Book Tag: The Romance Tropes Tag (Original)

Time for another book tag! Some of you might remember that back in 2018 I completed the fantasy tropes book tag. Fantasy is easily one of my favourite genres so answering prompts based around my favourite (and not so favourite) tropes was a lot of fun. Another one of my go-to genres is romance so recently I wondered whether someone had created a similar style tag. While there were a couple of romance related book tags, I couldn’t seem to find any dealing specifically with tropes. And so, I decided why not make one myself? Thus, ‘The Romance Tropes Tag’ was born!

Note:

  • If you’d like to do the tag, feel free! Just make sure to link back to this post so I can see all of your wonderful answers.
  • You are welcome to use my graphics or create your own.
  • Although this is based around romance tropes, your answers don’t have to be romance books. Whatever fits the prompt!

RED, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

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If there’s a limit to how many times I can say I love this book on my blog, please do let me know because I’ve probably long exceeded it already. After reading the first couple of pages of RW&RB I just knew I was going to love it. As it turned out, I was right and it ended up being my second favourite read of 2019. The book deals with the relationship between an alt-version of the prince of Great Britain and first son of the USA. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s sexy, just magical really. RW&RB is over 400 pages long which is chunkier than your average romance read but I was so invested and having such a good time that the pages just flew by. Queer romance gold.

Alina & The Darkling (The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo)

I know, okay. I really do. This pairing is a complete toxic mess. The logical part of my brain recognises this fact. I never expected them to actually be end game while I was reading the books but *sigh*, the heart wants what it wants. Maybe it’s the whole light-dark symmetry, or that Mal bores me, or the fact that every conversation between Alina and the Darkling is just plain electric. Nah, in reality it’s probably more than likely because I love the drama that comes with the hero and villain being in love with each other but the plot persisting in pitting them against one another. Why, hello there angst.

Chain of Gold – Cassandra Clare

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Every time a new Cassie Clare book comes out, FOMO rears its ugly head. While I read The Infernal Devices back in the day, I haven’t read the last Mortal Instruments book. When The Dark Artifices were releasing I was still determined to catch up but since then I’ve decided not to read any more Shadowhunter books because I just don’t enjoy them like I used to. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel seriously left out and pressured to change my mind with every new release. They’re ridiculously popular so they’re always all over the internet. When Chain of Gold came out last year I was so tempted. The cover was everywhere and the amount of fanart is crazy. I haven’t cracked yet but when the posters for Chain of Iron went up last month, trust me, the struggle was real.

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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This book was not what I was expecting at all. Although, it’s likely my fault in this instance. Clearly I need to read the genre tags on Goodreads more because I somehow completely missed that this was a paranormal romance. The blurb does not suggest this in the slightest (or am I simply thick? Read it and let me know). There I was, thinking it was going to be a whole ‘other woman’ scenario (which I guess it sort of was but with a very different approach). So, you can imagine my shock when a ghost showed up a few chapters in. I wasn’t super keen on it for the most part but the twists towards the end certainly picked things up and tied them together somewhat.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Their Inner Beasts: 'Lord of the Flies' Six Decades Later - The New York  Times

I first read Lord of the Flies when I was in high school and hated it with a fiery passion. However, I ended up having to read it again a few years later during my university ‘Law & Literature’ elective and found that I enjoyed and appreciated it more the second time through. Published in the 1950s, the book follows a group of schoolboys who get stuck on a deserted island and try (and fail) to create their own version of an organised and lawful society. Sure, the characters were still stupid and nuts, but on reread I was better able to understand what Golding was attempting to say and demonstrate about society and humanity. From 1 to 3 stars. Not bad.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

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I don’t normally read lots of historical or literary fiction but I was determined to give this book a read. I’m glad I did because it was great and very different from much of what I’ve read in the past. The story centers around the life of a gay man named Cyril living in Ireland before homosexuality was legalised. I’m not sure how he does it but Boyne magically straddles the line between humour and tragedy throughout the book, jumping back and forth without ever giving you emotional whiplash. It’s a quirky, somewhat absurd read at times but super charming and immersive and I’m really looking forward to reading other books from Boyne’s backlist.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco

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Originally I wasn’t going to read KotW because I’m not a huge fan of Stalking Jack the Ripper, but there were just too many things associated with it that I love – witchcraft, murder mysteries, demons, paranormal romance…so I gave in. It’s about a witch and a demon prince in 19th century Sicily teaming up to solve the murder of the witch’s twin sister. I was very unsure early on (I think it’s the writing, lots of tell rather than show) and the story took a good while to grow on me. However, by the second half I was having a much more enjoyable time – the plot had come together better and the dynamic between the two leads was working well. I was actually sorry to see it end so I’ll likely read the sequel later this year.

