To be honest, I didn’t know I had a trope, or for that matter, what a trope was when I began writing stories. We throw the word trope around a lot in the romance writing world, but it carries a lot of meanings for such a little word.
It started out as a figure of speech, and literary sources list everything from irony to metaphor, with plenty of stops in between, as tropes. But as we all know, the meaning of words change. By 1975, The New Oxford American Dictionary also defined trope as “a significant or recurrent theme.”
I discovered tropes when a writer talked about them at a workshop many years ago. She suggested we look for recurring themes in our stories. I was surprised to realize the second chance at love trope appeared early in my stories, to include my first well-hidden manuscript set in 60 A.D. Roman England!
Saddled with a name for the type of stories I wrote, I didn’t have to look far to find the reason. My husband and I had fallen in love when we were nineteen. A war got in the way and he wasn’t ready for marriage when he returned. We split up, but two years later we reconnected.
After we married, I regretted the loss of those years, until I realized we were not the same people. We were both in a better place. A little older; a little wiser. I doubt our marriage would have survived had we married earlier.
While some may define the second chance at love trope as the reappearance of a former love, I tend to extend the definition to include characters who have been burned by a past relationship and are reluctant to enter another. Let’s face it, most of us have endured heartbreak in our lives.
Oddly, I don’t specifically read books about second chances, but one of my favorite novels is The Promise of Spring, an early Regency by Mary Balogh. The heroine faced the ultimate betrayal ten years before the story opens, but her heart is captured by a better man. I guess that story has stuck with me for so many years because it is a second chance at love story.
My Tassanoxie novella, Susannah’s Promise, has a little twist to the second chance at love trope. Several years before the story begins, Susannah audited the hero’s archeology classes. She became infatuated with him, never suspecting he noticed her. But they never meet.
Susannah drops her classes and races home when her mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Since she audited, Perry can find no record of her. Events bring them back into each other’s orbit and they get a second chance at love.
A second chance at love is also at work in my upcoming release, Butterfly Bride. Contemporary or historical, I can’t seem to escape the second chance at love trope.
Susannah's Promise by Ginger Hanson
Susannah Warden is trapped in a life she doesn’t want. She quit college, put her life on hold to care for her terminally ill mother, made a deathbed promise to look after her father, took over her mother’s dress shop, and got herself engaged to an eligible bachelor. None of these actions reflect what she wants to do with her life. Guilt drives her as she tries to fit the mold her mother created for her.
When archeologist, Dr. Perry Elliston, arrives in Tassanoxie to survey a possible historical Indian site, he reminds Susannah of the future she wanted before her mother died. Perry recognizes Susannah as the mysterious student who haunted his archeology classes and his dreams several years ago. Now she’s back in his life, but engaged to marry another man.
Will Susannah free herself from the bonds of her deathbed promise for the chance at love?
Find out more about author Ginger Hanson