Nalini Singh: Favorite Themes

Posted January 28, 2008 by Casee in Promotions | 38 Comments

I’m really delighted to be here at Book Binge (thanks for the invite, ladies!) and looking forward to chatting with you all this week!

To kick things off, I thought we’d discuss favorite story themes. One of mine is the Friends to Lovers one. I’ve never sat down and really analyzed why I love it so much, but I think it has a lot to do with the bond of trust that’s already apparent between the two characters. And when that bond changes into love, it’s so deep, so rich, so solid—these two know each other inside out, good and bad, and they still love each other. What’s not to like?

Mine to Possess has the friends to lovers element in it, and it’s a big part of why I loved writing this book. Clay and Tally know each other so well that the normal barriers between a courting couple don’t exist for them—they lock horns from day 1, no holds barred. And boy was it fun watching someone get under Clay’s skin so easily. *grin*

What about you guys? What are your favorite romance themes? Conversely, is there a theme or storyline that just does not work for you?

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38 responses to “Nalini Singh: Favorite Themes

  1. I’ve always loved this theme too, and I’m not sure why. As you said, I think its because you know they know each other so well, and that element plays to the core of intimacy that we all need and want! Who doesn’t want someone to know everything about you and love you for just those reasons? I know I do!

    I’d have to think about what other theme I love! Any ideas- aside from the secret baby plot? Gets kinda old.

  2. Friends to lovers is my favorite theme as well. And falling in love with your best friend’s older brother, which is kind of similar, because you know the guy already. LOL

    I agree with Zeek on the secret baby plot too, it’s no good. 😛

  3. I love Friends to Lovers theme or the Cat and Dog theme… you know, the one where they know each other, but just can’t stand each other… till they first kiss or something. Another of my favorite is the “serious guy vs. hippy girl” LOL… I love that one because she basically shows him how to enjoy life 😛

    Not many themes/plot lines I don’t like…

  4. azteclady

    There are very few scenarios that won’t work for me if they are well written. I think the only one that really, truly gets on my nerves is the secret baby *head asplodes*

    On the other hand, I really like when the H/H have known each other for long–whether it’s friends-to-lovers, or ex-lovers-to-HEA. It’s easier for me to believe that they will overcome future obstacles–and you know there’ll be some ahead!

  5. Hey Rowena, Zeek, Ames, Nath & Azteclady! I’m up and awake now (it’s Tuesday in New Zealand).

    Onto the themes – yay that everyone likes friends to lovers!

    I have to admit, the secret baby plot doesn’t work for me in most cases. I keep wondering about the poor kid not knowing their dad.

    But I do love marriage of convenience stories – I think it’s the enforced proximity. So much tension!

    And alphas – always…as long as they’re not cruel.

  6. I don’t have a problem with the Secret Baby plot as long as the “baby” in question is a baby. I don’t like the secret babies that are almost adults.

    I think my favorite theme would have to be the Reunion theme. Like the Friends to Lovers theme, there’s a history between the characters that I just find really enjoyable to read about.

  7. That’s a good point, Casee – if it’s a really little baby, then I’d probably not have as much of a problem with it.

    Oooh, reunions! Love them!

    I like the Plain Jane storyline too. It’s always so satisfying to see the heroine with the hero – especially if everyone’s telling her she has no hope in heck.

  8. I love the plain jane theme too.

    marriage of convenience is a good theme- it’s just found in too many historicals and I’m bored with it now- of course that doesn’t really matter if it’s done well!

    “And alphas – always…as long as they’re not cruel.”

    A cruel alpha is not really a true alpha in my opinion. That’s just a bully.

  9. azteclady

    Good morning, Ms Singh!

    Oh marriage of convenience, yes!

    When done well, it can be truly great–there’s all this opportunity for friction and bumps and *grin* Yes, it can be an excellent device.

    I like the cat and dog scenario when it’s not exaggerated to the point of cliché–it can become a caricature if not done carefully.

  10. Mic

    I’m not exactly defending the secret baby theme, but I did want to offer up one place it worked.
    Rachel Gibson first or second books – IIRC, Simply Irrestible – had a secret baby who was grade school age in the book.
    It worked because Gibson created back story where the h/h needed the time to get their acts together.
    But I will agree with other folks that its not a theme that usually draws me.

    I have to confess I’m a sucker for the woman in danger who refuses to let the alpha hero boss her around theme.

  11. I like Plain Jane themes too. My favorite plain Jane book would have to be He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan. I just adore that book!

  12. Zeek, I totally agree re the bullying point. With a hero, I want to believe that it would be easy to fall in love with him!

    Azteclady – “friction and bumps” – I like that description *grin*

    Mic, I agree, sometimes, even the most difficult themes can be done right – there are some authors I trust to take me into territory I wouldn’t usually explore (ok, so maybe my teeth will be gritted, but I’ll go!)

    Casee – I’ll have to look that one up. It’s one of my favorite themes.

    What do you all think of Fish out of Water – where the heroine is thrown into a situation she knows little about.

  13. Also love the friends to lovers.

    I don’t like the Baby themes. Someone mentioned a few where they work but I HATE most of them. Yuck.

  14. azteclady

    Alpha males are good, as long as the female lead can hold her own–otherwise I’m left wondering what on earth can *he* see in her, you know?

    Mostly, good writing can make me look beyond a lot of my bias.