The Nevernight Chronicle – Jay Kristoff & Shades of Magic Series – V E Schwab

Why did I set myself such a challenging prompt? Crazy. Now I’m imagining all my beautiful books going up in smoke *hyperventilates*. I have quite a few favourite series so I’m approaching this prompt as: which two series would I hate to have to replace? With that line of thinking, and excluding Harry Potter to avoid sounding like a broken record, I’m going with The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff and the Shades of Magic Series by V E Schwab. While I certainly adore both of these series for their great characters, amazing fantasy world building, and exciting story arcs, it more comes down to the fact that my copies are all signed (some personally addressed) by the authors so I would be heartbroken to lose either of them. Even if I were to buy them again, they wouldn’t be the same. I guess I’m going up in smoke with them then.

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Before you start throwing things at me, I liked The Hating Game (I gave it 3.5 stars after all), but I didn’t LOVE The Hating Game. Considering how hyped this book was I was expecting something more. The banter was a lot of fun and the chemistry between Lucy and Josh was great, I even laughed a few times while reading. However, I really wish the whole enemies part of the enemies to lovers transition had lasted longer than it did and that Sally Thorne hadn’t felt the need to repeat certain descriptors over and over again. Josh’s frequent alpha-male asshole-ness also put me off at multiple points.

I’m going to do 2 answers for this prompt – one for fantasy and another for contemporary. These were both books that I came across during mid-high school and really started my love of the genre.

Fantasy: Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight, #1) by Stephenie Meyer

I assume this would be a lot of people’s answer to this question. No avoiding it because it’s true. I have a little soft, squishy spot in my heart for The Twilight Saga. Probably always will. While it certainly has its many flaws, at the age of fifteen I was pretty obsessed with Bella, Edward and Jacob, and their supernatural love triangle woes. This book hurtled me into the depths of the paranormal romance genre, something I still guilty pleasure enjoy today, many years later. Would probably still reread at some point in the future, not gonna lie.


Contemporary: The Secret Dream World of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

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This book was a gift from my mum and I actually DNF-ed it the first time I read it. I still have no idea why but in my defense, this was a really long time ago. I gave it a second try on a trip to visit my grandparents and ended up racing through it. Having read many more contemporary romances now, were I to re-read it today it probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it used to be but at the time I remember it being a lot of fun – Becky and her crazy shopping/debt antics. In the years after I read a whole bunch of Kinsella’s other romcoms (including several in this series) and it’s probably where my love of these types of novels started.

Jude and Cardan (The Folk of the Air Series – Holly Black)

Once again, I’m mentioning my messy and stabby faerie x human power couple, Jurdan. Eventually you all will get sick of me mentioning them over and over (then again, maybe you already are), but for now we’re going to talk about them for the millionth time. These two are somewhat of a toxic clusterf*** at times. However, they just get each other so much better than anybody else does and they feel perfectly matched. Plus the conflict and sexual tension is simply *chef’s kiss*. I love it when they’re sniping at each other, stabbing one another in the back, working together, or being adorably sweet and vulnerable.

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My two favourite romance tropes are enemies to lovers and fake dating. They’re massively overdone but I can’t get enough, especially when they’re in the same book. A book I enjoyed that featured both was The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. It’s about Olive and Ethan who hate each other but whose siblings are getting married. After the bride and groom wind up with food poisoning, our leads decide to make use of their all expenses paid honeymoon to Hawaii. However, certain circumstances result in them having to pretend to be newlyweds. It’s a lot of fun and I love a good CLo read, especially one with good verbal sparring.


I hope you all enjoyed trope-ing it up romance style with me and fingers crossed I managed to tick off most of your favourite tropes from the genre. I’m not usually one to tag other bloggers in these types of posts but I’d be absolutely thrilled if you gave the tag a go. If you’d like to, the prompts are listed below for easy copying and pasting. Until next time!

