Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Temptation Tuesday : Cliches

Romance readers LOVE clichés. You know you do. We can do without the term, but knowing by the time we reach the end of the book we'll be emotionally satisfied? Oh yeah. It's the entire premise behind the romance titles we giggle at before buying a stack of six. We like knowing what will happen in At The Billionaires Bidding or Seduced for The Inheritence.

Everyone has a favorite cliché, a subject or type of character who they'll curl up with time and again. Cowboy, billionaire, soldier, rebel, Italian, doctor, boss, sheikh...and that is just the hero! If there is a billionaire rebel, I am the first in line. Maybe that is why At The Billionaires Bidding was fun for me...right up to the point where Trish Wylie made me cry. Weepies are so not my thing and she just snuck it right in next to witty banter and silly t-shirts.

Heroine cliché's help us know where the story is going as well. Secretary, mistress, (does ANYONE use those terms in real life anymore?), virgin, princess, bride...some can be all of them at once!

Let's not forget the basic story. Secret baby. Revenge. Marriage of Convenience. Makeover. Mistaken Identity. (Temptation made great use of this in their Wrong Bed series) Amnesia. Friends to Lovers. I find people like most of the general set-ups, but have a few they avoid. For me, I steer clear of secret baby (I have brothers, so this one gets me riled) and amnesia. Though, Lucy Monroe did it well in The Greek's Christmas Baby, so you can't set aside an entire cliché completely. Still, bring me a tight revenge plot, twist it with an office affair and I am in heaven.

Settings can be wonderfully cliché. Private islands, sprawling mansions, turetted castles. Bring them on and take me away. How many readers pick up a book with Greek in the title just on the off chance we'll wind up on an island? It can't just be me!

Not only are the stories tempting, but the verbage can be as well. Sometimes deemed purple prose, I'll admit I like the flow of an emotive romance novel. His heart slammed against his chest. He pinned her with a piercing gaze. I know what that means. I can feel it, which is what we want to do when we read romance isn't it?

Clichés are a double edged sword. The very things that keep us hooked are the things we wind up defending to those who do not know the genre. Still, I hope romance authors never avid the temptation of clichés. They are simply to decadent to resist!

What are your favorite romance clichés? Which ones did I miss?

Jenna is hard at work on her next title for Mills & Boon Modern Heat. In the meantime, Her Cinderella Complex is available with a millionaire, secretary, engagement of convenience, private island, and a hot pool sccene. Check out her website, or blog.


  1. Ooh, I love this topic! (And that you used my title ::grin::) My favorite that you missed is "Tall, dark and handsome." Maybe be a cliche but it works for me every time!


  2. And I have to add "Fish out of water" stories where heroines are taken out of their comfort zones. And I simply adore "Crooked grins".

    Never did get the "shell-like" ear thing, though. I always got visions of lustrous, shimmering mother-of-pearl, which is all well and good but not when it is stuck to the side of a heroine's head.

    Thanks, Jenna, what a fun post.

  3. have to agree with the tall dark and handsome cliche. it does what it says on the tin!
    x Abby Green

  4. I think cliches are a personal preference. Some I love--like the above mentioned crooked grin--others don't work for me as well. I think part of the appeal, as you said, is that it gets an instant response in your mind of what that looks or feels like. As a writer, I avoid cliches I don't like, and the ones I do I try to use but a little differently if I can. I love those Greek islands though! I've managed to put a Greek island in 3 out of 5 books so far.