From Thea: I connected with author Lauren Dane through the magic of Twitter, and I’m so glad I did! Lauren is not only extremely talented, but she’s sensible and strong minded. I was delighted when she agreed to come visit on my blog this week!
Lauren is offering a giveaway. As always, details follow at the end of this post.
Tropes/Themes Whatever You Want To Call Them
by Lauren Dane
Romance novels often get a bad rap because they tend to deal with themes people outside the genre like to think are clichés. The thing is, tropes, clichés, themes, whatever, are part of our consciousness because they concern issues we connect with.
A trope, to me anyway, is an idea or theme that people recognize. It can be through a character or through the story as a whole.
It’s up to the individual author to take that well recognized idea/theme and give it a unique spin or twist. But in and of itself, I will always argue that a trope is not bad. It’s not lazy. It’s not even a cliché. It can be those things if it’s used without any creativity and instead of a way to introduce readers to your world, you use it to bear the weight of the story and let it do your work.
There’s nothing wrong with writing on themes readers connect with. There’s nothing lazy about it. Nothing silly about it or any of the other things people try to connect romance and romance readers to in a negative way. In fact pretty much all novels, art, movies, etc are based on tropes and themes basic to the human condition. We connect, or not, based on our life experiences. It’s why some people read a book and rave about it forever as being the best book ever written while others rant about that same book as being horrible. Reading is personal. Which is why it’s so amazing. And romance connects to those buttons—both good and bad.
I love small town romance. I love the way small towns work. They’re wonderful and infuriating all at once. They can be filled with hilarious characters as well as small minded villains. But in the hands of say, Nora Roberts or Linda Howard you get Carnal Innocence and After The Night. Both books deal with some of my very favorite tropes. Small towns, class divides and tough, misunderstood alpha male heroes. Both authors push that envelope with their heroes and the story setting. Which is what makes both books so memorable to me.
The hardened assassin hero – and no one does this one better than Anne Stuart. She pushes that line so much, in such a fearless fashion. I absolutely love her books and her writing. Some of my favorites are Moonrise (and OMG she nearly broke me with this book. It’s one of her best and I think so totally underrated) and her Ice series (most notably Black Ice where the hero breaks at least 3 of my hero rules and I loved him anyway). Another favorite in this trope is Linda Howard. All The Queen’s Men introduced me to John Medina, who remains in my top 25 heroes list.
I also have a thing for older men/younger women stories. This is a more difficult trope for me because I loathe stories where the man is predatory and the woman is weak. I want her to be strong. Strong and smart enough to enjoy the experience and awesomeness a man in his 40s can bring to the table. I think I was imprinted with this one after reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (Jo is a younger woman to her older Friedrich) Suzanne Brockmann has several I also love – Breaking Point most especially. Oh and Nalini Singh’s Kiss of Snow with Hawke and Sienna.
So I’ve written books with hardened assassin heroes (Phantom Corps mini series). Small towns (Chase Brothers, Petal, Georgia) and in August, SWAY, the first in my new contemporary erotic romance series, Delicious, will release in the CHERISHED duology I’m in with Maya Banks.
Sway is an older man/younger woman story and I hope I’ve created two characters readers connect with! Daisy might be 24 to Levi’s 40, but she’s not innocent. She’s not naïve. And she’s most certainly not a doormat. Moreover, Levi might be older (and he does have some reservations about their age difference), but he’s intelligent, caring and most of all, he respects Daisy very much.
I hope folks enjoy Daisy and Levi, despite (and if you’re like me, because of) the age difference! What are some of your favorite themes/tropes? Any favorites? I’ll give away a signed copy of NEVER ENOUGH, the book that comes before SWAY, to one commenter. International entries are absolutely fine 🙂
Giveaway ends at 12 noon, MDT, on Friday June 29th!
I love the old flames reunited trope. I’m not sure what this says about me, but I love that anticipation and recognition of familiarity and change.
But I also love the trope where a H/h *thinks* s/he wants an old flame but the one they’re destined to be with has been beside them all along.
I like themes/tropes where the main couple have been friends for years, then fall in love. Nora Roberts has some couples like this, including her last release of the Inn Boonsboro series.
My trope preference is constantly changing. Before, I never really cared for Christmas/Holiday romance stories. But then I picked up Jill Shalvis and two of her Lucky Harbor novels take place during the winter/Christmas AND small towns, and I LOVED them and now I want more. I love it when that happens 😛
As a fan if the Brown Siblings series, I can’t believe I don’t have NEVER ENOUGH yet, so thank you for the chance to win it!
