4 Tropes in Romance Novels I’m Tired of Reading

And fiction recommendations to make you fall in love with the genre all over again

4 Tropes in Romance Novels I’m Tired of Reading
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

And fiction recommendations to make you fall in love with the genre all over again

I’m a die-hard romantic. But, I don’t read romance novels.

When people ask me for adult romance recommendations, I’m often stumped because I don’t remember when was the last time I read one.

I always found it difficult to answer why I’m so averse to reading romantic fiction. But of late, a few interesting novels have turned my head around and gave me books in the genre I can actually enjoy.

In this post, I’m going to dissect all the tropes in romantic literature I’m tired of seeing. Before we get started, here’s how Masterclass defines a trope: “A plot device or character attribute that is used so commonly in the genre that it’s seen as commonplace or conventional.”

I’m also going to recommend some amazing alternatives you can read which steer clear of these tropes and give a heart-warming story.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount of money — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

The Shopaholic Lady. The Nerdy Man.

This is probably the most over-used cliches in chick-lit. The lady is outgoing, ambitious, and a pure shopaholic, while the man is a nerd who hasn’t had many relationships in his life.

He falls for her, head over heels, and tries to woo her in every way he can. She is oblivious to his charms for the most of the book until suddenly, she sees his true worth (mostly after he saves her from a life or career-threatening situation), and they live happily ever after.

The Beautiful Poor Lady. The Billionaire Greek God.

The lady is poor, often lives with her parents or a roommate in a tiny rented apartment. The man she falls for is often her boss — who is young, impossibly handsome, and crazy rich. Even though the lady does not seem to have any desirable qualities rather than whining about how ugly she is, the boss falls head over heels in love with her.

While being a billionaire at such a young age must require work, our Greek God has eyes only for the lady. He’s rarely seen working and spends all his time and money on our poor little ugly girl. There are some misunderstandings, mainly because of the differences in their ways of being brought up. Towards the end, these misunderstandings resolve and our lead pair live happily ever after.

The Damsel in Distress. The Brave Saviour.

The pretty and perfect lady who can’t seem to hold her life together. Always running into a new disaster, she desperately needs a man to keep her safe. That’s when our hero jumps in — cape or no cape — and rescues her from all the predicaments she finds herself in.

She plays hard-to-get for a while, secretly nurturing a crush in her heart, and when she finally gives in, they live happily ever after.

She’s Way Out of my League

Since I’m Indian, I have to mention this trope which has become like a pet peeve for me. Popularised by authors like Durjoy Datta, Chetan Bhagat, and Ravinder Singh, this trope has a young man (preferably an engineer) who falls in love with an impossibly beautiful lady.

He woos her. She considers him a friend (aka “friendzones” him). He spends half the book crying over his misfortune. Then, something happens that brings them together. There’s a hot (read: cringe-worthy) sex scene, after which, the couple live happily ever after.

Gender Stereotyping With Cliches

While it’s true that tropes are a popular tool for authors to use to hook their readers, I’m tired of reading these because they are so gender-stereotyped.

Why’s it that the man always has to save the woman? Why can’t the woman stand up for her own and rescue herself and the man?

Why does the man have to work so hard to woo the woman? Can’t the woman shower her lover with gifts, pamper him, and make him feel special?

Why do the men in romance never have any feelings of inadequacy? Why are they always full of charisma and so unshakeably masculine in their demeanour?

Why are the women always beautiful? Is physical attractiveness such an important factor in deciding the fate of romances?

Broadly speaking, there’s nothing wrong with tropes. But the gender stereotyping makes them so shallow, so superficial, that the disconnect with reality is almost tangible.

Romance Novels that Melted my Heart

If you’d like to read honest, heart-warming love stories that steer clear of the gender stereotypes, here are a few recommendations (I’ve written details about the plot and why you should read them here):

  1. How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune
  2. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
  3. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  5. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

4 Most Swoon-Worthy Couples in Fantasy Fiction
The most intriguing romance sub-plots in fantasy
5 Books I Instantly Fell in Love With
Brilliant prose, memorable characters, a warm afterglow
5 Must-Read Fantasy Books by Women
The most epic high fantasy recommendations by female authors

For more book reviews, follow me on Goodreads.

Join my email list to get a thought-provoking story for FREE every week!