Trope it Up with Megan Mulry & Giveaway!

Posted March 22nd, 2014 by in Blog, Features, Trope it Up / 53 comments


ONCE UPON A TROPE by Megan Mulry

I love the idea of tropes. It’s fun to laugh with friends about things like, “Oh my god! Amnesia!” or “Secret baby billionaire!” or “Left at the altar!” (Yes to all, by the way.) But as the conversation progresses I start to fray. “Falling for older brother’s best friend!” “Friends to lovers!” “Enemies to lovers!” (Yes please, again.) Then, after a while, I find myself wondering, are those even tropes? What does trope even mean? Is going on vacation a trope? Am I a trope—zany writer lady? The Joan Wilder! Who am I? How many cells are in my body? Will that cardinal come sit by my window again?

And then weeks go by and I’m thinking about every possible novel element—story arc, plot, character, goal, motivation, conflict—and how it relates to tropes. About Shakespeare writing all the tropes, Frank Sinatra singing all the tropes, Robert De Niro acting out all the tropes—and then I start to think tropes aren’t really even a thing at all. Just being human is basically a trope-o-matic stand mixer.

Which is great! This blog will be a breeze! Tropes are everywhere! Love is all around! So all I need to do is list a few tropes and recommend some of my favorite books in the trope-o-verse. I can do that!

But this is where it gets personal: I can’t.

I don’t remember what I read. I mean, of course I remember…sort of. I read for the NOW. Absolutely. One hundred percent. Hose on full spray. Immediacy. Right. Fucking. Now. For instance, I read Outlander over the past few weeks. I finished it at 1:30 am this morning. I have been livingbreathingsleeping Outlander. A year from now, or even a month from now, I’ll be reading Susan Johnson or Pamela Kent and someone will want to talk about Outlander, and I’ll be like a deer in the headlights. Because that will have been like…nineteen books ago! (Don’t even get me started about my own books. I forgot Devon Heyworth’s name last week. Because he’s like…six books ago now. *pets Devon…I still love you, darling*)

My husband and I had to deal with this early on in our relationship, the fact that I am a very orderly, scientific type of person…until I’m not. Here’s what happened. I’m usually uncomfortably chilly, and he’s usually uncomfortably warm—which obviously works far more to my advantage than his ☺. Anyway, he was living in a fifth floor walk-up apartment with faulty heating when we met. In the dead of winter, he would sleep with the window open next to his head (I stayed over sometimes *cough*). After a few times of me saying, “I’m really cold, can we shut the window?” and him holding up a little square digital thermometer and saying, “It’s 68 degrees in here. It’s not cold.” I finally said, “I don’t give a fuck what that fucky thermometer says!” He gave me the best smile in history and deftly whipped the small thermometer out the four-inch opening of the window, like a miniature sacrificial Frisbee. We both smiled when we heard its distant clatter against the bottom of that abysmal light well.

When I am cold, I just am. When I love a book, I just do.
So when Sara here casually asked if I wanted to write a little something about tropes and book recommendations and maybe a bit about how some of those books have influenced or inspired my own books I was all, “Yay! Yes, I’d love to write a blog about that!” And then… *cue: riding to school in my underwear dream*

Because this is how I usually sound when I’m recommending a book to a friend:

“Oh god, I don’t even remember the hero’s name, but when he dove into that icy stone pool I just gasped and died of happiness.” –Something-Something by Eloisa James

“There’s that scene through the tunnel and then the cave and he’s a lord/pirate type and she’s a governess/teacher —I think there were children from a previous marriage or inherited from a distant relative or something—anyway, it was heart-pounding, palm-sweating goodness.” –Something-Something by Amanda Quick

“You have to read it, if only for this quietly devastating scene when the red-headed heroine with the cat is being witty and careless and playing charades with her artsy-bohemian friends and the stuffy hero walks in unexpectedly and realizes they’re talking about him…mocking him…*cries*” –Something-Something by Miranda Neville

“The hero’s thighs.” –Something-Something (or Everything?) by Victoria Dahl

So—given the nature of how my brain reads (in the Now)—I thought it wipe to call upon my friend Janet—given the nature of how her brain reads (in the Forever). Together, I think we almost make one brain. Here’s what we came up with!

A ROYAL PAIN – Trope: Opposites Attract

ARPMegan’s Picks:
Once and Always by Judith McNaught – Feisty American meets British aristocrat; liberal doses of angst, separation, miscommunication, more angst, culminating in fabulousness.
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw – One word: guttersnipe.
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee – Feisty American meets British aristocrat, because let’s face it, this shit never gets old.

