Romance Tropes! Love ’em or hate ’em?

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Guest Post
Alice Renaud

Until I started to write romance, I didn’t know what a “trope” was. If you’d asked me, I would have said it was probably some sort of short mountain troll (I know – I spend too much time reading fantasy novels). A trope is “a significant or recurrent theme; a motif” and many romance novels are built around one or several tropes. Many romance readers like specific tropes and will be more tempted to pick up a book if it features one of their favorite themes. So here are a few of my favorite (and not so favorite) tropes!

Forbidden love: one of my favorites. Actually, all my published books feature this theme. My fantasy romance series Sea of Love follows the lives and loves of three young merfolk. Each one falls in love with a human, in defiance of the laws of their people, and have to choose between the duty to their families and Clans and their heart. I love that trope because it generates great internal conflict for the characters and forces them to show what they’re made of.

Fated Mates

Fated mates is a popular trope in paranormal and fantasy romance, and one I team up with forbidden love in the Sea of Love series. Merfolk have a legend that every merman and mermaid has a soulmate somewhere. Only when they find him or her will they be complete. In the case of the three young merfolk in the series, Yann, Rob and Caltha, their soulmate happens to be human, but they are helplessly drawn to them just the same.

Hero/heroine in jeopardy

 I love a good jeopardy! My favorite scene in Music for a Merman, the second Sea of Love book, is when the heroine Charlie is chased through the marshes at night by angry mermen. But she saves herself… and then saves the hero too. The traditional set up in romance is the strong hero rescuing the heroine, but I like to turn it around and have the heroine save the hero. My heroines are strong women!

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I like a virgin (no snickering at the back) because first love is one of the most profound experiences in life. My heroes and heroines so far have been young, and their fated mate is their first true love. This is magnified when the heroine is a virgin, as in my third book, Mermaids Marry in Green. Many romances feature a female virgin, particularly historical romances, which is appropriate for the period they depict. Again though, I like to put a twist on it in some of my stories. In Music for a Merman, the hero, though not a virgin, is a lot less experienced and sexually confident than the sassy heroine. I am planning to write a book where the hero is a virgin. Well, as a time-traveling medieval monk, he will have a good excuse!

One variant on this trope is the young (sometimes very young) heroine seduced by an older man. There, I have to say… Eek. In the days of Me Too, this does not look right. Older romance novels do feature that theme, but it’s less popular now, and I think that’s a good thing. For example, in the Poldark novels, the heroine, Demelza, is 12 when Ross Poldark first meets her, and only 17 when he first sleeps with her. In the TV adaptation, they wisely made Demelza older (the actress was 21 in the first series) and a lot closer in age to the dashing hero.

What about you? Do you have a favorite or most hated trope? If yes, let me know in the comments! 

Check out Alice’s Latest Romance!

Music for a Merman (Sea of Love Book 2) by [Alice Renaud]Music for a Merman
By Alice Renaud
$1.99, 128 pp, Kindle
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Available at Amazon


Rob Regor knew that humans were trouble. All the shape-shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands knew it. And human women were double trouble… especially when they were lying on the road in front of a digger. Rob has a mission. Go to the mainland. Work as a policeman. Spy on humans. Report back to his father, the head of the Regor Merman Clan. It should be easy. Until he has to arrest Charlie. Rob can’t fight his attraction to the sexy eco-warrior, and it puts him on one hell of a collision course with his family and his Clan. Will he break the rules – or break her heart, and his?

Love ‘em and leave ‘em, that was Charlie’s motto. It had served her well until now. But Rob is different… Can she open up her heart to Rob – when a secret buried in her past surfaces and changes her completely?

About Alice Renaud

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shapeshifting mermen, water monsters and time-traveling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” is out now and the third, “Mermaids Marry in Green” will be released later this year. Alice has also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” included in the BVS “Mystic Desire” anthology, out now. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

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19 thoughts on “Romance Tropes! Love ’em or hate ’em?

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  1. Great post Alice. Any trope is fine by me. Your Sea Of Love series is wonderful. Really enjoyed your short story in the Mystic Desire Anthology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting Cara! I love marriage of convenience and enemies to lovers… Music for a Merman starts with the hero arresting the heroine.


  2. First, let me say I love the Layla. My oldest grand daughter’s name is Layla, and at 8 years old she is a budding, and promising, romance author!

    Tropes…I prefer the first love of a virgin, because 42 years ago, my Prince Charming and I met and fell in love, and have been happy ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s wonderful Yvonne! First love is definitely one of my favourite themes. It’s the fairytale come true.


    1. Second chance romance is a great trope. I look forward to reading all the stories in the forthcoming BVS anthology on that theme, Desire Me Again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite novels are action/adventure oriented (fantasy/para/space opera, historical or contemporary) with some form of Proximity Danger/Jeopardy. I look for both strong males & strong females each capable/willing to contribute toward their survival. I also enjoy SAR novels so books w K-9/SAR dogs (and sometimes cats, depends) catch my eye. I like 2nd Chance trope novels with mature/Seasoned characters. I avoid books w tropes – “Virgin” or “Billionaire,” “Mafia,” “Baby,” “Rich Daddy,” “MC,” etc. And I look for humor (SG-1 & Orig Star Trek version).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Second Chance romance and mature characters too – I think there aren’t enough seasoned characters in romance. I love hero/heroine in jeopardy too – I like to have the heroine rescue the hero. They do it in both my Sea of Love novels. And I love humour.


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