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Are There Storylines You’ll Always Read (or Almost Always?)

Last week, we ran a poll asking people if there were storylines that people would just not read. A whopping 80% percentage of people said "yes." I received a few private emails by authors despairing over this poll. Fear not authors! For every reader who hates a particular trope, there are people who love them.
Sarah Morgan USA Today

For example, one of the oft repeated storylines to be avoided by the commenters were secret baby stories. The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that no one should write secret baby stories. But Sarah Morgan's One Night-Nine-Month Scandal debuted at number 49 on the USA Today list. Anything above 50 is included in the USA Today printed list. She sold more copies, according to USA Today’s metric, than Jennifer Crusie’s hardcover Maybe This Time which clocked in at 75 for its first week of sales.

The truth is that there are stories that people don't like and those stories still sell. And there are stories that people love and don't sell. When I was sorting through the Berkley books for the giveaway this weekend, I noted that there were 7 titles that no one requested which, if you think about it, is pretty amazing given that there were over 800 comments. But the books that weren’t requested were of very popular story tropes; books with story lines that didn’t seem to hit anyone’s hot button topics.

I’ve heard editors lament that the worst question that they can get on a panel is “what are you looking for” because authors seem to want an answer like “300 pages on a secret baby plus Navy SEAL hardened by the loss of his mother at an early age who seeks out vengeance upon his family’s killer while falling in love with a tender, virginal, but tough county prosecutor with her own demons set in the deep south and the characters’ names should be Eli and Sarah.” But what editors really want, they tell me, is the best book that author can write. I believe that is what readers want as well.

So let's talk about storylines in the reverse. I am a big fan of marriage of convenience stories, marriage in trouble stories, and friends to lovers. I will almost always buy a book containing those tropes.
Madeline Hunter tag line

When we showed the Madeline Hunter cover at RomCon, the readers noted that the tag line suggested “marriage of convenience” and that interested them. Are there tropes you will (almost) always read?

Are there storylines you will always read?

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What are they?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Katrina
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:22:15

    Just like with the storylines I’m not fond of, I think it depends on the execution. A storyline I like can always disappoint me in a particular novel.

    One thing I love is stories where there starts off with an obvious imbalance of power – like when characters come from different social classes, or one is beholden to the other – because I like seeing how the author will flip this balance on its head and keep the tension going between the characters.

    Right now I’m reading IN FOR A PENNY, by Rose Lerner, and I’m loving it because of the disparity between the characters’ classes and their wealth. Better still, they deal with each other honestly and understand their own flaws. These are traits I love.

  2. Elizabeth
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:22:34

    I like marriage of convenience, but I really love second chance relationships – where there has been a relationship that has gone bad, but the H and H have a chance to have another go at it. I enjoy the way they rediscover what they loved about each other in the first place, and have a chance to change and grow as characters. I will always try one of those storylines.

  3. SylviaSybil
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:22:39

    Any story where the heroine is neither virginal nor slutty, but confident in her sexuality.

    Marriage of convenience. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t seen this done horribly wrong, but if it has this trope I will always pick it up and I *love* it done properly.

    Any story where the hero and heroine meet at gunpoint (competing for the same contract, bidding at the same auction, reaching for the last doughnut, etc.)

    Reconciliation stories, although I’ll qualify that depending on why they broke up. It has to be 1) a believable threat and 2) not too heinous, which is a difficult balance to pull off.

  4. Ellie
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:56:17

    I LOVE when the man chases the woman, and she’s the reluctant one. I hate the other way around, so when I find a man who pursues, I’m all over it.

  5. Keri Stevens
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 05:26:55

    I love “trapped together in a snowstorm.” In a way, it’s a variation on the MC idea–two people go too far, too fast, and then must negotiate their way back to a relationship.

  6. Rosie
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 05:40:59

    I’m pretty much a goner for friends to lovers stories.

    It’s nice to read about couples who really like each other (not just lust) before they fall in love.

  7. Eileen
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:03:33

    I can’t resist the old storyline where the hero forces the heroine to be/pretend to be his girlfriend/wife/mistress. Usually this is due to some sort of financial malfeasance on the part of her brother/father. Often the time frame is one year to “pay off” the debt.

    This was very popular in HP books from 80s and 90s, but I still see it around in various incarnations. I can never resist. Penny Jordan wrote a lot of these types back in the day. She was a favorite author of mine then, and I still have loads of her books.

  8. Leslee
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:23:23

    Friends to lovers, definitely.

    I also love man persuing the woman.

    Upperclass woman, lowerclass man and vice versa.

    Man loving woman from afar and her not knowing and then something forces his hand to persue her.

  9. JenM
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:25:40

    I read a lot of historicals, and man do I love me some wounded war hero storylines. Especially from the Napoleonic era! It just get me every time.

  10. Ros
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:42:52

    I don’t think Sarah Morgan’s book is really a secret baby story, though. There is a pregnancy, but she does plan to tell the father and he does find out fairly early on in the proceedings. In fact, she’s still pregnant at the end of the book and the baby doesn’t even appear.

    I’m another sucker for marriage of convenience/forced marriage storylines.

  11. Mireya
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:49:31

    Yup, for me, in historical romances, the bluestocking type of story. I also like stories in which the hero is less than pretty, or has been physically/emotionally damaged in some way. Some examples are Julie Quinn’s “Dancing at Midnight”, Victoria Dahl’s “A Little Bit Wild” and Elizabeth Hoyt’s “To Beguile a Beast”.

  12. cead
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:56:34

    My favourite storyline is anything where the couple already knows each other, regardless of how. Friends to lovers; antagonists to lovers; marriage of convenience; former lovers; whatever. Watching people reevaluate their feelings for each other and renegotiate is much more interesting to me than love/lust at first sight.

    I also really like bad boy/good girl stories (and good boy/bad girl stories), road trip stories, and stories a la LM Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. And I prefer it when the heroine, regardless of her experience, has some sense of her own sexuality and doesn’t just suddenly wake up in the presence of the hero.

  13. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 06:58:56

    *G* I know one of the storylines that people will steer away from was betrayal/false pretenses, but I actually love those sort of stories.

    There’s something about the immediate conflict and I wonder how the author is going to fix it.

    Also like friends to lovers/secret admirer and while I don’t necessarily READ a lot of them, I’ve got a huge soft spot for high school sweetheart-type romances.

