Posted in Romance
April 9, 2018

The 5 WORST Romance Novel Tropes

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love romance novels. They’re the perfect escape from reality, and probably have given me unrealistic expectations about love. Regardless of my adoration of these books, some of their common themes are problematic AF. Let’s explore some of these common tropes featured in romance novels that really, really suck.

1. The guy who takes what he wants.

I get it. A lot of us have a fantasy of being with a dominant. Fifty Shades normalized that BDSM fantasy, but in a completely screwy way. I hate when I’m reading a romance novel and they guy isn’t just dominant, but domineering. I’m talking about a romantic lead who does things without the heroine’s consent, from forcing a kiss to buying her gifts that make her uncomfortable. It’s 2018. Romance writers, do better.

Book with a dominant who is far from domineering: Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent

2. The virginal woman.

How come the girl is almost always a virgin? I read a lot of historical romance novels, so you would think it makes sense, but it doesn’t. I’ve read historical books about widows and even women who were already married are somehow virgins in these books! What the hell?! Why is virginity so important in a woman? And then how does she proceed to have amazing sex with the guy with no prior knowledge as to how things work? Uh, no. She’s gonna be a little awkward and fumbling sometimes!

Book that busts the trope: The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day

3. Sexy Billionaire Man falls for Regular Girl.

I get the fantasy. I really do. But come on! Also, it’s 2018! Where are the Sexy Billionaire Women?! Also, how come the sexy billionaire almost always is a dominant? I feel like people who are in charge in their daily life probably want to let go a little in the bedroom, right?

Comment with your favorite romance novel that plays on this trope in a unique way!

4. Friends to lovers.

This trope is adorable when executed correctly, but so often it makes no sense. Usually the guy looks at the girl one day and notices she has ~a woman’s curves~ now. Give me something more enticing than that! Give me some actual sexual tension!

Series with some awesome sexual tension, culminating in the finale: The Willowmere Series by Candace Camp

5. Series spans years, only one couple.

I know some people meet “the one” early on, but I like some variety! At twenty-seven, I’ve had my share of boyfriends, and when I read about modern heroines, I expect the same. I get that romance readers want real development and meaning within relationships, so shying away from flings and focusing on serious relationships might have more appeal. Still, most of us have more than one serious relationship in a lifetime!

Series where our girl falls in love more than once: Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Are there any common themes that I missed? Let me know in the comments!


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  • Pon

    Your comments on each of those books are so funny. I wish the authors must take a look at your page:)

    • Post authorKate

      Thank you! 💕

      Reply to Kate
  • Jordanne

    I love how most modern romance novels combine the first three as well. I loved this post it made me laugh, definitely all true – I hate the love at first sight nonsense to tbh. An instant connection after just a short conversation with someone can be believable but this eyes meeting across a crowded room bull isn’t love it’s sexual attraction, call a spade a spade.

    Reply to Jordanne
    • Post authorKate

      Ooh, that’s another annoying one!

      Reply to Kate
  • Tasha

    I don’t mind those tropes, for me it is about the woman being equal in the relationship, passion and more going on than a 1 on 1 romance.

    Reply to Tasha
    • Post authorKate

      Those are totally all important factors. 💕

      Reply to Kate
  • Veronica @The Burgeoning Bookshelf

    Great post! It gave me a bit of a giggle. I actually like the friends to lovers trope although it’s a little overdone. What’s my favourite romance trope? The second chance at romance: when the female goes back to her old home town (always after a disastrous breakup) and finds her old heart throb still there. He is always divorced/widowed/broken. Love it!

    Reply to Veronica @The Burgeoning Bookshelf
    • Post authorKate

      Second chance romance is so romantic! And some of my favorite romance novels are friends to lovers, but they have to be done correctly!

      Reply to Kate
  • Christine

    Great post! I agree with the majority of these.

    Reply to Christine
    • Post authorKate

      Thank you!

      Reply to Kate
  • DJ Sakata

    I cannot stand these:
    I have to leave them for their own good
    They deserve better than me
    Secret babies
    I love them but will never tell

    Reply to DJ Sakata
    • Post authorKate

      I hate the secret babies one!! And yes, seperation tropes that make no sense are annoying.

      Reply to Kate
  • Nikki @ Saturday Nite Reader

    Yes, especially #3. Ugh, and they always portray the woman’s job as low-paying and the like – why can’t she also be successful?! Or be successful in the job she chose, because that is what she wanted to do (not focusing on how much she is getting paid)…ugh. You have clearly hit a button 😉

    Reply to Nikki @ Saturday Nite Reader
    • Post authorKate

      Yessss. I want more women billionaires and bosses!

      Reply to Kate
  • Katie @ Book Ink Reviews

    These are all great! Except maybe the last. I met my husband at uni when I was 19. We married the summer after graduation at 22 and had our first child at 24. (Well… add a year to each of those for his ages, ha!) I enjoy reading about people who meet young and continue to make it work and still find love with the same person years down the road traveled together.

    Reply to Katie @ Book Ink Reviews
    • Post authorKate

      That’s so sweet! My friends met around then and are getting married in a few months. I’m just a little jaded and like to read relationships that I relate to a little more. 😀

      Reply to Kate
  • Whispering Stories

    Yes, I agree to most of them. I don’t tend to mind the series and one relationship throughout though.

    Reply to Whispering Stories
    • Post authorKate

      I think there are times I’m fine with it. I just think it’s important to represent that love doesn’t always work that way! 🙂

      Reply to Kate
  • Katiria Rodriguez

    Great post and list, thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

    Reply to Katiria Rodriguez
    • Post authorKate

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply to Kate

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