We all know that there are a variety of subgenres in romance—historical romance, romantic fantasy, contemporary romance, romantic suspense—but today, I’d like to explore the types of romances and—eventually—romantic plot devices used in novels. We’re going to start with types of romances, since it’s the broader of the two categories.
Friend Turned Lover
For a Friend Turned Lover romance, the couple needs to have some sort of past with each other. In typical romances, the book will be about the romantic portion of their relationship, so the friendship part of their relationship would be backstory. Here are a few books that use this type of romance:
In Emmalee (a modern, high school version of Jane Austen’s Emma), Emmalee’s family is close to Chase’s family. We discover that Emmalee and Chase almost have a sibling relationship, which develops into something more over the course of the story.
Though many Friend Turned Lover romances have the friendship aspect of their relationship as part of the backstory, we get to see Parvin’s relationship with Hawke change from platonic team members to… Well, they never exactly date, but their relationship definitely takes a turn for the romantic. Most of the platonic part of their relationship is in the first book, A Time to Die. This book isn’t primarily a romance, which explains why the author would go a whole book without developing a romantic relationship between the (main) hero and heroine.
Enemy Turned Lover
As you can see below, this is a very popular type of romance. Now, by Enemy Turned Lover, I don’t necessarily mean villain. I’m defining enemy more as someone who directly opposes the heroine’s goal or whose goal clashes with the heroine’s. This type of romance has a tendency to make sparks fly. Unlike Friend Turned Lover, the hero and heroine may have a past or their enemy-ship may have started at the opening of the book.
Harriet is head of the women’s ministry at her church. She’s comfortable with the conventional way the church has always done things. The last thing she wants is for Maddox to step in and modernize things to accommodate a younger crowd.
This has to be one of my all time favorites. Lizanne mistakes the hero, Ranulf, as the brigand who nearly tarnished her reputation. She takes him prisoner, but in a sudden turn of events, he escapes and takes her prisoner. Throughout the book, Lizanne is trying to get him to admit who he “truly” is, while Ranulf is trying to avoid falling for her. Lizanne’s capture ratchets the tension as she tries to escape, while Ranulf tries to keep her as his captive. Their goals clash for nearly the entire book. We don’t just see sparks fly between these two; we see fireworks.
Though there is a third book in the series, The Tender Vine, Carina and Quillan’s goals most often clash in the first two books. In the first book, it opens with Quillan dumping all of Carina’s belongings over the edge of a cliff to clear the trail. They get off on the wrong foot… to say the least. In the second book, Carina tried to make a home for herself and Quillan, but he repeatedly rejects her and pushes her away as he deals with bitterness from his childhood. The second book is a real heart-twister.
Grace is kidnapped by the French mercenary, Rafe, who plans to auction her off to a Spanish Don. As you can imagine, they clash repeatedly as Grace tries to escape and Rafe tries to resist falling for her.
Sir Liam Fawke spent his whole life serving his younger, legitimate brother in hopes the barony would pass to him. But on his brother’s deathbed, he betrays Liam, revealing he has a son, who will inherit the barony instead.
Though Lady Joslyn is widowed and vulnerable, she knows she must protect her son from the seemingly murderous Liam Fawke, who wishes to take away her son’s inheritance.
Right from the start, these two meet with clashing goals. Lady Joslyn wants to protect her son and give him what is rightfully his—or so she believes—while Sir Liam Fawke wishes to have the barony for himself.
The book opens with Grace tossing tea at Devin Bressard, who refuses to have her novels produced for Broadway, claiming they are “contrived and farcical.” She then proceeds to stalk him in order to prove that the crazy things that happen in her novels can happen in real life. Let the fun begin.
In order to secure passage aboard Captain Finn’s ship, Jessamine binds herself to Finn in a courtship, claiming her reputation is ruined, since they spent a night together in a cell. The last thing Finn wants is to drag a tiny, feisty nun to London. Jessamine’s goal is to get to London, while Finn’s goal is to not take her aboard his ship. This provides a little extra clash that ramps up the romantic tension throughout the book.
“Love” at First Sight
In this case, the hero and heroine don’t really have any history. They start their relationship when we first see them together, but instead of getting off on the wrong foot, like they would in the Enemy Turned Lover type of romance, they’re attracted to or interested in each other. This, of course, doesn’t mean that they literally love each other. And their attraction doesn’t have to be a passionate, head-over-heels response. It could simply be mild interest or wanting to get to know the other person better.
In Ehvah After, Ehvah is interested in David, her Australian body guard, when she first meets him. She’s not necessarily attracted at first, but she finds him intriguing and is impressed by his muscular physique.
Charity first meets Elias when she nearly drowns and Elias drags her to shore. We see the spark of attraction instantly as she notes his rippling muscles, kind blue eyes, and a sincere smile “that sent her mind spiraling and her body heating. If she hadn’t written off men altogether, she would have swooned at his feet.”
“She was met with startled copper-brown eyes and black hair that hung past his ears and lips that every girl in the country had admired a thousand times.” Cinder is both attracted to the prince and intrigued by his order to fix the android, claiming that it’s a sentimental thing, though she can sense he’s lying.
We see Titus and Mercy meet through Titus’ POV. He rescues her from a bear baiting, so he acts protectively towards her throughout the scene, trying to steady her when he’s afraid she’ll fall and carrying her back to her home. He also notes that she has a beguiling smile and “eyes the color of the big emerald King Henry had mounted in the butt of his sword hilt.” Then we switch to Mercy. “…he was certainly beautiful in a hard chiseled male kind of way.” Their first impressions of each other set up their attraction later on in the book.
Penn is initially cold and distant towards Ella, though we see from her description of him that her interest is sparked, since she’s never met any boy in that age range.
Interested in other types of romances? Next week, I’m posting about Romantic Plot Devices.
Which of these types of romances is your favorite? Did I miss any? Have you ever read or written any of these types of romances?