Apr 29 2014 1:40pm

10 Tropes That Make Historical Romance Awesome

Today we're thrilled to have not one but three authors—Gayle Callen, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Caroline Linden—weigh in on one of our favorite genres, historical romance. Gayle's latest release, Redemption of the Duke, is out today, and its hero is a duke (of course!) with secrets who needs redeeming. Laura Lee Guhrke's How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days pairs an American heiress with a duke, and is also out today, while Caroline Linden's It Takes a Scandal offers a love triangle between a wealthy heiress and two very scandalous gentlemen. The ladies are here to discuss what makes historical romance so awesome. Thanks, Gayle, Laura Lee, and Caroline!

1) Dukes. Now come on, when you see the word “Duke” in a title, doesn’t your heart speed up? There’s just something about powerful men at the top of the aristocracy, brought to their knees by love, that just makes us all swoon. That’s probably why I’ve used “Duke” in the title 3 times in my 21 historical romances, including my most recent, Redemption of the Duke. –Gayle

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Source: runningoffthereeses.com

2) Scandal. Scandal is all about the forbidden, the rules one mustn't break, the clothes one mustn't wear and which men one mustn't flirt with, let alone kiss. But when two people each decide the other is worth breaking all those rules, and that no one can forbid them to fall in love… *sigh* –Caroline

Branson kissing Sybil:

Source: sybilandbransonfans.tumblr.com

3) Marriage of convenience. Two people decide matrimony is a business deal. They get married, they live together, but female vows no sex, making male partner realize this marriage of convenience is actually very inconvenient. Male, desperate, resorts to only course of action available: seduction. Tension and desire build, leading at last to female breaking vow of chastity, and marriage of convenience becomes business deal with benefits. Complications ensue, dark moments threaten marital bliss, but ultimately, love conquers all. And there’s no hassle about who’s invited to the wedding! —Laura

Katniss and Peeta:

Source: allmoviegifs.tumblr.com

4) Beauty and the Beast. Another powerful romance theme, which is why Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie! We just love to read about a wounded man (whether wounded on the outside or inside), shunned by Society, having lost all faith in himself, who at last finds his way back into the world through the love of a good woman. (or vice versa—it’s sometimes fun to turn this one around and make the hero the beauty!) –Gayle

Beauty and the Beast:

Source: giphy.com

5) Pygmalion. The ultimate makeover story! Sometimes all a person—man or woman—needs is a little help to reveal her true self. It might be just clothing and a new hairstyle, but something changes, giving the character more confidence and belief in herself as a desirable woman, and it makes the hero sit up, take fresh notice, and realize: she's my heart's desire. And I especially love this plot line when it's the man who undergoes the transformation. –Caroline

Pretty Woman:

Source: giphy.com

6) Estranged lovers reunited. Man and woman fall in love, love falls apart, couple splits. Something happens to force them back together, and they proceed to remember, in spades, all the reasons they split up in the first place. But this time, they stick it out, and are at last rewarded for their determination with the blissful marriage they hoped for and didn’t get the first time around. And it’s so much easier this time because each partner already knows what the other one likes in bed. Now that’s a happy-ever-after anyone can appreciate! —Laura

Pride and Prejudice:

Source: anamorphosis-and-isolate.tumblr.com

7) Compromised. Now this is a romance trope that is used frequently in historical romances. It works so well! A woman’s reputation—not to mention her life—can be totally ruined if she’s caught alone with a man. Sometimes it’s accidental, other times the situation is manipulated. But it all results in two people who hardly know each other—but are powerfully attracted—being forced to marry before they’ve learned to love. –Gayle

Cats in a compromising situation:

Source: Imgur.com

8) Governess. The older historical version of the boss/secretary trope. She works for him, caring for his child; he wants her but knows there are a thousand reasons he can't have her. But as they learn more about each other, drawn together by their mutual care for the children, it's not shocking that romance would develop. And of course it's bound to cause a bit of scandal, especially if he's a rake… –Caroline

Jane Eyre:

Source: tomhiddles.tumblr.com

9) The boss and the secretary. Underappreciated, overworked female with obtuse, male (but I repeat myself) boss, decides to quit. Obtuse, male (but I repeat myself) boss finds his entire life falls apart without said female employee and decides he must get her back. He schemes, he seduces, he falls madly in love, and in a stunning final show of appreciation, he grovels, demonstrating that at last he appreciates his female employee for the brilliant, beautiful woman that she is. What’s not to love about that? LLG books about the boss/secretary dynamic: AND THEN HE KISSED HER, GUILTY PLEASURES. –Laura

Love Actually:

Source: triponbroknbeats.tumblr.com

10) Rakes. He might be a bad boy, the most dangerous man to know, the one everyone says will break your heart…but he's still irresistible. And when the right woman comes along, who challenges and provokes him and drives him wild and demands something of him, he falls for her like a ton of bricks. –Caroline

Rhett Butler:

Source: collection-of-gifs.tumblr.com

Learn more or order a copy of How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Learn more or order a copy of It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Learn more or order a copy of Redemption of the Duke by Gayle Callen, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion and the Laurel Wreath Award. Gayle lives in Central New York with her three children, her dog, Apollo, and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero.

Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun. When she's not tapping away at her keyboard, Laura spends time relearning how to ski, mastering the wakeboard grab, and trying to actually hit a golf ball.

Caroline Linden is the award-winning author of smart, sexy historical romances, including the Reece Family series, the Truth About the Duke series, and What a Woman Needs.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
Thanks for this--this is precisely why I fell in love with historicals so many years ago, and why I still love the genre so much.
2. GayleCallen
Thanks so much for allowing us to explain the appeal of romances--and enjoy some visual reminders. (I especially love the cats).
Heather Waters
3. HeatherWaters
This is so great. I take great comfort in my favorite tropes and in seeing how authors play with them, so all I can really add is: Right on!
Darlene Marshall
4. DarleneMarshall
Yep, it's all there. Thank you for reminding me why nothing helps me escape into a book like a good historical romance.
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
Love this post...and these tropes! My favorite trope has got to be the marriage of convenience--it might be my favorite trope of all tropes! If that marriage happens to be proceeded by a scandal, all the better! Love all of your books. Thank you!
7. Ruckasaurus Rex
I loved this! :D Great post. <3
8. An Observer
Umm... someone appears to have been "very" inspired by this article... almost word for word. Just thought you might want to know. http://www.lornafaith.com/10-popular-tropes-in-the-historical-romance-genre/
Heather Waters
9. HeatherWaters
@An Observer -- Thank you for letting us know so that we can look into this.
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