The Complete List of Romance Tropes: Our 12 Favorites

Ultiimate list of Romance Tropes: 12 Best!
The Complete List of Romance Tropes: Our 12 Favorites 40

We love romance books here at Beyond the Bookends because you know what you are going to get. There are usually no surprises when you are reading a romance novel, but with so many romance tropes, how do you choose the book that will give you the perfect happy ending?

Are you more of a friend-to-lovers person or is a second-chance romance right up your alley? We have a list of the top 15 most popular tropes explained along with a few books you can read in the subgenre. We hope this will help you choose your next great read and pick your favorite romance novel tropes.

*Romance Trope List Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Table of Contents

What are Romance Tropes?

Romance book tropes can be described as a subgenre of romance books. Romance writers use these themes as the story base upon which they can build the rest of the story. For us here at Beyond the Bookends, the tropes are almost like a contract for what you can expect to read in the novel.

The best romance books will often combine a few romance book tropes to make the story unique. Others will add a spin on classic romance tropes in order to make their book stand out.

No matter which romance tropes are your favorite, all will give you the HEA (happily ever after) that you know and love!

What Are the most popular romance tropes?

These are the top 5 most popular romance tropes:

1. Friends to Lovers Trope
2. Enemies to Lovers Trope
3. Fake Dating / Fake Relationship Trope
4. Second Chance Romance Trope
5. Grumpy Sunshine Trope

List of Popular Romance Tropes

  1. Friends to Lovers
  2. Enemies to Lovers
  3. Fake Dating
  4. Second Chance
  5. Grumpy Sunshine
  6. Office Romance
  7. Forced Proximity
  8. Holiday Romance
  9. Stem Romances
  10. Single Parent Romances
  11. Celebrity
  12. Romantic Comedy

Friends to Lovers Trope

The friends-to-lovers romance tropes in books have become very popular over the last few years and for good reason. This romance trope involves two individuals who start as close friends and slowly realize their feelings for each other are not just platonic.

The shift from friendship to romance is a central theme, often highlighting the strength of their bond and the discovery of a deeper connection between them. These romances are usually slow-burn romances as well. Of all the picks from the romance trope list, this one always seems to be the most plausible.

Hook, Line, and Sinker and more goodreads choice awards 2022 books

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

This is such a cute romance. Fox Thorton is a player who has never had a relationship. The last thing he needs is to fall for his best friend, Hannah, while trying to help her get her crush. And to make matters worse, she has moved into his spare room for the next few weeks while she is filming a movie.

I wish there was a soundtrack to go with this book. It was such a cute and quick read.

People we meet on Vacation

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Do you believe Harry (from When Harry Met Sally) when he said “Women and men can’t be friends”?

We are sure that he’s wrong, but one of our favorite tropes is friends to lovers. People We Met on Vacation is the latest beach read from Emily Henry and it’s addicting.

Poppy has been best friends with Alex since a car ride home from college a decade ago. Since then, they’ve gone on vacation together every year until 2 years ago when it all came crashing down.

Will they recover their friendship with one more trip or will their relationship be irrevocably ruined? This is the perfect beach, poolside read, or vacation read. You should be sure to add it to your summer reading romance books list. And if you are looking for the best friends-to-lovers romance novel, this is it.

Friends to lovers romance books

Friends to Lovers Romances: 11 Must-Read Novels

If you are looking for more of the best romance tropes, we have 24 great romances to read on this list of enemies to lovers.

Enemies to Lovers Romance Trope

In this romance trope, two characters initially despise or strongly dislike each other, but as the story progresses, they undergo a transformation and develop romantic feelings. The tension and conflict between them add intensity to the evolving romantic relationship and this romance book trope is usually a slow-burn romance as well.

unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

I loved this hilarious romance and as soon as I read it I knew this vacation book was perfect for a list of books Like People We Meet on Vacation. It is the epitome of romantic comedy books.

Olive and Ami are twins. While Ami seems to be lucky in everything, Olive knows that if it can happen, it will happen to her. So when everyone gets food poisoning at Ami’s wedding except Olive and her nemesis Ethan, she can’t decide if her luck has changed. This is the fake dating trope to the extreme- fake marriage.