Janet’s Picks:
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh – I think Max and Bronte may fit under the Christine/Wulfric rubric—she is concerned that he offers her a life she doesn’t want—he says he’ll make her life more her, if that makes sense…that unconditional acceptance.
An American Duchess by Joan Wolf – Her American sensibilities, her feelings about freedom, voting, rights in general are quite different from her ducal mate.”

IF THE SHOE FITS – Her Trope: Just-Happens-to-be-a-Virgin

ITSFMegan’s Picks:
Pretty much any virgin heroine (or hero for that matter) by Maisey Yates, either in her Harlequin Presents or her standalone fictional universe, Untouched and Unbuttoned.
Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst – Charming, perfectly “normal” heroine who just happens to be a virgin…no muss no fuss (at least as far as her virginity is concerned…all the other magical mayhem can’t be helped).

Janet’s Pick:
Anything by Stephanie Laurens – The rid-myself-of-my-virginity-and-move-on, that’s vintage Stephanie Laurens. So many examples, but that’s her trope.

IF THE SHOE FITS – His Trope: CharactersConceals True Self

Megan’s Picks:
Never Resist Temptation by Miranda Neville – one of my favorites for so many reasons.
Undercover Professor by December Gephart – Funny, breezy contemporary, I loved this one. I even remember the title and the author and the laundry room scene!

Janet’s Pick:
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – The I’m-not-who-you-think, isn’t that Penelope and Colin’s story? He’s smarter, more active, than anyone knows.

IN LOVE AGAIN – Second Time Around/Reunion of old lovers

ILAMMMegan’s Picks:
The Slightest Provocation by Pam Rosenthal – This book is more about a long-separated, rancorous husband and wife, but the build-up to reconciliation is phenomenal.
Second Chance Café by Alison Kent – Loved the whole starting-over feel of the heroine, the house, the hero…just everything.

Janet’s Pick:
Persuasion by Jane Austen – There’s really nothing more to say when it comes to second chances, is there? *burns guitar at Monterey*

R IS FOR REBEL – He’s all wrong for me, but maybe…just this once…

RIFRMegan’s Picks:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

(Janet thinks Abby and Eliot are too unique for a trope. Aw.)

BOUND TO BE A BRIDE – Love on the Run/Mistaken Identity

Megan’s Picks
BTBABThe Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville – one word: Tarquin.

Janet’s Picks:
My Lady Notorious, Jo Beverley – They’re bound together without knowing each other’s back stories; tons of humour/sensuality.
An Unlikely Duchess by Mary Balogh – He knows all along who she is…but she doesn’t have a clue.

BOUND TO BE A GROOM – Sexual Awakening/Freedom of Expression

Megan’s Picks:
The Story of O by Pauline Reage – Okay, this is pretty serious and all that, but in the midst of all the anguish, there is a repetitive thread, a BTBAGrefrain or something, that makes me think of that song, “They don’t know what love is…” O lives her life in a way that she understands, so nothing else really matters. Like Anna.
Undercover by Lauren Dane – Again, these characters are who they are and want what they want, take it or leave it. And it’s steamy and bondagey, but with great banter and intimacy to boot.

Janet’s Pick
On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Youth on the run, doing what feels good or right at the time.

So that’s all…if memory serves. Happy reading, whether you read for the moment or eternity!


GIVEAWAY: Winners Choice of one of Megan Mulry’s backlist.

To enter Giveaway: Post a comment with book recommendation(s) to add to Megan & Janet’s list above 

Please note: This contest will close on Friday March 28, 2014 at 8:59 PM (PT) and the winners will be notified via email and on this Post. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail before a new winner is selected. All entrants must adhere to HJ’s official giveaway policy.


About Megan Mulry:

Megan Mulry writes sexy, stylish, romantic fiction. Her first book, A Royal Pain, was an NPR Best Book of 2012 and USA Today bestseller. Her next book, Bound to Be a Groom, comes out in April. Before discovering her passion for romance novels, she worked in magazine publishing and finance. After many years in New York, Boston, London, and Chicago, she now lives with her husband and children in Florida.

About Janet Webb

With special memory jogging assistance from Janet Webb aka @janetnorcal on Twitter: Unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. When I rediscovered the world of romance, my spirit guide was All About Romance’s Desert Island Keepers — I started with the “A” authors and never looked back. I write an occasional piece at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

53 Responses to “Trope it Up with Megan Mulry & Giveaway!”

  1. Monique D

    Maya Rodale’s Bad Boy Billionaire series. It’s priceless. It works better if you read her Wallflower book but it’s soooooo fun !

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Monique, I love Maya Rodale! Any type of recommendation list like this always throws me into such a tailspin because there are SO MANY good ones. Thanks for commenting!

