Louisa George on -Writing to a Romance Theme!

We at RBH invited Louisa George to share with us how she chooses her themes and here she is now...

Oh, Baby! - Writing to a Romance theme.

 Thanks, RBH for inviting me back here to Romance Book Haven!

 I’ve had a couple of great reviews for my debut book, One Month to Become a Mum, and I’ve been thrilled with the reception I’ve had for it so far. However, I found one comment, in particular, very interesting. The (wonderful) reviewer said she generally skipped over baby stories in books because she couldn’t identify with them. This comment touched a nerve for me as it tied in with an email from my editor suggesting I shouldn’t put children/pregnancies in every story because I’ll become typecast as ‘that author who writes babies.’ As I love babies and children I have used them a lot in my stories- a three year old in book one, an accidental pregnancy in book two- Waking Up with His Runaway Bride. And a labour and home delivery in book three The War hero’s Locked-Away Heart.

So in an effort to avoid being typecast and also to appeal to a wider readership I got to thinking about the kind of ‘tropes’ that exist in stories- which ones do I like, which ones do I usually steer clear of, and- as I’m plotting books four and five- which ones should I incorporate into my next stories?

Common romance tropes include:

·        Ugly duckling- eg transformation

·        Beauty and the beast- eg the scarred hero

·        Cinderella- rags to riches

·        Secret baby

·        Accidental pregnancy

·        Sheikhs

·        Girl next door

·        Best friend to lover

·        Forbidden love (Romeo and Juliet)

·        Love reunited

·        Revenge

Me? I love a secret baby story and adore love reunited. There’s something I find immensely rewarding about a failed love that works second time round. I have never read a Sheikh story- for no reason other than I haven’t had the time and don’t know where to begin choosing one, there’s so many. And I’m an absolute sucker for a scarred hero. My book three, The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart, due out in November, is about a man with physical and emotional scars. A brooding hero who needs to find his salvation through falling in love always makes me weak kneed!

So, what about you? Any favourite story themes? Any you hate? Any you think I could use for my next books? Can anyone recommend a great Sheikh book?


  1. I'm struggling at the moment with the romance novel I'm writing on an inter-cultural relationship. I'm actually in that type of marriage and I know the premise well, it's a great basis for conflict and attraction too.

    I don't find that situation in sheikh books. The sheikhs are invariably westernised anyway and well able to flit between their own clutures and the West. I recently read THE MARRIAGE BEHIND THE FACADE by Lynn Rae Harris (reviewed on RBH) and found it a great relationship novel. I'm sure it's as good a sheikh book as you'll read anywhere.

  2. Love winning through against the odds is always one to intrigue and thrill.

  3. One trope you didn't mention was the forced marriage or marriage of convenience which I quite like. Love reunion stories but don't like it if they've been unfaithful in between so much. I'm paranoid about fidelity but it's because I become so emotionally invested there is only so much pain I can stand.

  4. I'm a sucker for the Beauty & the Beast story, as well as Forbidden Love (and sometimes the two of them go together.) I don't find anything wrong with a baby story, and I don't have kids yet. :)

  5. I love those common romance tropes. They are everywhere. In mostly all romance.

    The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart sounds awesome. I can't wit to hop in the tub with my copy.

    Secret baby sounds best to me. And love reunited ALWAYS works! :-)

  6. Great list of tropes, Louisa. I think they've used them all in Downton Abbey.

  7. Amanda Gardner11 April, 2012

    Hi Louisa and RBH,

    Louisa, I like the Friends to Lovers or Lovers Reunited stories for books that you haven't done yet.

    For Sheikh books - Harlequin (Mills & Boon) did a series called Dark-Hearted Desert Men (Carol Marinelli, Jennie Lucas, Trish Morey and Annie West wrote the four books in this series) and The Royal House of Karedes series (8 books in this series -- at least 3 of them are Sheikh books). The Royal House of Karedes series was the first set of books and then Dark-Hearted Desert Men was the second set of books (all connected books).

  8. I love stories about forbidden love, and, on the other side of the spectrum, revenge ;)
    In fact, I'm pretty much open to anything as long as it's well written.

  9. Amanda Gardner11 April, 2012

    Here is all the titles for the series that I listed earlier for you.

    The House of Karedes Series
    Billionaire Prince, Pregnant Mistress by Sandra Marton
    The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl by Sharon Kendrick
    The Prince's Captive Wife by Marion Lennox
    The Sheikh's Forbidden Virgin by Kate Hewitt
    The Greek Billionaire's Innocent Princess by Chantelle Shaw
    The Future King's Love-Child by Melanie Milburne
    Ruthless Boss, Royal Mistress by Natalie Anderson
    The Desert King's Housekeeper Bride by Carol Marinelli

    Dark-Hearted Desert Men
    Wedlocked: Banished Sheikh, Untouched Queen by Carol Marinelli
    Tamed: The Barbarian King by Jennie Lucas
    Forbidden: The Sheikh's Virgin by Trish Morey
    Scandal: His Majesty's Love-Child by Annie West

  10. Hi! Sorry I haven't been here to answer your comments- the time zone difference got the better of me!

    Hey, Maria! Thanks for the book recommendation- I'm going to look that one up. I've read a couple of Lyn Rae Harris books and over them.

