Top Ten Tuesday: Top Romantic Tropes

TTTValentines

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish!

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!

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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.

Bookish examples include:  The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

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!

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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!

Beauty and the Beast Retellings I’ve loved:  Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier, Jaime and Brienne of ASOIAF (it TOTALLY counts, OK!), Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

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?).

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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 ❤

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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*

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See, tropes don’t have to be bad! What are some of your favourite romantic tropes? Gimme recs for Valentines Day reading ❤

106 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Romantic Tropes

    1. Yes, you can skim a lot of the getting to know each other phase, yet still learn alot about the other person in this kind of relationship ❤

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  1. I LOVE every single one of these tropes – I think you’ve contained all, or at least mostly all my favourites, though my favourites out of the ones listed would be: 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. I don’t know I just love them 😛

    As for Valentines Reading recommendations… hmmm… Kasie West’s: On the Fence is awesome (and hey! Best friend turned lover too) or The Distance Between us by her too (some good ole’ bickering between the two love birds).

    I’ll also say Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler which is sweet and cute and fun to read 🙂 (though warning: it’ll probably make you hungry so maybe bake up some cupcakes if you have some time, save you the drooling XD

    Loved this post! Really fun 🙂 Hope you enjoy reading!

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    1. Thank you for all the detailed recs, they sound amazing and I have heard such amazing things about both authors. Glad to find a fellow romance tropes appreciator 😉 ❤

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  2. I am dyingggg at your reasoning for Beauty and the Beast. “Stockholm Syndrome undertones,” like Aentee, I’m not judging you for mentioning this because it’s true, but I can’t stop laughing. I love bickering between the pairings, especially when the characters are witty (like The Lynburn Legacy).

    One of my ultimate fave romantic tropes are second chance romances. DO YOU KNOW HOW GOOD THEY ARE? My love for it probably stemmed from my absolute fave Jane Austen book ever, Persuasion.

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    1. LMAO thank you for understanding me. I love SRB’s characters, they get the best and wittiest dialogues ever. OMG SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE how did I even forget this?! THIS is also my fave urgh, gimme recs pls!

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  3. Yaay! My own books include 1 (in a way), 2, 8 and 9. Hurrah! 1 and 2 are for my Sleeping Beauty meets Beauty and the Beast retelling and 8 and 9 are for my contemporary books Three Seconds to Sunrise (which I’m currently rewriting) and it’s sequel/companion Shatter This Starless Night. 9 could also fit with my paranormal book and the retelling.

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  4. Yes to everything! But I do particularly like arranged marriages and enemies to lovers tropes (probably stemming from my Dramione fanfiction obsession). I’ve never really thought of the female bodyguard one but Kaz and Inej are just… SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP *sails*. I have to say though… that the ‘everyone else can see it’ trope had me raising my eyebrow a bit because I thought of A Little Something Different… and that disaster of a book.

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    1. If you like Enemies to Lover you need to get onto this Captive Prince hype train with me (I can’t stop reading omg it’s an illness).
      LOL I have finally forgotten about that awful book, why do you remind me of pain?

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  5. Yes to crossdressing hijinks!! I thought of Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart straight away. It’s a very loose retelling of Mulan and the romance in it is top notch quality. Also, the girl power 😀 I’m a big fan of enemies in love because their chemistry is always off the charts! I so need to read Carry On soon.

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    1. That book sounds AMAZING Prima, thanks so much for the recs, I’ll add it to GR shortly ❤
      Carry On is everything Harry Potter was missing (not that HP wasn't amazing on its own), enjoy!

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  6. Enemies to Lovers is my favorite! As well as They Save Eachother. *cough* The Captive Prince series or All For the Game series. Loved your list, Aentee! ❤

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    1. Thanks Lucia, I am a big fan of forbidden love as well – but I couldn’t think of any examples at the top of my head – total mind blank haha/

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  7. I LOVE WHEN ENEMIES FALL IN LOVE.

    But I also find the Insta-Love trope to be a guilty pleasure because I mostly can connect with that one in real life HAHA

    P.S I miss you Aentee! Haven’t talked in ages!

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    1. Have you read Captive Prince, I think you would appreviate hhahaa.

      Lmao I am not one for Instalove in real life either because I am such an introvert. I am like EW PEOPLE.