As the two head out on the free, all-inclusive honeymoon that was supposed to be Ami and her new husband, Olive hopes they can call a truce long enough to enjoy the trip. If you are looking for grumpy sunshine romance books, this one should be at the top of your list.

Act Your Age Eve Brown

Act your Age Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert

This is the third book in the Brown Sisters trilogy and I adored this forced proximity romance. Eve Brown is a mess. She switches jobs and careers on a whim and can’t seem to do anything right. When her parents cut her off and tell her to find a job, she finds herself at a bed and breakfast interviewing for a chef position.

After Eve accidentally hits the owner of the B&B with her car, she begins the job helping Jacob, the reluctant owner. This hilarious and steamy romance was a perfect one-sitting read. These two have a lot standing in their way before they can reach their happily ever after.

Find this book in Enemies-to-Lovers Romance / Books Like the Kiss Quotient

enemies to lovers

24 Best Enemies-to-Lovers Books to Read Now

If you are looking for more of the best romance tropes, we have 24 great romances to read on this list of enemies to lovers.

Fake Dating

In this trope, characters pretend to be in a romantic relationship for various reasons such as to ward off unwanted attention, gain social status, or for mutual personal gain. As they navigate the charade, genuine feelings often develop between the characters which makes this one of the most fun romance novel tropes to read.

kiss quotient

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I was not prepared for this book!  Reader beware that it is the Rosie Project with a sprinkle of Pretty Woman and a whole lot of 50 Shades. 

It is not offensive in the least but, I listened to this one, and let me say that I am very glad that my kids were not in the car.  I did not realize that some of the scenes would be graphic. 

It is a great romance with a neurodiverse main character named Stella who hires an escort to teach her about relationships and I loved it. This contemporary romance is definitely on its way to classic status and has a well-earned place on our list of books like The Love Hypothesis.

Duke and I

The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn

I watched the show and LOVED it so much. I previously read some of the others in the series but I really wanted to read this first book in the Bridgerton book series and I have to say, it was my favorite.

There is something about Daphne and Simon that I adore. This book is a perfect historical romance. The Netflix book adaption smashed records and caused a boom in book sales.

Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth of eight children and is beginning her first season in the ton. As young women of marrying age search for a husband, Daphne is not quite like other girls.

When the eligible Simon Bassett suggests they begin fake dating to allow them both a chance to breathe. However, things do not always go as planned. To make matters more complicated, Lady Whistledown always seems to know the truth and the information ready for everyone to read. This is one of our fake dating books of all time.

Are you a fan of Bridgerton? We’ve got a list of books like Bridgerton you will love! And if you love romance books, we have Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Books in Order: Complete Guide to 20 Books.

Fake Dating

Fake Dating Books: 19 Novels to Love

If you love fake dating books from this list of romance tropes, we have so many more book pics for you to love.

Second Chance

Characters in a second chance romance have a history together, often having experienced a breakup or separation. Often the characters were childhood sweethearts. The story explores their renewed chance at love, allowing them to overcome past mistakes, learn and grow, and rediscover their connection. We here at Beyond the Bookends think this is one of the best romance tropes.

Meet me at the lake

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Will and Fern spent one amazing, adventure-filled day together in their early 20s with a promise to meet up again one year later. When Fern shows up and Will doesn’t, she is heartbroken.

Now, nine years later, Fern has inherited the lakeside resort that she never wanted to run, her ex-boyfriend is the resort manager, and she needs help. When Will shows up at the resort with an offer to help get things back in order, she doesn’t know if she can get over her old feelings and trust him again.

I absolutely loved this lake book. Set between Muskoka and Toronto, it reminded me of my childhood and teenage years! This is an absolute must-read second chance romance novel! You can also find this book in our list of Hotel Novels to Indulge in on Vacation, and of course on our Ultimate Beach Reads 2023! If you are looking for books for summer, this one is for you.

Same Time Next Summer

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Sam has a great job, is engaged to a great man, and is about to tour wedding venues. She should not be worried when she runs into the man who broke her heart at 17. Yet, being home brings back old memories and feelings. Sam will have to make a choice between her old love and her fiance.

I had high hopes for this book from the author of Nora Goes Off Script and I was not disappointed. If you love a good beach read and a second chance romance novel this is a perfect pick.

Second chance romance

13 Second Chance Romance Books to Give You Hope

If romances are your thing, we have more amazing picks from popular romance tropes in this list of second chance romance.