  14. Janet P.
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:21:15

    I’m a huge sucker for romantic suspense but not the Navy Seal is protecting me type. I like for the heroines to be full partners in the action – ie Alyssa Locke in the Troubleshooters.

    I’m also love instant soulmate type of stories where they two main characters like each other as people from the beginning.

  15. Michelle
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:27:00

    I love any stories with lots of animals, a vet, animal trainer etc. Loved Nora Roberts The Search.

    Also like Scarlet Pimpernal type stories where people think the hero is an idiot and he is really brilliant.

  16. joanne
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:35:49

    A brilliant (intelligent, not necessarily British) heroine with a hero that isn’t intimidated by her smarts.

    A wounded hero/heroine storyline will always call to me- unless the character is bent on revenge.

    A love story that involves a mystery, preferably murder mystery, without revenge being the main concern.

    Love stories with some humor which is not the same as pratfalls.

  17. Kati
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:37:24

    Well, first, I’m a HUGE fan of the secret baby plot, so authors, please don’t stop writing them!

    My two other favorites are the Ugly Duckling trope, and my all time favorite “Oh Holy Crap, I’m in Love with my Best Friend’s sister!”.

  18. Lynne Connolly
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:41:31

    The Sarah Morgan story was just fab-u-lous. Not a secret baby book, but at this stage I’m pretty sure she could make that work, even.

    I love the disguise stories, the undercover stories, where either he or she aren’t what they seem. As the reader, I like to know from the start, or nearly the start, but love it when someone has hidden depths or is masquerading. Hate it when it’s a historical that doesn’t work with history, or when it’s just not believable (a lot of chicks-in-pants stories are like that, but when they work, they really work!) And like Michelle, the Scarlet Pimpernel stories really work for me.

    Also love when both h/h are competent, intelligent and show it. Smart characters. I think that’s why I enjoy Julie James’s books.

    And the unusual, where the author dares to be different. Georgette Heyer’s “Cotillion” is like this. She has a “hero alpha” style character but he isn’t the hero – the hero is Freddy, a man we would all really like to marry in reality – not massively intellectually clever, but with a lot of nous, elegant, gentlemanly, modest, and happy. Sometimes we need a break from the broody ones.

    Actually, talking about what I like in books has given me a real happy today!

  19. CupK8
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:46:26

    My tastes differ depending on the sub-genre. With historicals, I love a good spy story, women who struggle to find their place in a restrictive society, and anything that doesn’t take place in Regency Englad.

    For the first, I’m just a sucker for the action, and it’s far enough removed from current events that I can enjoy it more (less thinking about political ramifications – even fictional ones).

    For the second, I’ve seen it done really badly. The key for me is the struggle to find a choice that will still allow her to remain true to herself – or to find a choice at all, in some cases.

    For the third, that’s not to say I won’t read something in Regency England, but something in a different time or a different place immediately catches my eye.

    As far as contemporaries go, I really don’t have enough contemps under my belt to make a statement about it – yet.

  20. j
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:49:32

    Geeks. I luuurrrve geeks. But proper geeks, by which I mean the skinny, clever guys in glasses who always despair of ever meeting a woman in real life. NOT the hunky guys who are supposedly geeks because they wear D&G specs and know their way around a computer. Give me a nervy, unconfident long-haired hacker in horn-rims and unfashionable clothes and I’m a happy girl.

  21. Isabel C.
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:49:48

    I loved Cotillion so much. I like “alpha” heroes–Mr. Darcy got me through four years of finals–but I’m also a giant fan of the “beta”: the earnest, friendly, not-brooding-and-badass sort.

    Adding my vote to heroines with sexual experience or at least theoretical knowledge or confidence.

    I also like working relationships and friendships that turn into love–and *adult* characters, the sort who deal with their problems like reasonable people.

    Wounded/traumatized war heroes are a big one for me too.

    And I’m a giant sucker for makeovers.

  22. Leigh
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:52:49

    Wow, talk about fitting in. . . .I too love a man courting a women. . . where she is not interested and he is. Also love animals in stories. . .

    I love repartee between the heroine and hero.

    Reconciliation stories and lovers re-uniting will get my attention. . Although I am tired of girl coming back to small town where she meets the former bad boy.

    I love the type of stories where people think the heroine is stupid dumb blonde type stereotype and she is not. . . . .

  23. Carin
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:56:32

    Well, I’m a huge werewolf fan. Such a weakness. Especially if it’s mostly *just* werewolves as opposed to vampire/werewolf/fairy/selkie/gnome ensemble casts. Actually when I think about it, it’s shifters, not just werewolves.

    I love the marriage of convenience story line, and I consider Beauty & the Beast marriages my favorites. I like a good B&tB story even without the MoC.

    If I hear about a strong, intelligent, sure of herself heroine, I’ll read just about anything that goes along with it.

    I like friends to lovers, too.

  24. Jennifer
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:02:49

    I don’t have plots I WON’T read, but there are definetly ones I will.

    1) Wounded hero/beauty & the beast like Simply Love by Mary Balogh, The Raven Prince or To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt. He doesn’t even have to be actually wounded for me to pick it up- a hero that isn’t stereotypically attractive like that Brockmann with the Naval Reserve helicoptor pilot is enough.

    2)Bad boy loved good girl from afar as teenagers and did something awful to her in his misguided sense of boy love then they meet again as adults. I guess the “something awful” bit is optional.

    3) Related to #2, relationships with an upper class/lower class conflict, especially when it’s the hero who is lower class. That to me is a more interesting jump for the author to make. Mechanic hero and lawyer heroine books are awesome!

  25. Ciar Cullen
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:10:37

    I can tolerate most things that don’t involve the heroine opening a bed and breakfast, a gift shop, or a bakery in her old small town. Or the hero being the person to be about to forclose on the house, b&b, etc. I do like geeks–sucker for them.

  26. Elyssa Papa
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:15:43

    It won’t surprise you, Jane, that those storylines you mention are my favorites, too. ;)

    I also love Wallflower stories and I’m a total sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings. If a book has that storyline, I’m all over it.

    I also really love governess storylines–where governess falls in love w/ sexy man w/ secrets. I blame JANE EYRE for this.

  27. Kay
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:22:27

    I love (and write) redemption stories. I love (and have tried to write) stories which move between past and present, usually between generations.

