Sep 27 2013 2:00pm

Trope of the Month: Secret Baby!

Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel GibsonAcademically put, tropes are “common or overused theme[s] or device[s]," which makes them sound like cliches, which makes them seem like a bad thing.

But they’re totally not! Romance novel fans all have their favorite—not to mention least favorite—tropes, from friends to lovers, chick in pants, secret baby, marriage of convenience, opposites attract, May-December, boss-assistant...the list goes on.

Each month, we’ll be picking a romance novel trope and ask you to offer recommendations falling under the trope rubric (again with the academic talk!).

There's no shortage of secret babies in Romancelandia—they are a great way to ramp up the drama and angst, and have a way of making the family's inevitable happily ever afters feel that much more earned. Here are a few novels featuring the trope that came to mind—what are your favorite examples of the Secret Baby trope in romance novels?

  • Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel Gibson
  • Everyday, Average Jones by Suzanne Brockmann
  • Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle
  • Revealed: His Secret Child by Sandra Hyatt
  • Wanted by Her Lost Love by Maya Banks
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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
On Twitter, Sahara mentioned Pregnesia (best title ever?):

Former navy SEAL Lucas Washington was an expert at tackling impossible missions. But when a striking--and very pregnant--woman turned up in a car he was repossessing, suddenly he was in over his head. Shaken and bruised, she couldn't remember what had happened to her or why she was terrified of going to the police. Lucas made it clear he could be trusted, and vowed to protect her until she was safe. Hours turned to days as they searched for clues to her hidden past. Then a family came to claim her, and a happy ending seemed imminent. But had he just delivered his Jane Doe to safety...or into the hands of a killer?
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
And on Facebook, someone said Maya Banks's Nowhere to Run.
3. scarlettleigh
Simply Iresistible by Rachel Gibson, It seems like Susan Mallery had one, but I can't think of the name. Fireside by Susan Wiggs, Bad for Each Other by Kate Hathaway, Crime of the Heart by Cheryl Reavis, Tenderly by Cheryl Reavis, Where We Belong by Emily Giffin. There are numerous books where the heroine is pregnant, and she tries to keep it from the hero. Captivated by Nora Roberts. Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
4. Kareni
Tara Sivec's Seduction and Snacks has a secret baby plot that is well done. As I recall, the couple neglected to exchange names and then were unable to locate each other.
5. Janga
Susan Mallery has used the secret baby trope several times, most recently in Almost Perfect (Fool's Gold #2) and an interesting variation in Two of a Kind (Fool's Gold #11). Robyn Carr used it in Angel's Peak (Virgin River #9) and, although it is not the central plot, she gives the trope a twist in The Newcomer (Thunder Point #2). RaeAnne Thayne used it in Sweet Laurel Falls (Hope's Crossing #3). Maybe there is an unwritten rule that every long-running contemporary series must include a secret baby book.

Historicals are harder to classify. Is Loretta Chase's Not Quite a Lady (Carsingtons #3) a secret baby book?
Shauna Comes
6. djshauns
Diana Palmer has a couple secret baby/child stories. One was a novella, "Tom Walker" (in A Long Tall Texas Summer), where the heroine moves back home after their encounter & it isn't until the hero happens to move to the same town about 5 years later that he figures things out, I think the second time he sees the child.
The other Diana Palmer that comes to mind is Merciless, where she takes the secret baby trope to a whole new level by making it so that the hero doesn't even remember sleeping with the heroine because he was drugged at the time & thinks he is still a virgin (yes, you read that right, a "virginal" hero). The heroine keeps the child from him because she thinks he won't believe her that it's his. Palmer adds to the drama in Merciless by having the hero's mother hate the heroine because of her "loose morals" since she was never married to the father of her child.
7. pamelia
@ Kareni: yes, "Seduction and Snacks" fits the bill.
I like secret baby books where there isn't an outright attempt to hide a man's child from him. I really find it hard to believe something that big can be overcome and lead to true love.
"Seduction and Snacks" mitigates the situation by having the couple not know each others names and then they each try to track down the other and fail.
Another mitigated secret baby book is "Never Enough" by Lauren Dane where the heroine has adopted her sister's son and the sister doesn't reveal who the father is.
I find the HEAs in these kinds of books easier to accept than the more straight-forward secret baby tales.
Heather Waters
8. HeatherWaters
Thanks for the recs, y'all! Secret Baby is so incredibly tricky to pull off well, imo (and I have to confess Daisy's Back in Town is my least favorite Rachel Gibson), but I do find myself attracted to the trope.
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