posted on September 10, 2019 by Karen Muir


As a diehard reader of romance novels, here are 5 situations I like to see in books. Though often labeled trite and cliched, these scenarios continue to connect with readers over time. The trick for the writer is to add a new twist to an old tale and make it “the same, but different.”

1. THE DISASTROUS FIRST MEET between two strangers, quickly followed by the alarming second meet when each of them realizes they’re about to play a major part in the life of this person they’d hoped never to see again. My writer friend, Linda Hope Lee, calls this the “Oh, no–it’s you!” moment. It’s often seen in Hallmark movies and cute romances, and is laughably well done in Liane Moriarity’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

2. THE HIDDEN HERO–Clark Kent, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Zorro. Also wonderfully done in one of my favorite reads, The Black Knave by Patricia Potter. Mild-mannered wimps, disrespected and ridiculed fops and dandys by day, these heroes transform into fierce warriors and rescuers at night who fight against overwhelming odds to right wrongs and defend the vulnerable. More suited to historical novels, but I’d love to see some contemporary ones.

3. THE HIDDEN BABY brings loads of conflict and emotional tension as the hero and heroine deal with what initially tore them apart, and the possibility of reconciliation, (Of course they’ll reconcile–this is a romance), The first awareness by one of them that they have a child can be powerful, as can the other one’s fear the new parent will react badly and the child may be hurt. The delicate new relationship forming between the new parent and their child is often heartwarming. Go online and you’ll find lots of these.

4. THE IMPOSTER is a suspenseful format. A person pretending to be someone they’re not must stay careful and alert at all times. They face disgrace or retribution if they say or do the wrong thing and give themselves away. If it’s a mystery, they’ll probably face danger. The Witness by Nora Roberts is a great example.

5. THE FISH OUT OF WATER trope is what I used in The Daddy Coach and also in City Girl, Country Vet (to be published in 2020). In the first book a botanist posing as a nanny to vindicate her brother must take on her worst nightmare–twin four-year old boys. In the second book a pregnant city girl who’s lost her fortune follows her veterinarian lover to his small hometown and tries to “go country” despite multiple mishaps.

These are just a few “trite” setups many of us will always love. Happy reading to you!

Karen Muir

Karen Muir

A sense of humor was a must when I taught elementary grades and Head Start, and I've always loved books and movies that make me laugh. My Fish Out of Water series from Entangled Publishing deals with heroines thrust outside their comfort zones. Their first meetings with their heroes tend to be quirky. An English Lit major at the University of Washington, I now read mostly genre novels. Contemporary and historical romances and mysteries are my favorites. I love camping--out in the wilds and close to nature--with all the comforts of our motor home. Sitting by a clear mountain stream with a good book to read is my idea of heaven.

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