Grumpy Sunshine Romance Trope

This trope features a pairing where one character is grumpy, serious, or reserved (the “grumpy” one), while the other is cheerful, optimistic, and outgoing (the “sunshine” one). The contrasting personalities create a dynamic and often humorous romantic tension. This romance novel trope is essentially an opposites attract situation: think Beauty and the Beast. It never disappoints

twisted love

Twisted Love by Ana Huang

This book was my pick for a steamy romance for our summer reading challenge. This book could easily go on our list of billionaire romances (although Alex is a multi-millionaire and not a billionaire) and is a 50 Shades of Grey Feel.

Alex is singularly driven in his pursuit of vengeance for the death of his family. When his best friend goes abroad and asks him to look after his sister while he is gone, Alex begins to feel something he swore he would never feel again.

This steamy romance is the grumpy sunshine trope at its finest. It was a fun and quick read.

fix her up

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Hot & Hammered Book 1

So, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into when I started reading this romance.  It was definitely a lot steamier than I had anticipated.  When Travis Ford, an injured and retired baseball superstar, returns back home, he is in a state of depression. 

Georgette Castle, the best friend’s little sister, knows just how to smack some sense into him.  While Georgette is able to get Travis to stop wallowing in self-pity, he decides to help her family take her more seriously.  Having a job as a clown can make that difficult. 

Opposites attract in this great grumpy sunshine romance that has many a 17+ scene but, it’s a fun summer read. If you love this one, we have a whole list of books like Fix Her Up!

Grumpy Sunshine

26 Grumpy Sunshine Trope Books

If Grumpy Sunshine is your romance trope of choice, have no fear, we have 24 more books on this list that you will love.

Office Romance

Set in the workplace, this trope explores romantic relationships between colleagues. Office romances are some of our favorite of all the romance book tropes. The dynamics of navigating love in professional settings while navigating workplace rules and potential conflicts of interest create a backdrop for some serious tension in the work environment. This trope can also be a forbidden love trope as well. The fun thing about many of the categories on this romance trope list is that they overlap and combine to make unique love stories. The HEA ending never gets old.

Things you save in a fire

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Centerir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=7c4222f05d810cf6bfa3e01f02d291e8& cb=1601430064317

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I read How to Walk Away and enjoyed it but I did not feel as strongly about it as so many people did.  This book is a romance that takes place in a very unlikely setting. 

Cassie is a firefighter who has spent her life doing what she loves while blocking out personal relationships.  When she decides to go live with her estranged mother to help her, her perspective on life starts to change

The Ex Talk and other book reviews in February 2021 Novel ideas

The Ex-Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I picked up The Ex-Talk because I wanted to read a romance by a Jewish author. I loved that this one featured a biracial, interfaith couple.

The concept was cute – two radio show hosts fake a relationship to try to get ratings. Except they are pretending they already dated and broke up… which eventually leads to them dating.

This fake dating book was a cute, easy read. This is an office romance novel that is perfect for books like The Love Hypothesis.

Hot Office Romances to read now

15 Hot Office Romance Books You Need to Read Now

If you love our romance trope list, you can check out our complete list of office romance books!

Forced Proximity

This romance trope places characters in situations where they are forced to spend time together in very close situations due to external circumstances such as being stranded or sharing living spaces. Often this can be seen as sharing the same bed! The proximity creates emotional intimacy that can lead to the development of romantic feelings.

the spanish love deception

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Catalina is a fiercely independent woman who ran away from her past but now she has to face it at her sister’s wedding where her former fiance is the best man.

She needs a fake boyfriend – and fast! Enter Aaron her annoying and grumpy co-worker who offers to help her with her ruse. As they put their differences aside to help each other out, their love begins to grow. This is the fake dating trope at its best.

While I enjoyed the enemies-to-lovers romance in this book, at over 500 pages this office romance novel was just a bit too long.

The Hating Game

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

This enemies-to-lovers office romance book was recently adapted to Netflix. After two publishing houses merge, executive assistants for the two owners are in fierce competition with each other for a promotion.

These office enemies quickly realize that the tension is an attraction as well. But, is the attraction real, or is it a ploy to get the promotion? This grumpy sunshine romance book is now on Netflix and we hope it is as steamy as the book. The forced proximity trope is at its best in this steamy romance

Forced Proximity romance

13 Forced Proximity Romance Books to Read and Love

If you love our romance trope list, you can check out our complete list of office romance books!