  28. cead
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:32:45

    @j: Ooh, do you have any recommendations for good geek stories? I love stories with real geeks too, but all the ones I seem to find turn out to have faux-geeks.

  29. BethanyA
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:38:19

    With Historicals, I enjoy the “Best Friend’s Sister” motif, really enjoy the ugly duckling/spinster theme: Anne Gracie’s “The Perfect Rake” and Julie Ann Long’s “And Then He Kissed Her”

    For Contemporaries, I’m a little odd: I love smart, educated, and rich heroes who choose a blue collar career. I thought “Lead Me On” was one of the sexiest books I’ve read in years. So looking forward to the new Nora Roberts, “Happy Ever After”, with the hot mechanic. Somehow the blue collar job translates to having smoking hot moves in the bedroom.

    This all might have started with a fling I had in college with a construction worker…

  30. Kelly
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:40:34

    In Harlequins, I like for either the hero or heroine to be totally in love at the very beginning of the story and then for some reason the two of them are stuck together–in a marriage of convenience, or because they are working on a project together, or it’s fine with me if she’s pregnant. I generally like marriage of convenience stories, but in Antonides Forbidden Wife, which I just read, I quit halfway through the book because neither the hero or heroine was in love yet. Passion means “in love” and I want it by the end of the first chapter.

  31. Joy
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:42:36

    I like marriage of convenience stories, stories where sexual intimacy comes too soon and the problems of that need to be worked out (Mary Balogh has written a fair number of those), stories where the h/h “have” to marry because of lost reputation or pregnancy. In other words, find some trope to force this couple to be together and see how they work it out.

    I am also very fond of road romances, romances where traumatic events, like war, bring the h/h together, and romances where the h/h have to work together to pull off some kind of con or scam.

    I also like storylines where the hero/heroine are very different kinds of people. Bluestocking/rake romances (a la Anne Stuart) are one of this type, but there are others (the extrovert and the strong silent type, etc).

    Conflicted loyalty romances (like when the h/h are on different sides of a war, family feud, or some other issue) can be brilliant when done well. Done badly, they’re abysmal.

  32. Grace
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:51:48

    I like reading wallflower stories, especially with clever, cutting heroes. It’s such a contrast in characters. Makes for great internal conflict.

    I love reading fairytale retellings-particularly by Bettie Sharpe.

  33. Patty H.
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:52:33

    Bodyguard stories. It puts the hero and heroine together in intimate situations. I love the man as protector and he can’t help himself that he falls for his client.

  34. Bookworm1858
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:04:34

    Cinderella variations: I’m a complete sucker for them.

  35. Jennifer M
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:05:18

    Virgin Hero FTW! If there’s a virgin hero, I’ll read it. It doesn’t matter if it’s paranormal, contemporary, etc.

  36. Robin Bayne
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:08:41

    Reunion stories, and as one other reader mentioned, there’s just something about a trapped-n-a-snowstorm story : )

  37. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:09:53

    There is nothing I will ALWAYS read. I choose a book based upon an author I like, my interest or non-interest in the subject matter, the quality of the back blurb and reading a few pages.
    While I’m partial to science fiction romance and a great Highlander story – I’ve picked up books that showed tremendous promise in the beginning, but were DNF. On the other hand, I’ve read borrowed works of romance suspense that I felt so-so about and ended up loving.

  38. Carin
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:12:25

    @cead – geek books: I liked Victoria Dahl’s Crazy for You which has a safety obsessed hero (which came across as geek to me) who has everyone fooled into thinking he’s a big adventurer.

    Vicki Lewis Thompson has a whole series of nerd-hero books. I love them!

  39. Juliette
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:19:06

    Nothing I wouldn’t not try, but the ‘woman has a secret’ that the man senses and is determined to figure that secret out is like catnip for me.

    I enjoy the class disparity plot, especially when the woman is secretly titled, but is hiding it for some reason, example would be Adele Ashworth’s ‘Duke of Sin’. A variation on the ‘woman has a secret’ plot is when they have some sort of paranormal ability, example: Connie Brockway’s ‘Enchanted’, and Liz Carlyle’s ‘Three Little Secrets’ is true to its title: secret child, paranormal ability and why she left the hero.

    I also love, when done with originality, the Cinderella story plot. One of my favorites of all time is Julia Quinn’s ‘An Offer From a Gentleman’.

    It’s almost a prerequisite for there to be lots and lots of longing and sexual tension. Example: Julia Quinn’s, ‘When He Was Wicked’ and Elizabeth Hoyt’s ‘The Leopard King’ and ‘The Serpent King’.

    I also like when the H/h are hiding, on the run, holed up somewhere, but I don’t find many authors/books that do that well.

    I avoid pirate plots and high seas adventures . . . I got burned out by that plot in the 80’s.

  40. Charlotte Stein
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:28:52

    I second anyone who’s said geeks, and beta men. Give me a book with a geek guy or a beta, and it’s an auto-buy.

    Have also got a weakness for femdom, but only if its without the whips and chains. And I think part of my love of all three of these things has come from their very rarity.

    Oh and I also absolutely love future set stories where people have kind of forgotten…uh…sex things. Give me that story, I will buy it today, tomorrow, yesterday. Heck, I wrote that storyline!

  41. Lynn M
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:35:58

    I’m a “it depends” because execution is everything for me. But there are tropes I tend to lean towards.

    I love tortured hero stories, wherein a bad boy/lost soul hero who doesn’t believe in love finds it with a strong, supportive heroine. Not big on rake redemption – don’t need the hero to be some kind of stud to love this. Good example for me of this done well is “Lover Awakened” by J.R. Ward.

    Also a big fan of protective hero stories. Sure, it falls into cliche when you go down the former military/cop/fireman has to save/protect the incapable heroine, and I’m not talking about that. If the heroine is TSTL and gets herself into trouble, I’m gone. But when she takes the danger seriously and participates in her own safety, I love it when the male is all about keeping her safe. Call me old fashioned.

    And I’m a sucker for unrequited love, either as a friends-to-lovers scenario or a noble-reason-we-can’t-be-together story. Love it when the hero/heroine sacrifices for the other because of their love.

  42. cead
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:44:05

    @Carin: Thanks!

    @Michelle: Scarlet Pimpernel! I love those and never seem to find them.

