Wednesday, 15 February 2017

TOP 10 SURPRISINGLY TOLERABLE ROMANTIC TROPES

Oy-to-the-vey, it's Valentine's Day.
Love it or hate it, you can't escape it.

We're just ever so romantic... in that our Valentine's Day traditions typically involve some form of "Top 10 books to help you survive Valentine's Day" or "Top 10 Books For A Non-Romantic Reader" list. So, to break with tradition and strike off on a more positive note, this year we're taking a different approach.

It isn't a blanket "top romance books" recommendation, because the truth is - just pick any one at random. Chances are 99% it's romantic in some form. (Though Amazon seems to be recommending Gone Girl as a perfect Valentine's Day read and... questionable choice, Amazon. Let's maybe save that for, say, Halloween.)

As for us, we're discussing tropes - specifically those that overuse hasn't spoiled for us yet. And we're including a book and a pairing which are how you do those right.

'Tis a love letter to tropes, everybody. Never say we aren't meta-romantic.



1.  The Slow Burn

Picked by: Lexie

It's the literary manifestation of the NAO KISS meme, and it's therefore the best. And it's only partly because said meme is made of glitter, gold and sunshine. The romance that takes awhile to develop comes with inherent benefits: for one, it never dominates the story and allows the actual plot/worldbuilding to happen. For another, it tends not to beat the reader over the head with Obvious Innuendo That Is Obvious. And as an added benefit - it cicrumvents The Dreaded Instalove and all its ugly cousins. Be they enemies, friends or partners-in-crime (and less nefarious activities), the Slow Burn trope ensures that the couple getting together will have been building up to it for a long time. Yay, foreshadowing! Yay, build-up! Yay, fandom frustration!

As seen in: The Raven Cycle (everyone)


2.  Friends to Lovers

Picked by: Natalie

I'm not sure if this is an unpopular opinion or not, but I love reading these. For a start, they've already got the trust and already know each other so damn well, which gives them the choice to decide whether its worth risking their friendship for it. That's after the constant sexual tension and the 'omg just do it' looks from everyone else in the story, which are always hilarious. There's been plenty of 'friends to lovers' stories out there, and if done right, they can be some of the best and most memorable.

As seen in: Harry Potter (Ron and Hermione)



3.  Forbidden Romance

Picked by: Lexie

HEY, SOME CLICHES HAVE SURVIVED THIS LONG FOR A REASON! While in YA the Forbidden Romance trope tends to err on the side of angst-for-the-sake-of-angst ("We can't be together BECAUSE REASON!"), when done right it can be delightfully frustrating - and it can add valuable commentary on the world/society in which the romance develops. Opposing races? Warring families? A wide chasm in wealth and status? Opposite teams? You name it, I'm there to see a couple of people demolish pre-conceived notions of right and wrong and meet in the middle.

As seen in: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Karou and Akiva)




4.  Enemies to Lovers


Picked by: Natalie

Sticking with the theme of 'Something to Lovers', I always find 'Enemies to Lovers' an interesting read. They have that instant hate towards the other from the very start - usually not really knowing the other person truly, and that naturally starts the possibility they might murder each other in cold blood. However, differences aside, there's somethings they can't deny and that's how much they're attracted to one another. Damn feelings..
Over time, they realise how similar they really are, whether in personality or beliefs, and end up with a complete change of heart. It's all good with us! It's entertaining to see how a couple shifts from wanting to stab one another to snogging. I'm all for it. Besides, that only makes for a fiery romance and those are always fun.

As seen in: Throne of Glass (Rowan and Aelin)



5.  Opposites Attract


Picked by: Lexie

The title, really, says it all. One's a lady, one's a tramp. One's a rebel, one's a soldier. One is dead, the other alive. (That escalated quickly.) Depending on the circumstances, this trope could merge with a myriad of other tropes (enemies-to-lovers, anyone?). But regardless of the overarching context, the potential for both epic hilarity and epic romance is high. And it's one of the only tropes that works out well more often than not for me.

As seen in: The Winner's Trilogy (Arin and Kestrel)



6.  Will they? Won't they?


Picked by: Natalie

Oh, the guessing game of whether they'll get together or not! I do love a 'will they, won't they' kind of romance in a story as it keeps us on our toes and makes it a whole lot more interesting. It's not just the anticipation of the kiss they finally share at the end of the book - maybe even series! - that makes it worth while, but it's whether the author will actually do it! It could be disappointing to some, but for me, I find it realistic. You can't always get the person you want in real life, and the same goes for fictional characters. I will lose appreciation for an author if they make it boring and very predictable, and if they do put said characters together, then it has to be written right to make it worthwhile. 

As seen in: A Court of Mist and Fury (Mor and Azriel)



7.  Competition


Picked by: Lexie

No, I'm not talking about the Cursed Love Triangle. Fear not - some of my sanity remains! (Side effects of waning sanity may include a peppy Valentine's Day post, an approval of common tropes, and severe caffeine guzzling. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these warning signs.) What I am talking about is that glorious courtship that stems from a competition - official or unofficial. Pit a couple against each other in a deadly game, and I am there for it. Make them like-minded and team them up against others - I am there for that, as well. Essentially, any romance that stems from a high-stakes game is a romance I'm eager to see develop. It's as easy and as difficult (to get right) as that.

As seen in: The Night Circus (Marco and Celia)



8.  Unrequited Love

Picked by: Natalie

There's nothing more heartbreaking than an unrequited love story. Especially when it's something as permanent as death that separates them before they become a couple, but that's what makes a good story. I can think of a few that make me want to reach for the tissues for a sob-fest just thinking about it, but it shows the strength in the writers storytelling as well as their characters. One pining from a far, the other wishing and hoping for something more, but something could hold them back. Whether it's only a one-sided relationship or being forced apart, this one always manages to pull at the heart strings. *SOB*

As seen in: Harry Potter (Snape and Lily)



9.  The Second Chance Romance


Picked by: Lexie

Now, just to be clear: a majority of the time, a break-up is a clear sign that a relationship isn't working. #captainobvious Some of the time, however, a breakup is a sign that your partner accidentally gave you up to local authorities, a draconic overlord has willed them away for your safety, they were compelled to murder you on sight, or some equally logical (or, well, reasonable within the plot's boundaries) reason to stay away. In such cases, the second chance at it (post-murderous-curse-removal) can be glorious - not least because these will be characters who already know how the other ticks, and how best to tick them off. And oh, the sass we'll have!

As seen in: Six of Crows (Matthias and Nina)



10.  Road trip romances


Picked by: Natalie

I do love a good road trip book! Who doesn't? Reading about all the places they go, the burger joints they eat at, and the bickering over god knows what makes it a whole lot more enjoyable. But if romance is included, then that can be the fluffiest kind of road trip (and we all love a bit of fluff every now and then, DON'T LIE). I think a lot of these tropes have to be done right - and made believable - to work, but this one is likely one of the easiest to write. Both characters are going on a shared journey, at times even forced together for whatever reason, and arrive at the destination together. D'aww. Who says travel doesn't bring people closer? They do say it's the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, maybe that also includes love.

As seen in: Amy & Rogers Epic Detour (Amy and Roger)




'Tis Valentine's Day, so we Valentined it up. And now it's your turn, pumpkins! Let us know what your favorite romantic tropes are (if you admit to liking any!) in the comments below, or find us on social media where we take over the world, one nefarious subliminal plot at a time:

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