Holiday Romance

The holiday romance trope books are set against the backdrop of a holiday or special occasion. This trope explores the romantic connection between characters during festive times. The holiday setting adds a magical or sentimental element to the love story. We look forward to reading these magical holiday books every year!

The holiday swap

Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

When Charlie Goodwin gets a concussion, and cannot smell or taste, she doesn’t know what to do. Her job as a chef and the promotion she has been working toward is on the line.

She begs her twin sister Cass to switch places like they did when they were kids. She will take over the bakery and Cass will pretend to be her.

This adorable holiday romance is just the book to brighten your day and put a smile on your face. How could we not put it on a list of novels about food? This is one of the best holiday books we have read!

Mistle Text by Whitney Dineen and Melanie Summers

When handsome, billionaire Archie is told he needs to go to his Godfather’s for Christmas, he hires Holly to be his personal Christmas shopper.

Holly is happy to accept the extra money as she’s been strapped for cash since her sister and brother-in-law died, leaving her to raise her 5 year-old-niece, Faith.

When Archie finds out his godfather is planning to announce the new head of the company, and he wants to name a family man the new heir, Archie begs Holly to be his fake girlfriend.

Copy of headers

The Best Christmas Romance Books for 2023

Are you looking for more books from the holiday romance trope? These are our favorite picks from 2023.

Stem Romance

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) romances are the newest books in our list of popular romance tropes. These books will give you the happy ending that is a requirement of this genre and are all set in a science-based environment.

Often, we will see the struggles of women in a predominantly male field, and this will contribute to the sexual tension. Part of what we at Beyond the Bookends love about this romance trope are the strong and brilliant female characters. Some of these are office romances but we placed them in their own category if the characters are in STEM!

Books Like the Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Olive Smith is a Ph.D. student who does not believe in her ability to be in love. When her best friend develops a crush on someone she dated briefly, she decides to kiss the first man she sees to prove she is over him.

That one kiss happens to be with THE Adam Carlsen, an academic genius, who is also very standoffish. The two decide to fake-date and what starts as pretend, becomes something more- for Olive.

I loved this fake dating book/office romance novel that is also a perfect example of the grumpy sunshine trope. It has a well-earned spot on its list of the best romance novels of all time.

If you love this book as much as we did, check out our post: Books Like the Love Hypothesis to Obsess Over

True Love

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Felicity “Fizzy” Chen is a romance novelist who has never been in love and she is beginning to think she has lost her mojo. Connor Prince is a documentary filmmaker who is thrown off balance when he needs to create a reality TV show.

When he convinces Fizzy to be the star of this show, sparks fly. The two have undeniable chemistry but will this ruin the TV show that is supposed to be about finding Fizzy’s true love? The show is supposed to see if chemistry is the same as compatibility. It is in essence, the science of love.

This was a delightful celebrity romance and is perfect for anyone looking for books like The Love Hypothesis.

love hypothesis

26 Grumpy Sunshine Trope Books

If you love the Grumpy Sunshine romance trope and are looking for more, check out this post with 26 of our favorite novels.

Single Parent Romance Trope

In a single-parent romance trope, one or both of the main characters are raising children on their own. The story delves into the challenges of balancing romance with the responsibilities of parenthood and explores how the new relationship affects the family dynamic.

Sometimes, the children in this romance trope are catalysts to the new relationship and other times the children in the single-parent romance novels create chaos and humor in the new relationship. Either way, at Beyond the Bookends, we are a big fan of this popular romance trope.

lifes too short

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Vanessa Price is a famous YouTube star whose life motto is to live life to the fullest every day. Her mother and sister both died before they were 30. When she suddenly finds herself with custody of her half-sister’s baby, life takes a spin in the other direction.

Adrian is the complete opposite of Vanessa. He is a lawyer who plans everything. When these two meet, they are just what the other needs.

I adored this book that will make you think about what you want out of life with a perfect dash of romance.

Nora goes off script

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

I adored this romantic comedy romance novel. Nora is a mother of two kids who writes romance novels for television. When her husband leaves her, she writes it into a script that is being made into a movie.

