The romance genre is one of the most prolific and popular genres out there. And so, there are several romance tropes that readers of the genre recognize and enjoy reading!
Traditionally, the romance genre calls for a love story or romantic relationship between two or more characters. It can feature straight characters, LGBTQ+, and even poly romances. You can find romance in almost any genre; the love story might not be central to the story, but it doesn’t make it any less a romance.
If you love reading the romance genre, you will find many tropes or recurring plot devices that show up in almost all romance novels. Some popular love tropes you might be familiar with are love at first sight, love triangle, enemies to lovers, and arranged marriage, to name a few.
Many of these romance tropes rely on some type of drama mixed in with romance, as you can see from the few examples we listed above. Some romance and love tropes are more classic, while others are newer. No matter the trope, we’ve researched, gathered, and featured the most popular tropes and listed them in this article for you to enjoy.
So, when you want to read a romance novel but you want to pick a different trope it focuses on, check out this list to find a trope you’ve never read before!
Most Popular Romance Tropes in 2023
1. Love At First Sight
The “love at first sight” trope is one of the most classic love tropes out there, which is why it’s first on this list. Character A sees Character B (or vice versa), and instantly they fall in love with each other. They don’t speak to each other at first; it’s just a look they share. But the attraction between the two is instant, and their love develops as their relationship progresses.
Example: “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer
2. Forbidden Love
Forbidden Love is one of those romance tropes that will bring about a lot of angst. This is because the love between the two main characters is… forbidden.
It’s not supposed to happen under any circumstances, but they can’t seem to stop it. The feelings keep growing, and eventually, these characters will succumb to them and one another. Whether it ends in a tragedy or a happy ending is anyone’s guess.
Example: “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare
3. Second Chance Romance
Sometimes in life, you get second chances, and in a second-chance romance, you get a second chance at love!
The romance didn’t work for some reason the first time around, but the two characters end up meeting again and find themselves having a second chance at falling in love with one another—a love they were denied the first time around.
Example: “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
4. Enemies to Lovers
One of the most passionate and spicy romance tropes is the enemies-to-lovers trope. The two characters start out disliking each other. In some cases, they might straight-up hate one another!
Despite this, there is an attraction or chemistry of some kind between the characters that end up shifting into an actual relationship. Expect a lot of angst before that happens, however.
Example: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
5. Friends to Lovers
Out of all the romance tropes on our list, this is one of the most heartwarming ones because of where the two characters start at the beginning of the book.
A friends-to-lovers trope is as it sounds!
Two friends who have been friends for an indiscriminate amount of time end up growing romantic feelings for each other. Whether these feelings are new or the characters have just discovered their feelings for the other, the books are always worth reading.
Another common thing you might see in a friends-to-lovers book is a will they or won’t they because the characters in question don’t want to risk ruining their friendship by confessing their feelings.
Example: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
6. Opposites Attract
In opposites attract, the two romantic leads couldn’t be any more different. You can say they are like night and day or vinegar and honey, but somehow an attraction grows between the characters.
What happens next is a rollercoaster ride as the characters struggle with their growing feelings for each other. In a way, this is similar to enemies to lovers, but just because the two are different doesn’t mean they will have that intense hatred for each other at the start.
Example: “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne
7. Meet Cute
The meet-cute trope is one of the most light-hearted and extra-sweet romance tropes. As the name suggests, the two characters, who are strangers, first encounter each other in cute and often hilarious situations.
There are several ways this romantic trope is utilized in romance novels, but most of the stories have the main characters meet each other in situations that are awkward and embarrassing for just one or both characters. But as their encounters grow, their relationship changes, and a more romantic tone is introduced.
Example: “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood
8. Forced Proximity
The forced proximity trope can be as serious or light-hearted as you make it. But this trope is often found in some of the most popular romance books, and even in romantic comedies!
You’ll have two characters that are forced into proximity to each other. They don’t want to spend time with each other and would rather be anywhere else, but for some reason, they HAVE to be together. It can be as simple as a school/work project or as severe as taking shelter from a storm.
Example: “The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas
9. Royal Romance
There seems to be this overall fascination with royalty, especially in American media. It’s become so popular that there is even a romance trope called royal romance.
The type of royalty featured in the story doesn’t matter. You can have the traditional British or European king, queen, prince, or princess, or use other royal titles such as emperor/empress (Ex: Japan), Tsar/Tsarina (Ex: Russia), and Raja/Rana/Rani (India).
What matters is at least one character or both come from a royal family, and there’s palpable tension between them before they come to terms with their feelings for each other!
Example: “Her Royal Highness” by Rachel Hawkins
10. Billionaire Romance/Secret Billionaire
Similar to a fascination with royalty, there seems to be a fascination for billionaires or people considered rich in popular culture. For a book to fall under a billionaire romance trope, there has to be usually someone of a more limited income falling for someone who is a billionaire.