    The bluestocking/rake storyline is also one of my favourites if it’s done well, but I hate it when the “intelligent” female character in a historical turns out to be more full of herself than intelligent, and I’ve read enough of the latter that I’m wary of approaching them now. And I like stories where the hero and heroine are bona fide equals, but it’s hard to figure out whether you have one of those before reading it.

  43. gwen hayes
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:50:31

    I love forced proximity/fake relationship stories. Especially if he is her body guard/cop and they have to convince people they are a couple but they are antagonistic towards each other.

    I also have a soft spot in my heart for the girl who has crushed on the guy since high school and now he finally sees her. *sigh*

    And good girl/bad boy where he doesn’t think he’s good enough for her but she sees something inside him that nobody else does.

  44. Anne
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:00:03

    I’m a sucker for amnesia stories. If done well, I love them, but even if they’re not executed all that well I still enjoy them most of the time simply because of the amnesia part. I’m not really sure why I love amnesia stories so much (and I know a lot of people don’t like this plotline at all), but it almost always works for me.

  45. Wendy
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:03:34

    Individual from People/Group A learns to be like People/Group B with ulterior motives, but falls for someone from People B. Individual A must now make a Big Moral Decision based on previous loyalties and current love.
    I’m trying to think of books right now, and I can’t…which leads me to believe people should write more of them.
    All I can think of right now is Avatar. Even with all its plot-flaws, the film played to this story and I got sucked in.

    I’m also, more passively, a sucker for the “trapped in a snowstorm” trope.

  46. Isobel Carr
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:07:01

    It’s all in the execution . . .

    There are certainly things that I'd prefer to avoid in books (“rapey heroes and the heroines who love them” for example), but there's no surefire trope that will make me buy a book. And for every trope I dislike (with the exception of the afore mentioned rapey hero), I can almost always find an example that worked for me. *shrug*

    As an author, I certainly find myself with plots and characters I never consciously intended to write. For example, I'm in the midst of my first virginal heroine. Ack! I would never in a million years have chosen to write a virgin (I'm all about widows, courtesans, and fallen women), but she's the little sister of the hero of book one and no matter what I did, she wouldn't get off the damn page and let me give his best friend any other heroine. *double sigh* And she wouldn't allow herself to have been secretly deflowered either. I kept trying to write it that way, and she would just glare, shake her head, and refuse to cooperate.

  47. readerdiane
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:13:46


    I agree with Joanne. I also like a smart heroine who doesn’t do stupid things. She may have no other choice but she goes in knowingly to the situation. My hero doesn’t have to be handsome but he can’t be stupid.

  48. Gwynnyd
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:14:26

    I had to say “maybe”, because the execution is all. I don’t want the same story I liked over and over in a predictable fashion, I want to be surprised and amazed at how well the author managed to make even the standard plots new and exciting and different.

  49. Marguerite Butler
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:27:33

    Marriage of convenience. Total sucker for this. You’re stuck with a stranger. Now make it work.

    Road romances. The ever changing scenery keeps things lively.

    Beta/geeky heros. I’m so over the big, hairy alpha brute who grunts.

  50. Bonnie Dee
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:27:40

    I’m particularly enamored of cross-class or cross-cultural love stories. I love the idea of two people who should never be together according to society somehow finding a way to cross all boundaries to be together. I think it’s a rich context for a love story.

  51. Christine Rimmer
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:29:49

    I use to read anything MOC–but that was before I started writing them. I’ve written a lot of them. I love writing them. Don’t read them as much as I used to, however. And strictly as a reader, I love the LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER plot. The servant/gardener/etc and the lady. Just something so totally hot about that trope for me.

  52. Jane O
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:37:00

    Assuming decent execution, I love marriage of convenience stories, amnesia plots, and Indiana Jones-type adventure tales (nothing remotely realistic, please).

  53. Ridley
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:41:11

    While I wouldn’t say any of these are auto-buy qualities, they at least ensure I strongly consider buying the book:

    Past history – Friends-to-lovers, past antagonists, second chance relationships, etc. I love to watch the couple work through the angst and confusion as they figure out what they want. Delicious.

    Beta heroes – I love the earnest, nice guy who knows his place in the world and is comfortable with it. Bonus points when combined with a smart, take-charge woman and he isn’t intimidated.

    Disabled protagonists – This one’s messy for me. Lots of these books annoy me (or enrage me, in the case of Catherine Anderson’s execrable Phantom Waltz) but I like to see disabled characters in fiction. Usually I’m screaming at the author for turning the cripple into a helpless “other,” but when it’s done right it’s a lovely feeling.

  54. Daisy
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:44:13

    While there are books tropes I avoid like the plague, there are no tropes that draw me in based on that alone. For me, the story has to be well written, and I have to like the characters. There are tropes I like better than others, but there is not one in particular that I will read regardless of who/how it was written.

  55. Lori
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:44:30

    Oh I love the geeks too but also the geeky or overweight heroines who are loved just the way they are. If she has to lose weight or Cinderella herself to get the guy then that’s my wallbanger.

    I like marriage of convenience stories but not with alpha assholes. Obviously the big, brooding alpha is not my favorite.

    Best books in the world to me? Clever dialogue, equal partners, no silliness. Jennifer Cruisie, Victoria Dahl, Sarah Addison Allen are some of my faves.

    And a heroine who bakes or cooks pretty much is a fave also. I love foodie romances.

  56. Debra
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:02:55

    I am pretty much open with what I will read, so long as it sounds good I will try it. I am part of a romance group that ARC and I have taken the books by the new authors, or books others did not want to read and have been very pleased.

    I will say that the one book I don’t go out of my for are books about vampires, but I will read them. Oh, and the seven books the people didn’t, you can send them to me. I will read them.

  57. Estara
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:10:58

    I don’t read according to storylines, but according to author and if I don’t know them according to reviews from trusted sources – if the author suits me I follow them along to the next genre.
    If they change their voice completely I might then not read more, but if they’re recognisable in their voice then it works. That’s why I got from Nora Roberts to J.D. Robb who writes in a genre I simply don’t buy because I’m not really interested in it. I buy the Robb books for her voice and her character interactions.

  58. Perry
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:16:33

    I will almost always read stories of post apocalyptic rebuilding of society. With or without romance.

    Also I love stories where the protagonist has to start from scratch after losing everything.