    Inter-cultural relationships are always great conflict driven stories- there's so much the hero/heroine have to learn, and often there's compromise and something for one of them to give up- which always increases the emotion.

  11. Hi jabblog- Yes! Readers often identify with the underdog and want someone to win even if the odds are stacked against them!

  12. Hi Princess Fiona! Hmmmm- you're right, I missed MOC off my list! I wonder if I didn't mention it because it's not one of my favorite tropes? I can totally see why a woman may have had to marry centuries ago, but these days it has to be a pretty good conflict for me to believe she has no choice but to enter a forced marriage. Have you read any good ones recently? I absolutely agree with you about infidelity- that would be a hard thing to get over.

  13. Hi Shelley! Yes, I love a beauty and the beast story too. There's something heart wrenching about a man who believes he's unlovable- and a woman who sees the beauty beneath. *sigh*

    And I'm so glad you like baby stories!

  14. Hi Robyn! Sounds like you and I have a lot in common! I loved writing The War Hero's Locked-Away Heart- the hero, Adam is brooding and hurt and the woman who melts his frozen heart is bubbly and lively and won't allow him to dwell on the past. I tried to make it full of hope.

  15. Hi Leslie! Yes! Downton is great, isn't it? What a roller coaster of stories. We're still all wondering whether Matthew and Mary will get together. Can't wait for season 3!

  16. Hi Amanda! Love reunited? My second book Waking Up with His Runaway Bride (out in July in UK) is a story about two ex lovers. He's arrived in town to determine the future of her GP practice- he's the guy she ran out on three years ago! What fun I had writing that!

  17. Amanda! WOW! THanks so much for the list!! Fabulous! I'll get on to sourcing some of the books right now!

  18. Amanda- By the way, it was Carol Marinelli who encouraged me to write, after she read one of my entries in a writing contest! She was so positive and friendly that she gave me the confidence to submit to editors! I think I'll start with one of her Sheikh stories!

  19. Hi Claudia! I agree- I can read anything so long as it's well written (apart from anything science fiction- I just can't do the whole alien thing). But I have a special place in my heart for forbidden love stories!

  20. Wow! Loved reading all these comments!

    You have a great post Louisa!

  21. I think any theme can be used in a unique, engaging way. I might give certain books a rest, though. For example, I haven't read a vampire book in a while, but I'll return to reading them since I do love them.

    I don't mind babies and children in books. :)

  22. My favourites are the best friend to lover stories. That happened in real life for me so I can relate :)

  23. Hi Louisa,

    I love reading, so probably would give a chance to any workable theme in romance.

    I was reading Dana Martan's The Black Sheep Shiekh and it has all the danger, intrigue and thrill a girl may want to read!

  24. Hi Nas! Thanks! It's so great to get everyone's opinions and recommendations! Thanks for hosting me here!

  25. Hi Medeia! Do you know, I can barely admit that I've never read a vampire book?!? I watched the first three Twilight films, though and I'm definitely Team Jacob! I should really read one, I think! But now my kids are encouraging me to read The Hunger Games...so maybe Dystopia is the way to go? I'm getting out of touch!

  26. Hi Lynda! Ooooh- best friends to lovers- so romantic! Maybe you should write your story in a book?

  27. Hi Laura! Dana Martan? I've never come across that author before- I'll definitely look that one up, sounds very interesting. Thanks for the tip!

  28. I like reading lists of tropes, because they help me think about where the story can go. I look at it as a challenge too, to take a common idea and create a new take on it. :)

    Angela ackerman

  29. Sheiks! That's funny. I like this list.
    Well, I do have an Ottoman painter, but the story's set in 1492, so...

  30. Hi Angela! yes- I agree it's great to add a new fresh twist to an old or well used trope! It's what makes writing such a challenge and a joy!

  31. Hi Deniz! 1492 painter? WOW! I'm in awe. You must have to do so much research to write a historical- I'm not sure I'd have the patience! Go you!

  32. Now I have to look up so many new books to add to my tottering TBR pile!

  33. Now did Barbara Cartland write a book called "The Sheik"? I'm sure I read it when I was about 10 or something - but I must have enjoyed it to remember! Yay!!

    Awwww hello Romance Book Haven! Thank you for hosting the wonderful Louisa George! I say yay for being a baby writer! I don't have babies but if it's in a fabulously romantic story then why not!??

    Take care

  34. I guess I like the ugly duckling trope...

  35. Hi Kitty!

    I have to confess I've never read any Barbara Cartland....my romance reading only began about six years ago and I'm so busy reading contemporary things I've no time to read the classics! One day.....

    So glad you like babies in stories- hopefully you'll enjoy my book two: Waking Up with His uRnaway Bride then, too!

  36. Hi Sharon! I love the ugly duckling trope too- as long as they don't change their outer appearance too much (I'm a great believer that beauty comes from the inside- although a little mascara helps too!)

  37. I love scarred heroes, too, and forbidden love as well.

  38. Just came back to this today Louisa and funnily enough I just wrote a blog about tropes. A bit controversial maybe but when you get to my age...

    Anyway in case you are interested

  39. Hi Fiona, thanks for letting me know- I'll hop on over to your blog now!


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