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Trope Talk: Reunion Romances

Posted by on Dec 20 2013, 1:09 pm Posted in , , , , ,

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Welcome to our very first Trope Talk! The Firebirds are all about romance, and from time to time, we’ll be chatting about our favorite flavors. Today, AJ and Kat are talking about reunion romances, a trope we’ve both had experience writing. We love this kind of story for so many reasons…read on, and join the discussion in the comments!

 

AJ: Before we dive into talking about the reunion romance trope, maybe we should explain what we mean by “trope” in the first place. Do you have a good definition?

 

Kat: Glad you asked! I never heard that word until I started writing and even then I was like, “Huh?” So I’ll fill you in. A trope is nothing more than a fancy word to describe the type of hook or plot device that frames the story. Secret Baby is a trope. Friends to Lovers is a trope. See?I love the reunion trope because, WOW. Instant conflict and that’s what makes my little romance reading heart fly. And all the sparks…AJ, what is it about second chance love that makes for such rocking sexual tension?

 

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AJ: The reunion romance is one of my favorite tropes. Nothing compares to the thrill of meeting someone new, but reunion romances have a different kind of heat. The tension is at a simmer point, and it feels like it could boil over any second. The hero and heroine have already gotten past the barrier of that first kiss (and maybe more!), so it feels like they could start ripping each others’ clothes off any second. Plus, all those memories of their past encounters are a white-hot elephant in the room. I love it when the reader gets a window into that past through flashbacks–it makes me hyper-aware of their sexual chemistry. I think Sherry Thomas does an amazing job of this in Not Quite a Husband. Wow!

Of course, flashbacks can slow things down, too. Do you think flashbacks enhance the chemistry, or do they spend that “punch” of sexual tension too early?

 

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Kat: No way, Jose. If an author does it well, you can get those glimpses but it’s like the appetizer. The main course is still a few pages away and that’s what makes it great! But in some cases, the flashbacks can introduce the problems they couldn’t overcome the first time. Can the past create too big of a hurdle? I mean if it didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second time. How is that overcome in some of your favorite books, AJ?

 

AJ: This is another reason I enjoy the reunion romance trope so much. Both the hero and the heroine usually have to do some serious growth before they can reconcile. For example, in Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (incidentally, one of my favorite books EVER), the hero (Clay) and heroine (Elena) have both hurt each other in the past. Their mutual arcs are about forgiveness and trust, learning to give those gifts to each other. It makes for a more mature love story–one where we see what the relationship is like after the HEA–but we still get that thrill ride of Clay and Elena reconciling. It’s the best of both worlds. 

What are some of your favorite reunion romances?

 

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Kat: You know, my all-time favorite book is a reunion romance! Birthright, by Nora Roberts. The heroine is an archaeologist investigating some very old bones in the remains of an ancient settlement and her ex, an anthropologist, is assigned to the same dig site. While the sparks between them fly, she also finds out she might have been kidnapped as a child and sold to the people who are now her adoptive parents. So all three arcs are about looking at the past and how it shapes us in order to find the path to your future, which is the heart of all reunion romances. It’s one of the most thematically brilliant books I’ve ever read. And that’s saying something, coming from an English major! I also really like The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis, because Tara, the heroine, is hilarious and I just really wanted her to get back together with Ford.

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AJ: Ooo, those both sound great. I’m going to have to check them out!

Readers, what about you? Have any sizzling hot reunion romance favorites to recommend? Something to say about why this is the best (or worst!) romance trope of the bunch? Join the conversation in the comments!

 

16 responses to “Trope Talk: Reunion Romances”

  1. I LOVE reunion romances THE most!! And I find them so fun to write. (I have one out on sub right now and have just finished another I’m still polishing. Crossing fingers someone else will love them too 🙂

    I’ve read three of the four books you guys mentioned and I agree, those were each fantastic in their own way. Now I’m going to have to add BITTEN to my already overloaded kindle!

    Nice chat, ladies. I look forward to many more!

  2. robena grant says:

    Lovely discussion. Thanks. This is also one of my favorite tropes to read. I’m trying my hand at writing one right now. : )

  3. Terri Osburn says:

    I love a good reunion story. Many of Eloisa James’s books use this trope because often her characters are married but estranged before the book starts. Or the end up estranged at some point in the story.

    As a grudge holder, I understand how hard it is to let go of past hurts. That’s the extra layer of angst inherent in reunion stories. There’s all that baggage to deal with.

  4. GREAT blog, AJ and Kat! I, too, love the “reunion trope.” I like the idea of the mini flashbacks as being appetizers. A good author doesn’t bog the reader down in the flashbacks, instead enticing her 🙂

  5. kd fleming says:

    Great post ladies. Reunions aren’t my favorite trope, but there are some that are so awesome. The characters pasts make them deeper and richer. This risk is higher because they both know it already didn’t work once. No one likes to fail twice. AJ’s reference to Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband is so good.

    I may have to go find my copy and reread it over the holidays. 🙂

  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    Dear me, I love those suckers.

    Great example: our own Kim Law’s Sugar Springs!!!

    We all have painful heartbreaks and regrets in our pasts…reunion romances speak to those little hurt places still inside us, even when we’ve moved on.

  7. Kay Hudson says:

    I haven’t read many reunion books (I did enjoy Sherry Thomas’ Not Quite a Husband), but I’ll have to watch out for more. Probably have several among the growing stacks, shelves, and digital files of unread books I’ve been collecting. Thanks for an interesting post.

  8. Great post AJ and Kat 🙂 The book that I’ve entered in the 2014 GH has the reunion trope. I LOVE stories about the one who got away 🙂

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