  59. jayhjay
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:31:04

    My favorite are the “beauty and the beast” type stories. Damaged hero (physically or emotionally), heroine who can see past this and they find love. Ellizabeth Hoyt’s Beguile a Beast is a good example. Just read one of Patricia Ryan’s medievals with a similar theme. Something with a strong hero who also has a vulnerability.

    I like marriage of convenience, but only in historicals. No contemporary “the will requires I marry in 6 days” stuff.

    Nothing else that is an automatic buy. I think I have more that are definite no’s than definite yes’s.

  60. EmmyTie
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 11:38:47

    I’ve got tropes I like that will make me look twice (Hero pursuing Heroine, friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, geeky MC), but if I find a book that combines my favorite tropes I’ll buy it without reading a word. Geeky MC pursued by hot shot cool hero? I’m all over that. Best friends where the hero realizes he loves his BFF and is the pursuer? It’s like hot chocolate. Even if it’s a not the best, I’m not going to turn it down.

  61. Robin
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:09:08

    Love, love, love marriage in trouble stories, and marriage of convenience, as well, which so often turn into marriage in trouble stories. Also love good road trip stories. And while it’s difficult to pull off in a way that registers a middle ground between Neanderthal and dupe, I sometimes love those stories where the hero fundamentally mistakes the character of the heroine in a negative way, but falls in love with her anyway.

    In the end, though, the *type* of story is much less influential for me than the *quality* of the story. I’m way more open to reading almost anything if it’s good than I am likely to pick up a book simply because it’s got a storyline I like.

  62. Jane Marie
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:22:08

    As an author I’d like to thank all that commented. It’s nice to know what readers love.

  63. Jen X
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:22:59

    Reunion/second chance and one-sided crush love stories always get me.

  64. Las
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:24:23

    I just started reading Sarah Morgan’s book based on DA’s recommendation and it really is fantastic. An HP where the H/H’s conversations resemble that which you’d find in reality? Get the hell out! But I’m not averse to secret baby plots, which is funny, because considering my likes and dislikes I really should hate them.

    Huge fan of marriage of convenience plots. It’s an autobuy for me unless I dislike the author.

    I also really enjoy stories where the hero has been secretly in love with the heroine for years. (But I won’t read books where it’s the heroine who’d loved the hero.)

  65. Kate Pearce
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:36:57

    I always go into a book with an open mind because it is fascinating to see how an author can take a well established theme and make it their own. That’s why I enjoy judging the RITAs because I get to read books that I might normally never think to look for.
    I’m more happy to follow an author where she wants to go rather than look for a particular story. The exception being cowboy books. I just love cowboys LOL And coming home to face your crap, I love those too. :)

  66. Jean
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 13:04:28

    I love science fiction romance, and will read virtually anything in that genre, especially those that involve an Earth woman or man in love with an extraterrestrial man or woman.

    I also like humorous romance, like Crusie’s Strange Bedfellows. I still laugh at the restaurant scene. I read anything listed as a romantic comedy in the hopes it will make me laugh out loud.

  67. Jean
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 13:05:19

    Oops. That title should be Strange Bedpersons.

  68. Las
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 13:14:50

    I will also read any book featuring a heroine who enjoys sex and doesn’t feel all morally conflicted over it, even if she’s a virgin at the start of the book. In Madeline Hunter’s The Sins of Lord Easterbrook, the heroine, right after she has sex with the hero for the first time, says, “Now I feel stupid for having waited so long,” and that one line elevated that book from an ok read to awesome for me. Susan Johnson used to be really good at writing women who took such uninhibited joy in sex, and her books were always such a delight to read for that reason.

  69. lizzdmc
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 13:25:15

    I like cozy mysteries, with an amature detective like female protaganist. My favorite series for this year has been Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen.

  70. hapax
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 14:27:14

    Jumping on the beta hero / geeky hero / hero with the unrequited crush / etc. bandwagon.

    If so many of us love this trope, why don’t we see it more often?

    Also a sucker for Friends-to-Lovers, especially if there’s a Beatrice and Benedick vibe (that is, friendly rivals, not so much real enemies)

    Personal fetish: short heros. I am so tired of lumbering alpha behemoths going all HULK SMASH over obstacles; give me a short wiry clever sneak any day!

  71. Lindsay
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 14:31:29

    I am also a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, to the point where they will lure me from my historical comfort zone to read a contemporary if it has one. If there’s a marriage of convenience or even a marriage in trouble and the hero doesn’t sound like too much of a douchenozzle, I’m there. Hmmm, reunion stories are also good. Beta heroes are a big lure as well.

    Also, I may be the lone reader who enjoys the Big Misunderstanding, provided it’s not combined with other TSTL behaviour.

  72. Kati
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 14:48:43

    My very favorite old skool trope is the guardian faking his own death in order to force the hero to promise to marry the heroine. A la McNaught. Even better if it’s a kindly old uncle OR the heroine’s mommy’s childhood sweetheart, who just happens to be an Earl.

    I love that trope. No one ever writes it these days because of course, it’s ridiculous. But, OMG, I love that storyline.

  73. Martins
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 14:49:05

    I love the smart, bookish spinster who looks like a rock star to the hero ala Anne Gracie’s “The Perfect Rake”.

  74. Hot Like Sauce
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 14:55:33

    I’m a sucker for troubled marriages or reunited lovers.

    And I’d just like to say Congrats to Sarah Morgan! I read One Night..Nine-Month Scandal and I loved it. Best HP in a while!! (and I don’t think it’s a secret baby in the strict sense of the trope)

  75. MaryK
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 15:07:27

    Ha. I don’t care for kid/baby stories. But I contributed to Sarah Morgan's position on the USA Today list. It depends on the author.

    I will (almost) always read: strong channeling of Beauty & the Beast (or any fairytale really), marriage of convenience, virgin hero, foppish hero a la The Scarlet Pimpernel, physically damaged heroine.

  76. Allison
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 15:32:29

    I love the betrayal/big secret/hidden motives stories and the hurt feelings etc come out when all is revealed. For example he is law enforcement investigating her and goes undercover. And of course she is (practically) totally innocent! But then develop feelings for each other and when she finds out she is no doormat but makes him feel super crummy and he has to work unbelievably hard to even get her to look at him again. After his most heartfelt grovel of all grovels of course!

  77. MaryK
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 15:34:06

    @Keri Stevens: I forgot to list that, and you’re right it is a MC variation which must be why I like it.

