One of the joys of being an agent is getting to read a bunch of romance novels. When I’m searching for clients, I come across a lot of intentional (and unintentional) tropes as plot devices. This is common in category romance, but tropes can be used for any length book.

In 2014, the Romance Writers of America commissioned a survey that produced interesting results. Readers chose the following 10 romance tropes as their favorites: (1) friends to lovers; (2) soul mate/fate; (3) second chance at love; (4) secret romance; (5) first love; (6) strong hero/heroine; (7) reunited lovers; (8) love triangle; (9) sexy billionaire/millionaire; (10) sassy heroine.

Not a bad list*, but my personal favorite tropes list differs.

1. Tortured hero: one of our lovers has a dramatic, often secret past that causes him/her to live in emotional agony, cut off from the common joy of a loving relationship.

2. Enemies to lovers: our lovers are enemies (business rivals, part of a family feud, law enforcement and criminal, etc.) until they realize the depth of their romance.

3. Unrequited love: one of our lovers has long wished for a romantic relationship with the other.

4. Opposites attract: our lovers seem to be opposites in everything they think matters (vegetarian/carnivore, Democrat/Republican, city/country, etc.), but they discover that love unites them in ways beyond those differences. 

5. Ugly duckling: one of our lovers is not conventionally beautiful, but in the course of falling in love either becomes conventionally beautiful or discovers that conventions are immaterial.

6. Gay for You: our hero or heroine has been strictly heterosexual, but finds him/herself falling for a person of the same gender.

7. Forbidden Love: some outside force (cultural, familial, social, etc.) is determined to keep our lovers apart but they’re willing to fight for the relationship they desire.

8. Alpha hero: our hero defines “Type A” – he’s driven, assertive, and in control of the world around him, except where his lover is concerned.

9. Fish out of water: one of our lovers doesn’t fit in a social or professional environment, but that doesn’t keep him/her from proving him/herself and winning the heart of the one s/he loves.

10. Military: at least one of our lovers works in the military (Army (including Special Forces), Navy (including Seals), Air Force, Marines, etc.)

What are your favorite tropes?

* Huge props to author Mindy Klasky for the definitions used here. Please check out her site for even more great tropes and descriptions.