Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Writing Wednesday: When is a Trope Not just a Trope?

I've heard it said that there are only about seven story plots in the whole world, and every book, fairy tale, or myth is based on one of them. So much for being original, right? I guess if you think about it, even 50 Shades is a Cinderella tale. Twisted, but still a poor, beautiful maiden catching the eye of the prince.

A trope is some word, expression, sound or visual representation which is employed in a figurative rather than a literal manner. So when I say "billionaire" romance, you have a general idea of what I'm talking about.

The billionaire trope is one of the most common right now in romantic fiction, sweeping through the subgenres on the tuxedo tails of 50 Shades, but it's been around all along. Who could forget Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts as the hooker with the heart of gold, the poor girl who catches the eye - and heart - of rich guy Richard Gere and makes him a better person.

What is it that makes this type of tale popular? Well, who wouldn't want to be swept off their feet by a handsome prince and never have to worry about laundry - or dusting - ever again? Most of us read romance to escape our everyday lives - I love my husband, but I don't want to read about a hero who sits on the couch watching t.v. at night. I want sweeping romance, adventure, exotic locations... and all of those seem a lot easier if you've got billions - or a kingdom - at your disposal. And, of course, someone else to do the dusting.

I haven't been able to avoid the slew of billionaire romances in my inbox, and will freely admit that I can't make it through most of them. Too predictable. Or the heroine is too unrealistic. Or the hero is too alpha with nothing to endear him to me (see my earlier post about Alpha Males...although part two of that article is still with CapeWomenOnline magazine for spring publication. I can share here once it's published there.)

I have, however, finished a few of them. Okay, more than a few. But I'm not going to recommend or even review the majority of them because, frankly, I finished the novel feeling as if I'd rather have that time back to read something better. And I don't want to be the reason anyone else feels that way.

But back to my original question. When is a Trope not just a trope? When the author can put a somewhat original spin on the storyline, give the reader something a little unexpected in terms of situation or characters. Out of the more than dozen books I've finished recently with this plot-type, Here are two that try to break the mold a bit and still deliver the expected Happily Ever After.
Beautiful Entourage, by E. L. Todd
Book One of the Beautiful Entourage series
Published by Fallen Publishing, April 2015

About the Book:
Being a professional escort comes with its vices. To keep women from getting too clingy, stop them from dropping their panties, and silence them before they can blurt the L word, Rhett has made certain rules. He never breaks them.


1. No Kissing.
2. No Feelings.
3. And definitely, absolutely, no sex.

But when Aspen, a beautiful brunette, hires him to help repair her image to her family, things get complicated. Rhett's never had a problem separating work from pleasure. But now work and pleasure seem to be one and the same.
My Take:

As in most New Adult romances, the story is told in alternating first person points of view between the two main characters, Rhett and Aspen. Unlike many NA romances, the power roles are slightly reversed. Aspen is the daughter of the rich energy tycoon, working to inherit her father's lucrative corporation. Rhett is a male escort she hires to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to inherit.

Yeah, little bit of a gender twist on the billionaire trope.

Rhett isn't a hooker, per se, but he does have a heart of gold. His company, Beautiful Entourage, (that he owns, by the way) has strict rules when you hire a companion or a date for a big event. Hand holding is okay, kissing is not. Falling in love is definitely out of the question. And yet... Of course that's what happens.

And somehow the author has enough twists and quirkiness to her characters to make it all seem kind of fresh and new. I can't really go into lots of details because it might spoil the surprises, but suffice it to say this is a fun, light read that keeps the pages turning. If you want to see this trope twisted onto its side, try Beautiful Entourage. Close enough that it fits the genre, yet different enough to crack the mold a bit. 4 enthusiastic stars.

Find it on AMAZON

The Billionaire's Fake Girlfriend, by Sierra Rose
(The Billionaire Saga, Part One)
Published October 2015

About the Book:
Rebecca is an aspiring actress. While at a fancy cocktail party, the socialites begin to pick on her. And that’s when she claims she’s dating the billionaire host of the party. When he goes along with it, Rebecca is in shock. And when this billionaire offers her a proposition she can’t say no to, she dives straight in.
My Take:

Yes, another New Adult type romance in first person about a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (or in this case, West Hollywood) hooking up with a hot alpha billionaire in a staged relationship to further his business goals.

It's a fairly new trope, but it already feels way-way old.

This one kept my interest through the whole book because the narrator, our poor wannabe actress with the heart of gold, also has a completely self deprecating, refreshingly sassy voice which. I thoroughly enjoyed. That, and she was never under the illusion that the relationship would magically become real. At one point, when he first raises his proposition, she doesn't even let him finish the sentence before kicking him in the balls and high tailing it out of the party. Good for her.

If you like this kind of romance, or if you're slightly sick of it and want to read a fresh take, I totally suggest trying this book. It's a fun, fast read. The only drawback would be that this is a three part series, but I found that the ending of this first book was enough for me. And hey, if you like it a lot, there's more with these characters.

Buy it on AMAZON


  1. Morning Katie,

    Interesting take on a old idea. Nice review.

  2. I think the trope is just the framework, whether one is speaking about a billionaire alpha, a military guy, a highland warrior, a cowboy or a shapeshifter. What sets it apart is the author's voice and ability to make H/h come to life as individuals. If the author does a good job then I as a reader am transported for a time into their world. As a newbie author I try to give my readers that same feeling I so enjoy as a reader-the fantasy of a different life.

    1. Hi Charlotte, and thanks for stopping by. I went back and clarified the meaning of trope, and yes, you're right about the author's voice making a difference.

      To take a general idea and breathe life into it is what authors do - turning that "billionaire" into a guy with a name that we can care about.

  3. I think if an author can make it feel real, then you can get away with a lot of cliches. Part of it is voice and part of it is putting a new twist on the trope. I recently read a RITA entry that I expected to hate. The plot was so cliched and pretty ridiculous in places. But I ended up enjoying the book because the characters were fun and that made the book fun. It turned out to be a great escape from my ho hum gloomy January. Great post. I think you nailed some important points.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I just reread the post, and yeah, I should have taken a few more minutes while writing it to be more organized, but it seems you got the idea, lol.

      And isn't escape the main reason to read romance? :-)

  4. I guess we all follow patterns. Although the situations change, hopefully. Both books look interesting. Good reviews!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ilona. Patterns, cliches, tropes, yeah, we all use them in our writing. As other commenters have said, it's all about using a fresh voice and connecting with readers on an emotional level.


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