"Suddenly, Stephanie spotted Lance on the beach..."Danielle Steel is an American author. Steel's novels have been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 390 consecutive weeks and 22 have been adapted for television. She has written at least one book almost every year since 1973. Many of her works are self-referential: for example she marries and divorces a heroin addict, and then her next novel is about — quelle surprise! — a woman who marries and divorces a heroin addict.For a full bibliography, click here.Almost all of her books are Romance Novels.
— the Danielle Steel card in Apples to Apples
This author provides examples of:
- Airport Novel
- The Beautiful Elite: Everyone in her books is either already filthy rich or becomes that way via hard work and success, with all the privileges/drawbacks that come with it.
- Beauty Equals Goodness/Beauty Is Bad: And how. Every. Single. One. of her lead characters is stunningly gorgeous or handsome, and if they're over forty, it's frequently mentioned that they look much younger than they actually are. Their good looks are just the tip of the iceberg, as the reader soon learns that they are perfect in every other way—intelligent, funny, hard-working, etc. Any "flaws" only serve to make them more endearing. The closest she's come to an unattractive heroine is the Hollywood Pudgy protagonist of the book "Big Girl".
- Conversely, her villains are just as attractive but it's always repeatedly stated that their good looks are artificial and fading, (whereas the heroine is naturally lovely without any extra effort on her part necessary), and is the only attribute they have.
- Broken Bird: The female protagonist.
- Chick Lit
- Description Porn: Steel likes to treat her readers to endless descriptions and mentions of everything. The reader will read over and over about how gorgeous a character is, how beautiful their home is, how perfect their life is, etc.
- Deus Angst Machina: Very common. An example is Gabbie in The Long Road Home, who has a very abusive mother, a father who doesn't help and leaves when she is 9 years old. Her mother then moves to California and leaves her in a convent, where she decides to become a nun and falls in love with a priest. However, they are not allowed to be together, and her lover feels guilty and hangs himself. She is kicked out of the convent and ends up moving into a boarding house. Just as things seem to be moving up, she falls in love with a con-man who beats her half to death so he can get the money she was left in a will.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Mostly played straight. It will almost always be perfectly okay for the hero/heroine to cheat on his/her partner/spouse, because said partner/spouse is a horrible, awful person. Conversely, it will always be despicable for the villain to cheat on his/her wonderful, perfect lover. To her credit, Steel does not always make all the bad adulterers male and good adulterers female and she often subverts this trope as well.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Ad nauseum. The heroes and heroines always have a terrific sex life, with it always being better than it was before. Even if it was already good before—one hero is floored at how spectacular sex with his new girlfriend is, having thought his and his ex-wife's love life was "perfect".
- Gratuitous Rape: Often paired with numerous versions of Rape Tropes—Rape as Drama, Rape as Backstory, etc. In a book where the female lead was already going through hell — daughter injured in a car accident, husband cheating and leaving her for the other woman, distant ice queen mother and equally frigid sister, was it really necessary for a revelation that she'd been sexually abused by her father? There are numerous examples in her books, but that one really stands out as it has no bearing whatsoever on the story.
- Happily Ever After: How all her books end, no matter what trauma her protagonists have been put through.
- Lifetime Movie of the Week: During the early-to-mid '90s, many of her books were adapted for television. Although they initially ran on network TV, sure enough, Lifetime soon acquired the rights to them. It probably helps that her books are essentially literary versions of this trope.
- May-December Romance: A favorite trope of hers and unfortunately one where she frequently displays a blatant Double Standard, depending on the type of character. A villain (usually male, of course) will always look ridiculous paired with someone younger (who will almost inevitably be a villain herself— gold-digging, airheaded, trampy, etc.)—even if the age difference is a mere 15 years. Meanwhile, a heroine can marry someone 44 years her senior (as happened in the book A Perfect Stranger) and no one bats an eye. The most egregious example of this is in one of the subplots of the novel Family Album. A 49 year old man falling in love with his daughter's 15 year old best friend is presented as a romance (to the point where they marry as soon as she turns 18) rather than what it truly is—ephebophilia and statutory rape(they consummate the relationship while she's still underage, but she refuses to testify against him when her infuriated parents threaten to press charges).
- Mills and Boon Prose: The sex scenes in her novels usually fall into this.
- Monochrome Casting: Only one of her heroines has been non-white (the Japanese heroine of the novel Silent Honor), and in the novel HRH, the titular heroine travels to an African country for missionary work. Aside from an occasional Black Best Friend, one would think minorities didn't exist in the Danielle Steel universe.
- Mum Looks Like a Sister: Any character who either is or becomes a mother is said to look more like her child's older sister.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The book Vanished is clearly based on the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. With a much happier ending, of course—the child is eventually found safe and sound, his father is revealed to be the one who engineered everything, allowing the heroine to get him out of her life and reunite with her first love.
- Scenery Porn: Steel likes to set her books in glamorous locations—New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, London, etc—and treat the reader to endless, repetitive descriptions of them.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: It is outright stated that the reason one of the heroines in "Kaleidoscope" has spent her entire life fending off sexual assaults is because of her beauty. It's also implied that beauty is somehow the reason for many of her other heroines' woes due to the jealousy of those less fortunate.
- Strictly Formula: Probably what she is most known for. Common elements include the female protagonist who had a hard life but who now is most likely a career woman, who is with a husband who cheats and lies to her and is probably abusive, then she will meet a wonderful man who changes her life, who may be still married or unavailable in some way. They will have their affair and get together at the end. Or, this man may turn out to be a Romantic False Lead and he will either die or they will get divorced, then she falls in love with another man (or the same guy again) and they have hot sex and live happily ever after.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Usually either because the cuckolded spouse is evil or also cheating. And even if not, he or she is often portrayed as genuinely remorseful.
- Trauma Conga Line: For someone whose books are geared towards women, Steel has a disturbing tendency to frequently employ this trope, "Malice" and "The Long Road Home" being two of the most egregious examples. The only redeeming factor is that there's always a happy ending for the protagonist but still...
- Too Happy to Live: If a book starts off with an endless description of a character's utterly perfect life, there's a pretty good chance that either (a) all hell is going to break loose any minute, or (b) the person is a Stepford Smiler who is actually miserable, despite the seeming perfection.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: Sometimes... her characters... they tend to use a lot of... ellipses... usually when they are in deep thought.
- Write Who You Know: While she has no specific Author Avatar, many elements of her personal life are filtered through her books. The two books that launched her writing career, Passion's Promise and Now & Forever are based off her brief marriage to a prison inmate.