With a secret billionaire, the concept is the same except for the character with the limited income isn’t aware of how much money the person they are in love with has.
Example: “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James
11. Bad Boy Meets Good Girl
The bad boy meets good girl is a trope as old as time, making it one of the most popular love tropes!
We have a male character who is considered to be bad for all intents and purposes. They are nothing but trouble and should be avoided at all costs. However, the good girl can’t stay away. She has never stepped out of line or disobeyed her parents.
Normally, she’d never even consider dating such a man, but the attraction is always too strong to deny.
Example: “Beautiful Disaster” by Jamie McGuire
12. Love Triangle
A love triangle focuses on three characters, and this is a trope you must be the most familiar with. One character is the main character, and the other two are desperately in love with them.
The person with the two love interests is torn between them and unsure of their feelings. You’ll see a lot of ‘will they or won’t they’ in this concept until well into the end of the book or somewhere through the series. Ultimately, the main character will choose one and only one of their love interests.
Example: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
13. Age-Gap Romance
An age-gap romance requires there to be a significant age difference between the two main characters. The exact age gap between the two characters can vary depending on whom you ask, and it especially depends on where the two are in life.
Usually, books featuring the age-gap romance trope are centered around characters who have a considerably huge age difference between them, big enough to raise several eyebrows. So, this trope is often considered to be a part of the forbidden romance genre!
Example: “Torn” by Carian Cole
14. Small-Town Romance
Another heartfelt and sometimes innocent romance trope is called the small-town romance trope. To have a small-town romance, you need to have a romance between two characters in a small town.
Either one person has moved to a small town for some reason, returned to their small hometown, or is just passing through. Whatever the reason, the romance occurs with at least one person native to a small town.
Example: “It Happened One Summer” by Tessa Bailey
15. Bodyguard Romance
It’s essential to keep your job and your personal life separate. Under no circumstances do you want the two lives to intersect, but in a bodyguard romance trope, you have exactly that!
The bodyguard might start to fall for the person they are supposed to protect, or vice versa. Whatever happens, there are feelings that are sure to complicate the working relationship between them.
Example: “Triple-Duty Bodyguards” by Lily Gold
16. Marriage of Convenience
Marrying for love is the common ideal many people strive for in these modern times. However, sometimes you might get married for other reasons, and we are not talking about arranged marriages!
We are talking about two characters marrying each other for some reason other than it being arranged and love. It could be financial, them trying to hide their sexuality, or trying to get people off their backs. It is a marriage of convenience, where love wasn’t their primary reason for getting married.
Example: “Terms and Conditions” by Lauren Asher
17. Fake Relationship
The fake relationship trope can bring about a lot of fun, drama, and awkward situations. For some reason, the two characters in question decide to enter a relationship. It looks real on the surface, but in reality, it’s all fake because they just act like they are in a relationship.
This might be to make someone jealous or for some other reason; they decide to get into a relationship to accomplish a certain goal. However, the line between a fake and real relationship starts to blur at some point. Real feelings get involved, which makes things complicated.
Example: “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren
18. Alpha Male
In our current year of 2023, the term alpha male has been thrown around a lot and has even become a pretty popular romance trope. For a book to fall under the alpha male trope, they need to have a character that is considered to be the stereotypical alpha male.
This is usually a male character who is in charge, strong, powerful, possessive, dominant, and isn’t afraid to go after what he wants!
Example: “The Sweetest Oblivion” by Danielle Lori
19. Arranged Marriage Romance
Arranged marriages are still practiced in some regions of the world but aren’t as common in the world as they once were. Still, people are familiar with the concept and are fascinated by it, which is why it’s one of the popular romance tropes!
An arranged marriage is when a marriage between two individuals has been set up by usually their family or someone close to them. Sometimes the two betrothed will get to know each other before tying the knot, but in other cases, they will be strangers.
Example: “The Bridge Kingdom” by Danielle L. Jensen
20. Slow-Burn Romance
When reading a slow-burn romance, you need to understand that you will be in for the long haul. In a slow-burn romance, the love between the lead characters isn’t going to happen right away; it will take pages upon pages to develop.
You might be waiting until the middle of the book to see so much as a kiss! It’ll take a while, but eventually, a romance will develop, and it will be well worth it.
Example: “Beach Read” by Emily Henry
21. Historical Romance
The historical romance trope is one of the more obvious ones out there, which doesn’t need much explaining. Take a historical setting, throw in a romance, and there you go! You have a historical romance on your hands.
It doesn’t have to follow history precisely as it happened, but it is based on some aspect of an actual historical event or time that occurred at some point in the past.
Example: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
22. Paranormal Romance
When you have the paranormal at play, you have something that falls under the banner of the supernatural. This can include ghosts, aliens, demons, fantasy creatures, psychics, and other similar tropes.
