Plots / Roles / Tropes

1) Boss & Secretary: This is an old trope, the boss falling for his personal assistant or secretary, but it is still one of my favorites, and still very popular!

2) Armed Forces: A sexy, strong hero in uniform draws the heroine into a relationship, but a career in the military creates conflict. The heroine may also be in the military, attracted to someone in her unit or during a mission.

3) Enemies To Lovers: The heroine hates the hero on sight. She may still be smarting from a past betrayal or is being blackmailed by him, or she just plain doesn’t like him. How the characters move past the anger to attraction and love makes up most of the narrative.

4) Amnesia: The hero or heroine suffers temporary or permanent memory loss and is forced to start over and reclaim their identity.

5) Athlete Hero: Sports themes are becoming more popular in romances, especially for teen and young adult audiences.

6) Au-Pair Abroad: The young heroine takes a job as a nanny in a new city or exotic location. She falls for an older, local hero or even the handsome, single employer.

7) Bachelor Auction: The heroine ‘buys’ a handsome, wealthy hero for a dinner or once-off date at a charity function. It’s intended to be a one-time affair, but sparks fly!

8) Beauty And The Beast: The hero, often disfigured or injured in an accident, must overcome his physical and emotional scars to find love with the heroine.

9) Best Friend’s Brother: The heroine sees her friend’s brother in a new romantic light and must hide her feelings from him and her friend.

10) Blind Date: The heroine agrees to a blind date. The date usually delivers a surprise or a twist — for example, her dinner companion turns out to her boss, best male friend, someone famous, or an ex-boyfriend.

11) Circle Of Friends: This trope features three or more protagonists all searching for love while pursuing their careers and passions. For example: a group of ballet dancers, actors on the same film set, or students at the same school.

12) Coming Of Age: The first discovery of love as teenager can be a powerful theme to explore in a romance novel or story. The plot can cover a sweet, innocent crush or a dark, intense attraction to the wrong boy.

13) Cowboys: Whether a rancher or a US Marshal, the hero embodies the characteristics and moral codes of the American frontier: courage, integrity, and usually a bit of chauvinism.

14) Cursed! In a fantasy or folklore-inspired romance, the heroine may have fallen under a curse, spell, or wicked charm that only the hero can break or reverse (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, etc. are examples of how old this trope is!).

15) The Dare Or The Bet: A staple of teen romances, the heroine takes up a challenge from friends or a rival to date or bed a popular young man — or an unpopular wallflower. She eventually loses her heart to him until he learns of her deception.

16) A Divorce Never Went Through: The lead characters discover that their marriage was never annulled or a divorce decree was never issued because of a bureaucratic mistake or some other misunderstanding. Do they get back together or find love elsewhere?

17) Nanny: The heroine takes a position as a child minder for a single-parent hero, who is often divorced or a widower.

18) Fake Engagement: The hero needs to produce a date or fiancé in a hurry and the heroine steps into the role. It can also go the other way around. Of course, this phony arrangement soon leads to real complications and a genuine emotional connection.

19) First Love: The heroine seeks out or is reunited with her first love or high school sweetheart — has he changed or not? The hero can’t forget his first wife or a deceased girlfriend and the heroine feels she cannot compete with his former love.

20) Fish Out Of Water: The heroine comes from a small town to a big city and is unprepared for the sophistication of the hero. Similarly, a city girl finds herself working or stranded in a small town and falls for the charm of a local hero.

21) Forbidden Love: Taboos lie at the heart of this romance theme. Race, religion, conflicting culture, or feuds are just some of the forces that could potentially keep the lovers apart.

22) Forced Proximity: The heroine finds herself stuck with the hero in a confined space. She could find herself snowed in with him at a remote cabin or trapped in an elevator. The possibilities are endless!

23) Frenemies: The hero and heroine enjoy a friendly rivalry — either socially or at work. But soon the banter, teasing, and ribbing exposes an underlying attraction and sparks fly!

24) Friends To Lovers: The main characters, who have been friends, discover a growing attraction to each other. This is often a childhood friend who re-enters the main character’s life as an adult.

25) Girl Next Door: Falling for a new, cute, sexy, or mysterious neighbor is what sets the plot in motion in this storyline.

26) Country Inn: A career-driven city girl inherits or buys a charming little inn, bed-and-breakfast, or guest house in the calm, rustic splendor of the countryside. Hallmark does these really well.

