Romance tropes I don't like and books I liked which feature them

12 May 2022

I know there are certain things which put me off a romance book. There are certain tropes or elements to a book which I see and instantly think I won’t enjoy a book. A switch just goes in my brain and I fully nope out. Even with amazing reviews, it takes a lot to convince me to read and I really do have to talk myself into reading. It can be something big or just a minor detail but it’s amazing how quickly I can change my mind when I see it’s part of the story. I realised it was time to look at the stupid things which put me off books and remind myself of the brilliant books I’ve read which feature them. It’s time to prove to myself I shouldn’t be so judged and that I am frequently an idiot and should know better by now.


Friends to lovers


Look, I know plenty of people will love this trope but I just find it a little dull. I don’t know what it is about it because I appreciate some secret pining in a book as much as the next person but I think maybe I hate that the other person doesn’t see what’s right in front of them, you know? Or both of them don’t realise they’re in love and then I just want to bang their heads together. Whatever it is, it’s one of the romance tropes I think I actively avoid picking up and I know I frequently mention in comments to people that this isn’t one of my favourite tropes.

All three of these books featured people who were friends who then developed something more. I admit, Wait for It is neighbours to acquaintances to friends to lovers but you get what I mean. I’ve actually read that book a couple of times and really enjoyed it both times I’ve read it. Then there’s Take a Hint, Dani Brown where Dani and Zafir had been friends and then Zaf gets Dani to pretend to be in a relationship and the book snowballs from there. I suppose I may have enjoyed that romance so much because a fake relationship really is my ultimate romance trope but the book wouldn’t have worked if Dani and Zaf hadn’t been friends first. And finally, there is Go Deep by Rilzy Adams. I remember putting off reading that book because it was a friends to lovers romance but it was so good! It’s not very long but it totally hooked me and I never expected it to.


Celebrity romances


My issue with romance books which involve celebrities is not that they're bad. It's that they give me flashbacks to the cringe fics that were written about celebrities which were usually reader insert fics. I’m talking about those ridiculous fics written on Quizilla that I absolutely devoured during my teen years. They were terrible and it was always some girl who didn’t realise she was pretty and then a total insta-love romance. I don’t know what I was thinking but I know they have migrated to being on Wattpad and Tumblr and various sites since then. So when I see a celebrity romance book I always take that minute to question if I’m going to be relieving the fiction of my youth.

I can actually think of a whole list of books I could mention to fit this theme. I’ve read a surprising amount of celebrity romance… maybe I’ve not moved so far past my cringe teen reading after all? My obvious choice was the Stage Dive series since I have literally just finished it where each of the guys from the band gets their own book. But why stop at just guys in bands? Let’s not forget the brilliant romance that was One Night With the Sexiest Man Alive by Ainslie Paton. I absolutely loved that romance (and haven’t finished the rest of the series). I was there for the romance between the Hollywood star and the manager of an event he attended. It was brilliant, loved every second of it and would happily read it again. Then there’s Olivia Dade’s books Spoiler Alert and All The Feels, both feature actors from a Game of Thrones-esque show and I was totally hooked on them. And these are just a handful of celebrity books I’ve read. So what I need to remind myself is I secretly love this in romance and I need to get over myself and start reading more instead of talking myself out of buying for no apparent reason.


Royal romance


Maybe it’s because I’m British so don’t have the same fascination with the royal family that US readers do? Maybe it’s simply something about me that means I don’t get drawn into royalty and secretly want to be a princess or something. Whatever the reason, I am not drawn to royal romances. In fact, if I see mention of royalty in a book summary I am probably going to be put off because I just don’t care for it. Unless I’m reading a fantasy then I honestly couldn’t care less what’s happening with royalty. Even in historical romances, I’d much rather read a romance featuring the gentry rather than one which featured royalty. I know the gentry are in a similar situation of a title acquired by birthright rather than an earned title but I think because there are more of them I just accept it? Who knows, whatever it is royalty puts me off. I guess I’d rather read about people who have earnt their position instead of people who are simply born into their life… although I might descend down a whole topic of privilege if you let me so maybe I should stop?

Who hasn’t read and enjoyed Red, White and Royal Blue? I remember buying myself a copy when I was in New York and I seriously almost didn’t buy but I’d seen people saying good things and I had FOMO. Also, I have to treat myself to romance books in the US as it’s only been in the past few months UK publishers acknowledge there’s a big market for them. Anyway, I totally loved the book and wanted to force it on everyone I knew even though there was royalty in it. It was just fun and easy to read. Let’s not forget about Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series as well. I don’t think there was a bad book in the whole series and I would happily recommend any one of them to others. I should probably get over my dislike of royalty and read more books featuring them. I probably won’t but at least I know there are good books out there.


What have I learnt after looking over things I avoid in romance books? I avoid things for no good reason and need to get over myself. After all, I know there are romantic tropes I love (I’m looking at you fake relationship tropes) which I always buy and yet there are plenty of bad books which feature that trope as well. It’s all about the writing and I should trust the reviews more and not just assume I won’t like it straight off the bat. I know myself and what I like reading… but I also know I am way too quick to jump to conclusions sometimes as well.


Are there certain tropes and themes in books which can put you off reading or which you actively avoid? And can you think of any books I’ve not mentioned that fit the above that I should check out? I might have read them but it’s time to get over myself.

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