Prompts:

  • Love at First Sight: A Book You Fell in Love with Almost Immediately
  • Forbidden Love: A Romantic Pairing You Probably Shouldn’t Love but Do
  • Stuck Together/Forced Proximity: A Book You Felt Pressured to Read (By a Friend, Bookstagram, Bloggers, etc.)
  • Mistaken Identity: A Book that Wasn’t What You Were Expecting
  • Second Chance Romance: A Book or Series You Enjoyed More the Second Time Around
  • Opposites Attract: A Book You Love from a Genre You Don’t Usually Read
  • Enemies to Lovers: A Book Whose Second Half is Better than its First OR A Series that Gets Better Over Time
  • Love Triangle: Your House is on Fire & You Can Only Save One Series! Which Two Series Do You Die Trying to Choose Between?
  • Friends to Lovers: A Book You Wanted More From
  • Meet Cute: A Book that Got You Hooked on Romance
  • Soulmates: Two Characters Who Are Made for Each Other
  • Bonus: Your Favourite Romance Trope/s & A Book that Features It

The Fellowship of the Ring Tag

This fabulous Lord of the Rings themed tag (and it’s lovely graphics) comes from Nandini @ Unputdownable Books. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of the LotR books (too wordy and too much info dumping, although they do have some really wonderful individual quotes, as you can see from this post) but I looooovvveeee the movies so when I stumbled across this, I knew I had to do it. Nandini’s also added in Gollum just to round out the question total.


Gandalf – A Book that Taught You Something

The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling

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I’m going to double down on Nandini’s obvious answer for this one with good old HP. I grew up with this series and I think I learned a lot about bravery, friendship and loyalty from it. Hermione, in particular, taught me a lot about having a great work ethic and not being ashamed of being smart. Luna showcased the fact that it’s okay to be a little bit quirky and not to worry about what others think of you when you have good friends who accept you as you are. From Neville, I learnt that you can still be brave even if you’re scared and that it’s important to call people out on things even if they happen to be friends. Honestly, I could keep going but better not otherwise we’ll be here all day. 

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Frodo – A Book that Left a Mark on You

Sadie – Courtney Summers

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Sadie was such a raw, emotional and unflinchingly honest read. The book goes to some pretty dark and deep places, and tackles some heavy topics. I don’t think I’ve read many things like it. As a result, it really burrowed its way into my thoughts and emotions. Even without the sudden and open ending, I still think this book would have been playing on me for a long time afterwards. It’s definitely not something I’ll easily forget for a long time.

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Legolas – A Book You Finished in One Sitting

The Selection – Kiera Cass

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I find it difficult to get enough time to read books in one sitting because of my schedule but also because the books I read are often a bit too big. So, instead, I’ve picked something I raced through like there was no tomorrow (which also happens to be very short). The Selection is not well written and its main character, America, can be extremely frustrating, but it’s just so darn addictive in its trashy-ness. I mean, it’s the dystopian Bachelor. I had an absolute ball reading this book and finished it in no time at all.  It’s comfort fiction at its best.

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Gimli – A Book that Features an Unlikely Friendship

Zelie & Amari (Children of Blood & Bone – Toni Adeyemi)

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While I didn’t absolutely adore Children of Blood and Bone in its entirety, one of the parts I really enjoyed was the development of Zelie and Amari’s friendship. These two are from very different worlds and part of a social structure that puts them at odds with one another. When the book starts out, Zelie is extremely judgemental and resentful of Amari, treating her like the snobby and useless princess she believes her to be. However, over time she comes to realise that Amari is a lot more than this. Zelie helps Amari to come out of her shell and be brave. In turn, at the end of the book when Zelie needs it most, Amari is there for her and pushes her to stay strong even when it seems like all hope is lost.

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Merry – A Book that Pleasantly Surprised You

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

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I went into Fangirl thinking it’d be another cute, fluffy YA contemporary book that I’d enjoy but because of the hype would likely end up feeling a bit overrated. In the end, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it (a lot) but especially by the fact that it actually covered some more serious issues like mental health, broken families, and binge drinking. This book gave me some serious fanfiction nostaglia and while I’m not crazy about it like some people are, I wouldn’t say it’s massively overrated. Also, Levi = major love heart eyes.

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Pippin – A Book that Made You Laugh

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

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Books rarely manage to make me laugh out loud beyond a casual snort, or maybe a slightly heavier breath, but as I mentioned in my recent review, The Hating Game did it on multiple occasions. I just love the banter and snark between Lucy and Josh – they have fantastic chemistry and although the barbs can be brutal on occasion, I can’t help cracking up when the real winners come out. Lucy, as a narrator, also manages to come up with some pretty funny commentary on events, while even some of the situations themselves are just amusing on their own (e.g. paintball warfare).

