Themed Lists

Ranking Romance Tropes // with recs!

Happy Valentines Day, bookworms! I hope everyone is having a charming day!

My plans for the day are very elaborate. Basically, I am going to read some of my favorite rom-coms while eating Oreos. I might be really bold and watch some rom-coms too, we shall see. It is currently snowing (part iii of 8-10 inches this year eek), so I am enjoying all of my fluffy books and movies while basking in the coziness of my fortress of blankets.

I had a tag all queued up and ready to go for today, but it didn’t seem very festive. My solution: Ranking Romance Tropes!

Rivals-to-lovers comes in so many different forms. My personal favorite type of rivals-to-lovers is of the academic rivalry variety, but you honestly can’t go wrong with any of them. Rivals-to-lovers is definitely a close cousin to enemies-to-lovers, but I consider them to be two different tropes (I will fight you on that). Defined by tension between the main characters and lot’s of sassy banter, rivals-to-lovers is hands down my favorite of the romance tropes.

By the Book by Amanda Sellet

rivals-to-lovers, but with books

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

camping *said with jazz hands*

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

rivals-to-lovers but make it a Taming of the Shrew retelling

The (so thought) unrequited angst that comes with this trope is superior. I love how we get to see the relationship side of the relationship really shine. In so many romance books it ends with a relationship, so getting to see it on full display (even if it is fake) is super fun. I like all the cute moments and the ever looming is it real??? question.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

*cue the screeching*

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

There is fake dating, but with dates based off of famous rom-coms. Pure gold.

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

For all of those fantasy fans who also love fake dating!

I like my fictional relationships well done, none of that rare or medium rare malarkey. The tension needs to be simmer until I am willing to sacrifice my left ear for them to admit their feelings ahhhhhh. I find myself rooting for slow burn relationships the most because there is more time to become invested. I mean, if I don’t have enough time to get invested in the romance I’m not going to spend all that time rhythmically chanting get together get together get together in the hope I can manifest their relationship.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

this book is fantastic in every way possible (I mean, ghosts!) and the slow burn romance only adds to it’s glory

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

an ode to teendom, but add in slow burn romance

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

starring strong friendships, but with romance drizzled in

Forced proximity is really allowed to shine when combined with another romance trope (especially rivals-to-lovers). Watching the main characters get tossed into situations where they merely tolerate each other’s presence, but have to endure it nonetheless is absolutely golden.

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Millie is forced to be roommates with a princess… I vote yes

Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins

laugh out loud hilarity and lots of awkward encounters after be forced to spent break together

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

forced proximity, but in a library

Friends-to-lovers is such an under-appreciated trope. I love it when I happen to pick up a book featuring it, but I don’t actively seek it out. A strong friendship seems like a really great foundation to start to build a relationship. Add in some pining, and it becomes a real contender.

Keep My Heart in San Francisco by Amelia Diane Coombs

friends-to-rivals-to-friends-to-lovers with a dab of bowling

More than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Bisma is a national treasure and that’s all you need to know

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

friends-to-lovers at it’s finest

I have a love-hate relationship with this trope. There are some instances where it really worked for me, but there are other times that are just ick. Instances where parents are the reason for the forbidden love infuriate me to no end. I do, on the other hand, enjoy it when there is some external force causing the relationship to be taboo.

My favorite use of this trope is in Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan. It is a Romeo and Juliet retelling that ends *gasp* in tragedy. Featuring spawn of two rival comic book sellers, Verona Comics managed to defy all of my expectations.

I don’t really have a reason for disliking this trope, but for some reason I do. Yep, that’s all I got.

Ick. Ick. Ick. Love triangles were really popular for quite awhile, but I cannot stand them. In true April fashion, I’m going to list the reasons I despise love triangles with a passion. I know we are creating a list-within-a-list situation, but I feel like living on the wild side today.

  • They are often poorly constructed. If I know who the love interest is going to chose off the bat, then I have exactly zero stakes in their constant whining about ohh dearest me, who do I pick???
  • When love triangles are constructed purely to create drama for a pre-existing couple— I don’t want it.
  • The love triangle consumes the main character. Like they have a revolution on their hands, but by all means, let’s take the next ten pages to contemplate your love life. Priorities, people!!!!

There are more reasons, but I can feel the rage bubbling within me as I aggressively type these bullet points, so I’m going to stop here. We are trying to channel our inner zen on this fine Sunday, not become fired up over love triangles.

Where is the relationship development? Where is the angst? The pining? Oh that’s right! Non-existent. Insta-love just passes go and skips all of the other ingredients to a good relationship.


And with that, we are going to call this list a wrap. No matter the genre, I am such a sucker for a good romance. Especially one including some of my favorite tropes!!

What are your favorite romance tropes? Least favorite??

21 thoughts on “Ranking Romance Tropes // with recs!

