I cut my teeth on category books—I learned about romance from the huge, dusty box filled with Harlequin books my grandmother kept on her porch. I’d sit on the couch out there and read for hours. I’d begin on a Saturday morning, and by the time I finished, the sun was setting. And over the years my love affair with category books hasn’t waned.
Last week I read a Harlequin Presents book Strangers in the Desert by Lynn Raye Harris. Now, I have been a major fan of Ms. Harris for a couple of years. I love her writing! It’s emotional, sensual and always satisfying. After closing a book by her, I always feel like I’ve been on a journey, a wonderful exotic journey of romance, strife and love conquering all. Strangers in the Desert didn’t let me down. But what really made the book for me was the trope. For the most part all category books surround a particular trope—y’know, best friends to lovers, millionaire falls for secretary, fake fiancé, intimate strangers. Well Lynn Raye Harris took two of the oldest tropes in romance history—amnesia and the secret baby—and did her own twist on them. And did it with imaginative flair that simply wow-ed me! She took a seemingly far-fetched idea and made it so believable that I never doubted the validity of the characters, story or plot! There was a secret baby, of course…but instead of the father not knowing about the infant, the mother didn’t! Why? Because she suffered from amnesia! I know, I know what you’re thinking! How in the hell…? But Ms. Harris, hats off! You did that! She handled it masterfully, and I absolutely loved how she took old tropes and twisted them within an inch of their long, tried-and-true lives to make the book brand new, fresh and so romantic I sighed—actually sighed—at the end.
Well, the book got me thinking about other tropes I shamelessly enjoy. Call it guilty pleasure, and chuckle if you must, but I adore tropes. And there are certain ones that are drop-dead deal breakers for me. First, there’s the best friends to lovers. Reading how two people who have loved each other for years, have an intimacy forged in childhood by shared secrets and traumas, suddenly see each other in a new light is a wonder to me. I enjoy following their conflicted emotions as they discover that the one who knows them best is also the one who fulfills every desire they’ve dreamed about and hoped for. Sigh. See? I did it again! Then there’s the—you got it!—secret baby. Call me a sucker, but I am a fool for that trope. Especially when the father is a cynical, hard-hearted, confirmed bachelor who finds his heart melted by a baby’s guileless smile and innocent tug on his finger…tearing up here.
Also, ahem, I do love a good amnesia trope. I guess that’s why I enjoyed Strangers in the Desert so much. I am a product of the Catherine Chandler’s Young and the Restless amnesia age, so it’s a written in stone favorite. Discovering the trauma that caused the loss of memory in the first place, and then reading how the heroine/hero’s history unfolds for both them and me, is exciting and has such tear-jerker potential. But that moment when she/he remembers…gasp worthy! A black moment, triumph and resolution all rolled into one huge moment! Yeah…love it…
And what about the reunited lovers? Or the ugly duckling? Or the big-girl-who-loses-a-whole-bunch-of-weight-but-still-feels-like-a-big-girl-with-big-girl-insecurities-in-a-skinny-chick’s-body trope? Oh, that isn’t one? It should be!
What’s your favorite trope? Have you read any good books lately that has one? Do tell!