It’s been a while since I’ve joined a Top Ten Tuesday, but since my fangirl heart love shipping above all – I couldn’t resist the Valentines special! Now, I am usually one to turn my nose up at tropes and slam them in my reviews, but since it’s the season of commercial love and all, I want to be positive.
As a reader, I am not ashamed to say that there are some tropes I just dig, no matter how many times I’ve seen the story played out its course. There’s something comforting about a romance that plays in familiar territory, yet have enough twist and emotions behind it to hold you to the tale. Sometimes I don’t want unique, I want a well loved tale told in an earnest voice.
Here’s a selection of my absolute favourite shippy tropes, if you have these in your book – chances are I’ll read it!
1. Arranged Marriage
I am not quite certain how my obsession with arranged marriage turned love began. Perhaps it was by seeing my grandparents interact while I grew up. Perhaps it was some TVB series I watched when I was younger, but I love seeing a pair forced together by circumstances – and learn to love after they tie the knot.
Bonus points if it takes place in a luxurious royalty setting, where one of the party is completely out of their depth in the new environment. I want drama!
2. Beauty and the Beast
No matter how many retellings I go through, I will love this tale with all my heart – Stockholm Syndrome undertones and all. Being able to see through the superficial trappings and loving someone for who they truly are, imperfections and all? Yes, please!
Please hit me up with all of your BatB recs! I intend to devour all. I also like variation of this theme such as the Hades/Persephone myth – in theory – as I’ve yet to see a retelling of the myth which satisfies me (again, recs?).
3. Crossdressing Hijinks
Ever since I’ve read/watched Mulan when I was a wee child, I have literally been obsessed with ladies crossing and befuddling men – men who will love them regardless of their gender, because the other person is so freaking awesome!
I need more of this in books, but I LOVED Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld as an example of this. Also a shoutout to my beloved K-drama Coffee Prince for having this done so beautifully! Again, please gimme recs ❤
4. Enemies In Love
While I didn’t like Romeo & Juliet, I adore every other iteration of enemies in love that I have seen – especially when both party involved are armed and dangerous. The tension that comes from trying not to get your ass killed has gotta be at least as potent as romantic tension, amirite?
Of course, my main love is once again, Jaime/Brienne of ASOIAF (they are practically canon OK, leave me alone!) The most recent addition to this I have loved is Iseult and a certain Bloodwitch in Truthwitch 😉 Please let me shippy senses be correct! Then there’s Nina/Matthias in the beautiful Six of Crows. Or Simon/Baz of Carry On.
5. Everyone Else Can See It
I am a sucker for those scenes in books or tv where the other characters are totally shipping the pairing as well. By well placed phrases which indicate they know how important one party is to the other. Bonus point if it’s THE VILLAIN who points this out.
I am drawing a mind blank on this, but I do recall Queen of Shadows offering much outsider insight into the beauty of Rowan/Aelin ❤ Yes, it’s totally absurd
6. Bickering Like An Old Married Couple
Perhaps this is because it reminds me with my relationship with The Boy, but the couple who argue are the couple that stays together – this is known.
I loved Ron/Hermione of Harry Potter fame, of course (although looking back through a more mature eye, damn – were some of their arguments toxic). Although most of my true favourites reside in manga e.g. Kagome/Inuyasha of Inuyasha (I am still supremely impressed with myself for finishing this series).
7. Female Bodyguard
Although not nearly as prevalent as their male counterpart – a relationship which has a female bodyguard has me on high alert. A lady who’s definitely more physically dangerous than the dudes? Yes! And a man who’s not intimidated by such, he loves her anyway? Yes, please!!
OK, I have to mention Kaz/Inej of Six of Crows somewhere because I love them like burning and they sort of fit into this category? In so much that Inej works for Kaz and retrieves information for him – these two and their UST urgh. There’s also a side romance in Dreaming Death which fits this bill and threatens to undo me.
8. They Save Each Other
Such as is the truly perilous lives of SFF protagonists, there are plenty of opportunity for saving lives – but what I love is a couple who constantly save each other, to the point where they can no longer keep tabs on it. Yet, they’ll challenge the world just to do it all over again. I’m not just talking about physically saving either, but in all of the sense of the word.
Todd/Viola of Chaos Walking Trilogy. That is all. I finished their stories over five years ago, I still regard them as my favourite ever.
9. Best Friends Turned Lover
I have a confession that I never used to like this trope, until I started dating my boyfriend – who happened to also be one of my closest friends. Hush, I’m allowed to be a bit self-absorbed. I hereby declare a lover who also knows you as an intimate friend = the best thing ever.
Most recently, the main pairing in The Accident Season melted my black heart into goo with this (OK, so they were technically step siblings BUT I would argue they were friends first and foremost). I was quite smitten by its appearance in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender until I got stabbed in the heart.
10. Love That Transcends Space/Time
Yesss to time traveling taking off as the hot trend of the year, may this continue for many years to come. Is there anything more moving than a love that transcends through lives and centuries? I think not.
I am still holding out my hope that I’ll find THE book which will shatter my heart and put it together again using this trope – but for now I have enjoyed Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. A non-book example that has broken me beyond repair is Madoka Magica *sobs thinking of it*
See, tropes don’t have to be bad! What are some of your favourite romantic tropes? Gimme recs for Valentines Day reading ❤