      I MISS YOU TOO ❤

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  8. Yes to 4, 5, 6, and 9! Enemies just adds more angst and tension to the story. Bickering is a way to spice up the story like, they fight all the time but they actually love each other! And best friends turn lovers are the best! They know each other really well, go through important things together, of course they would be perfect for each other! Lovely list!<3

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    1. Thank you Tasya, I feel the best friend turned lover trope works quite stunningly in real life as well, hence my love for it!

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  9. “Best Friends Turned Lover” I secretly LOVE this trope…Well I guess it’s not a secret anymore! 😉 Well, it also depends on the characters, and the storyline. Sometimes there are characters that don’t even fall in love, and I’m screaming for it to happen but it doesn’t. 😦 Other times they fall in love and I’m like NO NO NO NO!!!! Great Top 10!
    My TTT! 🙂
    Dreamland Review.

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    1. Haha sorry to hear about that. I’m not usually a huge fan of romance but when there is a ship I love, it basically takes over my brain!

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  10. I love your post, and I LOVE all of these tropes. My favorite has to be the best friend one, too. Maybe I kind of connect to that on a personal level, too, but for YEARS I have been pinning for those bestfriends become lovers relationships in books. It’s just so perfect, I love it! ❤

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  11. Okay I LOVE THESE ALL. Arranged marriage turned love is a genius! Which is funny because my mom was going to have a nice innocent Indian arranged marriage, but then she met my dad (AN AMERICAN. SCANDALOUS) and they ran off and got married. But I love the idea of arranged marriages turning to love in literature! Nothing trumps forbidden love for me, though. NOTHING.

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    1. Haha omg your mum’s story could totally be turned into a Bollywood movie XD
      Asian dramas does the whole arranged marriage turned into love thing really well! You should check some out!

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    1. Ooo the sibling’s best friend is a good one, though to be honest I have not really come across it in fiction myself. The power imbalance in teacher-student romance grosses me out – it’s really common in manga.

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      1. Really? I feel like I’ve read a ton of sibling’s best friend books. The first one that pops in my mind is Mila Gray’s Come Back to Me.
        Ugh. I don’t know if I could read manga then. Can’t stand that stuff. I do admit to reading it occasionally, but there’s only a couple of times I’ve found it not to be creepy.

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  12. The friend turned lovers will always be a favourite of mine. I just love the idea of falling in love with someone who’s been by your side for ages, someone you’ve already built a great foundation with.
    Now the enemies in love is also a go-to of mine. The forbidden aspect, sneaking around and just the general tension in the air.

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    1. Yesss, I think both friends and enemies to lover share that quality where you are already very intimate and knowledgeable about the person. Making for the best romance since it’s no instalove.

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  13. AH, I totally love this post. SO MUCH. Specifically, the Beauty and the Beast Trope, and I would ACOTAR and the relationship between Wolf and Scarlet in TLC too, as personal favs. I absolutely hands down love the enemies in love, and example of Simon/Baz, and the everyone else can see it, and example of Rowan/Aelin. Rowan x Aelin is MY FAVORITE. ❤ anyways, great post!

    my TTT: https://wordpress.com/post/letsgababoutbooks.wordpress.com/1515

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    1. I can’t get enough of Beauty and the Beast retellings, I also love variations such as Uprooted.
      Yasss another Rowan/Aelin fan, I love them and I loved that QoS was such an unashamed shipper’s paradise.

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  14. Can I just say that I love the look of your blog like times a billion! It’s beautiful.
    I’m quite refreshingly surprised by your list – in that I’d probably not be drawn by most of them, but I can see how those tropes can attract readers too.
    Although I’ve got to say that love that transcends time/space is definitely one for me (Traveler’s Wife was both heartbreaking and heartwarming…like love it was conflicting haha).

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    1. Yes the Time Traveler’s Wife was great, but the last 1/3 was too drama heavy for my liking – I adored the concept and would love to see a spin off at some point.
      Thanks for your kind comment about my blog ❤

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      1. You know when a book is greatly placed and then EVERYTHING under the sun happens in the last ten pages? That was definitely Time Traveler’s Wife.