    • Megan Mulry

      I’m not sure I’ve read any of hers, but those half-blood princes on her website look amazing. Will add her to my TBR. Thanks for the rec.

  2. Rhonda

    I also read in the NOW and I just thought I had a really bad memory. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone!
    Since I don’t remember shi+, I can’t add anything to list. LOL
    I enjoy Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Probst, Catherine Bybee, Julia London and Laura Kaye.
    The Hard Ink Series by Laura Kaye is full of bad boys (former military), romance, suspense. Oh, and some great hot scenes!

    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks so much.

    • Megan Mulry

      Rhonda I’m so relieved you’re also a Read-in-the-Now reader. (My memory is probably also faulty, but this has a much better ring to it, don’t you think?) I love all those authors too. Especially loved the Kleypas contemporary in Texas with the hot guy who takes in the woman with her sister’s baby…you know the one 😉

  3. conniefischer

    Hi, Megan! I have read your first two books and am so looking forward to reading more.

    There are so many great authors out there but a couple come to mind that I have enjoyed immensely. I like Deeanne Gist and Katie Fforde to name a couple.

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Connie! Thanks for commenting. I’ve read Gist and have been meaning to read Katie Fforde–she’s often listed on what readers Also-Bought over at my Amazon page and I’ve been meaning to check her out. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. ndluebke

    Omg, I thought I was the only one with a memory like that. That’s why I recently started a card catalog of all the books I’ve read, but afraid its 38 years short of helping me remember all the books I’ve read. I’m sure I’m rereading a few. However, I recently finished a book by Sheila Roberts, The Cottage on Juniper Ridge, which was fun and really good. I also put my rating on my index cards. This way I know which authors I really like. It helps anyway. I’d love a chance to read your book. I think I’m going to love your writing style.

  5. Tammy Y

    The Chameleon Chronicles series by Beth Ciotta. All About Evie, Everybody Loves Evie and Evie Ever After. I loved them all.

  6. Christine Epp

    Great post Megan! Kudos to you for reading Outlander, it’s one of my favourite books (along with Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager, books 2 and 3 by Diana Gabaldon which you definitely have to read now!) and I’ve reread it a few times (yes, starting back in the 90s when they first came out, and I didn’t have an ereader and free/99c books!). It’s an investment in time, but worth it.

    I have read so many books lately that it’s easy to see how they all get confused! But if I had to pick some standouts, they would definitely be Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series – it’s just so original and exciting! I’ve read them out of order (3 of the 6 so far) and highly highly recommend them. They don’t fit any old trope at all, which is refreshing. But for trope favourites, I still like the brother’s best friend ones, and I recommend Gina Maxwell’s Entangled Brazen ones for those.

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Christine, I’m sort of hooked on the 800-page-historical idea. I want a break after Jamie and Claire, so I think I’ll read Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman next. And I’ve heard the Laura Florand’s are scrumptious in every way–have two on my TBR staring me in the face! Just clicked over to “Rules of Entanglement” and it also looks like a blast. Thanks for the recs. (*whimper* When am I going to read all these great books????)

      • Christine

        I read Laura Florand’s the Chocolate Kiss (my first book of hers,book 2 in the set, because that’s the one my library had) all on one Sunday. I seriously read it with a smile on my face for 8 hours straight, it was so good. I couldn’t stop. Although they are a series, they can definitely be read standalone as I’m in them totally out of order, although as Sharlene said above, the Chocolate Thief is the first story. If you prefer not to hear about other couples in the books, then read them in order, although I don’t think it gives away any secrets if you read them out of order (you already know the couples if you read the books descriptions of all of them). Put them at the top of your TBR!

  7. Mary Preston

    I love reading tropes. My favorite is marriage of convenience stories, like TO WED A STRANGER by Edith Layton.

    THE LOTUS PALACE by Jeannie Lin is a great opposites attract story.

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Mary, Yay! Both of those are already on my TBR (the Layton in vintage paperback and the Lin on Kindle). Thanks for the recs; will move them up the ladder.

  8. marcyshuler

    I think you and I could be long lost sisters, Megan, because that’s exactly what happens to me when asked to talk about a book I’ve read. LOL This list took me a bit to compile for that same reason. 😉

    MARRIED FOR CHRISTMAS by Noelle Adams – This is a contemporary romance where the H is a widowed pastor and the h is his best friend. She wants a family and he needs a wife to get the job at his dream church, so she proposes they marry so each gets what they want. This book is wonderful and includes sexy scenes.