  1. okay i ~hate~ love triangles, and insta love too. rivals-to-lovers is 100% ✨ superior ✨ and we all love a good slow burn!! fake dating is also SO wholesome – and you should definitely read counting down with you if you like that trope!! CDWY isn’t out yet – but it’s def worth the wait!! another one of my favourites would have to be enemies to lovers combined with the ‘there’s only one bed’, or ‘there’s only one room’. (hahaha i’m thinking both lou and reid from serpent & dove and bryce and hunt from house of earth and blood here)!! great post, april!! thank you so much for all the recs!! 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes yes yes! love triangles and insta love deserve to burn at the stake. nope nope nope. and yessss you can’t go wrong with good ole rivals-to-lovers combined with that slow burn. toss in some of those more specific tropes (like there’s only one bed which is GOLDEN) omg CDWY has been on my radar!! it sounds like everything I would love in a book and I’m hoping to preorder it!!
      yesss you really can’t go wrong with enemies to lovers combined with some of the more specific tropes. one of my favorite ultra specific romance trope is when they have to throw knives at each other and it’s this whole trust thing and the amount of character growth and relationship development is top notch. thank you so much for reading!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading this post, April! I definitely LOVED reading Starry Eyes, like the romance is just too cute and hot to be real (plus I got some camping knowledge). And The Shadows Between Us is unbelievably romantic too! The fake relationship is just beautifully written, although I don’t really prefer fake dating troop since it feels too . . . fake. Alas, TSBU was beautiful to read💖
    The Soulmates troop is too cheesy. As a sappy reader I am, it’s romantic but nope, not going there. And the love-triangles. It’s always so annoying when there is a character you want him/her to go with another one but that character chooses the opposite of who you like. And when I think of Twilight, it’s a bad insta love story. But I loved the book list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhh thank you so much!!! yesss it was so cute! I especially loved the forced proximity with the camping and all haha! omg it totally is!! I love it so so so much!! yea I would agree with that! there is also something about it that makes it seem like there are so other options, combined with the cheesiness I just don’t vibe with soulmates. Ahh yes that is the absolute WORST! like no no no, come back here and make the right choice! thank you so much and happy reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. *clears throat* I believe you mean spirit, ghost is a derogatory term (this is a reference to Cemetery Boys…not a very obvious reference though haha).
    Let me just say that as long as insta love is the last-ranked on this list you’ve done this right.
    Okay, I also agree that I dislike love triangles but have you read Felix Ever After? The love triangle is tolerable and the book is SUPER GOOD. Plus it’s…well I don’t know how to explain it without spoiling but there are a few other tropes you may enjoy better.
    Just from reading this…do you really hate Romeo and Juliet if you’ve read it? It has insta love and forbidden love caused by parents…
    Okay also I have a question unrelated to this post but it’s soooorta time sensitive so….I’ll just write it here.
    Basically, as you know, I’m writing a discussion on retellings (set to post next week)(now I’m hoping that most people don’t read the comment sections on people’s blogs since I was trying to keep this a secret from most people haha). Anyways, I was wondering if you actually wanted to work with me to do that? Like, we’d both write it and then both publish the post next Sunday (well, if we wanted to do a different configuration, for example each post different parts of the post so we’re not posting the exact same thing, we can figure that out). As I’m writing this post, I’m realizing that I’ve been more writing it from the perspective of someone who writes, not someone who reads so I was wondering if you wanted to help out with that other part. Plus, you seem to really enjoy retellings! But it’s totally okay if you don’t have time/have a different post planned for next Sunday or something like that (also if you say yes this conversation should definitely be moved to emails haha).
    Aaah, sorry for such a long comment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha you’re right! i did mean spirit🙈
      i haven’t read felix ever after yet, but it’s on my tbr!! it sounds amazing (even with the love triangle!!!) honestly, as long as the triangle is well written, i don’t mind it!!
      oh yea i really don’t like romeo and juliet. i’m all for retellings, but not a fan of the og… at all. it has some redeeming qualities, but it’s so overly romanticized that are just no
      oooh yesss, i’d totally love the collaborate! retellings are my weakness lol so i’m totally game!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha
        Ooh, I hope you get to it soon, it’s awesome! Yeah, I mean I don’t read many books with love triangles but I think it’s a pretty well written one. Yeah, I didn’t enjoy Romeo and Juliet either…I agree that the retellings are awesome!
        Yay! Okay, I’ll email you what I’ve written so far and maybe a little bit of what I’m thinking of adding and we can discuss what else we want in there, etc. Also, it’s sorta chaotic so far so there are definitely parts that I’ve written that we should probably cut out.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. So many recs, so many new books on my TBR…thanks, I guess? Lol, but my least favourite will always be insta-love. I HATE it, but I love rivals to lovers, slow burn and forbidden romance! And I want to read more friends to lovers because I haven’t read enough of them to have an opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha no problem!! it’s always a sort of bittersweet thing when you get more books for the tbr because AHHH MORE BOOKS I’M ALREADY BURIED but at the same time more books OOOH lol. yea I really can’t stand instalove ick. yesss all of those are so good!!!! yes I’m always on the lookout for more friends to lovers because I always enjoy it, but don’t see it nearly enough!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post April! I will definitely check out your romance recommendations! I too have a struggle with love triangles and *gagging* insta-love. You make great points on why you like or don’t like a trope but also point out that everyone can have their own opinions. *watches TBR grow*

    Liked by 1 person

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