Pretend relationships. The poor girl and the rich boy. Love triangles. The more things change in romance, the more they stay the same. And that, editors say, is why romance readers keep coming back.
“We’re so delighted, almost unconsciously, when we come across them in a book,” says Monique Patterson, editorial director at St. Martin’s Paperbacks, speaking of the familiar situations that recur in romance novels.
Using tropes can be a shorthand way to organize the characters and the conflict. The fun for readers lies in experiencing the tropes with characters they haven’t encountered before, Patterson says. “Their appeal will never go away because they’re universal.”
Here’s a selection of forthcoming titles that take well-loved archetypes and scenarios for a sideways spin.
Sariah Wilson. Montlake Romance, Jan. 2019
The latest entry in the #Lovestruck series reunites former high school sweethearts—Ashton, an aspiring sports announcer, and Evan, an NFL quarterback—when the press mistakenly announces their engagement.
The tropes: Fake engagement, second-chance romance
The twist: Modern media darlings Ashton and Evan are the contemporary version of Regency royalty, so rather than court gossips, the lying lovers must contend with the ever-watchful world of social media. And rather than Evan pretending to be betrothed in order to secure a hefty inheritance, Ashton is using the engagement to get the scoop that will ensure her dream job.
Crazy Cupid Love
Amanda Heger. Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jan. 2019
Eliza dismisses the notion of happily ever after as mere myth. When she reunites with Jake, a sexy man from her past, she begins to rethink her stance on romance.
The tropes: Love skeptic, second-chance romance
The twist: Happily ever after is a myth, indeed—Eliza is a descendant of Eros, and she’s been avoiding her calling as a Cupid. But if Eliza and Jake, her enchanting mentor, don’t unravel a conspiracy, it could spell the end of love itself.
Getting Hot with the Scot
Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s, May 2019
In this series launch, a hardworking scribe, Cassie, takes a vacation in order to leave her everyday life behind, and kissing a Scotsman in a castle seems like the perfect way to start. Nothing beats a Highland fling, after all.
The tropes: One-night stands, kilts
The twist: This isn’t the 18th century, and the charming Highlander is no time traveler—Logan is the host of a popular online sketch show, and Cassie has just been roped into his latest prank.
Christina Lauren, Gallery, Dec.
Millie and her male friends make a pact to actively look for companions outside of their circle. She creates a fake persona, leading to a correspondence with one of those friends, Reid, that grows increasingly passionate.
The tropes: Mistaken identity, falling for one’s best friend
The twist: The crew isn’t exchanging letters in order to find a date to the ball—they’ve joined an online dating service. There’s no old-fashioned matchmaker on hand to weed out the boors, and the creepy responses Millie’s first profile attracts convince her to don the digital mask.
Sidney Bell, Carina, Dec.
In the third entry in the Woodbury Boys series, Ghost, a hustler who has reasons not to trust anyone, has to team up with Duncan, who is a good man if not a good cop, in order to topple a common enemy.
The tropes: Opposites attract, prostitute with a heart of gold
The twist: Ghost, despite the golden curls and kohl-lined eyes, isn’t the typical prostitute in need of rescue—his spaced-out fugue moments come at the worst times, and his past makes him a dangerous man.