First, let’s define a trope.
A trope is a common plotline used in genre fiction. For example, romance has the mail-order bride trope. These are usually set in the American West in the late 1800s, and feature a woman travelling (often alone) across the country to marry a man she’s met only through letters. They meet and marry, then fall in love after overcoming whatever difficulties the author has lined up for them.
Some people love these stories—as evidenced by the number of mail order bride stories on Amazon. Others loathe them. I’m somewhere in the middle—I enjoy reading them, but I’m not the target reader for the box set of twenty.
There are dozens of other romance tropes: billionaire, rock star, sports star. Brother’s best friend, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers. Secret baby, second chance at love, finding love again.
And that’s the one I get tired of in Christian fiction: Finding love again.
It’s not so bad now, but there was a time a few years back when it seemed every other romance novel I read featured a young widow finding love again. That’s sweet … but it means a lot of dead husbands.
Christian men, your twenties are a dangerous time.
If Christian romance is to be believed, you’re going to die. You might be murdered. You might be the victim of a drunk driver (or a texting driver). You might die for your country. But you’re gonna die, and leave your widow (and possibly one or more children) in a precarious financial state. Because it seems married Christian men in their twenties don’t have life insurance.
But that’s okay, because all those guys who didn’t marry young apparently spent their twenties doing something productive so now they’re financially stable and emotionally available. They are ready and willing to marry your wife. They never have any emotional baggage. No divorces (if they do, it’s because their wife was unfaithful). No problems. And they’re always Christians. Perfect.
Now we’re moving into a variation on the trope.
Instead of dead husbands, the women have loser ex-husbands (or ex-boyfriends), and a child. Sometimes the ex-husband is the father of the child. Sometimes the child is the result of an out-of-character one-night-stand. (It has to be out of character, because this is Christian fiction.) But it always results in an unplanned pregnancy and an unknown father. Charming.
Now I think about it, perhaps I preferred all the virtuous Christian husbands who died through no fault of their own. At least that was presenting a positive picture of modern manhood, not one-night-standers and serial philanderers.