Let's Talk Tropes

Favorite Tropes: A Positive Post from some Smut Enthusiasts

Ingrid said we needed some positivity, because Holly and Erin were ranting all the time. At least in our text messages to each other. So we’ve decided to share our favorite tropes. What we’ve learned is that our favorite trope might not belong to our favorite book, but for us, these tropes are a pretty sure bet for a satisfying read. 

An opportunity to get to know us – as individuals at TSR – a little better. 

What’s Your Favorite Trope? Why?

Holly:

Seducing My Spouse, full stop. Erin has talked about why this trope doesn’t work for her; the short version is that she either doesn’t buy that the problem in the marriage is actually fixable or she doesn’t buy that the problem was large enough to actually be a problem. I acknowledge Erin’s critique, but we’re just going to have to disagree here. What I love about Seducing My Spouse books is that the characters already know each other, at least on the surface. These are not stories about the initial courtship, but rather about people opening up to deeper intimacy. Courtship might be cute and butterfly inducing, but the love that you build with someone you’re already connected to feels like stability. Note: My love of this trope might stem solely from the fact that Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series played a pivotal role in my development as a romance reader. 

No seriously. Go read Eloisa James’ This Duchess of Mine (but you really need to read the whole series to truly appreciate the awesomeness of Elijah and Jemma’s love story).

Erin:

THIS IS SO DIFFICULT! Although what all of my favorites tend to share is a Friends to Lovers situation. Like Holly with her Seducing My Spouse nonsense (I grant you, EJ does great things with it), what attracts me to the friends to lovers trope is that there’s already a relationship and it is deepened and strengthened as the protagonists are thrust into a situation in which they can realize that they want to be more than friends. But it usually doesn’t include some absurd wrongdoing that already messed up the relationship, which makes it great. I struggle with quick burns that rely too heavily on the sexual chemistry to develop the relationship, and a friends to lovers trope can have a quick burn that’s believable because the relationship development happened off the page and what we get is a peek at the protagonists really digging in to their forever.

Try one on for size:  Lorraine Heath’s When the Duke Was Wicked

Ingrid:

Major toughie, but there’s just no sizzle like Sparring Partners. It’s close to Enemies to Lovers but without the acid, so it’s just enough zip to cause some friction but not so much it’s a distraction. In other words, I love it when the chemistry is front and center. Sparring partners is also a diverse field, too–you can have a mild back-and-forth like a tiny verbal game of badminton, or you can have a high stakes game of barbed insults. No matter what, you know they’re going to make the dance to happily-ever-after an entertaining one. 

You’re going to like: An Heiress to Remember by Maya Rodale.


How about you? What’s your favorite trope?

15 thoughts on “Favorite Tropes: A Positive Post from some Smut Enthusiasts”

  1. Oh, definitely marriage of convenience and the best ones I’ve read this year are:

    Kate Bateman’s This Earl of Mine
    AND
    Angela M. Lopez’s Lush Money (an MOC contemp, wow!)

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    1. MOC sometimes leads to excellent spouse seduction scenarios, so I am there with you!

      I admit, I didn’t love This Earl of Mine – I thought the MOC part of it was excellent (the scene where he shows up at the ball and she’s like “oh shit” was amazing), but there was so much extra plot going on!

      I didn’t read Lush Money (Erin did, and liked it), but I did put in a request for the sequel on NetGalley. Fingers crossed!

      Like

  2. I’m with Ingrid on this one—sparring partners is a really nice way to put it, and I like how the sparring can occur on a spectrum of ‘mild back-and-forth’ to ‘barbed insults’. I’ve just finished Dare’s The Duchess Deal, and I think she excels at the mild, cute, back-and-forth sort of verbal sparring. Another trope I really like is pining from afar—I don’t know if you have another name for it, but it’s something like what we see with Girl Gone Viral, or Kleypas’s Seduce Me at Sunrise. The power/status difference between the hero and heroine is usually reversed in the heroine’s favour, and we usually have a tortured-hero type who greatly respects her but also feels like she’s too good for the likes of him.

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    1. You’re right – Tessa Dare does **excellent** verbal sparring. (If you like her, you like also might Julia Quinn, though Quinn can sometimes get a little too “witty” for my taste.) I can’t believe I haven’t read any of her stuff in years; I should see what she’s released recently.

      We don’t have a Pining from Afar tag yet, but I know EXACTLY what you mean. A little bit of Unrequited Love plus a little bit of Uptown Girl, if I’m using our very official terminology.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been enjoying her Girl Meets Duke series. I didn’t realize how much I missed her wit and humor in writing. (I’ve tried Quinn before but I found she just never clicked with me… I’m not sure why. I’ll definitely give her a try again though.)

        Exactly!!!! Unrequited love + uptown girl is perfect. I’d love to see more books like it but I don’t think they’re as popular as the tropes mentioned here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Girl Meets Duke has been pretty fun, but my favorite so far has absolutely been The Duchess Deal. Gail Carriger also does pretty good banter, but those books are a bit extra. I think, with JQ, if you don’t enjoy Romancing Mister Bridgerton, she’s probably just not a good fit. Before the most recent series, some of the newer books (Smythe-Smith books especially) jumped the shark (to me).

        It seems like enemies to lovers is currently everybody’s favorite, but we’ll just keep looking for other good tropes to rec!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m waiting to read the entire series—I’ve just finished Governess Game and I would say I liked Duchess Deal more. The pet names were just hilarious to me. I think I read until the 5th Bridgerton book before I quit with the series—the only book I liked there was the second one (which had an enemies to lovers vibe, lol). Yeah, I’ve seen those around and I wasn’t really interested in them, either. They felt similar to Kleypas’s Ravenels series—I tried reading Winterborne and Hello Stranger, and I had to DNF BOTH. This is considering I reread some books from the Hathaways and Wallflowers series at least twice a year.

        I look forward to more of your trope raves and rants! They also help me think about my romance reading in another light. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. With Quinn, I like her older stuff better than her newer stuff. But it might also be that I liked her stuff better 10 years ago because of where I was in my life, and that my taste has moved away from her style. I am still suuuuuuper excited about the Netflix adaptation of her Bridgerton novels, because all that banter and drama is perfect for TV.

        I read the first Girl Meets Duke book, and thought it was pretty good, but didn’t like it as much as her Spindle Cove books (really, just the one where the scientist lady blackmails a rake into fake eloping with her so she can go to a science conference). I should go back and find the rest of the series though!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oooh, I didn’t know there would be a Netflix adaptation!!! I’d actually be interested in that.

        Yes re the Spindle Cove books—and YES TO THAT BOOK. Both Spindle Cove and Castles worked very well for me. Her earlier books just weren’t as good, and I’m liking Girl Meets Duke mainly because I miss her writing style.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh! (Sorry for spamming you.)

        I know we’ve talked about Rai and how her earlier series was all the angst, BUT Hurts to Love You does have a bit of the unrequited love / uptown girl thing going on. Not quite the same dynamic as the other books you mentioned, but it might make it worth the angst for you?

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