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  15. AHHH YOU MENTIONED THE ACCIDENT SEASON ERGO THIS IS MY FAVOURITE POST EVER. ❤ I cannot believe how in love I am with that book…just ajfdkslafdj BASICALLY. *flails and collapses* Omg and I really do like the really tough bodyguard sort of person falling in love with who they're protecting. :') AND I'm an immense sucker for one's where they fight all the time…except, sometimes it's annoying? Like I really couldn't ever ship Ron/Hermione because yes…toxic much? It it bugged me that a lot of Ron's arguments towards her were really condescending. And Harry was just oblivious. Good ol' Harry. -_-

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    1. THERE IS NOT NEARLY ENOUGH LOVE FOR ACCIDENT SEASON. Omg. this makes me cry a little. Mainly because I want the author to be successful and shower the world with ALL the books.
      I used to love Ron and Hermione but rereading some of their scenes from Book 4 and 5 are ridiculous omg, like what were you even arguing about really?

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  16. Oh be still my fluttering heart. I literally squeed whilst I read this post! IT IS BEYOND PERFECT! I love enemies, bickering between couples, and also best friends before romance. Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favourite fairytale retelling like sign me up. 😀 All of these are just so perfect I could go on about them forever. Great post! ❤

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    1. Yasss I knew you were a lady of fine tastes Anissa, glad you could agree about these especially the BatB retellings. You must read Heart’s Blood!

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  17. oooo I love all of these!! Best friends to lovers is one of my faves because that’s what happened to me and my hubby 🙂 Arranged marriages/marriages of convenience are my next favorite. But then there’s Beauty & the Beast tropes… oh goodness. I love them all!

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    1. best friends to lover seems to be the most popular in real life incarnation of tropes XD it makes sense that we aren’t marrying our enemies or captors, I guess XD!

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    1. You totally need to give me more recs on the crossdressing genre, I see it a lot in chinese period drama I watch, but not nearly as often as I’d like in books!

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  18. I seriously love the Beauty and the Beast retellings. All of the tropes you pointed out are things that just make a book extra special. You chose a really good topic for this week and even better answers.

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    1. At least they cited some phrases reserved for wedding vows at one another? I’ll totally take it XD
      Omg Kaz and Inej killed me so many times during Six of Crows, I’m sure it’ll be worst in Crooked Kingdoms, but fingers crossed for a satisfying ending.

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  19. omg A+++ with the graphic again, Aentee! ❤

    I love arranged marriage trope, too! Have you heard of Ruined by Amy Tintera? I am in LURVE. Enemies in love, too! I love when they banter and the snark and the surprise kiss. omgomgomg. ❤ They save each other = YES. You should totally check out Starflight, btw, if you're looking for a story that goes through space & time because it's so fabulous. Sweet post!

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  20. I love so many of these tropes too, Aentee, especially The Beauty & The Beast one, enemies to lovers (NINA & MATTHIAS GIVE ME SO MANY FEELS!), and the friends to more. I’m still a little unsure about the arranged marriage one because I have yet to read one that has blown me away. I’ve only read The Wrath and you know how I felt about that one …
    Oh and crossdressing is one I adore too! Have you read Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky or Stacey Jay’s Princess of Thorns? Both have that trope done REALLY well!
    Fab post, Aentee! ❤

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    1. Yes I need to read Stacey Lee’s Under the Painted Sky because I heard it also had diversity in it!

      Nina and Matthias totally fits the bill so well for enemies to lovers. My glee when he woke up and started to try kill her could not be contained tbh.

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  21. K-dramas are PRO’s at gender bending and love that transcends time. I have to admit, though, everyone LOVES enemies turning into lovers, but that’s one of my least favorite tropes ever… Fun to see how everyone’s different!

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  22. Ahh these are some of the best tropes!! I’m feeling the Valentiney love noww 😀
    I like the arranged marriage one – I actually don’t see it as often as I’d like, now that I think about it
    I especially love the best friend turned lover oneee – and IM HAPPY YOU SEE HOW GOOD IT IS ❤
    Happy Valentine's Day for the upcoming Sundayy! 🙂

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  23. Okay first, your graphics are even more on point in this post than usual. Second, you have all my favourites on here! Arranged marriage, crossdressing, and enemies to lovers. Especially that last one…swoon. I’m reading Truthwitch right now too by the way, and I think you’re totally right with that potential ship! 😀

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    1. Thanks so much Danya. Happy to hear that we are fellow shipmates for Truthwitch, I hope you enjoyed the rest of the book!