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Boromir – A Book/Series that You Think Ended Too Soon

Shades of Magic Series – V. E. Schwab**

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Okay, with already three books in this series I’m probably just being greedy. Also, considering the fact that a lot of series go on far too long beyond where they should have finished, Schwab likely did the right thing going out on a high. Still, I want MORE. *spoilers* A Conjuring of Light ends with Kell and Lila going off to explore the world together. Rhy has become king and is back together with Alucard. I would love to have read about Kell & Lila’s adventures, seen more of the world beyond the taste we got in book 3, and found out how Rhy rebuilt Red London/learned how to be a ruler. *end spoilers* I also feel like there’s a whole bunch of questions I’d really like to get answers for, in particular about Kell’s and Lila’s backgrounds.

** Okay, in the process of writing this post, I’ve actually just realised (HOW DID I MISS THIS) that last year Schwab signed a book deal for three more novels set in the same world as ADSOM. It’ll be called Threads of Power *jumps up and down and screams in excitement*. Okay, it’s not a direct sequel but I’ll take it!

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Sam – A Book with Memorable Side Characters Who Stole the Show

The Shadowhunters Books – Cassandra Clare

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Last year I re-read the first two books in this series (I will eventually re-read/read the rest, okay! I’m slow!) and realised that my favourite characters actually weren’t in them as much as I remembered. Over time, I think Cassie realised that although Jace, Clary and Simon were her leads,  people really loved Isabelle, Alec and Magnus, and as a result, they became much more present as time went on. Honestly, Magnus and Alec are so shortchanged in the early books, it’s almost criminal. I’m so glad that over time they got more page time to properly develop their stories and relationships.

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Aragorn – A Good Book with a Bad/Average Cover

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

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I’ve mentioned my eternal love for the Vampire Academy books repeatedly on this blog. It’s one of my absolute favourite series (exciting plots, fantastic characters, dramatic and funny writing, fab ships, and a great friendship at its heart) but the one thing I just can’t get behind is the covers. *sigh* Especially the first book in the series. What is it about YA books and their tendency to put random models on covers in awkward or weird positions? Worse, they’ve been recovered a couple of times and can never seem to come up with a winner. Even the 10th-anniversary edition is lacking a wow factor. Just because a book has vampires in it does not mean it has to look seedy.

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Gollum – A Book that had Great Potential but Disappointed You in the End

Sabriel – Garth Nix

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Sabriel is one of those books in fantasy circles that people seem to really talk up and Garth Nix isn’t exactly an unknown author either. The book has an interesting concept, too, and with all this in mind, I thought I’d be in for a really great read. Parts of it were good but on the whole, I had such a hard time getting into it and often found myself bored. The magic system that I’d heard so many amazing things about massively confused me and the world itself just felt a little odd. If there was one thing I did quite like it was Mogget, Sabriel’s massively powerful magical companion trapped in a cat’s body.


And there we have it. Done and dusted. You guys know I’m not one for tagging people but if you’re a LotR fan and would love to do this tag, I highly recommend it- just make sure to link back to Nandini’s original post.

Who’s your favourite member of the fellowship? Mine is definitely Sam – that sweet little hobbit, saving the world with his heart of gold and a frying pan. But if we’re talking movies,  I should also mention that I’m with you, Eowyn – Aragorn is a total dreamboat.

Mini Reviews | Let’s Get Romantic: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang & The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Let me set the scene: It was December of 2018. There were four days left in the month and I was but 3 small books short of a beautifully round 90 reads for the year. And so began my chick lit binge. I mean, what’s easier to blitz through in the space of a day than adorable couples having steamy sex whilst also being frustratingly unable to see just how perfect they are for each other? Exactly.

With that in mind, I found myself tackling The Kiss Quotient & The Hating Game – two extremely popular contemporary romance books that seem to have been popping up online in recent months so frequently it feels like an epic game of internet whack-a-mole. Admittedly, it’s been a good long while since I’ve read a book in this genre, but it turns out that getting back on the horse isn’t even close to difficult. Here’s how things went with the guilty-pleasure-a-thon.

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang |GR

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The premise of The Kiss Quotient is simple: Our leading lady is Stella, a thirty-year-old, talented econometrician with little romantic experience and Asperger’s. Hoping to improve her skills in the… “love” department, Stella hires Michael, a mixed-race escort in huge debt with a whole lot of emotional baggage. Spoiler: the two fall for each other. 