For it to be a paranormal romance, it needs to involve the supernatural aspect and romance. If it has those two things, it falls under the paranormal romance trope!
Example: “Dark Lover” by J. R. Ward
The soulmate romance trope can take a few forms, but the main point is that it has two people who are meant to be each other’s “one true love,” they are meant to be together no matter what. They were destined to meet and fall in love; now that they have, nothing will break them apart.
In some cases, they will be literal soulmates with their souls destined to be attached, but this isn’t always necessary in a soulmate trope.
Example: “The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren
24. Sports Romance
Sports are prevalent worldwide, so it shouldn’t be shocking to learn that there is a romance trope known as the sports romance trope.
In a sports romance, you’ll either have a romance between members of two different sports teams, two team members, or at least one person who is involved in a sport. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, but most often, it’s some type of athletic sport, such as baseball, soccer, football, and hockey, to name a few.
Example: “From Lukov with Love” by Mariana Zapata
25. Office/Workplace Romance
You’ve probably heard that romance between coworkers is a big no-no. Nothing good comes with dating your coworkers, but this hasn’t stopped it from being quite a popular romance trope.
The main requirement of this trope is to have a romance between two coworkers or between an employee and the boss. An office is a popular setting for love to develop, but it can occur at a warehouse, hospital, school, etc. As long as they are coworkers, it counts.
Example: “The Fine Print” by Lauren Asher
26. Summer Fling
In popular culture, they say summer is a time for many things, including romance. Hence, the summer fling trope being one of the top romance tropes makes complete sense. However, just because a romance begins in the summer doesn’t make it a summer fling.
For it to be considered a summer fling, there has to be an acknowledgment that by the end of the summer, the romance is going to end. This is why it’s called a summer fling rather than a summer romance.
Example: “The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han
27. Road Trip Romance
Road trips are full of possibilities. It gives the characters a chance to explore the surroundings outside their hometown or wherever they happen to live.
During a road trip romance story, two of the characters going on the road trip slowly start to fall in love at some point. There will be some stress and angst, but at some point, the romance will win out.
Example: “Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour” by Morgan Matson
28. Christmas Romance
Christmas is the time of year that everyone seems to enjoy. It’s a magical time when people celebrate the Christmas spirit, five gifts, and just get into that special time of year.
A Christmas romance, as the name suggests, is a romance that takes place over the Christmas season. It can be two people who already know each other falling in love or those who have just become familiar with one another developing feelings for each other.
Example: “One Day in December” by Josie Silver
29. Amnesia Romance
Amnesia means someone has gotten into an accident and lost their memory. It can be a car accident, a health problem, a head injury, or just something traumatic.
In this love trope, the romance is between someone with amnesia and someone without. The person who doesn’t have amnesia may have known the person before they developed the condition, but this isn’t necessary. The same goes for the amnesic eventually getting their memory back.
Example: “Remember Me?” by Sophie Kinsella
30. Reunited Lovers
Reunited lovers is a trope that is a little bit heartbreaking because it’s about a couple that was once together. However, for some reason, they were forced to break apart.
Eventually, they reunite at some point, but not until spending some time apart. The amount of time they do spend apart can vary. Usually, it is at least a few years that the two spend apart before getting back together and falling in love with each other all over again.
Example: “One Day” by David Nicholls
31. Long-Distance Romance
A long-distance romance is a relationship between people who live far away from one another for some reason. It could be work or school related, which is a common reason for two people to have to engage in such a difficult relationship.
The long-distance romance trope plays on this face, leading to what can be a sad and angsty story at times.
Example: “Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks
32. Multicultural Romance
Romance can happen between all genders and different cultures, which is where the multicultural romance trope comes in. You can have a romance between people from different countries or those in the same country who happen to be from different cultures.
All of them can fall under the trope of multicultural romance. A lot of struggle and drama might be involved, with even some pushback from their families, making it one of the most interesting romance tropes recently introduced.
Example: “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
The last trope on this list is the “insta-love” trope, which is similar to love at first sight, but with insta-love you don’t always have to have a love-at-first-sight thing.
As long as the two characters have fallen in love with each other right after a meeting or soon after, it can be considered insta-love. As we said, it is similar to love at first sight, but there are enough differences for it to be regarded as a separate love trope.
Example: “Until July” by Aurora Rose Reynolds
That brings us to the end of the article featuring a list of the most popular love tropes you’d find in almost all romance novels!
I know I haven’t mentioned every trope on this list because that would be nearly impossible, but I tried my best to list down the most famous and recognizable tropes that most romance readers are interested in.
If you are a fan of one of the many romance tropes and didn’t find it on this list, please let me know, and I’ll check it out and add it to the article when I next update it! Until then, explore all the love tropes mentioned above; maybe you’ll find a trope that stands out to you the most.