Romance Hot Buttons!

Posted by Mona Risk | 8:06 AM | 17 comments »

Of the tropes found in romance fiction, if you are anything like me you'll have certain hot button plot devices or issues that you're drawn to. I've discovered from analyzing the films and books I enjoy that my hot buttons are reunited lovers, especially childhood sweethearts who are parted and then find each other again, the classic Cinderella trope, marriage (or engagement) of convenience,  friends to lovers and unrequited love. I also love babies and children in sweet romances. Most books and films that include these elements in the plot appeal to me.

One of my favorite films is Pretty Woman, a classic Cinderella story. More unusual is the reverse Cinderella story like Notting Hill where the roles are switched. Hugh Grant is the Cinderella Character to Julia Roberts rich and famous actress. I still enjoy it this way round if it's done well, but I prefer the man as the 'Prince'.

In addition to those I've already mentioned, there are many other much-loved romance plots that have been done numerous times but never get old (as Harlequin will vouch for!). Here are a few I can think of, but I'm sure there are many more: secret baby, amnesia, man in love with best friend's younger sister, the ugly duckling, kidnapping, mistaken identity, reformed rake/playboy, revenge, forbidden love/Romeo & Juliet, tortured hero, boss/secretary (probably falls under Cinderella), Beauty and the Beast. Many of the best romance novels seem to take one of these tropes and give it a twist to keep it fresh.

I also have to admit to loving heroes who have a nerdy side even if they try to hide it. And something that gets me every time is a hero who reveals his vulnerability. I love a wounded hero!

 What started me thinking about classic plots devices was the realization that I'd included most of my favorites in my latest release Unbreak My Heart, without setting out to do so. At its heart, this is a story of childhood sweethearts who are reunited and rediscover love, but I blended in an engagement of convenience, friends to lovers and Cinderella.

What are your favorite romance tropes to read and write? Are they the same? Are there any you don't like?

Andre Le Court first set eyes on Kate Frost when he was two and she was a babe in her mother's arms. He's twenty-five now, and he still remembers the moment perfectly, the moment Kate Frost slipped inside his heart.
His family owned a big hotel, her parents worked there. Andre's father spent years trying to separate his son from the daughter of the hired help. Eventually he grew desperate and sent Andre away to boarding school.

Nine years later, Kate turns up on the doorstep of Andre's prestigious hotel with the paparazzi at her heels and the six-week-old daughter of her celebrity ex in her arms. She has nowhere left to run except back to the place where she left her heart all those years ago.

Andre lost Kate once. He can't lose her again. But he has an image to maintain, a reputation as a successful businessman. A bohemian young woman with beads in her hair is not a suitable wife for him.

In Andre, Kate sees tantalizing glimpses of the boy she adored. But most of the time she hardly recognizes the powerful, successful man he's become, his lifestyle so like that of his despised father.

Can they forgive the pain of the past, accept each other as they are now, and rediscover the childhood love that was snatched away from them?

 Unbreak My Heart is available on Amazon.

For more about Helen Scott Taylor visit


  1. Barbara Monajem // April 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM  

    Since I've been writing Historical Undones for Harlequin, which are very short novellas, I've been drawn to plots where the h&h knew each other in the past, because it's easier to write a quick but convincing process of falling in love. Second chance at love is a good one.

    For longer stories, I like marriages of convenience/forced marriages, because the process of the h&h getting to know each other little by little is fun both to read and write. I also like stories where the h&h go through plenty of hair-raising adventures while falling for each other, but I don't know if you'd call that a trope.

  2. Caroline Clemmons // April 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM  

    I do have definite themes I love and look for then when I'm shopping for a book. I love a marriage of convenience, mail order bride, and--as Barbara mentioned--a lot of adventure in the story.

  3. Beth Trissel // April 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM  

    Hello Helen. So good to have you with us. I enjoyed your thoughtful post. Makes me pause to ponder what I like and why. Yes, we are drawn to certain themes. Very true. And your new release sounds super.

