’t attempt holding back – gah!  The initial antipathy, hostility or rivalry between the characters makes them, and consequently the reader, stiff (in more ways than one) with unresolved sexual tension and antici…pation.

Eventually, the friction is defused through a bout or ten of hot, angry and raw hate-sex, bringing about all kinds of fireworks.  This arrangement usually continues for a while, kept on the down low and perceived by both characters, rather naively, as a casual thing of no emotional importance.  A lot of fronting accompanies some downright stinking dismissive attitudes.  This trope holds a special appeal to me, in particular, in the military or the law enforcement setting.  Due to the nature of the circumstances, secrecy and skulking around is necessary, creating additional suspense.  Inevitably, the characters are forced to man up, often by external circumstances, and face reality, by admitting that the sex has led to more and the dreaded feelings are now involved. Hallelujah. Phew.

What I find particularly touching, is the development of the emotional bond and trust over time.  I love the transformation from just indulging in meaningless sex, however great, to being in a tender, committed, loving and supportive relationship.

Zane & Ty (The Cut and Run Series by A. Roux & M. Urban)

Dan & Vadim (The Special Forces Series by A. Voinov)

Jack & D (Zero at the Bone by J. Seville)

Prophet & Tommy (The Hell or High Water Series by S.E. Jakes)

Sloane & Dex (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)


1. Second Chance at Love… or Putting Humpty Dumpty together again.

Love is often complicated and difficult.  However, it’s even more of a complex minefield the second time round, when after a relationship riddled with obstacles and a (preferably dramatic) breakup, the ex-lovers meet again.

Seemingly, the past is all water over the dam.  The wounds have closed and the scars have formed; both men have moved on.  But in truth the affection, attraction and longing still remain dormant.  Even though the trust had been pulverised and under the surface, a powerful concoction of hurt, anger, regret and doubts is bubbling away, the romance prevails. The lovers are finally reunited (aaand cue the applause.)

The way I see it, it’s a romance reader’s paradise.  The strong connection, combined with the emotional build up – the anxieties, blame, guilt, past mistakes, and misunderstandings, become a top-notch catalyst for angst.

Moreover, there’s something undeniably moving and incredibly romantic about seizing the chance one thought long gone and irretrievable. The decision of making yourself vulnerable again to the very person who was supposed to catch you, but ultimately failed and broke your heart in the process, is a courageous one and not taken lightly.  If it’s still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk, as Paul Coelho said.  People only tend to invest their efforts into restoring something they perceive as valuable and extraordinary (unless, naturally, they are emotional idiots, saints, masochists or all of the above.)  An HEA delivered after such a heart-wrenching bittersweet journey leaves me drained, yet satisfied.  Puffy eyelids, smudged mascara, and a glass of wine are obligatory.  An easy winner.

Elliot & Tucker (The All’s Fair Series by J. Lanyon)

Hsin & Boyd (ICoS by S. Hassell & A. Lin)

Christopher & J. X. (Somebody Killed His Editor by J. Lanyon)  

Chris & Justin (Ex Equals by L.A. Witt)

Tim & Vincent (The Trouble with Hexes by A. Amara)


The tropes are significant in romances, methinks, possibly to a greater degree than in other genres.  In the grand scheme of things, a good trope or a combination of tropes is not guaranteed to make a book a success.  It’s not a magic bullet but a tool, only one amongst an array of ingredients.  If the other components of this recipe are not up to par – the plot weak, the characters flat, the dialogue fake and the writing mediocre, even the most elaborate trope won’t save the cake.  The truth, just like the emperor’s naked butt, will shine through.  And this, for once, won’t be a good thing – however I like my sweet buns.

Sweet Buns


A bilingual Londoner Kasia BB is a literary/medical translator and a proofreader. An avid reader, reviewer and book blogger, she’s currently working on her debut M/M fantasy novel, filled with the shenanigans of assassins and sexy elves. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction, coupled with a slight obsession of all things paranormal. She is a lover of MMA, nature and the great outdoors. She can be found on her website, Twitter, or on Goodreads.