Want the magic formula for romance? Click Here!

Author Lauren Layne knows a thing or two about writing the perfect romance (just look at her popular Wedding Belles series for proof!). Want to know the insiders’ trick to all romances? Read on to find out! Lauren’s next book, TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH, is now available from Pocket Books! 

The romance genre gets a lot of crap from “non-believers” for being formulaic. You know what I say to that? Bring it. Bring on the formula!

Because there is a formula. It goes like this: all romance novels will have a happy ending, and you will, therefore, feel really happy after reading one. If you think that’s a bad thing, I confess you’re totally NOT going to be on my cocktail party invite list.  But anyway, I digress. There’s another element to the formula of romance novels that is absolutely wonderful, and we in the “biz” call them tropes. They’re those common plot threads/elements you see over and over in the genre, and instead of calling them formulaic or unoriginal, let’s call them what they really are: Book Crack. Magic. Everything-good-in-the-world.

You’ve got your classic tropes: Boss/Secretary. Best friends to Lovers. Older Brother’s best friend. Second-Chance. You’ve got your old-school tropes. I’m thinking specifically of amnesia stories. Why oh why did those go out of style? Screw medical science, bring back amnesia stories! Or snowbound stories! Damn the cell phones for pushing those out of style and making them “unrealistic.”

You get where I’m going with this, right? We all have our favorite tropes. That type of romance that you buy no matter how many other versions of that story you have on your Kindle. The trope I’ve been glomming on lately? Unrequited Love. Also known as the “I’ve Loved You For Years” storyline. For me, no other type of romance has the heart-in-your-throat longing of a story about a hero who’s loved the heroine all along and kept it buried deep inside for some deliciously angsty-reason.

Now, honestly? It’s tricky to get right. If the hero’s too intense, we enter stalker territory. Too desperate and he looks pathetic. Have him wait on the sidelines TOO long, and readers will write him off as passive. But when done right … oh baby. There are no butterflies like the unrequited butterflies!

The following are my top 5 of romances where the author gets the Unrequited Love story exactly right:


Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught
Judith McNaught is the queen of romance in my books. Nobody does it like her. But when I first started Someone To Watch Over Me, I was positive it wasn’t going to be one of my favorites—more suspense than romance. Oh I had little faith. I don’t want to say such more for fear of being spoilery, but I dare you to read this and not swoon.

scandal in spring

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
I love all things Lisa Kleypas, but her Wallflower series is my favorite. For some reason, I was prepared to like Scandal in Spring the least, but she surprised me in the best way possible. This is one of those books where you close it knowing that the hero/heroine where you close the book knowing there is no WAY those characters were ever meant for anyone but each other.


To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne
whistles innocently Oh, look! Somehow my new release made it on the list?! Yes, okay, fine. I love unrequited love stories so much that I had to write one. Logan’s been in love with Alexis since the first time he saw her, and there’s nothing sexier than a man with a plan …

to wed a wicked earl

To Wed a Wicked Earl by Olivia Parker
Another one for my fellow Regency fans, this book’s especially for the impressive because Parker sets up the hero as being a womanizing rake in the book that comes before this one, so it comes as a wonderful surprise when you find out he’s had a soft spot for the heroine the whole the time. His longing is DELICIOUS.

daring to dream

Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts
The first unrequited romance I read, long before I understood what I was reading, and how masterfully Roberts brings Josh and Margo together after years of animosity and distance.

There we have it. My top 5. Now I’m dying to know, what needs to be on my list? What are YOUR favorite “he loved her all along” unrequited love romances?! Tell me in the comments section below!

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Someone to Watch Over Me

Someone to Watch Over Me

Judith McNaught

Discover the sensual and sweeping power of love in New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught’s contemporary romances that will make “you laugh, cry, and fall in love again” (RT Book Reviews)—now available for the first time on ebook.Leigh Kendall is relishing her stellar Broadway acting career in her marriage to Logan Manning, scion of an old New York family, when her husband finds the perfect mountain property for their dream house. But while driving upstate on a winter’s night, Leigh is run off the road in the midst of a blinding blizzard. When she awakes in the local hospital, seriously injured, the police inform her that her husband has mysteriously disappeared, and Leigh becomes the focus of their suspicions. The more she discovers about her husband and his business affairs, the less she realizes she knew about Logan Manning. Now, Leigh is heading deeper and deeper into unknown territory—where friends and enemies are impossible to distinguish, and the truth becomes the most terrifying weapon of all in this thrilling tale filled with unrelenting suspense, unforgettable characters, and powerful traces of greed, ambition, and desire.

Scandal in Spring

Scandal in Spring

Lisa Kleypas

Quirky and fun-loving American heiress Daisy Bowman is the last unmarried Wallflower. Her exasperated father has informed her that if she can’t find a husband by the end of her third London season, she will be forced to marry a man she hates—the ruthless entrepreneur Matthew Swift. Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, so she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone . . . anyone . . . other than Matthew. What she doesn’t count on, however, is Matthew’s unexpected charm, or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams. But when a scandalous secret is uncovered, it could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy’s wildest fantasies.

To Love and to Cherish

To Love and to Cherish

Lauren Layne

Now that her Wedding Belles business is thriving, Alexis Morgan decides it’s time to focus on her personal life, and she approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not part of that plan is Logan Harris, the one person who’s been there from the start. But Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with a kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.

To Wed a Wicked Earl

To Wed a Wicked Earl

Olivia Parker

He’s on the hunt for a bride . . . Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, needs to find a wife—immediately!—or his beloved grandmother will leave him penniless. But Adam, an unrepentant rake, would reform for only one woman, the woman he’s lusted after—and loved—for years. It’s rather unfortunate, then, that Miss Charlotte Greene would never consent to be the blushing bride of a rogue . . . or so he thinks. Charlotte believes that the earl, the only man whose touch leaves her trembling, would never want a woman like her. Weary of her wallflower ways, Charlotte decides that a friendship with the earl just might give her the excitement she desires. Keeping their true feelings hidden, she and Adam plan a sham ceremony to placate the dowager. But when the “marriage of convenience” takes an unexpected turn, will Charlotte and her wicked earl finally reveal their irresistible, unforgettable love—and delight in a lifetime of passion?

Daring to Dream

Daring to Dream

Nora Roberts

Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn’t help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton’s stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most—her mother’s acceptance. Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura—or had Kate’s shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way—no matter what the consequences…



2 comments so far

  1. This is a fun post and I love her sense of humor! Of my recent reads my favorite unrequited love stories are Marry Me Mad by Katy Regnery, a modern day romance between childhood friends, and A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley, a historical fiction with a fierce and brooding Highlander. I love romance books and all the different tropes.

  2. I love unrequited love! Seriously, it makes me all giddy when things finally happen and play out toward that HEA. I get butterflies and everything!

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