  15. alpha males, YES
    babies.,no, i dont even like my own kids

    virgins, so so, shame men are never virgins hardly eg>

    dont like alot of force in books between guy and gal

    i really like book that is a series, to say book 1 ,book 2 or somethign to that effect so when i buy i know which one i get, if i dont know the author boks that are coming out

  16. Rowena

    Hey those are one of my favorite storylines too, I love when friends find their way to being lovers and then love of each other lives, that’s just so effing cute!

    Another one that I absolutely love is the one that got away….*sigh* It’s so romantic! haha.

    Thanks Nalini for guest blogging with us this week, I’ll be back tonight to comment more! =)

  17. Azteclady – absolutely on the strong women – they have to be able to take the men on!

    Blackroze – oooh, virgin heroes. I like. Hands up – who else?

  18. Let’s see I have to repeat some of what others have said.
    I like…
    Friends to lovers
    Falling for best friend’s sibling
    Makeover stories
    Virgin heroes definitely!!
    Military/cop heroes (could not marry one myself but I love to read about them)

    Don’t like…
    Secret baby
    Time travel into past

  19. I love stories about a strong heroine who meets her equal, a gorgeous, alpha male unafraid to put his foot down, but capable of giving the heroine breathig room. I love the warrior man meets his mate.

  20. caermi

    Yes, yes, yes on Friends to Lovers.

    I’m also verra fond of “opposites attract” or even “in opposition” romances. Different agendas, personalities, cultures, sides of the courtroom — especially if they lead to some hot bickering (a la Moonlighting! Or Mulder & Scullyesque tension.) are good for me. I somehow suspect Nalini has some fondness for this theme as well….

    (aside: Does anyone know of any well-done political opposites romance? Why aren’t I seeing these? It seems like a ripe theme. Yes, I dated a Republican once – spirited debate can be a turn-on!)

    I also love ‘enforced confinement’/ handcuffed together/cabin/road romances. Oh and epistolary novels!

    Dislikes: Secret baby, “she sat on my knee as a child, but 15 years later — LUST!”, anything with twins.

  21. Azteclady – any favorites?

    Kris – I like Military/Cop heroes, too. Especially when they have to protect the heroine.

    Scooper – Warrior meeting his mate is such a cool storyline, and I love how it can be done so many different ways. Even modern alphas are warriors under the skin.

    Caermi – why yes, I think you’re right about the opposites attract 😉

    I think the problem with political stories is that it’s hard to make pure politics sound riveting & sexy on it’s own. It’s more usual to have a thriller element.

  22. azteclady

    *hit by stage panic* ack!

    Right now the only one that’s coming to mind is Jamie from the Outlander books, but I *know* that that is not the one that made me rejoice earlier. Drats!!! I’m having a senior moment.

    On the military hero meeting his match: oh man, yes! And boy, any military (or cop, or firefighter) wife has to have some serious spine.

  23. Hi Nalini! Thank you so much for blogging with us this week. 🙂

    Cripes, am I the ONLY PERSON ALIVE who likes the secret baby plots (if they’re well written that is)? LOL

    Let’s see:

    Secret Baby
    Friends to Lovers
    Long lost Love

    I also like the “Plain Jane” stories, but even more, I love ones where the hero wants the heroine to change, but when she does as he wishes, he wants her back to what she was before. I can’t think of what this particular theme is called, but Julie Garwood’s The Prize has that plot devise. I loved it. There’s something so sweet about a man realizing his woman was everything he wanted, right from the beginning. *dreamy sigh*.

  24. Azteclady – maybe you’re thinking of Untouched? 🙂

    Holly – naw, the secret baby books sell like hotcakes so lots of people like them. You’ve just run into an anti-secret baby cluster *Grin*

    And I LOVE Julie Garwood! Makes me want to reread The Prize.

  25. It ate my comment! Okay shorter version.

    Friends to Lovers – Yum – Suzanne Brockmann had one that was a Loveswept and it was great.

    I love the hero who doesn’t think he’s good enough for the heroine but can’t let her go. Doesn’t work if it’s the heroine cause then I’m all ‘um, hi, GRAB HIM!’ Anne Stuart does this hero.

    Echoing Holly with the JG one – the heroine falls in line and the hero goes nuts.

    And – older hero, younger heroine but it has to be a woman who is greater than her age. Brenna is a great example. Gina from Brockmann’s story was another. Strong women who know what they want and the men who run scared from them 😉

    Years by Spencer was probably my first experience with this kind of theme but it didn’t quite work for me because I really did think the heroine was way too young – I loved the story but she was truly a 17 year old in every way.


  26. Kris brought up a good one… the plot where hero or heroine falls in love with bf’s sibling 🙂

    I like the secret baby plot, but it tends to work better when the baby is still a baby. It’s soo sweet to see the father goes awwwww.

    I also like marriage of convenience, but it’s way better when it’s contemporary. Historical marriage of convenience, there are too many and it was most of the time, the custom no?

  27. I love the friends to lovers theme as well, but I especially love when they knew each other as children. There is just something so special and sweet about that kind of love. Its even better if the boy has rescued the girl a time or two 🙂

    I also like mail-order bride stories. I know, I know…what can I say!

    What kind of squicks me out is stories where the man knew the heroine as a child and then when she turns 18 he lusts after her; Devil’s Bride by Catherine Coulter.

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