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  24. I’m definitely on board with the arranged marriage one, but I know that my deep love of this trope began with HP fanfiction. No shame. Also the Persephone/Hades thing is very appealing. Have you read the Goddess test series by Aimee Carter. It’s not bad. I don’t think it stands up to multiple reads personally, but I enjoyed quite a bit the first time around. If you like the female guard thing, you should definitely check out the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. It’s one hell of a long series and each book averages 600 pages but it’s well worth it. I’m not a high fantasy person, but the kickass female saving the day has gotten me threw the first two books and I highly recommend them. Great post!

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    1. Haha fanfiction started me on the enemies-to-lovers path because in some fandoms it is only possible in fiction.
      The covers of The Goddess Test series look amazing! I’ll have to look into it.
      Ahhh I totally forgot about Mistborn! I love it and Sanderson so very much ❤

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  25. Ooh yes!!!! Arranged marriages is one of my favorite tropes but I don’t see it that often 😥 I added 3 of these books to my TBR. They seem to be so underrated because I’ve never heard of them. I wish there was more romance between princesses and captain of the guard stories 😮

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    1. The most recent instance of princess and guard I’ve seen is in Falling Kingdoms but sadly very short lived D:

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  26. OMG AENTEE I LOVE ALL THESE TROPES. Seriously I was going down the list and mentally shouting “yes. Yes. YES. YES! yESSS!” while reading each of them.
    OKAY RECS! SO FOR BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: I really recommend Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay! It’s the cutest-utest-utest AND enemies in love so it knocks out two on your list!
    Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson is a magical/historical that starts off slow, but has the mc cross dress on her journey to California. Eon is a superb Asian fantasy by Alison Goodman that is about a kickass heroine who is disguised as a male. The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry is definitely one that transcends time and space and parallel universes. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas have a cute, bickering couple that saves each other all the time AND the girl is disguised as a male at a prep school at one point. Also lots o’ magic.

    IF YOU EVER NEED MORE RECS I’M HERE. 😉

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    1. Oh my god so many recs, you are like Goodreads recommendation function made girl. I have heard such fabulous things about all, especially Eon and Eona – but I did NOT know there was a romance in it, yassss! Thank you Aila.

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  27. Love this post!

    I too am a sucker for a few of these! Specifically female body guard, arranged marriage, friends, and others pointing out feelings.

    I do have a rec for the cross dressing. Avery by Charlotte McConaghy. I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard it’s really good. Oh and for arranged marriages Rook by Sharon Cameron. I loved Rook!

    I hope you enjoy all these recs 🙂

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  28. I’m a not so secret fan of the arranged marriage and I’ve written … let me count … one in EVERY. SINGLE. WIP. Whoops 😛 And YES TO CROSSDRESSING. (Especially yes to Jaime/Brienne.) I’ve yet to write a female bodyguard romance that wasn’t also a lesbian romance … then again I don’t even write that many romances … huh. Nice round up, Aentee!

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  29. I agree it’s so comforting to read a book with your favorite tropes. Predictable – yes, but I don’t care if I get butterflies in my stomach and smile on my face.

    I have a soft spot for arranged marriage turned love stories too. My recs: Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Indecent Proposal by Molly O’Keefe, When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare.

    And I love Beauty and the Beast retellings! My recs: A Court of Thorns and by Sarah J. Maas, Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen, Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay, Firelight by Kristen Callihan.

    Female Bodyguard is interesting trope. I recommend Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge.

    I also love romance with celebrity, fake relationship and forbidden romance tropes.

    If you need more recs you should check out my GR shelves, I have all my favorite tropes there.

    PS. You love story is so romantic.

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  30. So many amazing romantic tropes you’ve got here Aentee! I absolutely love the one where everyone can see and the one where they antagonise each other, and my personal favourite, the best friends to lover romance. That sounds so cute that it reminds you of you and your bf Aentee! Beauty and the Beast, you completely missed out on ACOTAR in this category, and omg, Uprooted, my favourite!

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  31. This post is amazing! I love many of these tropes, too–I admit I’m almost always rooting for the best friend, and I actively seek out Beauty and the Beast retellings, too. Arranged marriages I find less frequently, but I always enjoy them. (Also, hello! I recently discovered your blog and lovely artwork and am an occasional lurker/reader/now commenter. :))

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