    @cead: “stories a la LM Montgomery's The Blue Castle” – I love that book!

  78. allison
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 15:55:20


    Best friends becoming more than friends.

    were!anything. I even read a were!house (not warehouse, WEREhouse) book and loved it (although not in the manner the author originally intended, methinks).

    Assassins. I’m thinking, especially, of stories like Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville and Warrior’s Cross by Madeline Urban (oh man, both of those are so freaking good). I love the killer with the heart of gold sort of storyline.

    Books that have summaries that make me laugh. Somebody Killed His Editor by Josh Lanyon really fits the bill here. It was a crack-y premise that had me laughing even as people were dying around them (that makes me sound like a horrible person, especially right after I admit I love assassin stories).

  79. jayhjay
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:22:38


    Michelle, did you read Sherry Thomas’ latest? It has the smart hero faking being dumb (he is a spy). Very good read!

  80. RebeccaJ
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:23:21

    I read almost all stories with lawmen, meaning cops, sheriffs, deputies, not so much with anything FBI or Special Ops type stuff. But it DOES have to have an interesting plot to go along with it.

  81. jayhjay
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:23:44


    Michelle, did you read the Sherry Thomas book with that plotline? Name is escaping me… His at night maybe? Hero is a spy who pretends to be not smart. Very enjoyable.

  82. EGS
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:32:37

    Count me in for loving marriages of convenience. I’m also a sucker for royals in romances, and heroes who have been in love with the heroine for a long time but have been unable (or unwilling) to express their feelings.

  83. Barbara Elness
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:38:25

    I too enjoy marriage of convenience stories and friends to lovers. I also enjoy the reunited couples/second chance and the rake and the straight-laced spinster stories.

  84. cead
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:52:41

    @hapax: Personal fetish: short heros. I am so tired of lumbering alpha behemoths going all HULK SMASH over obstacles; give me a short wiry clever sneak any day!

    Seconded! (I always had a bit of a crush on Silk from the Eddings’ Belgariad.) There are heroines in various shapes and sizes; why not more diversity in heroes?

    @MaryK: I love Blue Castle. First romance novel I ever read, and still my favourite – possibly my all-time favourite book regardless of genre.

  85. MaryK
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:21:37

    @cead: You know, I think it was my first too. It wasn’t presented or packaged as a Romance when I read it (it was the same cover style as the Anne books) and it’s never occurred to me to classify it as one. I looked it up on Amazon and there’s a textbook version. Wouldn’t that be a cool surprise on the syllabus?

    OT: Anybody know of a “Romance novels in disguise” list?

  86. BethanyA
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:24:12

    The Blue Castle is MY favorite book of all time. It is now the only book I faithfully re-read each year.

    I still think Barney is one of the sexiest names ever.

  87. Lynn S.
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:51:37

    @Lynne Connolly: I'm with you on the happy. Jane's poll for this week is generating a much different atmosphere although last weeks was very thought provoking. The plot of the Sarah Morgan story sounds good. I haven't read anything by Morgan yet but I have a couple of her books in my ereader queue and I think I'll be adding this one as well.

    I definitely need to find my copy of Cotillion and get it read. A good beta hero is a wonderful thing indeed. My favorite Mary Balogh hero so far has to be Ferdinand Dudley from Nobody's Mistress. The book derailed a bit at the end but Ferdinand was the sweetest sweetheart you could ever meet and Viola deserved a sweetheart.

    Any storyline in the hands of the right author can make for good reading but I have to ask why no appreciation of the asshole/doormat storyline here (just kidding, don't want to ruin the love fest). Actually I would love to see more of the asshole hero/solid metal door heroine. He's so bumfuzzled by his feelings for the heroine that he is insensate and she won't give him one single inch. Ah the fantasy of a hero made loopy by love and the lucky heroine who makes him that way.

  88. Nifty
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:56:15

    Agree about Silk. Although I have to sympathize with Belgarath and how annoyed he gets by Silk at times.

    I’m a fan of stories in which the hero and heroine knew each other as kids, grew up together, and fell in love as adults. I think it’s because I so often feel that that’s an HEA I can believe in. Too many romances have the H/H sailing off into the sunset after just a couple weeks (or even less time!), and I don’t always believe that they are gonna make it after the excitement of their courtship fades. The relationships that have a foundation of childhood friendship seem tried and true and deeply rooted.

  89. Keishon
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 18:24:00

    I will always read marriage in trouble stories, best friends to lovers and wrongfully jailed/accused stories. Kathleen Eagle wrote a good one of the latter, “This Time Forever” and a good one of the former, “Reason to Believe.” I believe she wrote a secret baby one too but the story was more than just that one trope overall.

    I’m just waiting for this author to digitize her backlist for reasonable cost. Excuse this message/plea to the author: PLEASE DIGITIZE YOUR BACKLIST if you are reading this post Ms. Eagle. Thank You. I’m finished.

  90. Aran
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 18:25:14

    I think your “If you Like _____” column answers this question so well, we all tend to have favorite sub-genres in what we enjoy reading. My primary romance category is Historical, and I’m a sucker for:

    1) Fairytale retelling- especially Beauty/Beast type stores.

    2) Classic novel/movie plots given a new twist, e.g. Pride/Predjudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, Sabrina, Gone With The Wind, Gigi etc… preferably with HEA.

    3) Any previously ignored young girl with unrequited love for older male (guardian, sibling’s friend, etc) who is finally noticed following a period of separation during which she has grown into desirable woman.

    4) Heartbroken young widower or guardian falling for Nanny/Governess.

    5) Hero/Heroine return from dead right at the moment the surviving lover has begun to move on.

    6) Disguised H/H (not in costume) but pretending to be something s/he is not – as long as real identity is payoff for H/H.

    Knowing a book has these kinds of plots will only get me to pick up the book to skim it or read reviews, cover, comments. It won’t get me to buy. I’ll overlook a plot device I don’t particularly care for if the writing is good, the characters and story enchant me, or if it’s from an author whom I typically love to read.

  91. Jessa Slade
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 19:17:43

    Sure would be fun and educational if a Pie Chart Fairy could take all the answers from last week and this week and see where there’s overlap and divergence. I suspect then those editors on the panel would have scientific evidence for “Just write a good book.”

  92. Keziah Hill
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 20:07:41

    Like the other poll, I’ll read anything it it’s done well.

