In no particular order:
1. “Two Worlds Collide” :different sides of the track, city meets country, finding love overseas, two very different sub-cultures, or even just total personality opposites–there are so many options to go with. One thing we will always find is tension caused by these differences–most often expressed as exasperation. So many books and movies have this theme–Save the Last Dance being a prime example or for older generations (or those that just like old things) The King and I. For books I would say that some of my more recent favourites include: Fools Rush In (and the rest of that series) by Janice Thompson, Clueless Cowboy by Mary Connealy, and White Water Preacher by Carolyn Bravo.
2. “The Pursuing Past”: either one or both parties are “hurt, wounded, or haunted” by their past and must overcome their issues before healing can occur and they entwine their lives. My most recent example of this is Cry of My Heart by Linda Ford–a book which makes you feel the pain and the desperate hope of the characters and leaves them and you feeling fulfilled.
3. “Marriage of Convenience”: whether to save the farm, the family honour, or one’s life and liberty. I have to admit that this is one of my favourite genres–the struggle to accept the other person as they are; and, often, the flare-ups that misconception and miscommunication create. Since this is a theme which is so often seen, a book of such theme MUST be well-written and not too predictable. Of course, we all know they fall in love at the end 🙂 What is your favourite book in this theme? My current favourite is Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake (a German farmer and an Irish “hill billy” make a go at love)
4. “Diasaster Strikes/I Need a Hero” men who must protect women against bandits (or other villains) or natural disasters; often the women are headstrong, fiery, and think they know best–making the job much more difficult for the man. In Deep Trouble by Mary Connealy is a good book, and an excellent example.
5. “Best Friends”: guy and girl are best friends, but never think to take it to “the next step” until one or both of them begin seeing other people, they figure out that they really DO love each other “that” way and must avoid the moral pitfalls of hurting the other people involved in their “best friend” drama. Love Online by Kristin Billerbeck and Nancy Toback is a simple read and a good example.
Can you tell me any other themes you think should be considered “popular”?