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Romance Novel Tropes
All the various tropes of the Romance Novel.

Tropes:

  • Arab Oil Sheikh: So popular as the male lead that you can buy 'sheikh' omnibuses. Tends to be common among certain categories of the category novels.
  • All Men Are Rapists: In older romances; not so common now. It can be seen as a mark on Western culture as a whole that women are more comfortable reading about consensual sex than they were. Older romances, dating back to The Seventies, tended to use rape as a way to give the heroine (and thus the reader) what they wanted while absolving her of the guilt of choosing it.
  • Anti-Hero: The types vary, but romance novel leads can tend towards bad boys (ready to be reformed) instead of a clean cut, straitlaced fellow.
  • Arranged Marriage: A common technique in historicals to force the hero and heroine to deal with each other.
  • Beautiful All Along
  • Broken Bird: Women love to see the healing power of love. Most have a side of Intimate Healing as well, but usually after the hero is a bit less screwed up.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Despite the sheikh novels mentioned above, less "genre" romances often have heroes who are just one exotic (from a US perspective) quarter: Native American, Japanese, Arab or the like, but very rarely are full members of non-European ethnicities in ancestry and upbringing.
    • Heroines are even less likely to be exotic.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In some novels, an extreme importance is placed on the act of uttering the words "I love you".
  • Does Not Like Women: The special romance-novel version of He-Man Woman Hater, in which the male hero only hates women because of the actions of a bad woman, and will be cured in the end by the good heroine.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: A common plot is for the heroine's sister and the hero's brother to have marry, had a child, and then died; this forces them to interact on more or less hostile terms over custody, until the matter is resolved by their marriage.
  • Extruded Book Product: Harlequin/Mills & Boon "category" romances
  • First Love
  • Fan Nickname: Many abbreviations for common term among fans, including:
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: A common way to make the hero and heroine resent each other but be unable to avoid each other.
  • Glittery Hoo-Ha: Once the preferred couple have had sex, he will never find sex with anyone else to be as satisfying. A Man Is Not a Virgin, of course, and she may have been the most inexperienced woman since Eveís first timeóbut thereís something magical about her hoo-ha that makes him return to her. The male equivalent is the Golden Gun (not to be confused with a bullet-firing Golden Gun).
  • Good People Have Good Sex: And any past sexual relationships (usually with a conveniently deceased spouse) the heroine has had will be unsatisfying. And even if it was, it still hasn't been nearly as good as it is now. This can even apply to the heroes occasionally.
  • The Grovel
  • Happily Ever After: Explicitly described by many readers and writers as an essential mark of the genre, distinguishing it from other love stories. Abbreviated HEA.
    • Sometimes subverted as a Happy For Now, where the characters are left in a situation which may succeed and may not. Abbreviated HFN.
  • The Four Loves: Arguably the reason for the existence of the genre.
  • The Ingenue
  • Ladykiller in Love: The "rake" or chronically womanizing man is a popular hero character. He is almost universally guaranteed to no longer be interested in anyone but the heroine (a possible exception is, of all things, the ur-example of the character, Lord Damerel in Georgette Heyer's Venetia.) There is often a scene where a willing woman offers herself and he's quite surprised to not want to take her up on it.
  • The Lady And The Vamp: In a lot of YA paranormal romances, thanks to the influence of Twilight.
  • Loveable Rogue
  • Love Tropes: All of them.
  • Magical Nanny: Often in the Magical Stepmother form, though in that case the marriage is not for real.
  • Magical Native American: Often, if historical.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Usually played very straight, but occasionally averted.
  • Mills and Boon Prose: Ironically despite the Mills and Boon category romances being the Trope Namer, most romance novels avert this trope in favor of less Purple Prose-like sex scenes.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin
  • One-Hour Work Week
  • One True Love
  • Public Medium Ignorance: Romance novels are full of Purple Prose, gratuitous sex and are basically thinly veiled porn for women, or "mommy porn". Right?
    • Despite the fact that Mills and Boon Prose is rare in the genre these days and the fact that most sex scenes in a Romance Novel are an important part of the emotional connection of the hero and heroine, no one seems to know this. Some people still think that romance novels are full of rape, even though that became rare at the start of The Eighties, thirty years ago!
  • Reformed Rakes
  • Roll in the Hay: A couple on a farm will make love in a hay barrack.
  • Romantic False Lead
  • Rule of Romantic
  • Star-Crossed Lovers
  • Sturgeon's Law: The absolute volume of romance novels produced including both category and single title today, and considering past efforts, means that most readers can go years without reading something they consider belonging to the bottom 90%. This bottom 90% does contribute to society's opinion on the genre, however.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Far too many of the heroines.
    • Most the common in romantic suspense genre as a way to have an otherwise intelligent heroine get captured by the villain so the hero can have a Storm the Castle rescue moment.
  • They Do: Essential for the Happily Ever After
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension
  • Will They or Won't They?: They Will.
  • Your Cheating Heart: If the woman is currently married, her husband may do this if he is the Romantic False Lead. Sometimes if the hero has a pre-established significant other, he can do this, too, though it will be made out to be for a good reason.

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