    CharactersConceals True Self:
    IF YOU NEED ME by Cassi Carver – Rayne is an erotica author with agoraphobia. Kyle is a fan she met online in a book chat and is now her ‘boyfriend,’ but really he’s the heir to a billionaire. Great story!

    Second Time Around/Reunion of old lovers:
    TWO OF A KIND by Susan Mallery – Felicia is freakishly smart and awkward. She longs to be normal and to fit in. She spent one night with Gideon four years previously when she gave him her innocence. Since then Gideon barely survived being a POW. They meet again in Fool’s Gold, when she hears his voice on the radio. I loved these characters!

    He’s all wrong for me, but maybe…just this once…:
    LUCKY IN LOVE by Jill Shalvis – Mallory has always been the town good girl. When she meets Ty she decides she’s had enough of playing it safe. He makes it clear he’s only passing through town, but she’s ready to take a walk on the wild side. I loved Mallory. When she decides to be bad she does it in a big way. LOL

    Sexual Awakening/Freedom of Expression:
    VANILLA ON TOP by C.J. Ellisson – Heather is tired of being a wimp, so at a speed dating event she takes charge and demands what she wants from a guy she meets. Tony is under a lot of stress from his job and when Heather takes control he finds he likes it. I liked how this couple felt free enough to trade back and forth being the more dominant partner in the bedroom.

    • Megan Mulry

      Marcy! My soul mate! Every one of those descriptions I was nodding my head like, “…erotica author meets billionaire…yes…heard his voice on the radio…I’m in…when she decides to be bad she does it in a big way…YES…Switches? Power exchange? *click-buy*” Please stop by my blog and recommend your faves anytime.

  9. Amara Royce

    Wow, thanks so much for this amazing list. (My wallet isn’t so happy right now, but my e-reader is bursting!)

    As for recs, one author who comes to mind is Sherry Thomas, who’s done a lot of these tropes. Her NOT QUITE A HUSBAND does Opposites Attract and Second Chances. HIS AT NIGHT does Secret Identity. PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and DELICIOUS do Second Chances and, I think, Not Right for Me.

    In the hands of a strong writer, tropes can be so much fun! Thanks again!

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Amara! I’ve read (and loved) three Sherry Thomas books and I’ve heard her latest (Luckiest Lady in London, is it?) is fabulous too. I agree: in Thomas’s hands, any story would be beautifully told.

  10. Kai W.

    Loving Ms Wrong C.J. Ellisson. I have been teased because of my last name back in grammar school. So I’m putting this book out there.

  11. Barbara S

    just finished JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT by Lori Handeland and it was really good.

  12. Leanna

    I would recommend Sugar Jameson’s newest series which starts with Dangerous Curves Ahead. Great book and great author waiting to read the newest book in this series.

  13. Sharlene Wegner

    I didn’t know about the last 2 books by you, Megan! I will put them on my list. As for recommendations, I am loving Terri Osburn’s books, Meant to Be (brother’s fiancee), Up to the Challenge (friends to lovers) and a new one is coming up, Home to Stay. I also highly recommend any of Laura Florand’s Chocolate series – start with The Chocolate Thief, as they are connected.

    • Megan Mulry

      Hi Sharlene, Yes, the historicals started out as sort of a side thing I did for fun between my bigger contemporaries, but now it looks like I may be doing more of them in that fictional world. They’re kind of addictive to write. Just to warn you, Bound to Be a Groom is VERY steamy (like, basically, everyone is either having sex, thinking about having sex, or recovering from just having had sex lol), but there’s still the humor and banter and all that (I’m pretty sure) that you get in my contemporaries 🙂 Thanks for commenting. And the Florand, gah I KNOW! I absolutely must read!

  14. mrsmac19

    I’d totally recommend Jack Burton’s Play-by-Play series. I just finished Melting the Ice and it was great! Thanks for the giveaway. I’m (somewhat) embarrassed to admit that I read the same way!

  15. DJ Sakata

    My favorite lately is Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon, wicked funny and a steamy love story.

  16. Afiqah

    Thank you for the givaway. I would recommend Nalini Singh’s book and Christine Feehan’s Shadowalker series.

  17. Amy Rickman

    Shannon Stacey, Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins and Susan Mallery write series that cover many of the tropes mentioned above.
    I’ve recently read the Enemies to Lovers trope in R.L. Mathewson’s Neighbors From Hell series, they were fun reads.

  18. martha lawson

    I’m recommending the House on Tradd Street series by Karen White! There are 4 books total and they are absolutely awesome! Ghosts, physics, and mysteries. I couldn’t put them down! And yes, there is humor in them. Check them out.

  19. Kimberly V

    I would recommend the Copper Mountain Rodeo Series written by various authors such as Jane Porter and Megan Crane.