Let’s get this out of the way first, yes, the storyline is completely unrealistic. It’s Pretty Woman in reverse and would in no way happen in real life, but as I happen to freakin’ love Pretty Woman, no complaints from me.

What does frustrate me is the forced will-they-won’t-they tension in the second half. We all know you will SO STOP BEING SO OBTUSE AND SAY YOU LOVE EACH OTHER! The conflict is mostly boiled down to both parties thinking they’re not good enough for the other or that their baggage is a problem for the other person. It clearly isn’t because if it were, they’d be a complete ass. Gawd, I hate miscommunication.

This frustration aside… I really enjoyed The Kiss Quotient. The leads are so damn likeable and the romance is ridiculously sweet. I’m not autistic but even I could relate to Stella, and because of how well she’s written (Hoang herself is autistic), it’s also very easy to understand her. She’s endearing, successful and I love the fact that she comes to realise she shouldn’t have to change for anyone. Michael, too, is really lovely. He’s creative, protective, makes sacrifices for his family, and accepts Stella exactly as she is. Also, did I mention he looks like a Korean tv star? *swoon* (bonus points for including ethnic diversity too). But honestly, the best part is that they fit together so perfectly. Even just reading about the two eating ice cream makes me go aww. Get married and have babies already.

To answer your question, yes, there are several sex scenes and yes, they’re graphic. BUT, somehow they’re also the perfect combo of sweet and sultry. Hoang builds up to them slowly and oh my god, consent. Consent is dealt with so well in this book. Michael wants Stella to be entirely comfortable with whatever they do and he’s willing to take it very slowly to get there. It’s both hot and romantic. Let’s say it together kids, consent is sexy.

Finally, the book just advocates a really lovely idea – that it’s not just okay to be different, it’s these differences that make you loveable. You are who you are, not something to be fixed.

Can recommend as a super nice way to spend a frantic afternoon reading to meet a ridiculous book goal.

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne | GR

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Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are executive assistants to the two CEOs of the recently merged, Bexley Gamin publishing house. The problem is, they hate each other. Lucy can’t stand Josh’s serious and uptight demeanour, while Lucy’s colourful clothes and bubbly attitude drive Joshua nuts. When both come up for the same promotion, they make a deal – winner gets the dream job, loser resigns. Except, as decision day comes closer it turns out that perhaps Lucy doesn’t hate Joshua after all, and maybe he doesn’t hate her either. But is it real or just another round in their long-running hating game?

If there’s one thing I can say for sure about The Hating Game, it’s that it’s funny. Not just an extra hard exhale kind of funny but actual chuckle funny. The banter between Josh and Lucy, both barbs and flirting, is great but also really shows off their fantastic chemistry. Honestly, having such a smooth back and forth with another person = the dream. Snipping aside, the more personal conversations between the two are really nice as well. Slowly we get to see each character gain a better appreciation for the other and understand their issues such as Josh’s problems with his dad and Lucy’s loneliness.   

If you enjoy the enemies-to-lovers trope, this has got your name on it. I do have to say though, that I wish the enemies section or early part of the transitional period had lasted longer as once that part of the storyline kicks in, it does go a bit full throttle. The tension becomes less about how they feel about each other and more when they’re going to sleep together. Sure, that can be fun, but it does turn Lucy into a bit of sex-crazed nut for a while and result in a whole bunch of scenes that build to nothing.

Again, yes, there’s sex scenes and yes, they’re not airy-fairy either. The more graphic scenes don’t really appear until towards the end of the book apart from one exception, *spoiler* a sex dream of Lucy’s which I still kind of question the necessity of in such heavy detail. Regardless, all are glasses-steam-up level hotness, never fear.  

I quite liked Lucy as a narrator and she cracked me up repeatedly. There was the occasional childish or silly comment/action and, god, I wish her height hadn’t been repeated every two bloody seconds, but still, I appreciated her drive, sense of humour, balls (that ending, you go girl) and confidence. Josh’s at times dominating personality and aggression dragged his character down for me (ugh, alpha male bullshit) but then he’d have a particularly sweet moment with Lucy, do that…smile thing and I’d cave. Damn it.

Not perfect, but certainly a solid contemporary romance and fun way to spend a few hours. Go forth and enjoy.