Cliches become cliches because they are based in facts many times over so I am okay with them. In the hands of a good writer, it’s all fresh and new because you are invested in those 2 people, regardless of the situation. There all after only so many ways to get to boy + girl = happily ever after so it’s the journey that needs to be complelling, not the destination.
One of my faves is on the top 5 of theme/tropes/cliches. I love a bad boy who may not precisely refrom so much as be willing to let his softer side out for his woman and children. One of my favorite instances of this is Jonas Wyatt from Lora Leigh’s Breeds series. From book one, he’s a bad ass, feared by all, a manipulator and hard hearted. Then his HEA shows up in his story and the tough, cold and calculating, snarling lion breed becomes a pussy cat in her hands and a devoted father to her baby who he considers his own. Not to say he still isn’t a tough guy with everybody else but his wife and child own him. 🙂
Great post! I love the older man/ younger woman theme as well. I prefer it to the older woman/younger guy thing. Linda Howard is one of my favorites as well and Nalini is my absolute number one!! Can’t wait for the Cherised anthology!. Books i also enjoy are with a less then perfect hero/ine. I LOVE Annie’s Song by Catherine Anderson where the heroine is deaf/mute and Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale where the hero has had a stroke. Awesome stories! Heartbreaking
I don’t have a favorite theme so long as I have an HEA!!! I read pretty well anything, any genre…
Good luck with ‘Sway’, Lauren – it sounds great. I LOVE sensible heroine and big, strong hero with deep dark hurting secret (that she exorcises) and HEA, obviously.
I love them all as long as they get their HEA. The only thing I’m not too fond of in any story is a lot of angst,give them a bit of a hard time ok but not too much to distract from the romance.
I love stories set in small towns when one of the main characters is the outsider brought to the town by certain circumstances.
I don’t like stories where the female lead is weak either, but I do enjoy stories where the lead overcomes her weakness and becomes the strong, confident woman she should be.
I adore strong characters who realize they are better together than apart in any trope.
Little Women, with its various ways to find love, was my favorite book until high school. It is still one of my top favorites. I wanted to be Jo. Sometimes I still do!
I love that I have to do math to post a comment here. 🙂
My favorite trope is where the main people were together but broke up or divorced, and the book is about them getting back together. A close second is the friends to lovers theme, which is similar in that it takes place with people who knew each other before the book started.
I like it when the main people already know each other before the book starts.
I love the opposites attract – shy vs outgoing, her a little spongy and him buff, one of them academic and the other more physical – A Blue Moon was a nice example where the guy was a bookworm and she was a cop – it also had a mystery twist with werewolves, which was fun – as long as there are a few new twists and turns to the plot I am game to be lead on a merry read
Books, books, and more books! Love it! Can’t wait to read this!
Oooh, friends to lovers is another favorite of mine, along with opposites attract and second chance stories.
Thanks for having me today, Thea. Awesome answers, everyone.
Delighted to have you, Lauren! Thanks for being here!
I love the totally alpha male who has to figure out that he can’t boss his strong willed partner around!
Nice post. I like the tortured heroes ones.
I love the tortured alpha male who gets knocked out of his boots because of a gutsy and determined woman. People with real issues who deal with them realistically also get to me.
I love the small town tropes. And the friends turn lovers ones. And even the kick ass paranormal heroines who don’t think they need a hero but then fall in love.
I love tropes where old flames reunite and where previous enemies fall in love
An alpha male, strong female, a great plot with an unexpected twist, mix in friends and family ending with HEA in whatever theme are what I look forward to reading.
I enjoy when both leads are strong characters who have ‘met their match’. It’s harder to find that balance when the guy is much older or alpha male. The books that succeed at this are the rarest and best of the genre. Lauren Dane and Thea Harrison both do it very well but very differently – great to see you blogging together!
Sway sounds absolutely amazing, Lauren! I I can’t wait to read it!
One of my favorites is the Beauty and the Beast theme 🙂
I like opposites attract or struggling with their past. I just like to see them overcome whatever issues they have and find happiness.
I ADORE small-town tropes, especially if there’s a Deep, Dark Secret (TM) involved. 😀
You guys have so many great tropes! It’s a reminder to me about why I love romance so much 🙂