Enter a handsome movie star who asks if he can pay her to stay at her house. He needs to get away from the scene. The romance that takes place is sweet and doesn’t follow the usual formula and as rom-com books go, you will not be shocked that this one is a real treat.

I loved reading this book. It was hard to put down.

Celebrity Romance Books

If you are looking for the most popular romance tropes, Celebrity romance books are becoming more prevalent in romance novels. This romance trope focuses on the love story between a celebrity (e.g., actor, musician, athlete) and an ordinary person.

The narrative often explores the impact of fame, media scrutiny, and the challenges of maintaining a personal relationship in the public eye. Often in these books, there are a lot of obstacles for the couple to face before they can find their HEA and we are happy to root for them throughout their journey!

How to Face it in Hollywood

How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder

Grey Brooks wants to stay relevant in Hollywood after her sitcom was canceled. Ethan Atkins is an A-level celebrity who needs to rehab his image. So when their publicist suggests they start fake dating, the duo decides it might be just the ticket.

But we all know the fake-dating trope is gonna lead to real dating and then a break-up and make-up. BUT IT WAS SO CUTE! Predictable but adorable.

Three Holidays and A Wedding

Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley

Maryam and Anna find themselves on a plane from Denver to Toronto in the middle of the storm of the century, they have no idea that they will spark an unexpected friendship.

When the plane is diverted to a small town outside of Ottawa with no end to the snow, they all must change their plans. Anna is not able to make it to Toronto to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, and Maryam’s sister’s wedding is in jeopardy.

This is an enchanting Hanukkah, Ramadan, romance Christmas book for 2023 with a charming small town, a snowbound inn, and a touch of fate that brings everyone together. This is a holiday book at its very best. #gifted

celebrity romance

15 Celebrity Romance Tropes to Love

If you love the celebrity romance trope and are looking for more, check out this post with 26 of our favorite novels.

Romantic Comedy

Romantic comedy Novels (rom-com novels) are a book genre that blends elements of romance and humor to create fun and lighthearted love stories. This might be our favorite romance trope at Beyond the Bookends.

These novels typically have storylines in which the characters find themselves mixed up in silly and often awkward situations while navigating romantic relationships. The genre often includes smaller tropes like meet-cutes and mistaken identities, along with humorous obstacles that the characters must overcome to reach their happily-ever-after.

Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

April 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

Sally Milz is a sketch writer for a late-night comedy show. She begins to write a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, which makes fun of average-looking men dating gorgeous women, but the reverse rarely happens. Being set on a comedy show makes this the perfect setting for a funny romance!

When a pop music icon signs on as the musical guest and host for the show for the week, sparks begin to fly, but Sally doesn’t know if it is just in her head. After all, he is a gorgeous star!

We love Curtis Sittenfeld and could not wait to read this book. This is a slow-burn romance that I loved. Part of the book takes place over email correspondence during the COVID lockdown and I could not get enough.

This is one of my favorite summer reads for 2023 and true to its name is one of the best romantic comedy books of all time.

Find this book in Celebrity Romance / Reese’s Book Club / Rom-Com Books

Thank you for Listening

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

Julia Whelan is my favorite audiobook narrator and I loved her debut book, so I eagerly plunged into this one. It is definitely one of the best romantic comedy books I have read in a while.

Sewanee Chester is a former actress and audiobook narrator who has been chosen to read alongside the romance world’s biggest male audiobook reader for a new series.

As she falls for the mysterious Brock, who lives across the country and only communicates via text, she can’t stop thinking about her one-night stand in Vegas.

Additionally, she’s navigating a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and a possible chance to relaunch her acting career. But now that the dreams she had for so are in her grasp, are they really what she wants? And why does she feel so drawn to Brock?

Find this book in Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Rom Com Books / Complete List of Romance Tropes

Rom Com

12 Best Rom-Com Books: Funny & Witty Romances to Love!

If you love the Romantic Comedy romance trope and are looking for more, check out this post with 26 of our favorite novels.

ultimate list of romance

Ultimate List of Romances

If you love all things romance, then this is the list for you! We have this list carefully divided by sub-genres like second-chance romance books, romcoms, and more.

Which are your favorite romance tropes?

Category Headers 53

Romance Book Lists

Do you love romance books like we do? Check out all of our romance book lists!

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