Discover the top romance tropes that readers love + examples!
Romance tropes are different types of relationships or plot lines that have become so popular they’re now a standard in the industry. As a romance reader, I’m sharing the most beloved romance tropes that we love!
If you’re an author, I hope this list will help provide inspiration for your own novels. If you’re a romance reader, use the list below to learn more about these tropes and find examples of each!
Why Use Romance Tropes?
While they may be common, tropes provide just a loose framework, allowing authors to create completely unique plots within their own novels.
Romance tropes have become such a pivotal part of the genre that readers often know which tropes they love the most and buy books that feature their favorites! They’re a helpful tool to narrow down a vast field of books into ones we know we’ll love.
They can also be used in tandem with each other, mixing and matching to draw even more readers in! I personally get ridiculously excited when a novel has multiple tropes that I love all wrapped up in one story.
What Are The Most Popular Romance Tropes?
I’ve scoured the internet to narrow down the seemingly endless lists of romance tropes to a more manageable list of the most popular options.
- Friends To Lovers
- Enemies To Lovers
- Fake Dating
- Forced Proximity
- Office Romance
- Love Triangle
- Single Parent
- Grumpy Vs Sunshine
- Hidden Identity
- Best Friends Brother / Sister
- Different Worlds / Backgrounds
- Celebrity Romance
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Popular Romance Tropes Readers Will Love
Friends To Lovers
I’m starting off this list of the top romance tropes readers love with my absolute favorite! Friends to lovers stories can take a wide variety of tracks. They revolve around two individuals who start out as friends but develop feelings.
Childhood friends may be pining over each other for years, too afraid to admit what’s inside. Or two people who recently met may need to stay “just friends” for any number of reasons, but finally realize that isn’t enough for them!
The possibilities are endless! So, enjoy one of the recommendations I adore!
Enemies to Lovers
Where one situation works, the opposite is also usually successful! Enemies to Lovers is just what you’d expect – the polar opposite of above. Sworn enemies who can’t stand each other, coworkers who are constantly at odds, and on and on!
Walking that fine line between love and hate makes this romance trope a spicy delight to read!
A few of the best options are:
- Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker | Amazon | Bookshop.org
Oh the mutually beneficial relationship! In my opinion, this is one of the more predictable romance tropes. However, if it’s well-written it can still have the same tension and guessing as the others!
This trope can fall anywhere on the relationship scale, from just dating to engaged to actually getting married! There is also room to play with the characters’ starting point. Some authors choose to have virtual strangers enter into this deal while others set up existing friends or acquaintances.
A few options to consider:
- To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Duke and I by Julia Quinn | Amazon | Bookshop.org
How does the saying go? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Well not in these romance tropes! Our couples end up in close quarters for an extended period of time and have no choice but to get to know each other.
You’ll find forced proximity romances in:
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Float Plan by Trish Doller | Amazon | Bookshop.org
One of these romance tropes that can go oh so wrong! The stakes are particularly high in a workplace romance since not only is a relationship, but a career is on the line.
Get to work with these phenomenal office romances:
- Shipped by Angie Hockman | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria | Amazon | Bookshop.org
An absolute classic! Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned love triangle. This is a pretty straightforward trope in which one character is facing a choice between two individuals. Usually there are some stark differences between the two options, making it a difficult decision and vastly different life paths depending on who’s chosen.
The love triangle makes an appearance in these books:
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding | Amazon | Bookshop.org
If you love kids, this addition to the romance tropes list will make you swoon. I always love reading about the interactions of potential love interests with the kid(s)! They make fantastic side characters, whether their babies, toddlers, or teens. This trope can include both situations where its an actual parent/child or where a friend or family member has taken over responsibility for a kid.
Books with adorable kids:
- The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Fumbled by Alexa Martin | Amazon | Bookshop.org
Grumpy vs Sunshine
One character is all rainbows, happiness, and joy, while the other is bitter, stoic, or rude. You get the idea! I often think of the female as the sunshine character while the male plays the grump, so it’s even more fun when an author does a swap.
This is a perfect example of opposites attract and it’s so satisfying to see how polar opposite personalities can bring out the best in each other.
Get your dose of sunshine here:
- Battle Royal by Lucy Parker | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Beach Read by Emily Henry | Amazon | Bookshop.org
A variety of the forced proximity trope, roommates is specific to any situation in which the two characters share a living space. One of my favorite books with the roommate trope puts a spin on it, with two people sharing a flat but work opposing shifts, so they’re never there at the same time!
Share a space with one of these options:
- The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Amazon | Bookshop.org
What happens when one or both partners are being dishonest about who they are?? Often there are legitimate reasons why someone can’t reveal who they are, what their job is, or their motivations, but it still undoubtedly results in a tangled mess.
This can turn into such a tangled web, so I love reading along as close calls happen and secrets get more and more twisted!
Unravel these mysteries:
- The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Tweet Cute by Emma Lord | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Amazon | Bookshop.org
Brother / Sister’s Best Friend
Ah, the unattainable match. The person you pine over, crush from afar, spend hours and hours staring at longingly. The big brother / sister’s best friend. The absolutely, off limits best friend.
Nothing reminds you of your teenage years like this addition to the romance tropes list!
- The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren | Amazon | Bookshop.org
Different Worlds / Backgrounds
The different worlds or backgrounds trope can go down a wide variety of paths! It can be quite literal in the fantasy genre, where our love interests come from actual different worlds. More often we find partners who’s families are in different societal classes, rural vs city childhoods, white collar vs working class jobs, etc.
Explore these cultural differences:
- Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Bringing Down The Duke by Evie Dunmore | Amazon | Bookshop.org
The addition of fame and publicity makes these romance novels so fun to read! Whether the love interest is a well known celebrity trying to make it work with a regular person or they’re hiding their identity for personal reasons, these are guaranteed to be exciting reads!
Uncover the celebrities:
- Geekerella by Ashley Poston | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey | Amazon | Bookshop.org
- The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan | Amazon | Bookshop.org
Which of these romance tropes is your favorite?