  93. orannia
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 20:16:50

    It depends. There are tropes I will always give a second (or third :) glance to, but…the plot and characters need to be sound. I love marriage of convenience stories and Plain Jane stories. Mix them up and I’m present with bells on :)

    I’m also going to go out on a limb and confess that I’m always on the look out for books with sexually dysfunctional characters. (I haven’t found that many, just Lucy Monroe’s Blackmailed into Marriage [yes it was also a marriage of convenience story]) and JB MacDonald’s By Degrees (which is m/m.) So many books have characters, including virgins, who find sex a complete walk in the park so it’s refreshing (and OK relevant :) to have a character in which that is not the case. However, absolutely no ‘true love’ quick fixes!

  94. Grace
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 20:21:32

    I just read a post on another forum by someone who doesn’t read DA but was addressing this same topic a couple of days ago. One of her favorite tropes was the exchange of anonymous messages between the hero and heroine. The two fall in love with each other’s words before they know who the words belong to.

    I’d forgotten about this trope because I haven’t seen it in a while. One of my favorite books to use it was an older romance (written in the 80s. I think it was called Chase the Moon (don’t hold me to that title).

  95. jen
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 20:28:59

    Tortured hero stories and “Austen-inspired” books.

  96. Aemelia
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 20:29:15

    I love redemption stories. Give me a former villian turned hero any day, I love watching the turn around.

  97. peggy h
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 21:11:09

    I am usually attracted to long-time-friends-to-lovers stories but I got a couple this Spring from the Harlequin Superromance line that really disappointed me, and one was by an author whose books I normally love. So I guess to a certain extent, execution, plot, and character development still trumps a lot of preconceived, instinctive likes/dislikes (though I have yet to encounter a secret baby book that I thought was really enjoyable).

    In general, I am attracted to books with:

    – some (or sometimes, a lot of) humor,
    – heroines who are smart and not constantly being too spunky for their own good or constantly putting their entire lives and futures on the line for family members who are essentially leeches “but he’s my brother!”,
    – a heroine with a demanding career who actually (gasp!) gets to keep her career at the end,
    – a BETA hero with intelligence and confidence.

  98. Sunshineyness
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 23:07:40

    Instant keywords for me are always: con artists or thieves/highway(wo)men. This comes mostly from my intense love of anything Robin Hood.

    Also a big time travel fan but I’m awfully picky in that arena. I love it when an historian or some sort of academic gets to do it because it feels more like a wish fulfillment. I hate when it’s someone time traveling who can’t appreciate it. Honestly, one of my favorite romance novels (and it’s usually shelved in straight sci-fi) is Richard Mathieson’s “Somewhere in Time” because it’s a perfect blend of sci-fi time travel and romance.

    As far as paranormals go about the only kind that are instant buys for me (mostly because it’s rare in the never ending sea of vamp/were/shape shifting/dark saga ones) are a good old fashioned ghost story. (Any recommendations are HIGHLY welcome. So hard to find a good ghost story with romance in it!) I also love when they are more rooted in the real world with only some fantasy elements and the world at large is unaware of the supernatural. LOVE when the hero or heroine is completely in the dark of this world only to be flung into it by the other party.

    I also have a big guilty love of highlander novels or anything set in Scotland, though it’s not always a must buy. Bad accents and kilts and everything. Ha. I really love anything set during the time of Robert the Bruce/War of Independence.

    Instant buys are things set in the American Revolution. Such an untapped era in the romance world. Things set in America that aren’t the wild west (though I read westerns ONLY if they feel like real gun toting old westerns) and Victorian England.

    I also have a real guilty love of a good pirate story.

    I also love anything that has to do with planes/pilots.

    LOL, recently in googling around I found a book called “Once a Pirate” that’s due to be re-released soon. It’s about a time traveling female fighter pilot who falls for a pirate. It was like the perfect sounding novel! I can’t wait to get to read it, lol!

  99. MaryK
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 00:12:51


    LOL, recently in googling around I found a book called “Once a Pirate” that's due to be re-released soon. It's about a time traveling female fighter pilot who falls for a pirate. It was like the perfect sounding novel! I can't wait to get to read it, lol!

    I liked that book even though I normally don’t like time travel. I only read it because I was glomming Susan Grant after reading The Star King. The method of TT was hazy which is great by me, but I’ve talked to a fan of TT who didn’t like it because of that aspect. I think of it as TT for people who don’t like time travel. :) Different strokes!

    Have you tried Linda Howard’s Son of the Morning? TT and a Scottish hero!

  100. Rebyj
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 01:42:11

    Hero or heroine thought to be dead then return. Love those. And I will buy pretty much any time travel. Sadly lacking these days.

  101. tsukishine
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 03:22:08

    @Aran: I think you’re my kindred spirit of books, because everything on your list set off my alerts!

    A couple of things will always ping my radar when I’m cruising through the books:

    Retold/revisited/reimagined fairy tales. Especially Arthurian legends (which some might not count in the same category) and Greek myths (again, some might not lump these together). I love the creativity some authors engage in order to remold these stories, and this is one of the few tale types I’ll instantly give a chance to.

    Friends to lovers, and (sometimes related), childhood acquaintances to romance. As one user above put it, “oh no, I’m in love with my best friend’s sister!” I can’t resist those stories; there’s something about having two people who know one another coming together to realize there’s so much they DON’T know (and to me, such romances almost feel more solid, though I’m still a sucker for love at first sight).

  102. sirius11214
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 06:30:49

    Except one trope that I mentioned in another poll that I will not read even if the writing is good (I will rape you then we will fall in love and live happily ever after), I will read everything else and whether I will like it or not will depend on the execution. One of my very favorite tropes is “thin line from hate to love”.

  103. Sweeney
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 09:09:29

    I will always read sea adventures. I love them. Anything with a professional athlete, I’m a sucker for. Am also still a sucker for military brass, hardened warrior with a heart of gold. I like real heroines, anyone who seems to virginal too sweet I can’t take.

  104. christine rimmer
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 09:56:17

    Oh, and anything about the Tudors. Anything. Henry VIII. the Marys. Elizabeth. I’m so there! And fictionalize the crap out of it, please. I love it when authors put their own spin on historic events.

