I’d like to talk about tropes—those easily-recognizable story lines that can turn a certain type of story into a favorite and a book into a keeper. I love so many tropes. Best friends to lovers, bad-boy hero, marriage of convenience, city girl/country boy… We could go on and on. And I’m sure you have favorites of your own.
Tropes are kept even more interesting when more than one is blended into a story. Another way to keep them exciting is to take a familiar storyline and give it a bit of a twist.
One of my favorite story types is lovers reunited. I’m a big fan of allowing folks to realize their mistakes and giving them the chance to go back and fix them—if they can.
In my current release, Rancher at Risk, Ryan Malloy is a wounded hero, which fits another much-loved trope. A hero is sometimes physically wounded, often emotionally scarred, or both. In Ryan’s case, he’s emotionally scarred due to losing his family in a tragic accident. This has led him to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do, until, as the story opens, he’s in danger of losing his job, his reputation, and his self-respect.
Here’s a quick clip from Ryan’s point of view. (FYI, his boss has just given him one last chance by reassigning him to a new ranch.)
He would head out in late afternoon today, once he’d taken care of his chores here on the ranch one last time. Once he’d swung by for a last visit to the small churchyard on Hanaman Road.
Then he’d drive to New Mexico.
Only a fool would pass up the opportunity Caleb had given him, one he’d done less than nothing to deserve. Somehow, he had to undo the damage he’d done, to restore his credibility with the boss. To earn back his reputation.
The hell of it was, most of him didn’t give a damn about all that. The wonder was, a small part of him still cared enough to fight for it. Plain enough to see the unexpected reassignment would be a battle.
A risk he couldn’t afford not to take.
Lianne Ward, the heroine, has just left a verbally abusive relationship, which means she fits the wounded hero trope, as well. Because she’s deaf, some folks might also consider her physically “wounded.” I don’t believe that at all, and neither does she. (FYI, in this clip, Mark is her ex and Kayla is her sister.)
Why hadn’t she seen through Mark sooner?
You’ll never survive without me.
Ridiculous, as Kayla had said.
She couldn’t bring herself to tell Kayla the words he had flung as his parting shot.
With his mouth so contorted in anger, his face so filled with scorn, she’d had trouble reading his lips. Seeing her struggle, he had gone out of his way to speak slowly and deliberately. To make sure she got the message:
You’ll never make it anywhere, Lianne.
She understood that, all right. And those words had made her cut her losses and leave him.
No matter what he thought, she could live in both the hearing and the Deaf worlds. And she would fight any man who wouldn’t treat her as his equal in either one of them.
In this case, both Ryan and Lianne are wounded heroes. This book is nowhere near my favorite lovers reunited tale. To my surprise, from their first meeting, they turned their relationship into an enemies-to-lovers story.
Here’s an example that does fit the reunited lovers trope.
In one of my earlier books, Court Me, Cowboy, the hero and heroine are married in Las Vegas after a whirlwind courtship. Once Gabe brings Marissa home to his ranch, complications arise. Marissa soon leaves, never to return…or so Gabe thinks. As the story opens, Marissa comes back to the ranch with a couple of huge surprises for him.
One, they’re pregnant.
Two, she never filed their divorce papers.
Long story short, for the sake of their baby, they agree to act happily wed whenever they’re with any of the townsfolk. This plan turns the lovers reunited story into a marriage of INconvenience—a storyline with blended tropes, and one with a twist.
Surprises and twists, laid over a framework of our beloved tropes, always keep me coming back to romance, both as a reader and a writer.
How about you?
Can you think of a much-loved storyline with a twist that intrigued you?
Rancher at Risk
A Fresh Start
After the loss of his family in a tragic accident, Ryan Malloy has been given one last chance to change his life. His boss sends him to Flagman’s Folly, New Mexico, to run his ranch, but unfortunately, Ryan’s troubled attitude lands him in hot water with the locals, especially the ranch’s manager, Lianne Ward.
Deaf since birth, Lianne has never let her disability define who she is. But, she’s yet to meet a man who treats her as an equal. Ryan seems different…that is, when they’re not butting heads over the ranch’s new school for disadvantaged boys
Forced to work together, Lianne and Ryan discover an unexpected attraction beneath their quarreling. But will Ryan’s painful past drive them apart…permanently?
Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.
Barbara’s newest title, Rancher at Risk, has just debuted in both paper and e-book formats. An earlier book, Court Me, Cowboy, has just been re-issued as a Cowboy at Heart Special Release, available as a standalone e-book (at your favorite retailer) and in Larger Print (exclusively at www.Harlequin.com).
Barbara would love to have you drop by her website: www.barbarawhitedaille.com