Trope Thursdays: Forbidden Love [8]

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.

Valentine’s Day being on Thursday this year was the perfect excuse to bring back this monthly feature!

The featured trope this week is perhaps my all time favourite romance trope. Now, it helps that it can be a little broad and encompass a variety of scenarios. But there is nothing better than some good ole sexual tension–and usually this trope delivers!

February’s Trope: Forbidden Romance


Forbidden relationships can take many forms: Parents may forbid their children from engaging with certain friends or significant others; friends or family members may disapprove of our relationship partners; or we may fall in love with a coworker, supervisor, or someone who is already committed to a serious relationship. The obstacles to these relationships may be explicit or implied, but these obstacles may actually serve to strengthen our forbidden relationships.

~Psychology Today (“The Allure of Forbidden Relationships“)


Because it is Valentine’s Day, I’m sticking with the romantic side of forbidden relationships.

Common Features:

  • Possibly Dark love
  • Perhaps Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Drama
  • Secrets
  • Workplace Romances
  • In Love with a Rival
  • In Love with a Partner
  • Family Rifts
  • Slow Burn
  • Perhaps Cheating

What I Like About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

There are a lot of things I like about this trope! The main one is the sexual tension it brings to the story. There is just something about longing glances and the anticipation of that “big moment” when their feelings come crashing to the surface.

If you bothered to read the article I quoted above, you’ll see that it touches on another aspect I love about the forbidden relationship: the “forbidden obstacles” help to strengthen the relationship. For a romance/partnership to be a “win” for me, you have to convince me that these two belong together and share something more than just a mutual physical attraction. Forbidden romances provide those roadblocks that challenge couples as partners and as individuals and I find you get a much stronger, genuine relationship as a result.

What I Dislike About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

Sometimes, these stories get caught up in the forbidden attraction and those opportunities for character growth get lost in the heated moment. Other times the petty drama gets in the way as well.

But my biggest worry when reading forbidden romances is the potential for unhealthy relationships. If those issues/reasons are addressed within the story, I’m more than happy. I do enjoy unconventional romances and sometimes those romances have their toxic moments. But I go in knowing that and it’s usually presented in a way to the reader that this isn’t an ideal relationship. However, not all author’s take that approach or use the opportunity to create that dialogue about what is good and bad about the relationship.

Books that Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

When forbidden is in the title, it better live up to it…and this one certainly did! Not only did the “forbidden” element add a layer of suspense to the story, but it also made the story and characters richer. This one had me on the edge of my seat!

>>Standalone Review: The Forbidden


I avoided reading Forbidden for years because of the topic of incest, but once I finished it I immediately chided myself for such a colossal mistake! If you want a story that will put you through every type of emotion, this is the one for you.

>>Standalone Review: Forbidden


Others: Royally Series  |  Sweet Black Waves

Books that Didn’t Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

I was really excited to see how a romance between the Genie and Aladdin would work in this retelling…but it flopped so hard for me. I truly saw no connection between these two besides attraction and in turn, that made me think less of them as characters their “feelings” motivate a lot of their actions. This was just a miss for me.


When I read the premise for Undone, I was excited to start it. But I promptly stopped reading at the 36% mark. Why? The romance was a little toxic and didn’t bring out the best in the characters. I quickly learned I like when both characters know they are embarking on a forbidden romance or both are oblivious to the off-limits nature of their relationship. Our hero just came across as slimy to me as a result and their lack of chemistry didn’t help any either.

>>Series Review: Disclosure


Others: The Cage  |  Bad Romance

Do you enjoy books with the “Forbidden Romance” Trope?

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