  105. Bobbie Shaw
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 10:12:31

    I LOVE a hero who has been physically disabled, but not so much when it is the heroine…..Prob does not say anything good about me…
    For contemporaries, I love the trapped together (elevator, house, office, etc, especially when they absolutely hated each other before the trap :)
    For historicals, I love the wallflower/bluestocking/spinster stories.

    But my all time favorite are heroines who are super crazy smart and socially awkward. The best one of these that I read recently was Erin McCarthy’s Hard and Fast (I think that is the title). The banter between Imogen and Ty was a whole lot of awesome!

    If anyone has any recommendations for the heroine/nerd stories I would love them!

  106. Jill Sorenson
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 11:02:47

    I love a good storm/cabin romance.

    Wounded hero (physically or emotionally) and nurse or therapist heroine.

    For historicals, I really like brothel trysts, cross-dressing heroines, and lower class characters, especially pickpocket and Cockney heroes.

  107. Lada
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:07:13

    FWIW to authors, there are plenty here who enjoy the tropes that are not favorites of mine. Jane knows of what she speaks!!

    I am drawn to enemies-to-lovers stories ever since Jessica shot Dain in Lord of Scoundrels. Doesn’t matter which genre either: McNaught’s Kingdom of Dreams, SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet, Singh’s Branded by Fire are all great examples.

    And like many others I enjoy MoC stories (Kleypas’s Devil in Winter) as well as troubled marriages getting a second chance. Hurt and betrayal are difficult things to overcome and writing a believable redemption story must be challenging. Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements is a fabulous example of this type.

    Isn’t it wonderful that we readers have so many choices?

  108. Sarah Morgan
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 13:52:53

    Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on One Night…Nine-Month Scandal – I had a lot of fun writing that story so it's nice to know that people have found it fun to read.

    This is an interesting discussion – for me as a reader, it's all about the characters and the conflict, so I probably wouldn't buy a book just because of a particular trope although I often buy on author and recommendation. Having said that, I do love protector heroes providing they're matched with strong heroines. I also love marriage of convenience and ‘stranded' storylines (cabin/snowed in/lost in forest etc etc) because they produce interesting conflict. They're also fun to write!

  109. jayhjay
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:17:52


    Have you read Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark Series? She has one where the hero (vampire) falls in love with a ghost. No one sees her but him. I can’t remember the title. I think his name is Conrad.

  110. DianeN
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:21:32

    I love military or former military heroes, and I include wounded warriors in that category. I also love “trapped by a …” stories, and that would include a h/h on the run from something perilous–anything that forces them to rely on each other to survive. I love a capable, blue collar hero. There’s just something about a man who can fix whatever is broken, build whatever is required, come up with a plan to defeat the villain and actually have it work, and light the heroine’s fire all at the same time! I also think there’s nothing sexier than a big, macho alpha type laid low with love for his heroine. I’ll take him over a beta hero any day! Oh, and I get very excited when an author actually dares to write about a bald or buzz cut hero. You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing hot hair-challenged men, so obviously there are many women who like that look, right?

  111. Teri P
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 17:09:00

    I have to add my two cents worth for marriage of convenience story lines being right at the top of my list. I don’t know what it is about them, but I love them!

    Friends to lovers, any kind of redemption, or a story line with animals always pulls at my heartstrings too.

    Most important, a well written story in any category will suck me in. A couple of books that have swept me away are “One Reckless Summer” by Toni Blake and Maya Banks latest, “The Darkest Hour”. Both these books had me rooting for the h/h to get back together and some of the emotions brought tears to my eyes. Perfect books…..

  112. ivydtruitt
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 20:00:50

    @ Sunshineyness ~ Cindy Miles and Allie Mackay (McKay, can’t recall which) have some good ghost story romances. Heavy on the romance, not the sex. There were also 3 ghost romances where 1 was a highwayman..I can’t recall the title or author. Excellent books. I’ll post it if I can find/remember.
    I love married couples, second chances, mismatches, where they save each other. One of my all time faves, the heroine was a highwayman. Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain. Still have that book..*S*

  113. Sunshineyness
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 21:51:46

    @MaryK: Oooh, I’ll check that one out.

    @jayhjay: I’ll take a check though I don’t usually do vampires.

    @ivydtruitt: Cools, sounds like good times! Let me know if you remember the other one that sounds like pure win for me.

  114. Bella F.
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 04:23:01

    I love a good dystopic/post-apocalyptic book, especially when there’s romance involved. It’s why I loved the Hunger Games and Uglies series so much (both are YA)
    Other tropes I favor are: Beauty & the Beast, Bond/Mates (as in paranormal), Love Above One’s Station (historicals),and a good Pride & Prejudice retelling :)

  115. Angela
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 09:50:57

    @Sunshineyness – Have you read Lynn Kurland? She has ghosts, some highlanders, some time travel…heavy on romance – closed door. I really enjoy them.

    I actually had to start a discussion about this with some friends. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m most likely to follow an author rather than search out specific tropes. But when trying a new author (based on recommendation) there are things that will get me to read it quicker. And it usually depends on what I haven’t read in a while. I like most storylines (there are few things that are absolute *NO*s for me), so it’s a matter of having variety.

  116. Silvia
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 01:56:12

    “but I really love second chance relationships – where there has been a relationship that has gone bad, but the H and H have a chance to have another go at it.”

    Me toooo! This is my biggest weakness. Not the “we broke up because of a Fake Big Misunderstanding”, but the ones where the break up was real, not based on lies, but now they’ve changed/grown and still love each other and have a chance to fix what wasn’t working the first time.

    I have no idea why I find this so romantic, but I do. I love these stories, and they’re pretty rare (or I just don’t know where to look for them).

    The other trope I love is enemies-to-lovers, but only when it’s not based on Misunderstandings — where they actually should be enemies, with opposing interests. But then they have to work together/share a common goal, for some reason, and fall for each other once they’ve been forced to know each other personally. The complications in loving the person while hating their actions&loyalties is what interests me, which is why I dislike when it’s so easily resolved by making the enmity based on incorrect information or false impressions.

  117. ivydtruitt
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 14:27:18

    @ Sunshineyness
    The author is Sara MacKenzie and the book is Secrets of the Highwayman. The other 2 are Passions of the Ghost and Return of the Highlander. I wish she’d write some more…

  118. Author on Vacation
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 01:45:46

    I don’t think I’m so drawn to particular storylines as much as genre. I’m more likely to consider giving a book/author a chance if they write a favored genre.

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