Note: this is a queued post and will be linked to the main one when I get a chance.
There is a definite theme running through this list. I could have gone with hurt/comfort as one, but it turns out I can break that down in A LOT of different ways, so I did.
1. Sleeping Together (Not Euphemistically)
Nothing is gonna make my heart shoot the moon faster than two characters who fall asleep together, fully clothed and preferably cuddling, prior to or instead of ever having sex. This is the absolute peak and pinnacle of romance to me. Bonus points if they haven't even kissed yet but share a bed for practical reasons and wake up together because their subconscious Knows.
I love this trope so much that the entire rest of this list can go home, by comparison. I have also managed to find it in at least 8 books so far this year, possibly my hottest streak ever.
(The Year of Luminous Love, Field Notes on Love, Your Destination is On the Left, All Out of Pretty, April and Oliver, A Short Walk to the Bookshop, Girl Online On Tour, Pretty Fierce)
2. Shared Grief To Lovers
Specifically, when someone dies and their left-behind significant other falls for the late S.O.'s best friend, or even relative. Two people who loved a third in equal measure, bonding through their shared sense of loss? Nothing could please me more.
Sample Rec: The Sweetheart Deal by Polly Dugan
3. Single Fathers (Esp. Widowers)
I don't even want kids* and I am still not immune to the attraction power of Capable Guys whose world revolves around their offspring. I blame Hollywood and its swoon-worthy portrayals of this. Also Eric Christian Olsen. (who is not single. but is the exact level of Super Into Parenting IRL that makes these kinds of characters attractive.) ESPECIALLY if they are only single like that because of Tragedy, proving they are very much marriage material.
*maybe that is actually why? I don't want to raise babies or be the primary person responsible for a minor's nutritional health and emotional well being, but I actually do like young people after about age 4-5 or so.
4. Teenage Heads of Household
Whether because they're orphaned or a single parent is just faffing about to parts unknown, I love novels about teenagers who are suddenly paying the bills and caring for the house and/or younger sibling(s) to keep Social Services at bay. Proto Adulting! A.K.A. Playing House: The Next Level.
Sample Rec: Don't Fail Me Now - Una Lamarche
(see also: my lifelong certainty that if I could just find it, I would love watching Party of Five)
5. Stepfather/Stepdaughter Bonds
There is just something lovely to me about a guy who opens his heart to a kid like she's his own, in a non-creepy way. I think I care about this particular combo specifically, more than stepsons or stepmoms, because men + girls is so often a recipe for perv disaster, and when a girl can just be safe and non-romantically love an unrelated guy, it restores my faith in humanity.
Surrogate Dads also welcomed, e.g. family friends or beloved uncles who step up in a father's absence without officially being stepfathers.
Sample Rec: Waiting For Normal - Leslie Connor
6. Taking In A Stray / Adopting A Pet
Adding a dog automatically makes your story 56% more interesting. (Facts.) Dogs are my favorite for story purposes, but I accept all mammals and the occasional bird.
7. Inheriting A House From A Distant Relative/Family Friend
As someone who loves houses but whose prospects for being able to afford one are grim, this is a very great fantasy. Just love the whole getting resettled in a new place, cleaning things out, general nesting aspect of this kind of story.
Sample Rec: A House By the Side of the Road - Jan Gleiter (also works for the above trope!)
8. Minor illness/injury-tending
Check in on somebody with a flu or fever, support them on a twisted ankle, tend to a wound too big to fix with a band-aid...that's the Florence Nightingale Syndrome coming out; I've made my peace with it. Although actually I enjoy it platonically just as much as romantically. On a related note, I have a whole Goodreads shelf for this. (fatal illness is in there too and that's a whole related trope but I didn't want to get into too much nuance if i could help it)
9. White Knights
"Listen, sometimes you want a boy to save you," I said in a Glee review once, AND I STAND BY IT. Take all the damsels and put them in distress. That's m' wheelhouse.
(that said, it also works well in conjunction with The Heroine Saves Herself, as long as the guy tries and/or is there for support in the aftermath)
10. Introverted and/or Grumpy Older Guy Is
It's just. Such a delightful dynamic. I think Lupin/Tonks kicked it off, but I seem to love it every time I see it. (hey there Zoo! The TV version, I mean. I realize that's confusing in a book post.)
Your turn: if you have a favorite that fits one of these tropes, let me know. Honestly, if there's a book you hated with one of these tropes, don't be afraid to tell me that either. I chose to read All In Pieces specifically because of this scathing review, as I read between the lines and correctly deduced that everything setting her off would thrill me in context (it did).
Note: Comments from anonymous users and/or OpenID users who include links/URLs are screened, and will be unscreened at my earliest opportunity.