Let’s Talk About The Relationship

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Welcome to my blog series, Let’s Talk, where I’ll be dissecting all the parts of a romance book from the covers to the characters. I’ll share some of my favorites, talk about pet peeves, and discuss why each element is so important to the overall story.

We’ve talked about the Heroes and we’ve talked about the Heroines but my favorite part of any romance is the relationship. I don’t care what others say, I love a good trope in my romance because it lets me know what type of story I can expect. The relationship between the love interests can set the entire tone of the story. Are they best friends so it’s sweeter?…are they enemies so it’s fiery?….are they opposites so it’s a test of wills? There are so many relationship tropes out there from the long standing ones to the new and unusual ones (side-eyeing you, stepbrother romances) that a reader can definitely find something they like. I’ll admit to being fairly traditional in my relationship tropes so let’s talk about my top 4 that will guarantee I’ll give a book a chance.

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Friends to Lovers

This has long been a favorite of mine ever since I first started reading romance. I think the initial appeal came from my shy teenage years where I figured I’d need to be friends with a guy first before I’d feel comfortable dating him. Of course, that’s not how I met my husband, but nowadays I still love this trope. There’s just something about two people who have a rich and deep history realizing they want more. This can range from the unrequited crush (the most common version) to the newly discovered attraction (usually seen in reunion stories). The fact that friends often know so much about each other allows for the characters to trust easily and fall quickly, after all, they’re not strangers still trying to figure each other out. The following friends to lovers stories are full of quickly developing feelings and sexy forays into new territory.

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Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson, Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley, and, Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

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Fake Relationship

On the flip side is the fake relationship which is one of the few tropes I will actively seek out so I can read more of this wonderful goodness! The fake relationship comes in so many varieties from desperate strangers, to friends doing a favor, to dating, engaged, and even married! For me, these books are done right when the couple doesn’t get intimate right away; instead they spend all this time in public pretending to be a couple, building up the sexual tension, so that the non-public moments are pure torture, until finally it’s all too much. That tension can be incredibly sexy as the characters try to resist what the reader knows is inevitable. The following fake relationship romances have varying tension but they’ll all leave you with sparks.

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A Lot Like Love by Julie James, Run to You by Rachel Lacey, and Life of Bliss by Erin McLellan

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Forbidden Love

Speaking of tension, you can get tons of that in the forbidden love trope which is all about those illicit relationships that are off limits because of culture, laws, or customs. This is pretty common among paranormal romance, usually with enemy clans or packs but is also in other sub-genres as well. I’ve always loved the high emotional impact these books tend to have because the characters want to be together so badly but they don’t know how their love will be accepted long term. That seeming end to the relationship leads to all kinds of great tension and emotion as the couple connects on a level that transcends everything they’ve been taught to hate about the other side. This type of romance reminds me that love is worth the fight and maybe it just can conquer all. The following forbidden love romances always leave me sighing with happiness.

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In Darkness Reborn by Alexis Morgan, Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, and Pure Dynamite by Lauren Bach

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Best Friend’s Sibling

This trope can be tons of fun as the character tries to hide their feelings from the love interest and then later they try to hide their relationship from the sibling. The most common occurrence of this trope is the hero attracted to his friend’s little sister or the heroine attracted to her older brother’s friend. It also usually plays on the “bro code” which apparently means you can’t hit on your bros’ sister, that’s just not cool, or so I’m told. But I’ve been seeing a variation on this trope in M/M romance where it’s an older man and his friend’s grown son, usually college aged (I’ve even included one below). I’ve always liked the slight forbidden aspect to this trope because the couple usually tries to keep things under lock and key. This secrecy often leads to some very sexy sneaking around, sex in unusual places, and sometimes some hilarious shenanigans. The following best friend’s sibling (or son) romances are off the charts sexy.

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Night Shield by Nora Roberts, Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey, and Permanent Ink by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

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Other Relationship Tropes?

There are of course a ton more relationship tropes out there, some of which I really enjoy. Other favorites include coworkers, opposites attract, meeting online, and marriage of convenience. I try not to skip over a book just because of a relationship trope because an author could always have a new spin that makes it different then the ones before it. But in general I don’t read too many romances involving accidental pregnancy, secret child, or revenge relationships. There’s often too many angry emotions associated with these tropes and in general I don’t like antagonistic characters. I’m also too bothered by the idea of keeping a child secret from it’s parent so that bothers me so much I can’t even enjoy the story. The only tropes I’ll typically avoid because they’re just not for me are stepbrother romances, captivity kinks, and my all time disliked trope (sorry in advance) is the love triangle..

Come back in August to check out the last in the Let’s Talk series where I’ll be covering the tone and overall feel of the romance.

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What types of Relationship tropes do you like?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About The Relationship

  1. These are probably my top 4 for relationship tropes as well! I also like rivals to lovers as well, like in The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Overall though, I prefer the slow build of a relationship if possible and when we are shown reasons besides looks for the characters to love each other.

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