Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.
Round 2 of my new feature!
As I said in the description above, the idea is to look at common book tropes and dissect them each month. I’m going to pick a variety of tropes–including ones I hate–and dig a little deeper. First, I’ll define what that trope is and then list some common features. Next, I’ll pick some examples of the trope in action and why it works (or doesn’t work) for that particular story. And then finally, I’ll open the floor to you to tell me your thoughts on the trope or recommend some reads to me.
Slow Burn Romance
A romance that develops gradually over time as the characters get to know one each other more.
- Friends to Lovers
- In Love With Client/Coworker/Partner
- Hate to Love You
- In Love With the Enemy
- Teach Me to Love
- In Love with Someone “Forbidden”
What I Love About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:
I’ve only recently come to realize that I love the slow burn romance trope. For me, one of the things I need to see the most in my romances is a deeper connection. Insta-loves don’t work for me because the connection is usually superficial or based on something “unspoken”. But slow burn romances let you see how these characters work together over time. How they compliment each other; how they slowly realize the other person is what they have been looking for all along. That’s when the looks become a little longer; and the thoughts turn into attraction; and the tension between the two leads becomes palpable.
While researching this post, I read some other bloggers’ thoughts on the slow burn trope and I think Liana @ Coffee Time Romance sums it up very nicely:
The slow burn romance means the characters can flirt with the idea of love before ever admitting they are in love. It gives them a chance to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, it gives the readers a chance to see the couple through the good days and the bad so that when the characters finally reach Happily Ever After there is no doubt that they will really have forever together.
~Liana @ Coffee Time Romance (Post: The Beauty of the Slow Burn Romance [Sep 4, 2015])
What I Dislike About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:
Sometimes I can be a little impatient when it comes to my romances. There is only so many “near-misses” a girl can take before she’s screaming at the pages for the couple to kiss!
Like I mentioned in my last Trope Thursday Posts about Fake Relationships, the problem with the slow burn usually lies in the characters or the plot itself. If the plot isn’t very strong, I usually want the romance to be of a greater focus so that something is happening in the book. But if it too is just puttering along, well, that can make for a boring read. And when it comes to the characters, I want to like them. So if I find one character is “undeserving” of another, slow burn romances can drive me nuts because I don’t see that deeper connection.
But it’s also important to note that having the characters wait a long time to establish that romantic relationship doesn’t always make a slow burn romance. You need to have those moments that show a connection happen along the way. It isn’t enough to just stick a couple of calendar days between their first meeting and that moment when they finally take the next step. You’ve got to develop it in some way.
Another time slow burn romances can fail is in a series where the romance is spread out over multiple volumes. Once the couple gets together, that tension often disappears because they get into that “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. Their relationship becomes this inevitable fact and you lose a bit of that “will they or won’t they” thrill. Either they become this perfect couple or they have to break up for the sake of the plot. It can make for a boring read in the subsequent sequels if their slow burn romance was the main focus/plot-point of their first book because what else do you have to look forward to?
Books that Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:
I found Blackhearts to be a very character driven story–which isn’t surprising because it is an origin story of sorts. Anne and Teach are both such intriguing characters on their own but when they share a scene, the magic really happens. They just have so much in common and watching them discover that was such a treat as a reader.
Their romance follows along the lines of one that is almost forbidden due to their positions in society. So while the attraction might always be there, they really do try and fight it in order to stop their hearts from breaking.
Not only is this one of the longest romance novels I have ever read (the Kindle version has over 600 pages which is absolutely CRAZY!) but it also has one of the slowest burning romances I’ve ever seen.
Why? Well these two don’t start as friends and they aren’t even that attracted to each other but that’s what happens over time. You watch their relationship evolve from boss/employee to partners to friends to lovers. It’s a hard thing for these two very independent people to learn to trust someone else but over the course of the novel, they learn to do that.
I had already written this post before I started this book. But as I was listening to the audiobook, I knew I just had to include it in this list.
The slow burn of Royally Endowed takes place over the course of years. This is a case where calendar days in between works as there is a never ending list of (realistic) obstacles along the way. It toys with the “will-they-won’t-they” idea until you know something has to give. And when it does, you can’t help but exclaim in joy.
Others: Play | Smut
Books that Didn’t Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:
This one is more a case of a slightly misleading synopsis and the idea of sticking calendar days in the way. I went into this book thinking the romance was going to be the main focus of the story and it wasn’t. In fact, the leads don’t even meet each other until the 50% mark. And when they do, they ignite pretty quickly. So despite the great chemistry and tension that we do finally get, the romance left something to be desired for me due to its execution.
OK! Before everyone gets mad at me for this one hear me out! When I read the synopsis for The Raven Boys, I thought the main plotline was a romance between Blue and Gansey (all that stuff about her true love it mentions). So imagine my surprise when there is nearly zilch in the romance department in The Raven Boys!
I know that the romances are all slow burn and grow over the next 3 volumes but I needed something early on. I found the plot to be slow so this was one of those cases where I would have appreciated something else (like a romance) to focus on to keep the plot moving.
Others: A Stardance Summer | Changling
Can’t get enough slow burn romances? Be sure to check out my Valentine’s Day Post!
As this is only my second post for this feature, please let me know what you think about its structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!
Do you enjoy the Slow Burn Romance Trope? Any recommendations?