Heiress: The heroine comes for a fabulously wealthy family with an impressive pedigree. She is often in line to inherit a large fortune or take control of a family estate of company. She usually falls for a hero who is considerably “below” her standing.

27) Kidnapped: The heroine is snatched and reluctantly falls in love with her abductor. Or she must wait for hero to come to the rescue or, better yet, must find her own way out of the dangerous situation.

28) Makeover: The heroine is transformed from drab to fab to catch the hero’s attention. Alternatively, the hero has to transform his looks, body, and attitude to prove his worth to the heroine.

29) Marriage of Convenience: The heroine is compelled to marry the hero in name only. The marriage is based on necessity, or for financial or strategic reasons.

30) Older Man or Older Woman: A love affair between two characters with a 15–25 year difference in age.

31) Medical Romance: While working in a medical field or profession, the heroine falls in love with a doctor hero. The hero can also be a paramedic, veterinarian, or specialist.

32) Mistaken Identity: The hero mistakes the heroine for someone from his past. The heroine is mistaken for someone rich or royal.

33) Weddings: Invited to a family or friend’s wedding, the heroine will either run into an ex-lover or enemy from her past, meet a new love interest, or be thrown together with another character from the wedding party, like the best man.

34) Small Town: Heart-warming stories set in small towns. In romantic suspense, the rural setting could hide sinister secrets.

35) New Girl In Town: The heroine finds herself in a new town, without many friends or adequate social skills to negotiate the new world she finds herself in. Often, she has moved to the town for a job.

36 Virgin: The heroine’s innocence is either a threat, obstacle, or prize for the hero. Or the hero is attracted to a virgin in the story; or the heroine wants to lose virginity to a special character.

37 Christmas Romances: Almost a genre in itself, Christmas provides a theme and background for the love story, which features European or North American settings.

38 Home For The Holidays: The heroine returns to a hometown for a national, religious, or cultural holiday and finds romance in short space of time amid family chaos — often with someone she knew as a child or teenager.

39 Vacation Romance: The heroine travels to a foreign city or exotic island and meets a sexy or intriguing stranger for a fling. The burgeoning affair will be tested by her imminent departure.

40 Partners In Fighting Crime: The heroine is a cop or detective who falls in love with her handsome partner on the same beat or based at the same precinct or station.

41 Return From The Dead: A man she believes is dead returns to upset the heroine’s life in a major way. The hero either faked his own death, or his demise was incorrectly reported through a chain of misunderstandings.

42 Riches To Rags: A wealthy heroine or heiress loses her money and status overnight. With the hero’s help and love, she finds a way to re-establish her identity, and realize her own ambitions and self-worth.

43 Royalty: The main character rules or is in line for the throne of a fictional country, kingdom, or principality.

44 Runaway Bride: The heroine gets cold feet on her wedding day and makes a dash for freedom. She either realizes she is marrying the wrong man or realizes the groom was her soul mate all along!

45 Second Chance At Love: A couple break up only to reunite years or decades later. Or a heroine who has been deeply and possibly repeatedly hurt in love finally gives herself — and the hero — a second chance.

46 Secret Baby: Keeping his child a secret and out of his life for several years, the heroine is now confronted with an angry and betrayed hero who wants to claim his parental rights.

47 Single Parent: The story focuses on a single mom or dad who is facing life after a break-up, divorce, or bereavement. The widower father is a popular, sympathetic character.

48 Hidden Identity: The heroine hides her true identity or creates a false persona to hide her involvement in events that usually took place in the past.

49 Soul Mates: The two main characters feel they are destined to be together. However, other forces or characters in the story conspire to keep the lovers apart. From deadly hurricanes to horrible curses, the more obstacles in their path, the better.

50 Unexpected Parenthood: After a sibling dies or becomes ill, the heroine is now the sole guardian of one or more children.

51 Unexpected Pregnancy: After learning of an unplanned pregnancy, the heroine must deal with the unexpected news and decide if she will tell the hero or not.

52 Workplace Romances: The hero and heroines are co-workers or colleagues in the same company and find that they can’t suppress their chemistry. The professional suddenly becomes very personal.

53 Wrong Side Of The Tracks: The heroine falls in love with a rough diamond from the proverbial ‘wrong side of town’. Radically different socioeconomic conditions tests the love affair.
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1 | May 15th 2024 12:18