  4. Jill James // April 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM  

    I love when an author can take Beauty and the Beast and turn it on its ear. I just read Firelight by Kristen Callihan. She took Beauty and added paranormal elements and really made it a unique tale.

  5. Mary Marvella // April 20, 2012 at 1:19 PM  

    Welcome back, Helen! Mostly I just love a good story! I read in different genres. I like second chance at love, woman in jeopardy, strong protective heroes, and women recovering from losses. Maybe a smidgeon of Cinderella, added!

  6. Mary Marvella // April 20, 2012 at 1:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  7. Judy // April 20, 2012 at 1:46 PM  

    OOOh, I LOVE the premise of this story. Can't wait to read it! So glad you could join the Fuzzies and tell us about it!

  8. Helen Scott Taylor // April 20, 2012 at 2:14 PM  

    Thank you for having me here today, and thanks to Mona for inviting me.

    Barbara, I know exactly what you mean about the shorts. I find it easier to write a novella when the h/h already know each other.

    Caroline, I hadn't thought of mail order bride. I've heard of it but never actually read a story featuring that plot. Is it used in westerns?

    Hi Beth, thanks for the warm welcome. Great to be here. Glad you enjoyed my post.

    Jill, I'll have to check out Firelight. I enjoy a good Beauty and the Beast story.

    Mary, you are so right--a good story is a good story whatever the plot.

    Judy, thank you for your kind comment about my book and the warm welcome.


  9. Morgan Mandel // April 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM  

    Kind of reminds me of Dharma and Greg. I love watching the reruns!

    Great plotline.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. Mona Risk // April 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM  

    Helen, I'm so glad to have on the PFS blog.

    Ladies, I read Unbreak My Heart and loved every page of this story. The heroine is delightful in her spontaneity and the hero is the perfect modern British gentleman.

  11. StephB // April 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM  

    I'm a sap for the Cinderella story. I especially loved Pretty Woman. I thought that was done real well. I also loved Beauty and Beast. I think my own stories are more beauty and beastish since I deal with a lot of paranormal. I find in my contemporaries, my hero has a bit of a wounded soul and it's the strong heroine who helps him to heal.

    Great post - makes one reflect.

  12. Helen Scott Taylor // April 20, 2012 at 6:06 PM  

    Hi Morgan, I have to admit I've never seen Dharma and Greg, never even heard of it. Perhaps it never made it across the pond.

    Mona, thank you so much for inviting me to blog today. And thank you for your kind words about my story. As you know, this story holds a special place in my heart.

    Steph, I find I like different types of romance plot depending on if the story is historical, contemporary or paranormal. I guess some work better with one genre and some with another.


  13. Josie // April 20, 2012 at 10:50 PM  

    A sincere welcome to the Pink Fuzzies. Your newest book sounds amazing. Looking forward to reading it. You are a wonderful writer!

  14. Helen Scott Taylor // April 21, 2012 at 4:47 AM  

    Thanks for the warm welcome, Josie. Great to be here.


  15. Mary Ricksen // April 21, 2012 at 4:32 PM  

    Welcome Helen, Your book sounds fantastic! Great premises for stories come from almost anywhere!

  16. Scarlet Pumpernickel // April 22, 2012 at 11:59 AM  

    Well, I'm not sure why, but Blogger is boycotting me! I posted a comment yesterday, but it isn't here. Oh well, let me try again.

    Welcome to the Pink Fuzzies, Helen. We're pleased to have you come back for a visit. As for themes, yes I have favorites. But more importantly, my daughter who is a reader has favorites. She isn't a writer, but she does have certain themes that definitely will be an auto-buy. Marriage of convenience is a favorite of hers. Perhaps we should start a blog about readers and their favorite themes!

  17. Mary Ricksen // April 22, 2012 at 1:24 PM  

    Forgot to say I love the title! Unbreak My Heart! Great!