B. K. Borison's top five romance tropes

The bestselling writer on the romantic set-ups she's always in the mood for.

Providers of comfort, and yet ripe for subversion: never underestimate the power of a skillfully deployed romance trope. From enemies-to-lovers to fake-dating, these recurring themes, motifs and character traits are the building blocks of so many of our favourite love stories, from Pride and Prejudice to Honey & Spice. Here, B. K. Borison, bestselling author of the romantic comedy series Lovelight Farms, shares her favourites.

Tropes. Beloved themes that appear over and over across the romance genre. As a writer, tropes are an incredible tool that can help shape a story. As a reader, they’re a blinking neon sign, directing you to the next book from your never-ending TBR stack. In the mood for friends-to-lovers? Literally always. What about a small-town romance? Yes, please. 

Tropes set expectations and give readers a place to find their footing. It’s the hook, the catalyst. . .the device that sets the stage. The challenge in romance is to find a fresh way to interpret the trope. To breathe new life into it or flip it on its head. 

Tropes aren’t the backbone of a book, but the building blocks used to carry our characters through a story. They can be comforting or cheeky, subversive or studious. That’s the delight of story-telling and the unique perspective each author brings. 

Below are five of my favorite tropes, and five stories that knocked my socks off with them.

Opposites attract 

There are few things I love more than when a grumbly, straight-laced character falls head over heels for a chaotic, mess of a person. Especially when those two people are more alike than they ever thought possible. 

In a New York Minute

by Kate Spencer

Book cover for  In a New York Minute

The world’s worst meet-cute turns into a subway love connection in Kate Spencer’s In A New York Minute. Fanciful Franny couldn’t be more opposite to serious, shy Hayes, yet they find themselves in one another’s orbit time and time again. An awkward encounter turns into a slow-blooming love as soon as these two begin to look past their differences. A beloved trope packaged in a whimsical setting with snappy dialogue makes this a real winner.  

Second chance 

I know I’m reading a strong second-chance romance when I feel a knot in my chest. There’s something so deeply satisfying about a love story when two characters rediscover one another after already falling in love once. 

Do I Know You?

by Emily Wibberley

Book cover for Do I Know You?

That’s exactly the case in Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. While on a trip celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, a married couple pretend to be strangers at the hotel bar. Eliza and Graham find themselves enjoying the anonymity of the role play, but with a ticking timer on their alter egos, can they fix what’s wrong in their broken marriage and recapture the magic lost? 

This book was all the things I love best in a second-chance romance. Deep longing, a healthy dose of pining, and two people working through their issues to fight for their second chance together. It was as lovely as it was gut-wrenching, and it’ll be a story I come back to again and again. 

Secret relationship 

Whispered conversations. Frantic, rushed kisses. Hand holding beneath the table and secret, longing glances. All hallmarks of the secret relationship trope where the stakes are often sky-high.

Red, White and Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

Book cover for Red, White and Royal Blue

And there are no stakes higher than the world of politics. In Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston, First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz tumbles into a secret relationship with longtime nemesis Prince Henry. Alex and Henry carve out a place for themselves in a world that otherwise won’t tolerate them being together. It’s a beautiful story of love, acceptance, and growth with a healthy dose of humor, wit, and deep compassion.

Slow burn 

A slow burn is when the two lead characters slowly and carefully take steps towards each other over the course of the novel. The romantic payoff is usually explosive, and close to the end of the story. It can be frustrating, but also deeply satisfying.

A Marvellous Light

by Freya Marske

Book cover for A Marvellous Light

Set in an alternative Edwardian England and full of magic-infused mystery, A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske is gorgeously written with tension strung out like taffy. The world building is divine as young baronet Robin Blyth discovers a world that’s been hidden to him, working with his magical-society counterpart Edwin Courcey. An uneasy alliance is born and a budding romance begins to take shape in between their bickering.

Found family 

While romantic relationships are quite obviously the headliner of genre romance, I love when a story showcases the other types of love and relationships in a character’s life.

Legends & Lattes

by Travis Baldree

Book cover for  Legends & Lattes

For some characters, the family you choose is more important than the family you’re born with and the love given all the more special because of it. And in the case of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, that found family includes a battle-weary orc and a host of other fantastical creatures. This book was a cozy, comforting read about being brave enough to try something new and discovering new relationships along the way. A delicious and delightful reminder that there is good in the world, even if that world has barbarian orcs.

Read more from B. K. Borison

Lovelight Farms

by B.K. Borison

Book cover for Lovelight Farms

Lovelight Farms is a wholesome rom-com featuring a handsome, freckled data analyst, a messy, optimistic Christmas tree farm owner, and a small town with the best hazelnut lattes on the east coast. In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a child, Stella enters a contest with insta-famous influencer Evelyn St. James. There’s just one problem: she lied on the application and said that she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only . . . there is no boyfriend. Enter best friend Luka Peters. Will their fake love affair save Lovelight Farms in time for Christmas?