07 Jul

“You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you.” – Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


July 1st marks the one-year birthday of this newsletter. When I sent out that first newsletter a year ago, I didn’t know if I would be able to hold to my unstated promise to send out a newsletter on the first of every month. Somehow, though, it all worked out, and here I am. The distribution list has grown significantly (which is easy to do when you consider how small the list was initially), and I still have a long list of things I want to tell you all about in future newsletters.


Recently, I’ve had tropes on my mind. A trope is something like a theme or situation that plays out over the course of a story, and it is not unique to one particular novel. It can give you generic information about the relationship of the hero and heroine (e.g., before they fall in love), the catalyst or trigger for making them fall in love, and/or the path their romantic journey will take. Although tropes are common themes, it is the specific characters, setting, and plot of a particular novel that breathes life into the trope (or tropes) and makes the story unique and memorable. For example, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen falls into the “Enemies to Lovers” trope because the main characters, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, go from “hating” each other to realizing how much they actually love each other. Beauty and the Beast is also an “Enemies to Lovers” story (the Beast imprisons Belle in the beginning—not the best way to a woman’s heart!). Although the two stories can both be considered “Enemies to Lovers,” there is no question they are very different stories with very different characters, settings, plots, and themes.


To those of you who have not spent as much time as I have thinking about romance (because you are more normal human beings), here is a short list of some of my favorite tropes in the romance genre:

  1. Enemies to Lovers – As the name suggests and as described above, this is when the hero and heroine start out at odds with each other but, over the course of the story, come to realize they’re in love. When done well, this can result in a delicious romance. The trick (in my opinion) is to not have the “enemy” part of it so strong or so cruel that the reader doesn’t even want the hero and heroine to end up together. The change in heart has to be believable and realistic, and I think an underlying respect between the hero and heroine (even as enemies) goes a long way.
  2. Friends to Lovers – This is another aptly named trope. Here, the hero and heroine start off “in the friend zone.” One might have been harboring feelings for the other for some time and finally decide to act on them, or some sort of event might trigger a mutual change in how they view their relationship. A good example of this is the movie When Harry Met Sally.
  3. Forbidden Love – This is probably my favorite. In this trope, there is something about the hero and heroine that makes it a big no-no for them to be together. It could be social status or societal/religious/familial dictates or other commitments (e.g., a betrothal or an all-consuming duty) that make the union impossible. One of my favorite “Forbidden Love” novels is Hell Hath No Fury by Anabelle Anders, in which the hero is the cousin of the man married to the heroine (it sounds bad, but it works very well).
  4. Forced Proximity – This trope describes the reason the hero and heroine fall in love. The plot of a “Forced Proximity” story is such that the hero and heroine are (you guessed it) forced to spend time together for some reason. They could be trapped in a cabin after an avalanche or forced to work together on a project, for example. This trope (like many of the tropes described here) can be combined with other tropes. For example, in my book Soothsayer, the hero and heroine start off not liking each other very much (Enemies to Lovers) but are forced to spend a few days together, just the two of them, after severe weather causes them to be separated from the rest of their group as they travel to the home of the heroine’s betrothed (yes, Forbidden Love, too!).
  5. Fake Relationship/Marriage of Convenience – This is another good one that can be combined with some of the tropes above, where the hero and heroine, for one reason or another, have to pretend to be in a relationship (even married, in some cases), but then all that pretending suddenly turns into something real that neither of them had expected. 

There are a number of other tropes, and even subtropes, that we can spend hours classifying and analyzing, such as “Secret Identity/Billionaire/Royal”; “Best Friend’s Brother/Sister”; “Second Chance”; “Soulmates/Fated Mates”—the list goes on and on.


Which trope or tropes are your favorites? Send me a message and let me know, along with the best book you’ve read for that trope, and I’ll mention them in my next newsletter!


As I wrap up the birthday edition of my newsletter, I will leave you with the following thought.  Mr. Darcy recognized that some messages merit repeating, an expression of love being one of them. I will add that gratitude is another. So, “thank you, thank you, thank you” for spending the last year with me. I look forward to continuing this journey with you, for another year and more.


- Kathryn Amurra

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