On Romantic Clichés

There are few things that I enjoy more than reading a good book, and one of my favorite genres to read is Romance. For many, the Romance genre is simply a vast wasteland of bodice-rippers. But for a frequent reader of Romance novels such as myself it is so much more; It is a vast wasteland of clichés. Clichés, or often used storylines, aren’t necessarily bad things. I’ve actually picked books solely for the clichés the author used for the storyline. For this reason, I have decided to rank five of the most common clichés found in Romance novels from worst to best.

5. Secret Baby- We were madly in love until you did a horrible, awful, no good, very bad thing that made me leave you. Unbeknownst to you, I was knowingly/unknowingly carrying your child.

Secret Baby Romance Novels are my least favorite since they require the reader to suspend belief for the majority of the book. We are supposed to believe that a person is going to be okay with finding out that they have a five-year-old child that was purposefully kept from them. Seldom is any legal recourse taken, any psych evaluations performed or do any negative reactions from the extended family occur. I can believe many things; this is not one of them.

4. Desperate DateOh no! My supermodel frenemy sister is getting married, and I HAVE to have a date for the wedding or else I’ll just die! But, my phone is as dry as the Sahara Desert; I guess I have to take matters into my own hands. Let me go call an escort service, yeah that will work just fine.

Desperate Date Romance novels can either be fun, light reads or trite cliché-filled wastes of energy. There is an art to making a book about a common scenario fresh and books that fall under this category are either great or not.

3. Enemies/Opposites AttractI’m a self-assured, outspoken woman. You can tell because I have a job title that says I’m self-assured and outspoken. I am used to people treating me a certain way and loathe when they don’t. If only my hot new neighbor/co-worker/boss/brother-in-law’s brother could get with the program and see things my way, I may not hate-love him so much.

Enemy Romance Novels are enjoyable due to the fight. It is always fun to see how two people who abhor each other end up with each other in the end.

2. Hidden Love/Best FriendFor years you’ve looked at me as nothing more than your best friend, your confidant, but now I want something more.

The only reason Hidden Love/Best-Friend Novels isn’t tied for first place is because of how gendered some books in this category can be. Typically the woman is madly in love with her male best friend who doesn’t see her as a sexually being until she does one of three things:

  1. Loses a ton of weight or physically develops and fills out
  2. Has a drastic makeover where she spices up her look
  3. Starts dating someone

The makeover element has become a cliché that can turn a great hidden love story into a shallow cliché.

1. Second ChancesWe were great until we weren’t. Our mistakes tore us apart, but our unending love and fate has brought us back together.

Second Chances novels are my favorite since the main characters are forced to work through their problems. I have yet to read a second chance storyline where the injured party accepts the person who hurt them back into their life, no questions asked. The storyline typically consists of a former couple dissecting what went wrong, and figuring out if they will be able to overcome it as a unit. I like the fight for love.

That sums up my rankings on Romance Novel Clichés. What about you, what are some of your favorite tropes?

2 thoughts on “On Romantic Clichés

  1. Really agree with you about the ‘secret baby’ thing. It’s my least favourite cliche (and I generally enjoy light hearted/’silly’ romance) – it just isn’t romantic! Either it makes me dislike the mother as she has kept her child from it’s father for years (even if she thinks he cheated it’s still a not nice way to behave). Or it’s too much of a distraction from the central relationship – I’ve read books where the storyline is that they have been forced apart somehow so it’s not the mother’s fault he doesn’t know his kid but then the storyline is cluttered with him coming to terms with fatherhood rather than focusing on the passion and romance I want to be reading about! Personally I don’t really want childbearing in my romances at all, maybe in a postscript “and they lived happily ever after and had 4 beautiful children etc.” if the author insists on including it but to me having kids heavily involved takes the book into a different genre.

    I do enjoy the love/hate cliche. Partly because it’s so rare in real life! It’s such a strong cliche but in my personal experience and observations couples tend to like each other as soon as they meet (boringly), I hardly know anyone who says “I really disliked by husband/wife when we met but grew to love him/her”. Does make for good fiction though!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting!
      I agree children in Romance novels can be tricky. Either they take up too much of the story or they become a prop that is only mentioned when convenient.


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